Well, at least it is for me, and the people where Emma Coats works.
Emma is 27 years-old and a story board artist on her way to be becoming a full fledged film director. And I bet she’ll be great at whatever she does, as long as she follows her own rules.
It’s a list of 22 writing guidelines she learned at Pixar, the most successful animation studio on the planet. Pixar is the company that turns out one block buster after another, as in Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, Up and WALL-E.
Why all the hits? Because the writers at Pixar Studios, like Pete Doctor, Bob Peterson and Andrew Stanton have figured out what makes a story work, and then they rewrite it fifty times.
Ms. Coats is seriously smart. She watched, she listened, she absorbed the wisdom. Then she organized it into a list and tweeted it to the world. Now those rules are ours and I’m going to talk about them, starting with rule one, in Emma’s words:
YOU ADMIRE A CHARACTER FOR TRYING MORE THAN FOR THEIR SUCCESSES.
Rule number one is heavy, dudes! It’s ultimately the human story. It’s what makes a hero in tales of yore and within our own lives. It’s about try, try, trying again, then finally succeeding.
THE PATH TO WINNING: We want to know its secrets and we can’t get enough examples of how rising-to-the-top is possible.
Think, the self-help section in bookstores.
Let’s face it, people. We all know that most of the time winning is the hardest thing in the world. And we admire people who don’t give up on that, especially super heroes who fight for “…truth, justice, and the American way…” as Superman did in the fifties TV show.
In real life we want to be SUPER as well, driven by an intrinsic need to respect ourselves, to be heroes in our own minds, to be heroes in the minds of the ones we love and those who love us.
Winning the grand prize or becoming Number One is not always possible. But growing into a adult, into a better version of ourselves, that IS doable, as long as we don’t give up!
EXPANDING, rather than ACHIEVING, changes the definition of success. Success isn’t limited to snatching the prize. Success is about becoming better by trying and growing, trying and growing, trying and growing. It’s the Human Journey.
Some people think the Human Journey is all about enduring pain, suffering and sacrifice while staying “pure” enough to score a VIP suite in Heaven.
What IS Heaven anyway? What is it like? Here’s what I’ve been told.
- No stress.
- No threats.
- No waiting.
- No competition.
- Instant gratification.
- And sex everyday with seventy-two virgins.
Now if you’re a lesbian or a stud under thirty, this all sounds great for about five seconds, until you realize that without work and a smidgen of effort, there’s no way to figure out if you’re any good at anything.
Without a struggle, WITHOUT MEASURED GAIN, there’s no way to wake up in the morning feeling pleased with yourself.
Put another way, if we all get everything, deserve everything, all the time, then we are all exactly equal. There are no masters, no apprentices, no winners and losers.
On paper this sounds fair, but thinking about it…NO SPECIAL WINNERS? No contrast of good, better, best? Nothing to achieve? If there’s a woodshop in Heaven, is every bird house we build effortlessly perfect?
I don’t know about you, but blissfully existing forever as a perfect game-over Soul would be a total bore. That’s gotta be why so many people choose to believe in reincarnation. It’s a return door to the mortal game of risk and glory where competition rewards and punishes.
And so here we are, by choice or chance, nesting in the human condition of hills and valleys. That’s what great stories are about: Dramatic up-hill struggles, the gains and losses along the way and eventually reaching the top.
Think, Mount Everest.
We writers have a tough job. We are expected to give our readers examples of why the sweat and toil of living is worth it, or examples of bad choices so readers don’t have to make them. And then there’s the entertainment thing.
Authors are cheerleaders, guides and mentors. So we better get our truths in place and make sure they’re constructive. We writers must move feelings and spawn new thoughts.
Think, five-star reviews.
Great sagas tell us why we matter and why being human is special. Legends tell us why some people are more special than others. Epics show that winners and heroes never give up.
So dear writers, if you want to be heroes in your own life’s story, don’t leave the game. Dance with your angels and demons…CLOSELY!
Remember, exploring your heart isn’t just about mastering a novel. It’s about leaning to be kinder, more generous, more patient, and then authoring your trials and tribulations by LIVING your experiences close to others.
Create beautiful memories for your friends and family by being beautiful in their lives. Seduce them to remember your life’s story by living an example of trust and love and doing the right thing.
There is nothing to lose by striving to be the best person you possibly can. Your endeavor to help others makes you a hero. And we all love heroes.
This brings us back to Emma’s Writing Rule Number One: We admire characters more for their trying than for their successes.
Next week we’ll look at Ms. Coats’ Rule Number Two: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
Originally posted on Curiosityquills.com.