Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled a series of tweet sharing the narrative wisdom she’s received working for the animation studio over the years on how to create appealing stories:
1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
2. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
3. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
4. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
5. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
6. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
7. 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.
8. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
9. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
10. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.