Super effective writing tips from Pixar

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#16 Post by LVUER » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:40 pm

Vin Howard wrote:"#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."
Lots of manga/story derailed at the end, lost their own original meaning, or the author themselves simply don't know how to end their story. It's because they never plan the ending. Also why lots of long manga/story (like prolonged TV series that past season 6 or 7) become so shi**y at the end is because they have way past their own ending.
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#17 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:47 pm

LVUER wrote:
Vin Howard wrote:"#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."
Lots of manga/story derailed at the end, lost their own original meaning, or the author themselves simply don't know how to end their story. It's because they never plan the ending. Also why lots of long manga/story (like prolonged TV series that past season 6 or 7) become so shi**y at the end is because they have way past their own ending.
I agree. That's a good point. Stories tend to start sucking if they drag on and don't know how to end, and it taints everything that came before it. Dexter and Mass Effect are two series (stories) I loved, but now feel lukewarm about since they flopped their endings ... hard. The truth is, it's possible to explore and expand a story to the point where you CANNOT have a satisfying ending. You'll have written yourself down a path that leads literally to nowhere.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#18 Post by LVUER » Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:03 pm

Forgot to add:

This doesn't mean the original planned ending may not be changed. But it's always a good idea to have the ending planned beforehand. Kenshin (Samurai X) author, Nubohiro Watsuki, have envisioned and planned Kenshin ending way before hand but ended up prolonging the manga (but the ending itself doesn't changed). He also envisioned that an ending need to be happy, that's why he scrapped the planned ending into a happier one
(Kaoru was supposed to be dead in the original first ending he thought)
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#19 Post by Vin Howard » Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:05 am

LVUER wrote:
Vin Howard wrote:"#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."
Lots of manga/story derailed at the end, lost their own original meaning, or the author themselves simply don't know how to end their story. It's because they never plan the ending. Also why lots of long manga/story (like prolonged TV series that past season 6 or 7) become so shi**y at the end is because they have way past their own ending.
That's a problem of not finishing your story before release, something I am strongly against in the case of most stories ((although I have seen some casual-plot light novels get away with this)). Like LateWhiteRabbit pointed out, you really need the ability to go back and fix everything.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#20 Post by LVUER » Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:17 am

Vin Howard wrote:That's a problem of not finishing your story before release, something I am strongly against in the case of most stories ((although I have seen some casual-plot light novels get away with this)). Like LateWhiteRabbit pointed out, you really need the ability to go back and fix everything.
Finishing a story before release is something ideal that's not always happened, especially in long series like serial manga or TV series. Even when making a silver screen movie, there are times when the production starts before the writers finishes the story. Besides, changes are bound to happen even in the middle or end of production.

And the process of writing the entire thing from start to finish takes quite a while, sometimes years in case of a single book of novel. During the process, you can wander around, being derailed, affected by everyday happening in your life, etc. You can even think of a different story/plot. Without some kind of ending planned beforehand, you could end up with something entirely different than you first envisioned... or you could end up lost, can't decide how to end the story, and may be end up in a slump or writer's block.
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#21 Post by Vin Howard » Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:27 am

LVUER wrote:
Vin Howard wrote:That's a problem of not finishing your story before release, something I am strongly against in the case of most stories ((although I have seen some casual-plot light novels get away with this)). Like LateWhiteRabbit pointed out, you really need the ability to go back and fix everything.
Finishing a story before release is something ideal that's not always happened, especially in long series like serial manga or TV series. Even when making a silver screen movie, there are times when the production starts before the writers finishes the story. Besides, changes are bound to happen even in the middle or end of production.

And the process of writing the entire thing from start to finish takes quite a while, sometimes years in case of a single book of novel. During the process, you can wander around, being derailed, affected by everyday happening in your life, etc. You can even think of a different story/plot. Without some kind of ending planned beforehand, you could end up with something entirely different than you first envisioned... or you could end up lost, can't decide how to end the story, and may be end up in a slump or writer's block.
It really shouldn't take years to write a novel, if you can help it. I know Stephen King commented that you should get 2k words written each day (1k, 5 times a week at minimum). If it takes longer, well I don't know. I can't imagine it, and I have no experience on the subject (that is, taking years to write a story).

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#22 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:21 am

Vin Howard wrote: It really shouldn't take years to write a novel, if you can help it. I know Stephen King commented that you should get 2k words written each day (1k, 5 times a week at minimum). If it takes longer, well I don't know. I can't imagine it, and I have no experience on the subject (that is, taking years to write a story).
I believe we are talking in a general sense - not just novels, but TV series, manga series, comics, or yes, a series of novels.

Those are all things were it would be easy to just set up a general theme or situation and "explore" it as the series continues. But if you don't know what you are trying to say about that theme or situation - your final point you wish to make - it can easily become a twisted mess that fizzles out. EVERYTHING is made better by working towards a predetermined end. You can reinforce themes, create corollaries, mirror events and character situations, strengthen associations, etc. Cut the fat and ramp up impact. You can also make sure your pacing is good throughout.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#23 Post by ArachneJericho » Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:33 am

Speaking as a NaNoWriMo veteran of five years, I have found that there are a few things about the writing process:

1. The only universal constant is that every writer has their own process. Some writers plan everything, some plan nothing and go by the seat of their pants, most are somewhere inbetween.

