storytelling pixar and its rules scenario 12 and 13

storytelling pixar et ses règles scénario 12 et 13

Anatomy of a scenario according to Pixar

Storytelling pixar Rules 12 and 13

Once again I deliver to you this week two new rules to help you write your story, you get out of an impasse or, in the words of a reader of this blog by email : to succeed just to put a final end to his scenario that lingered for months…

That’s why I would like to keep in touch with you all week, because of one article to another, you can find the solution to your problem, give a new breath to your story, or just (re)motivate. Be active this is the most important ! go to the action ! don’t wait for the thaws, the brilliant idea or know perfectly the presentation of a scenario or I don’t know what. Take ACTION NOW !

12) get off the beaten track

It is absolutely necessary to go off the beaten path to explore solutions that come out of “the obvious” ! At first sight, this goes against rule # 11. Think/ reflect on their choices and rule out a brush of the hand before you even tried them is the best way to block trying to find the thing that would surprise you instead of finding a way that would work. You are not the only ones to you leave to trap him, I also happened ! To force themselves to find an idea surprisingly, rather than finding an idea that works.

Wait for the right idea, the great idea, I have often been led to put my projects aside with the words : “to review later when I have a great idea “. You will have understood, it is equally important to test the first ideas that come to you as the other because it takes nothing to put it in the trash before you try it. Are you saying that if you had this idea, it is that at the base it must be interesting, so if you don’t know what to do right away, put-away, pick it up there and test it. There are only like this that you will be able to move forward.

Then do the same thing with the other ideas until something suits you in the structure or in the narrative of what you want to tell. Take that as a simple exercise. It is difficult to be able to get rid of an idea without having tested it, without knowing if it works or not and you can, of course, you realize, that in fact, the first idea was the best. With this exercise you will remove two important things :

  • You will find more easily what you want to express
  • You will evolve the vision that you have for your project by browsing through all of these tracks.


You do not need to have all the elements of your story are new or surprising. My very good friend John August came for Pixar to give a talk on ” the expectations/ requirements of the (a) kind “. He explained very precisely that it is necessary to meet all the expectations of the viewer of a genre and thatit is necessary to choose very carefully the unexpected elements that we want to integrate the history and use at the right time to surprise the spectator without he shall come out of the story and the unexpected moments fall flat.

The good recipe, it is one to two (maximum) big surprises. If you put too much of the surprises in your story, you will arrive at the following result : you’ll get a strange movie, might be interesting, intellectually speaking, even intriguing, but you’ll never have a film satisfying, emotionally, to reach a broad public. The experimental and the work of ” visionaries “ this is very good. Furthermore, these “genres” are of great interest, these are works that do not leave indifferent spectator. It happens to me also. But you have to be in phase with what you write, the budget that you have and for which you write, everything must be coherent. The spectators prefer to see some interesting characters rather than new ideas.


Obviously, we want to do both ! Having great characters and great ideas. But basically, if your hero and your characters have an arc, transformational well-built, or if your characters have a depth that goes beyond a story based on original ideas. Basically, a good character will surpass always originality. Want to surprise at all costs it is heading towards the block provided. It is impossible to find one new idea to each pivot node in a dramatic program or stage of a journey, in your stories.

I told you about in rule 11, it is always better to write something bad, rather than not write at all. If you are disciplined and you rewrite it, that you are open minded to test your new ideas, then start with the first idea that comes to you and you will be on the right path for success, this idea to be mundane, brilliant, or a personal interpretation of an idea, agreed.


13) Create characters with a purpose and something to defend

In your stories, this rule is paramount ! This does not only mean : to give an opinion, but also a direction, desires, and goals that motivate them to take action. The conflict, the acts are the source of all storytelling. They are the roots of any work and can emerge only from the action of the characters. If your hero is passive, it is death assured of your story, especially if it happens in a world that is completely invented (imaginary), the complex, of which the author is in love and ignores its characters. A world that is extraordinarily rich with characters passive, it doesn’t do anything. In this case, what are the circumstances of the story that make the hero in the story and not his actions, that is to say, his own will.


