Super effective writing tips from Pixar

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Green Glasses Girl
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#2 Post by Green Glasses Girl » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:53 pm

#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.
Man, ain't that the truth? I constantly struggle with that!

That was a pretty good read. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#3 Post by j3za » Sat May 10, 2014 5:05 am

:O wow so useful and thank you for sharing it :D

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#4 Post by Ionait » Fri May 23, 2014 11:16 am

Actually pretty inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#5 Post by LRH » Fri May 23, 2014 1:03 pm

#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.
So true. To give an example, I wrote a throwaway short story way back in high school, more than ten years ago, then stumbled on it on an old CD-ROM labeled 'writing' that I'd completely forgotten I had. Right there, in that story, were all the building blocks to create something awesome. I started writing immediately, I'm now several chapters into a sci-fi novel, and though the story has changed significantly from that short story, I would never have started that sci-fi if I hadn't rediscovered my teenage self's creativity.

That sci-fi has spun off a new idea that's becoming a point-and-click adventure built in Renpy. By working on the game, I'm able to write in that universe while I take a break from the main story, so I can come back to it with a fresh mind again later.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#6 Post by Lishy » Tue May 27, 2014 12:30 pm

Bookmarking this. Posting on my twitter.

Amazing tips!
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#7 Post by InvertMouse » Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:00 pm

Great tips! Thank you for the share :)!
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#8 Post by Vin Howard » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:23 pm

Pretty good, except I noticed two things:

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

Is it mocking such a contrived, clique, plot; or is it trying to tell us to actually follow it?

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

I don't believe you should have an ending "locked in" until you've actually reached the ending. Get a general idea of where your story will head, or a "this would be cool, but I won't force it," sure, but I would never advise doing a "This is the ending, and the middle WILL reach this ending." It sounds like plotting, and I generally agree with Stephen King's view on plotting:

"I won't try to convince you that I've never plotted any more than I'd try to convince you that I've never told a lie, but I do both as infrequently as possible. I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren't compatible."

"I want to put a group of characters…in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to HELP them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety—those are jobs which require the noisy jackhammer of plot—but to watch what happens and then write it down."

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#9 Post by Clayton Barnett » Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:59 pm

Firstly, thanks for the Pixar link; very, very interesting. I'd like to take exception to one or two things, but I notice that they have oceans of money and I do not; perhaps they are more right than I.
Vin Howard wrote:I don't believe you should have an ending "locked in" until you've actually reached the ending.
Neither do I... if this were not the field of visual novels. When we concieved of our flagship product almost two years ago, I "saw" Atti's 'True End' from almost day one. Three more main characters, nineteen secondary characters, twenty-one endings... yes, the vast majority of them grew on me as I wrote, but that first, and, later, Rimu's Good and Bad ends, quickly came.

As I've said in the animecon panels I've hosted, that's one of the tremendous strengths of VNs: that it frees both the writer and reader to explore all the myriad ways in which a story can play out. An example from two days ago: since January, my colleague and I have been struggling to complete a 'cute' graphic novel set in real history. I wanted one end here, he wanted another end there. We didn't talk for a week. Then, brilliantly, he says, "let's scrap this as a graphic novel and do it with RenPy; we all get the ends we want."

Having said all that to say this: lock in what you want; keep everything else open. That's the power of this tool that PyTom has given us.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#10 Post by Vin Howard » Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:31 pm

Clayton Barnett wrote:Firstly, thanks for the Pixar link; very, very interesting. I'd like to take exception to one or two things, but I notice that they have oceans of money and I do not; perhaps they are more right than I.
Vin Howard wrote:I don't believe you should have an ending "locked in" until you've actually reached the ending.
Neither do I... if this were not the field of visual novels. When we concieved of our flagship product almost two years ago, I "saw" Atti's 'True End' from almost day one. Three more main characters, nineteen secondary characters, twenty-one endings... yes, the vast majority of them grew on me as I wrote, but that first, and, later, Rimu's Good and Bad ends, quickly came.

As I've said in the animecon panels I've hosted, that's one of the tremendous strengths of VNs: that it frees both the writer and reader to explore all the myriad ways in which a story can play out. An example from two days ago: since January, my colleague and I have been struggling to complete a 'cute' graphic novel set in real history. I wanted one end here, he wanted another end there. We didn't talk for a week. Then, brilliantly, he says, "let's scrap this as a graphic novel and do it with RenPy; we all get the ends we want."

Having said all that to say this: lock in what you want; keep everything else open. That's the power of this tool that PyTom has given us.
Yes, VN's let you explore different ways a story can play out, but that doesn't change what I'm trying to say; that is, you shouldn't create a story with the end already known (and then forcibly cause the story to follow that route). Instead, I would say to write it "one word at a time," with each event being decided by your characters instead of your plot. You can still reach your initial idea for an ending, but don't force it.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#11 Post by OokamiKasumi » Fri Jun 20, 2014 9:55 am

Vin Howard wrote:Yes, VN's let you explore different ways a story can play out, but that doesn't change what I'm trying to say; that is, you shouldn't create a story with the end already known (and then forcibly cause the story to follow that route). Instead, I would say to write it "one word at a time," with each event being decided by your characters instead of your plot. You can still reach your initial idea for an ending, but don't force it.
I disagree, strongly. If you don't know how you want your story to end, you'll never get there.
-- Writing a story one word at a time is like taking a journey one step at a time without a destination in mind. Even GPS needs a destination before it can give you a route. If you don't know where you want to go, you're very likely to end up in a dead-end you can't get out of.

