August 6, 2012

Storytelling tips from the experts at Pixar

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Is this the chewiest infographic you’ve seen this week?

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

Lauren MajorStorytelling is often undervalued by nonprofits but is a key ingredient to furthering their mission and enhancing their fundraising efforts. ”Pixar’s 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling” was compiled by PB&J Publishing based upon tweets by Emma Coats, an expert storyboard artist at Pixar.

As we’ve written about regularly on Socialbrite, your nonprofit or organization has a story to tell, and it starts with effective storytelling techniques.

Below the infographic you’ll find the text version.

22 storytelling tips from a Pixar storyboard artist

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. 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.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally, ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfrotable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. 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.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us a reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on– it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie your dislike. How do you rearrange them into what yo DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

These great tips will help nonprofits capture their unique stories and engage their audiences.

What do you think of Pixar’s tips? Add your thoughts in the comments.

Related

• Techniques to add dazzle to your advocacy video (Socialbrite)

• 4 successful strategies for engaging interviews (Socialbrite)

• Spotlight: Homeless in Dehradun – Multimedia Storyteller Frank Rohrig (Major Multimedia)Lauren Major is a visual storyteller who helps nonprofits, NGOs and small to mid-size businesses create and share their stories of social good and corporate social responsibility. She is a visual artist, consultant, producer and a partner in Socialbrite. Visit her profile page, see her Major Multimedia site and blog, follow her on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment.

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  • http://humanwebsite.com.my/ Kent

    When talk about storytelling, we need to read Robert McKee’s book. He is the greatest story teller.