Disney How To

Learn how to tell a story, the Pixar way

A few months back, Web Watch told you about how Hemingway chose to write: be as concise as possible, don’t say in six words what you say in five.

Storytelling – whether it be written or verbal, for fun or for profit – is not something that comes naturally to everyone.  It’s another reason why public speaking can be so difficult, as well.  People naturally like to wander in their conversations, and becoming laser-focused on what you’re trying to say is a skillset that not everyone has.

Why take 20 minutes to tell a story when you can say the same thing in five minutes?  You can always expand on what you’re talking about, especially as part of a continued conversation.  But don’t give everything away on your own – your audience will become quickly bored.

So what should you do?

The Pixar Touch
The Pixar Touch

Just learn how to TELL A STORY THE PIXAR WAY.

Pixar is already lauded for their ability to get to the essence of every story they produce (Cars 2 notwithstanding, if one were to believe popular opinion online).  UP, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Wall-E (and others) are all heralded as the pinnacle of what movie storytelling is all about.  Not one scene, line of dialogue is wasted in Pixar’s films.

So how do they do that?

Let’s read some of what Pixar staffer Emma Coats had to say about some of the rules Pixar story crafters live by as they create the next Pixar masterpiece:

  • Keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s interesting to you
  • Come up with the ending before you determine the middle. Endings are hard.
  • What’s the essence of your story? What’s the most economical way to tell it? From there, you can expand.
  • No work is ever wasted.
  • Why must you tell THIS story?
  • When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Often, that which will get you unstuck will show up

These and other tips are things that you should be able to apply to your next presentation, phone conversation, vacation slideshow, small talk with friends.

Summarize, get to the good stuff.  The rest will follow.