Stephen King is indeed known for simply writing until he reaches a conclusion, however his stories tend to be a collection of Character tales. Seriously. He sets up a situation, for example, a monster comes to an island specifically to find a child he can possess to extend his already long life. What follows are a collection of stories about the individual characters that encounter this monster. Whether the character dies or survives; how each character's story ends, depends on the individual character's weaknesses and strengths. All of his stories are written this way; a monster and a set of characters that encounter it. Not one story, but many short stories all under one cover. This is why his books are so long, and more than a few of them seem 'unfinished.'

Mr King is not a Plotter. He doesn't plan his stories to their ends, he tosses a character against a monster and simply writes what happens. However, Stephen King has decades of writing experience. He doesn't need to plot simply because it is already deeply ingrained in his mind how stories should work -- backwards and forwards.

Dean R Koontz and Orson Scott Card, on the other hand, are plotters, and they both insist in their How-To writing books that one needs a target end in mind before one even begins writing. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a plotter. JK Rawlings plotted out her entire Harry Potter series. JRR Tolkien was a master plotter.

Neither way is Wrong.
-- This is an old, old argument between those who 'write by the seat of their pants', and those who Plot everything out.

In truth, it depends on the individual and their Skill in writing.
-- If you have the skills that come from experience, you can write a story any way you like and it'll still come out good.

However, those that don't have enough experience to give them a good grasp of story structure, (Beginning, Middle, Climax, Conclusion), are at a distinct disadvantage. Beginners especially, need a Plan or at least an idea of where they want the story to end up. Writing without one will get them lost in the middle very, very fast and possibly backed into a corner they won't be able to write their way out of.
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#12 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:55 pm

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

Is it mocking such a contrived, clique, plot; or is it trying to tell us to actually follow it?
Telling you to follow it. All stories boil down that sequence at their most simplistic. It is a basic road map for you.

I.e.
"Once Upon a time there was..." Introducing your main character.
"Every day" Establishing the status quo.
"One day" Introducing the 'hook', call to adventure, first major complication in your story.
"Because of that..." The escalating series of events that build on one another to a conclusion.
"Until finally..." The turning point or climax of the story. How the character resolves what happened "One day".

Seems basic, and it is, but many people forget to apply the basics.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#13 Post by Banavolf » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:55 am

OokamiKasumi wrote:Stephen King is indeed known for simply writing until he reaches a conclusion, however his stories tend to be a collection of Character tales. Seriously. He sets up a situation, for example, a monster comes to an island specifically to find a child he can possess to extend his already long life. What follows are a collection of stories about the individual characters that encounter this monster. Whether the character dies or survives; how each character's story ends, depends on the individual character's weaknesses and strengths. All of his stories are written this way; a monster and a set of characters that encounter it. Not one story, but many short stories all under one cover. This is why his books are so long, and more than a few of them seem 'unfinished.'
To be accurate, it would be "All of his stories are written this way; a conflict and a character or set of characters that encounter it." to include his stories without an It or companions (Or just change "all of his stories" to "most of his stories").

However, to focus on his stories that are about a large cast, with chapters distinctly written from different characters perspectives, I still disagree with "Not one story, but many short stories all under one cover." Most of his books of this nature have some clear main characters, who are involved in the bulk of the story and greatly impact events. And while there are several minor characters, a lot of them play their part. A notable example being Glen Bateman from The Stand. Certainly there are chapters in his books that feature a character completely irrelevant to the story, but they don't make the book. I'm not saying he doesn't have any books that fit the bill of a short story collection under the guise of a novel, but they're certainly not the rule.

~

That said, I completely agree with you on your points following that. There's not a right or wrong between character-driven and plot-driven, and the latter should come first for developing writers. In much the same way that with drawing you should first learn realism to grasp important concepts, and then apply that when drawing in other styles, plot-driven stories provide a strong impression of the building blocks of a story for the writer.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#14 Post by Vin Howard » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:10 pm

OokamiKasumi wrote: I disagree, strongly. If you don't know how you want your story to end, you'll never get there.
-- Writing a story one word at a time is like taking a journey one step at a time without a destination in mind. Even GPS needs a destination before it can give you a route. If you don't know where you want to go, you're very likely to end up in a dead-end you can't get out of.

Except making a story isn't a pre-determined journey, it's exploration. If you have your destination already decided, you are very limited in what and where you can explore. And if you have a planed destination, you'll never stumble upon someplace new.

But let me make something clear: I am simply arguing for why I prefer the plotless story-creation; and I am simply trying to show that there are other ways to approach a story. When it comes to how you should write a story, what I would consider more important then what anyone else says is right, is what YOU think is right. I think honesty, both with him/herself and with his/her readers, is the most important attribute for a writer.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#15 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:23 pm

Vin Howard wrote:
OokamiKasumi wrote: I disagree, strongly. If you don't know how you want your story to end, you'll never get there.
-- Writing a story one word at a time is like taking a journey one step at a time without a destination in mind. Even GPS needs a destination before it can give you a route. If you don't know where you want to go, you're very likely to end up in a dead-end you can't get out of.

Except making a story isn't a pre-determined journey, it's exploration. If you have your destination already decided, you are very limited in what and where you can explore. And if you have a planed destination, you'll never stumble upon someplace new.

But let me make something clear: I am simply arguing for why I prefer the plotless story-creation; and I am simply trying to show that there are other ways to approach a story. When it comes to how you should write a story, what I would consider more important then what anyone else says is right, is what YOU think is right. I think honesty, both with him/herself and with his/her readers, is the most important attribute for a writer.
That's fine, but once you've discovered your destination by exploration, you're supposed to go back and rewrite so that everything leads to that final destination, cutting out all the meanders and dead-ends you created in your first draft.

That's one of Pixar's tips on that list - you won't know what your story is really about until you've written it. Once that happens, you rewrite the story to make everything support and lead to what the story is about.

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