Once Upon a Time, there was _____.

Once Upon a Time, there was _____.

Stumbled across this little gem. Apparently, one of the story artists at Pixar, Emma Coats, tweeted a whole series of ‘story basics’ that she learned on how to create appealing stories from her senior colleagues. This article is a little old from May 2011 and is from http://www.pixartouchbook.com.

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

As I really begin my journey into writing, I found this very inspiring. And since I have loved everything that Pixar has done, this is just fuel for the fire.

Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy

Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy

I saw this viral video a while back and I uncovered it again recently and I’m stunned at how true it rings. Louis CK is a riot, regardless, and I must be close to the same age since I get all his references.

Watch the video and I’ll continue.

My thoughts?

He’s totally right! I noticed the other day that the youngest kid in the house, who has a DSi, an iPod Touch, a PSP (all which he bought himself, I must add), and access to a PS3 actually said he needed an iMac so he could get online. I asked why and he said, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”

What?!

When I pointed out everything he had to play with he simply said, “Yeah, but I don’t have anything new like on the internet where there’s always something new.”

I was quite taken aback until I remembered this video and realized how often we all focus on what we don’t have, or the things we don’t want. This, in turn, keeps the things we really want out of reach by not being on our minds.

Some people laugh or criticize the movie The Secret for being too simplistic and unrealistic in it’s approach. Specifically in the naive belief that all it takes is to want something and you’ll get it. Even the people in that film, in other films and products, ended up promoting action instead of simple thought.

But here’s the thing I learned over the past few years, and that is thinking and focusing on what you want will get you farther than thinking and focusing on what you don’t want.

But HOW IN THE WORLD do you NOT think of an elephant once you’re thinking about one?

Practice. Focus. Add emotion. Stir.

EXAMPLE:

I’ve been a graphic designer for nearly 25 years. On the side, I’ve done art, music, and writing. Lately, words have been spilling out. “I’m not a writer,” the voice inside my head says. But I’ve decided to tell the voice, “Thank you,” and moving forward.

Am I giving up on Graphic Design, Web Design, and other Commercial Creative endeavors? No way! I have too much fun at it! ‘Only children see things as black and white,’ the saying goes. Part of this process is that I have been working for a long while on changing the words “but” and “or” to be, simply…”and.”

I need lots of work. Some serious practice, experience, and goals to accomplish this.

There are several other things I want to accomplish. Too numerous to list here, actually. But, stay tuned, and you’ll get to hear all about how amazing things are and how happy I am in the exploration and journey.


 

What do YOU think is so amazing and/or makes YOU happy?

The Hero’s ‘Spiritual’ Journey (and Other Dreams)

The Hero’s ‘Spiritual’ Journey (and Other Dreams)

The Hero’s ‘Spiritual’ Journey (and Other Dreams)

My first ‘sermon’ (although we refer to them as messages) held at Unity of Fayetteville on October 16, 2011. Rita Graham was a guest singer and with Annette Olsen (the Music Director), they created amazing versions of One Moment in Time AND To Dream the Impossible Dream. (I’ll see if it’s okay to post those here too.)

Audio is about 34 minutes long with a guided meditation about 23 minutes into the message that lasts about 10 minutes.

Original photo by Steven Kraghmann.

The Hero's Spiritual Journey (at Unity of Fayetteville)

by Eric Huber

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