2. The middle is by far the hardest part of the story to write. The endings are by far the hardest part of the story to come up with. These are different things.

3. Starting from the end is not a bad idea at all. Even if they eventually get dropped, they provide a final checkpoint of sorts. The most successful TV series tend to have a planned ending from the very start—even if that ending will take years to come along. Most successful series I've seen from comic books and manga to novels and anime have had endings that were decided upon very early, or at least general insinuations of endings.

4. Not having an ending's very possible detriment to the plot can be seen most clearly in contrast between the final episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

5. I will not discount anything as impossible, but I will say this: having preliminary endings makes things easier than not having a goal at all.

I think this can be adjusted for VNs by envisioning different endings, and working on pathways back from each. And hey, that method is actually used by some professional writers, even if they'll only use one ending at the, well, end.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#24 Post by Vin Howard » Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:55 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Vin Howard wrote: It really shouldn't take years to write a novel, if you can help it. I know Stephen King commented that you should get 2k words written each day (1k, 5 times a week at minimum). If it takes longer, well I don't know. I can't imagine it, and I have no experience on the subject (that is, taking years to write a story).
I believe we are talking in a general sense - not just novels, but TV series, manga series, comics, or yes, a series of novels.

Those are all things were it would be easy to just set up a general theme or situation and "explore" it as the series continues. But if you don't know what you are trying to say about that theme or situation - your final point you wish to make - it can easily become a twisted mess that fizzles out. EVERYTHING is made better by working towards a predetermined end. You can reinforce themes, create corollaries, mirror events and character situations, strengthen associations, etc. Cut the fat and ramp up impact. You can also make sure your pacing is good throughout.

I strongly disagree. You seem to be focusing so much on the ending, that you are failing to see what else goes into making a good story.

As I see it, writing a story begins as a concept or idea. For example, "What would it be like for a date sim where you played as one of the capturable heroines?"

Then once you have started created the story, you should ask yourself a very important question: "Why am I writing this? What do I hope to accomplish?"

Once you have that question answered, you don't need a fixed ending or any other artificial plot-creating device. As long as you know why you are writing, you will be able to stay focused and on task.


For example, let's look at the marvelous Baccano!, a show which breaks almost all the conventions of storytelling. That series didn't have a real ending, but it got away with that because it accomplished what it sought out to do (that is, to show that a story doesn't have to follow conventions).

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#25 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:53 pm

Vin Howard wrote: I strongly disagree. You seem to be focusing so much on the ending, that you are failing to see what else goes into making a good story.

As I see it, writing a story begins as a concept or idea. For example, "What would it be like for a date sim where you played as one of the capturable heroines?"

Then once you have started created the story, you should ask yourself a very important question: "Why am I writing this? What do I hope to accomplish?"

Once you have that question answered, you don't need a fixed ending or any other artificial plot-creating device. As long as you know why you are writing, you will be able to stay focused and on task.

For example, let's look at the marvelous Baccano!, a show which breaks almost all the conventions of storytelling. That series didn't have a real ending, but it got away with that because it accomplished what it sought out to do (that is, to show that a story doesn't have to follow conventions).
I don't know. I've rarely seen such a thing done well for long. Not even professional writers on major projects (or teams of writers on major projects) seem to be able to stay focused and on task. It is even worse on creator owned properties, because if they don't have a fixed ending, the writer tends to incorporate whatever they are feeling or interested in at that time. This can be good or bad, but it tends to create a hodge-podge of emotional flavors, and in some cases totally derailed properties.

I would argue that the concept or idea for a story IS the important question - and the ANSWER to that question is your ending. Once you've answered your "hook" - the question that makes people read your story, it is over. That's the ending. Continuing past that point is either detrimental, or you are asking a NEW question - in essence, starting a new story with the same characters. The reason this is a problem, is that characters have to grow and change for stories to be meaningful, but characters can't keep growing and changing constantly, or it dilutes the strength and meaning of their prior character defining moments. It is why long running TV series have an issue with having to enforce status quo - that's necessary to keep things from becoming ridiculous, but it is also ridiculous for characters to go through so many events without changing.

An ending is the set-up for a good story. Thousands of years of story-telling has taught us this. It's why so many stories can get away with showing you the ending FIRST, and still hold your attention.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#26 Post by OokamiKasumi » Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:59 am

Vin Howard wrote:I strongly disagree. You seem to be focusing so much on the ending, that you are failing to see what else goes into making a good story.
I agree with Late White Rabbit.

