Anatomy of a scenario according to Pixar
Rules 8 to 11
Hello to all. We continue this week, the rules of Pixar. I confess that the last few weeks… months have not been easy. As you know, I was shooting for Canal+ and I have not had a minute to myself. Enjoy the holidays to fine-tune your scenarios with these rules Pixar. This is a translation of the E-book Stephan Vladimir Bugaj. When I use the ” I ” you need to understand that it is Stephan who is speaking. I added some small stuff in addition to help you see more clearly ;o) All these rules will form at the end a kind of method writing the script…or a method, a basic rewrite for your projects ;o)
8) Write your story from A to Z even if it is not perfect
You need to remember this rule is to not let perfection become the enemy of the good. It is normal that you were trying to do the best or the most perfect possible, but you have to fight it out for the first time in history. Arriving at the first jet, this is one of the most difficult things to do for any artist
You must from the outset consider that your story/ scenario will not be perfect(e). But at least he will be gone until the end and you can consider it as finished. The goal is to see the first draft ! In addition, you run after something that doesn’t exist “perfection” unless you lived in an ideal world….But at the bottom, even from 10 or 15 years on your scenario, you will come to the following conclusion ” it will never be perfect “.
Tell you an important thing : The movies that you love, stories that upset you are viewed by their authors and directors such as imperfect, whereas for you they are masterpieces. You are therefore, as a writer/ director, the wrong side of the fence to judge the perfection or not of your story. The goal is to bring it to an end point ;o)
Obviously, you all know that reaching perfection is impossible. But basically, this means that we can at least get as close to them as possible…and it is precisely this that pushes you to lose yourself in the details and the constant changes. You want to be proud of your history and for that it needs to be perfect for you. Result : you lose time, you get upset or you are frustrated.
The disease of ” paralysis of perfectionism’ exists ! And can you hinder it greatly. What you need to do to avoid this is to know when to ” let go “. There is a quote from Paul Valery that rotates in the middle of the cinema in the USA, it is : ” a film is never finished, it is abandoned “. This quote takes on its full meaning when it is imposed on you of the deadlines because this is not the artist who determines the day of delivery of the script, film, editing, or I don’t know what, but the distributor, the producer or the customer. Without it, you would never see any pub or movie on TV or at the cinema lol
If you stay on the idea that you will be able to reach the perfection, or the script is perfect, I can tell you that you are going right into the wall or you will lose all your time. Abandoning the idea of having a perfect script in this post ;o)
Ditto, do not attempt to create a perfect world where would your story as well, which would be perfect. You will be wasting your time. (Except if the perfect world that you create has a meaning in the narrative or the issues. That is to say that your film would be an ideal world (cf : The Truman Show, Truman lives in a perfect world and lives of the stories perfect until one day something slips out ;o))
I understand that you ‘re passionate about what you write. But if you plan to make a career, it is necessary to silence (the control) this passion or it will devour you because it will push you to seek perfection. A project can kick-start your career, but only one project is not enough to make a career ;o) This means that by dint of wanting to seek perfection on a project, what project can you start…but it will take you so much time that you will not have the time necessary to start another one. A draft of a scenario in which you have at heart is not a career. How do I know if one is ready ?! I advise you to work on more than one project and getting to the end. All these rules are there precisely to help all those who wish to have a career, begin ! The “dreamers” who cling to their unique project, dedicated body and soul, and they do not want to hear this kind of board.
One of my fellow writers has unfortunately experienced it. It coécrivait a scenario in which his co-author sought perfection at any price. This co-author did not want to go forward, to aerate the head or even think of working on another project that would have allowed him to take a step back. Instead, he appealed to scriptdoctors, consultants looking for anything that was not perfect, and sinking into a process devoid of sense, as does doing more advance actually the project in the right direction.
It is important to have a return. But each of the returns will be different (more or less) from one person to the other. It makes no sense to try to please everyone (and therefore to take all the criticisms as cash), and in addition try to find this that could satisfy everyone. And this is especially true if you, as a writer, you refuse to remove things that are displeasing to others, but you’re you, author.
Try to satisfy everyone, you included, this is what we can also call it : “the pursuit of perfection” ;o)
To succeed as a writer, you must learn to identify what has an impact on your history and that which changes its nature. By and large, it is not necessary to edit, make changes to make it better to your scenario, but for it to be different. Perfection, as a goal, is often linked to the doubt of the writer but also to his ability to make intuitive decisions, and thus avoid everything that brings nothing to his story.