Characters empty, little substantive will necessarily have few issues, because nothing to defend or reason to fight. In fact, they will also be less endearing. The viewer will have less empathy (very little or no identification) that of the heroes or characters who are driven by a goal and motivations that take the viewer into their crazy adventures. The spectators come to see a movie for that, see the hero develop a strong-willed, and of their own. This is the essence of what makes them interesting, much more than the fact of find them likeable or not ! Moreover, the fact of wanting to absolutely found your characters sympathetic it is the root of the problem because to want it at any price makes often (always) your characters smallers (point-of-view character) and more malleable.


The writers think that : because a hero is simply a victim of circumstances, is at the mercy of the villains or caught in the trap ofa dangerous situation, it will necessarily make it likeable ! This may actually happen, but at the bottom it is not the emotion the more important that the spectators want to live. If the viewer feels only friendship for the hero, it is a gross error , because it is the character in full which must succeed to take them and taping them on their seat. A plot strong may very well put a hero at the mercy of the circumstances of the story and the world in which you have projected, but it is necessary in this case that the hero has a goal or has the desire to go against what is happening to him. Even the heroes of the most belittled (null, amorphous) need to combat the external elements that lie to get by. There are only like that you will make believe to the audience that this character deserves to win or achieve her goal.


At the beginning, the hero is not able to overcome what happened to him. It may not resolve or vanquish his enemies immediately. Indeed, this is what the public expects ! If we had a hero capable of overcoming any problems that arise, there would be really no point to the movie. It must evolve and this is where the principle of dramatic art. It is necessary that the hero has to fight/ struggle to achieve his goal, whether he is winner or not. Hence the importance of presenting heroes who have character, strong opinions that will lead them to take paths and decisions to achieve their goals (No need for it to have objectives that are defending great causes. A goal is important, from the moment it is for the hero.) At this point, you will want your viewers to follow and identify with the hero.


If I take the bio-pic of ” Iceman “, the “hero” Ritchie is a character appalling and repugnant , but which succeeds to be to the viewer a sympathetic character ! But his obsessions and the consequences of its choice are that the plot takes, even if the history of this character is not the most attractive. She managed to zone out the audience. When you create your characters, don’t be embarrassed by the genre of your film. That is to say that the genre of your film must not étriquer the characterization of your characters. It is not necessary that the genre, the rhythm or the tone of your story influence the characters. It may be that your hero is a very strong, violent , etc…and that your film is a comedy and not an action film ! For example, a comedy like : “To the best and the worst” or a historical drama to be very slow, such as : “Oscar and Lucinda” are built on characters with the opinions and objectives strong. These opinions and aims are more “common” and people, instead of being heroic, epic and mythical as if they were in an action movie, but they’re pushing the characters to be active and to move forward.


The need to have characters assets goes well beyond the simple idea that ” the characters liabilities are boring “, even if it is true ;o) But the most important thing to remember is that the characters assets are mandatory (necessary) because they give the spectators the possibility of understanding the context of the story in its entirety. Because there are only the characters that help tell a story to the audience. The interest of the viewer focus on the emotions that give the characters and nothing else.

If you take the space, the matrix , “the Matrix “ or the fund of the oceans, these are indeed places that are fascinating, but they are all populated by characters that give us the emotions and who have opinions and strong lenses, and this whatever their gender : the extra-terrestrial, pandas or cars ! The important thing is that we were to give these characters a characterization anthropomorphic that will allow the audience to feel their own emotions and to be in these stories.


Without a point of view, a character has no interest for us. We need their reactions to be correlated with what is happening in the story that it tells. In addition, for there to be identification with the character or that we could feel emotions, we need to understand this character by sharing what he feels. If we do not understand the vision of the character, his motivations or his actions, we will inevitably to the side of this that would allow us to understand what it feels like to the character, why he feels compared to what happens to him. Here there is no question of any magic formula but rather of cognitive science, that is to say, the description, the explanation and simulation of human thought.


If the spectators see of the characters feel emotions, they can get a sense of satisfaction. On the contrary, if the spectators do not understand the point of view or vision of the characters, the moves and their goals, they will not be able to feel empathy, sympathy or identify with them.

That’s it for this article on “The rules of writing for pixar 12 to 13”.

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Thank you to those who will make it ;o) and that are already doing that ;o).

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Has next Sunday.

Tom Weil

Here are other articles to help you create your characters and write your scenarios

 (Just click on the link below to go directly to pages)

Anatomy of the timeline Pixar rules 1 to 5

Rules of writing the screenplay Pixar rules 6 to 7

Rules of writing, anatomy of a screenplay Pixar rules 8 to 11

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

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