If you don't have an End, you don't have a story.
-- What goes into a story should be characters, events, and circumstances to Reach that End -- and Nothing Else. Anything else is extraneous and Doesn't Belong in that story.
Edgar Allen Poe wrote:“A skillful literary artist has a constructed tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents- he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tends not to the out-bringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step.”
-- Edgar Allen Poe -- from a critique of Hawthorn’s Twice Told Tales
Translation:
Plot everything out; every character, each location, every incident with a specific Ending in mind.
Vin Howard wrote:As I see it, writing a story begins as a concept or idea. For example, "What would it be like for a date sim where you played as one of the capturable heroines?" Then once you have started created the story, you should ask yourself a very important question: "Why am I writing this? What do I hope to accomplish?"
Those questions should be asked before you begin writing or you won't be able to set up the answers to them right from the opening paragraph. Sure you could come up with the answers later, but that means tons of rewrites plus hours of writing thrown out to make it all mesh.
  • "Why am I writing this?"
To make a game with optional romantic interests.
  • "What do I hope to accomplish?"
A satisfying Romantic ending no matter which character the player chooses.
Vin Howard wrote:Once you have that question answered, you don't need a fixed ending or any other artificial plot-creating device. As long as you know why you are writing, you will be able to stay focused and on task.
Knowing the End you wish to accomplish is what will allow focus in writing, even if that ending is simply "A Happy Ending". Not knowing the End you're aiming for, especially when writing a game will make for uneven results; some paths too long, some paths too short, some not even unfinished. Not knowing the End (and hoping you'll actually get there someday,) will Not help one's writing focus at all. Instead it will encourage inconsistent writing with the emotional context going from one end of the spectrum to the other -- according to what the writer felt the moment they wrote it. At the very least it will mean massive and frequent rewrites.

There is no wrong way to write a story.
-- However, if you decide on an ending before you begin, you'll waste a lot less time on rewrites and sitting there pondering on where your story is trying to go. You're also far more likely to finish the work.
Vin Howard wrote:For example, let's look at the marvelous Baccano!, a show which breaks almost all the conventions of storytelling. That series didn't have a real ending, but it got away with that because it accomplished what it sought out to do (that is, to show that a story doesn't have to follow conventions).
Let's look again at Baccano! -- That story not only had an End, that End was hinted at in the very first episode. In other words, the writer knew the end when he wrote that opening scene. What they did was take one story and break it up into episodes by using multiple points of view -- exactly the same way as in Pulp Fiction. In fact, it's obvious that the concept writer had been inspired by that particular movie simply by the camera angles used and the way the scenes were cut.
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#27 Post by Vin Howard » Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:17 pm

First of all, concerning that quote from Poe:

1. I already know of this quote, and I could not agree with Poe more strongly on this point

2. You are taking this quote out of context. He is referring to short stories.

---

Also, you seem to be missing the point of what I said concerning questioning yourself of why you are writing story. First, let us consider some else Stephen King said in his book:

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair--the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”

Now let me ask you something: "Why are you writing your story? What do you hope to accomplish?"

I certainly hope your answer is not "fame" or "fortune" or just to have some casual fun.

The answer to this question is something abstract, something completely you. It should come from your very being; it should be that unwavering light that drives you.

So once again I ask: "Why are you writing your story? What do you hope to accomplish?"

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#28 Post by OokamiKasumi » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:39 pm

Vin Howard wrote:First of all, concerning that quote from Poe:
1. I already know of this quote, and I could not agree with Poe more strongly on this point.
If you did, you'd be Plotting your stories "toward a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out" -- an End.
Vin Howard wrote:2. You are taking this quote out of context. He is referring to short stories.
The average Visual Novel created here usually IS a short story in length -- under 40,000 words and less than an hour to play.
Vin Howard wrote:So once again I ask: "Why are you writing your story? What do you hope to accomplish?"
Well, if you really want to know, I write to make a paycheck. I'm a full-time author.
-- Pure experience is how I know that plotting is far more effective and faster than writing what you please, as you please, when you please, while hoping you can reach an End before you write yourself into a corner you can't write yourself out of.
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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#29 Post by dmasterxd » Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:17 am

Regarding the debate between writing as you go and having an actual ending in mind, I just wanted to put my opinion in. Although I don't have a completed Visual Novel on here yet, I have written some screenplays, original stories and fanfics. One of the fanfics I wrote I used the write as you go approach and pretty much ended up BSing my way through to the end of the story with the final being as random as it could've been.

I then wrote an original story with a specific ending in mind, I followed it to the point and had all the twists and turns planned ahead and it ended up being my most popular story.

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Re: Super effective writing tips from Pixar

#30 Post by rainbowcascade » Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:05 pm

For all of you guys arguing about it, ironically, the arguments are actively encouraged by one of the guys who analyzed the whole viral "Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling"

To debunk the whole thing according to Stephan Vladimir Bugaj (who analyzed the whole thing and sourced it's roots), he wrote this very useful pdf:
http://www.bugaj.com/blog/2013/10/31/pi ... -pdf-ebook

On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted nuggets of narrative wisdom she's received working for the animation studio over the years.

So it's not Pixar who came up with the rules but one of Pixar's employees. These rules aren't set in stone, the artists and Emma herself were trying to encourage discussion and debate on each rule. So you don't have to follow word for word on these rules but it's good to think about them and how it can help your stories.

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