A screenwriter is that he knows what he wants to tell and knows, at the same time, what is the best way to tell this story by giving the maximum of what he can when he tells it. It is necessary to learn to let go ! Once you’ve completed your first draft, it will be time to leave it aside and move on to something else.
NB : once you have finished your project, and you have the feeling of not having made him honour, keep in mind that you can return to it later. Sometimes you’ll wait weeks, months, or even years before they come back because you’ve had a stroke of genius, an incredible idea and new perspectives for your story. The time that this stroke of genius comes back it will be important for you to work on new projects, new scenarios. In short, do what are the true artists ;o)
9) Find the solutions to unlock your story
When you’re stuck in your story, make a list of what might not happen afterwards. It is often like this is the solution that will enable you to unblock the situation.
This rule has an approach incredible. It leads us to test our ideas to finally reject those who are not suitable, and extract the other (the best). It is also a rule to a double-edged sword because it reveals an incredible amount of situations that could actually not occur and, therefore, block you in your creative process…
In this case, you can spend a whole life doing the endless list of ” everything that could not happen “. But basically the thing that deserves to be in-depth it is :
“How can we make this exercise to be useful and relevant ? “
The best way to do this is to take an example : 2 students rather clumsy come of a fight between them, in record stores.
If we follow the rule, we could make a list as follows :
- Everyone sits down and eats a pie
- The planet earth is engulfed by World serpent
- A close-up of a character in the process of solving an equation
In short, there is a high chance that you will spend a time of crazy to draw up this list before you can say : “but it is, of course, this idea is perfect for my story.” Even if you put all the solutions to illogical side, there are a lot of chances that you will be a crazy time before you find the perfect solution and so you end up with a list as long as your arm if you focus only on ” what should not happen after “. Both in terms of logic and vis-à-vis the world in which your characters evolve and the credibility that one can associate with it.
It is therefore necessary that for each situation you should ask yourself : “What choices your characters would they be unable to manage ? “. This way you create a relationship strong between what is possible in your story and the skills of your characters. The question you need to ask yourself is : “What is the last thing your character would like to be required to do to manage the situation. Or get out of the situation in which it is “. The difference may seem subtle but it is rather drastic ;o)
Are you saying that what defines the way in which your story will revolve relies, in fact, on the arc of a transformation of your hero and so on the personality of your characters, their needs, their desire, their goals, etc…If you had to retain only one thing on this rule 9, it is : “what is your characters don’t want to do “. Don’t forget that you’re stuck in your story, that instead of finding the best solution, you have a tendency to not perceive that the answers to the most obvious. Pose this question, it is force yourself to go beyond what comes to us spontaneously and go beyond our blockages.
The ideas are obvious only have the effect ofattenuating the evolution of the characters and the plot. We come to situations in predictable and flat. Explore “what should not happen” will require you to direct you to the ideas of the less obvious, but surely the most interesting. You avoid the routine and you are in a process of discovery. As soon as you start to phase all that could not happen with your characters, you open a field of incredible possibilities : “what might happen “. This also means having a more nuanced view on your characters, and situations.
Of course, think of events or actions that would be inconsistent with your characters, is not the situation you want. It is better to put to the test all convictions (the new me) from your hero and force him to make difficult decisions.
Note that the decisions of the hero are not necessarily due only to the hero himself. Let me explain : Sometimes, the enemies and the antagonist can make the hero react in one way or another, they forced him to take a decision. Like all of the choices made, the hero evolves in terms of its decisions. It is always more interesting tobring the obstacles he encounters through a antagonistic asset.
For example : A murderer comes to find the person he was looking for. If we were looking for what he ” should not do “then”, it would surely leave its victim alive. But for this exercise to be useful and that you go to the end of the process, it is necessary to adopt a more ” active “. We now know that to leave his victim alive is an option, but maybe it can still injure or maim, but not kill it. If we go further, it could even be that the assassin sympathizes with her or even fall in love ! It is even possible that the roles are reversed…or that the assassin doesn’t consider his victim as an opponent to his height…you’ll understand that there is no interesting choice when looking for the tracks ” that could not happen then “.
You have to ask yourself how to solve each situation, in an unpredictable way, that all the characters can cause by their motivations, and their implications.
Each character in your story has an obvious, even cliché, to react to all situations. Thus, in a first step, identify this obvious situation and put you to think differently in order to find the best solution. In short, think of all the possibilities, even the possibilities in what seems impossible based on what you know of your characters and the situation they are facing. In this way you will be able to create real scenes and righteous because you will get some unexpected responses on the part of your characters and come out of the situations cliché. Not to forget to stay consistent with your characters, the watchword to keep in mind is to stay : be Credible ! ;o)
You’ll understand that this rules is not just there for you to unlock. If you manage to master it, you can also use it to create the best scenes and avoid clichés or the already (too) saw.
