Lace up and head on out into your story.

By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

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. Pixar story artist Emma Coats

A few days ago, I talked about high concept and the art of the tagline.  The idea was to distill your story down to its most basic elements – to help you stay on track but also to identify the strengths (and weaknesses) of your narrative.

Descriptions, dialogue and character development are all the juicy fillings inside what is – hopefully – an airtight plot.  While ruminations and meanderings can sometimes be interesting or enlightening, the truth is when a story is promised, a story better be delivered.  We can always turn to poems, music, blogs and personal essays for our other needs – but when narrative is attempted, a narrative arc better be in evidence.

But how do you get there?  Most of us write in a kind of blur – words slamming down one right after the other like spikes in a chain gang – and once we’ve run out of steam we’re often surprised where we ended up.  And while I’m not one to favor specific rules, I do think that – like the tagline – certain hints and tools can elevate your efforts and lead you towards a more successful outcome.  It’s the difference between taking a health supplement and buying the right kind of running shoes: one is just something to be added to the routine (dump that protein powder into the blender and stir), the other is an essential piece of equipment.

While doing the “rounds” on the Internet today, I came across Pixar story artist Emma Coats 22 story rules.   Pixar films are just about perfect – you’d be hard pressed to find one false note in any of their movies, and the first few minutes of Up are better than about 80% of all the other full length films that clog up the multiplex every year.  Check out Coats advice – I think amongst her 22 tweets, you find words of wisdom, tricks of the trade, and the right sort of storytelling “equipment” for all your writing activities.

And if you have an aversion to long lists, or just happen to love Legos (and and who doesn’t?), then check out 12 Lego interpretations of Coats’s advice, courtesy of the folks at Geek Tyrant and created by Alex Eylaraka ICanLegoThat.

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