Blogging Challenge: Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

I’m starting a blogging challenge! I’ll be blogging every day for the next 22 days about Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling. I’ll blog on one rule each day- short posts with my thoughts and reactions to the principle. Basically, the how and why of the idea.

So, here’s why I’m doing this challenge:

Back in 2012, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted 22 140-character pieces of writing wisdom under the hashtag #storybasics. If I’m understanding the story correctly, these aren’t official pieces of advice from Pixar itself nor are they necessarily techniques or ideas Ms. Coats developed herself. I’ve seen some of the ideas elsewhere, and some are time-tested story techniques. Here’s her post compiling the advice.

The advice Ms. Coats tweeted circulated widely under the name “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.” March 13 of this year, an article from The New Yorker, “The Problem with Processed Storytelling“, discusses the idea of those 22 rules. The article protests that “the story-processing that the Pixar list outlines turns movies into a delivery system for a uniform set of emotional juicings, and the result, whether for C.G.I. or for live-action films, is a sort of cyborg cinema, a prefabricated simulacrum of experience and emotion that feels like the nexus of pornography and propaganda.”

I disagree. Storytelling works according to certain principles, which can be bent or turned inside out as creativity demands, but it still operates according to basic ideas. Why? Because of how humans process and perceive things. Following those principles doesn’t create a cookie-cutter, emotionally-manipulative product. Poor execution of those ideas might, but that’s just poor writing. Good writing uses principles like Pixar’s 22 rules to tap into how people think and react, thereby connecting with the audience. Writing is both an art and a science, and it does function according to certain basic principles.

My purpose here isn’t to discuss the article from The New Yorker, however. The article just provided my motivation for the blogging challenge. So, I’ll be blogging about 1 rule a day, starting tomorrow morning!

Writers, if you want to join the blogging challenge, let me know on Twitter or in the comments here! I have a few friends who are going to do this with me, and I’ll be linking to their blogs in the bottom of each of my posts. Basically, you’d post once a day (or more if you didn’t see this in time and need to catch up a day or two), working down through the list of rules I linked to above. Link to the other bloggers (who will be introduced in my post for day 1) at the bottom of your daily post. That’s it!

Readers, keep an eye out for my post on Rule #1 tomorrow morning! Also, check out the 22 rules from Ms. Coates and read the New Yorker article, if you like. It’s interesting stuff and they do have some worthy points. In case you’re interested to see more of my thoughts on that article, here are my thoughts I posted on Twitter this morning.

8 thoughts on “Blogging Challenge: Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

  1. Pingback: Allowing Theme To Develop Itself: #3 of Pixar Storytelling « Kate Brauning

  2. Pingback: Pixar 22: Rule 2- Flings vs. Soulmates « Kate Brauning

  3. I want to do it! I know I’m about a day late, but PERHAPS since my blog is still down, I could put together a guest post for later this week or sometime next week? Up to you. Awesome post. Hilarious tweets.

  4. Pingback: Pixar 22: Rule 1- Character Struggle « Kate Brauning

  5. Great idea, Kate. I wish I could join in the blogging challenge, but I’m in the midst of moving. Taking a load to the new house today. Maybe I can play catchup when I return. Either way, I’ll enjoy reading your posts.

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