10) What you put staff in your story
This is one of the questions that I ask in the guide of my method, scenario+. What are the movies that you love ? Why these stories appeal to you ? The things that affect you in these movies, these stories correspond to something in you. Your goal is then to identify those items that affect you. And know what these stories look like before you can use your turn in your scenarios.
Know and recognize what we like is an exercise that you must absolutely do to understand what and why you want to write and moreover to write a script.
Necessarily, do this exercise, when you are in the middle of writing your scenario, this is not very useful. Except if you are blocked, you cannot you to manage your history in spite of the previous rules. In this case a flat is more than necessary. You can, in this case, look for stories similar to yours, story inspire you. But attention, inspire them, here wants to say, take inspiration from the structure and the concept and not plagiarism ! ;o) In this case there is nothing personal of course ! But these are two possibilities that are at your disposal. These two solutions are equal but do not have the same scope for your project.
This rule will allow you to find your strengths (and your weaknesses) and know you better. Because you will be able to highlight everything that you like about the stories in forms that are quite different, such as : the mechanisms of storytelling, the pace, the different forms of characterization, character etc… You must have an understanding of all of this that appeals to you, you should not put barrier to this as you lift. Write down everything you feel, in any order. What counts, in a first time, it is to capture the maximum amount of things remaining as honest as possible with yourself, and then once you’re done, you can sort by type, or by gender.
You will find that a kind of story to another you will not like the same things and it is normal. If you look at a love story and a war film, these two films won’t talk to you the same way…But to identify and understand the when, the how and the why of things that build these stories will help you to use these elements in your own scenarios. Wholesale you use what you liked in the turning with what you are.
Understand what you want (need) to write, why one wants to write it, and how we can write it is an immense freedom that this rule will bring to you. (This is also one of the first exercises I do with my students in the method of scenario+). This analysis will help you know the natural way what you want to put in your stories. But also of how far you want to go with these ideas, you will have a look on your work without spending too much time on what should be or not be in your history. This is complicated when we look at a movie that touches us, it is to be able to take it the distance, but also to succeed in to understand the elements that are at the heart of the themes developed. When you’ll analyze a number of films, you will discover what my friend Barry Levins called ” The theme personal “. It is a central concept around which you turn when you tell your stories and you watch a movie.
To amplify my point, here are a few examples :
– Love can conquer : Nora Ephron
– The man in the world can achieve the power and be corrupted : Frank Capra
– Power and corruption destroy is always the man in the world : Alan J. Pakla
– Things never seem what they appear to be : M. Night Shymalan
– Always be honest with yourself, what that says about the company : Tim Burton
– Life’s a bitch and then you die : Alex Cox
Then all the films of these filmmakers do not strictly (only) around their thematic personal but the central idea of each of these films revolves around via some elements. The theme personal is part of us, so there are always elements regardless of the film that pushes us towards it. This is our vision, our point of view on the world and what we want to share. This theme personal is a part of our personality. With the years and experience our vision of the world changes or evolves, but it doesn’t change at all, the original idea, the initial vision that we have on the world still remains there in one way or another.
So no panic either. Reveal your thematic personal in your scenarios does not the fact of telling always the same thing. There are thousands of ways of talking, telling stories. But to be able to talk about what moves us, what we move, there must be the necessary perspective and understanding (know) oneself in order to be able to play on subtleties, shades of our personality and succeed to build our ” voice of author “. If you are redundant it is because you have not taken down enough and that you have not fully worked on your theme personal.
This rule says simply : Look, analysis of the stories that you love and becomes a better writer.
11) You are not perfect, your scenario no more
It reminds us a little of the previous rule that said ” it is useless to seek perfection, because it does not exist “ and then it’s a waste of time. I also called the ‘paralysis of perfectionism’. As you can see, this issue is quite often in the analysis of the rules because it is a plague for writers, and it is a plague that is hard to overcome. So it’s useless to surinvestir in a project with the idea of going out the perfect thing because it is just lost. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. But the idea of not surinvestir in relation to the perfection, leads us to another truth : ” Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the less-well -“
OK, you want your scenario to be good, or even great…then it takes you to confront a version bad of your story, just so that you can put aside what you think is bad ! Once this is done you will be able to improve it.
