Sweet video hit online recently, especially for us Pixar fans. Check it out:
Video focuses on one of 22 ‘rules’ Pixar has for their story-crafting process: Why must you tell this story? Interestingly Andrew Stanton, one of Pixar’s directors who has been involved writing Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and the upcoming Finding Dory, was traveling yesterday and answered a bunch of questions lobbed his way on Twitter. Among the queries was precisely on this point:
There was a deep emotional wound leftover from the first story that needed to be healed; a hole to be filled. https://t.co/pZDFEHEM8S
— andrew stanton (@andrewstanton) May 13, 2016
There you go. Why did this story need to be told? Because of a “deep emotional wound leftover from the first story that needed to be healed.” A rationale from within the story universe arising from some of the characters.
This question is also relevant outside any given story universe and that is this: What is your personal connection to the story which compels you to write it? Not just a reason arising from within the story universe itself, but your own emotional resonance with the material.
When you write on assignment, you have to damn well discover a connection to the story or else you will not do the project justice. But if you’re writing a spec script, there is absolutely no reason to pursue it unless you can provide strong answers to both levels of this question – a need arising from within the story universe and a need arising from within you.
By the way, I object to the migration of language in relation to the 22 Pixar ‘rules’. Emma Coats (@lawnrocket), who worked at Pixar before moving on, is responsible for sending these 22 items out into the online universe via her Twitter account back in 2011. And she referred to them as “story basics”. Not rules. Basics. Somehow that got transmogrified into rules and I hate that word. There. Are. No. Rules.
So please, when you consider these 22 items, don’t think of them as rules, think of them as touchstones for storytelling, considerations to bear in mind to help steer your process and engender your creativity.