Rules for Storytelling

Do you have rules for storytelling?

I'm not really sure I do.  When I think about it, the words of advice I regularly dispense–make your character want something, add more conflict than you think you need, have at least a general notion of where you're going next–echo in my brain, but I'm not sure they add up to rules.

(An old writing buddy of mine who I've since lost touch with felt that men like to create and follow rules, whereas women are more freeform.  Perhaps that is why.)

But still and all, I'm always looking for any rule or guideline or even vague idea that will help me with my writing.  And I often tell anyone who will listen students, clients and readers that screenwriters come up with lots of helpful bits to apply to story.

So I was interested to find this link, to an infographic on Pixar's 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling. These rules were developed by Brave artist Emma Coats and are the lessons she's learned working at Pixar.   The list has some good stuff in it.  Here's the infographic:

The really cool thing is that you can buy this as a print on Etsy.  Follow this link to learn more.  Wouldn't it make a wonderful Christmas present for your favorite writer?  Like, maybe, yourself?

So, what of it–do you have rules for storytelling?  Which of these rules resonate with you?

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6 Responses to Rules for Storytelling

  1. Zan Marie 12/01/2012 at 06:01 #

    Those are thought provoking. I’ll have to take time to dive in and really think about them. Thanks for the list, Charlotte. The way I see it, if one of these helps you write, you’re ahead. ; )

  2. Charlotte Dixon 12/01/2012 at 06:48 #

    I've sat with the list for awhile now and some have begun to have more meaning than others.  But, overall, I think it's very worthwhile.  Thanks, as always, for commenting, Zan Marie.

  3. Lucy 12/01/2012 at 16:38 #

    They are all words of wisdom but I think I like No. 17….”no work is ever wasted”. I know just the perfect person to give this as a gift to…. me!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 12/01/2012 at 20:15 #

    I agree, Lucy! It's a great present for yourself!

  5. Melissa Marsh 12/02/2012 at 11:37 #

    Very interesting. I guess the one that struck me is this one: “If you were your character in a situation, how would you feel?” For me, though, part of the fun of writing fiction is going outside of ourselves and looking at how other people would react. I know lots of times that if I were to put myself in some of the situations my characters are in, I’d probably run into the bedroom and hide under the blankets. So I have to go outside myself and really take a look at how the character would react, and not me. This isn’t always true, of course, and I do often put myself in their shoes and try to imagine how I’d react. But sometimes I “flip” that reaction and do the opposite.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 12/02/2012 at 14:30 #

    I've experimented with journaling my reaction and then journaling a character's. Kind of fun. And sometimes it's totally opposite but not always.

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