Hemingway used to say : The first draft of any story or anything else it is crap ! “
All those who tell you otherwise are liars, or they are, in these rare moments of inspiration that lead them to think that this kind of sentence (proverb) is questionable. And they are wrong !!! Now that you know that, don’t hesitate to take pleasure in pushing a step further with your thinking and your ideas about your stories and start writing ! Do not let perfection be the enemy of the bad is also essential to not let perfection be the enemy of the good. Do not be afraid of failure, don’t be afraid of falling, this is what will allow you to less success.
Accept failure is to accept the fact of writing a scenario, your ideas, even if it’s bad, because you enroll in a approach of action ! And it is better to take action than sit and do nothing ! Then you will have to work hard to correct you but it is the key for any artist. Obviously you will not be able to rework all your ideas, even if one of them is ” perfect “, you will need to perhaps even leave aside for a moment. Because a perfect idea, is not necessarily a good idea, compared to what you are and what you want to tell. You can, of course, come back to this idea later, much later, when you have found what to do with this idea. Are you saying that as long as you continue to work on yourself you will be able to find solutions to deal with your ideas, change them as you become better day by day.
You may ask : ” But where does this obsession to strive for perfection ? “ To make it simple, this comes of our way that we have to interpret the vision the world has of us. Basically, this paralysis of perfectionism comes from the fact that we compare ourselves always to the other. It’s all the same nerd !
To talk about me, I often had to sympathize with the writers, or of professional musicians whose work inspires me a lot. Their art, what they are capable of doing, inspires me a lot, I find it “perfect” and this pushes me to give the best of myself. This does not mean that I copy what they do, but I take a lot of lessons during our exchanges. It is not friendship because you can’t build on a friendship where one seeks to obtain something from someone. In friendship one gives a point that is.
So naturally, when I compare myself to these artists, I feel I can lower and be blocked. If our approach is to make a storyline as good as the thing or of thing, then it means that your creative process is not good. If you do this, you have to stop and take the time to understand what to do as it will not lead anywhere. Just because you are not a thing or kind of thing ! You will never be able to do like them.
There is nothing to say that you will be better or as good as them. You may not be never as experienced as them, but you stay yourself ! And this is the most important.
In fact, this idea of the search for perfection comes from the comparison we make of the people that we love and that inspire us. These are the same people who bring us artistically, but that also reflect our weaknesses.
Prolong to be perfect is to shoot a ball in the foot, because it implies that you prevent from taking action…to be concrete as long as you have not reached the perfection in the skills where you feel that you have difficulties. In the end it is the dog which bites its own tail because you will never be able to improve these skills if you never walk to the action, even to do something…imperfect ;o) It must therefore accept the fact of producing something bad. Then once your first draft is finished, you can rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. But this does not mean that what you have created during this time of rewriting may not be your best scenario. But over the times you gain in experience and maturity.
Because in the end, your work, the more the former should be less good as your last rewrite. But your last rewrite can also be a failure. So this is a work without end, but it is the true and only way to learn how to Accept failure. Even if you are a pro of the scenario, the failure is always possible. To put it simply, a good example is always better than a long speech : the Baseball.
A baseball team played 150 games in a season. Needless to say, she often plays and won the experience ! The Chicago Cubs have won 77% of their matches, it is simply the best performance of victory in the history of Baseball. But the Cubs have also lost the world series, with 33% of their matches on a regular basis. 14 teams have won the world series by winning 70% of matches scheduled in the entire history of baseball.
Ted Williams has managed to reach the second basis for “only” 48% of the time when he was a drummer. Once again, it is the best performance ever seen ! This means that Ted Williams, who was the biggest threat to never have existed, failed more than once on both !!
Baseball have an average chess of 65% when one is a drummer is considered a good performance for a career in baseball !
Whenever you undertake something, in any field, you may fail, the professionals are those who continue regardless of what happens and improve. The best ones are those that never give up, who learn from every mistake, who persevere with ability and push their luck further and further.
Compare the sport and the art is always a little daring but basically the idea is the same. Know how to accept the failure is constantly evolve in the right direction, it is back on the field as long as your goal is not reached, always continuing to study, to practice and improve your art at the same time.
That’s it for this article on “The rules of writing for pixar 8 to 11”.
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Has next Sunday.
Here are other articles to help you create your characters and write your scenarios
Anatomy of the timeline Pixar rules 1 to 5
Rules of writing the screenplay Pixar rules 6 to 7
How to find a name for your characters
How to give emotion to your characters
Here’s how to create your main and secondary characters
How to master the identification with the characters
How to create your sheets of characters
Introduction to the adaptation of a book Parts 1 and 2
The importance of the sequences of the daily life in your scenario
The point-of-view narrative
How long is a short film !
10 steps to write a film