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6 Rules of Great Storytelling (As Told by Pixar)

6 Rules for Great Storytelling

  1. Great stories convey things common to the human condition in unique situations. They are universal. 
  2. Great stories have a clear structure and purpose. 
  3. People find it easy to root for an underdog and they don’t even need to succeed. They value the character’s journey over their destination.
  4. Great stories appeal to our deepest emotions. 
  5. Having the readers perceptions of reality challenged or changed in some way makes for great storytelling.
  6. Great stories are simple and focused. Resist the urge to show all the world building you made to allow your audience to get lost in the narrative. You can test your story by reading it to a new person and watching their reactions and questions.

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6 Rules of Great Storytelling (As Told by Pixar)

6 Rules of Great Storytelling (As Told by Pixar)

https://medium.com/@Brian_G_Peters/6-rules-of-great-storytelling-as-told-by-pixar-fcc6ae225f50

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Key Ideas

Pete Docter

Pete Docter

“What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some particular way. And what you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to get the audience to have that same feeling.”

Pixar’s Plotting Techniques For Structure And Purpose

The Story Spine structure: Once upon a time there was [blank]. Every day, [blank]. One day [blank]. Because of that, [blank]. Until finally [bank].

A story’s purpose: find why you want to tell this story, what belief of yours fueled that story, what does it teach and its purpose. Stories with a purpose that you are passionate about have a bigger impact.

Jon Westenberg

Jon Westenberg

“Storytelling is the greatest technology that humans have ever created.” 

6 Rules for Great Storytelling

  1. Great stories convey things common to the human condition in unique situations. They are universal. 
  2. Great stories have a clear structure and purpose. 
  3. People find it easy to root for an underdog and they don’t even need to succeed. They value the character’s journey over their destination.
  4. Great stories appeal to our deepest emotions. 
  5. Having the readers perceptions of reality challenged or changed in some way makes for great storytelling.
  6. Great stories are simple and focused. Resist the urge to show all the world building you made to allow your audience to get lost in the narrative. You can test your story by reading it to a new person and watching their reactions and questions.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Steve Jobs

“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of ..."

Steve Jobs
Storytelling Is Everything

Whether it's telling inspiring stories to customers or delivering a presentation to executives and the board of directors, being a good storyteller helps us make the leap from Good to Great.

Product managers and designers can benefit tremendously by great storytelling, and so can anyone who is working with product design.

Purpose

Instead of selling products, we need to focus on their purpose and what good it does for the end-user. Focus on the need of the customer and design the product around it.

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Rules of storytelling, according to Pixar
  • Emphasize trying more than success.
  • Having an initial theme while writing is important but don’t get too attached to it.
  • Cutting things out
Storytelling is...
Storytelling is...
...the process of using fact and narrative to communicate something to your audience. Some stories are factual, and some are embellished or improvised in order to better explain the core message.
Why we tell stories
  • Stories solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages;
  • Stories bring people together: stories connect us through the way we feel and respond to them;
  • Stories inspire and motivate, by tapping into people’s emotions and baring both the good and bad.
Good stories are …
  • Entertaining. Good stories keep the reader engaged and interested in what’s coming next.
  • Educational. Good stories spark curiosity and add to the reader’s knowledge bank.
  • Universal. Good stories are relatable to all readers and tap into emotions and experiences that most people undergo.
  • Organized. Good stories follow a succinct organization that helps convey the core message and helps readers absorb it.
  • Memorable. Whether through inspiration, scandal, or humor, good stories stick in the reader’s mind.

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Three-Act storytelling structure
Three-Act storytelling structure

One of the oldest and most straightforward storytelling formulas:

  • Setup: Set the scene and introduce the character(s)
  • Confrontation or “Rising action” : Present a p...
Five-Act storytelling structure

Also known as Freytag’s Pyramid:

  • Exposition: Introduce important background information
  • Rising action: Tell a series of events to build up to the climax
  • Climax: Turn the story around (usually the most exciting part of the story)
  • Falling action: Continue the action from the climax
  • Dénouement: Ending the story with a resolution.
Before – After – Bridge storytelling formula
  • Before: Describe the world with Problem A.
  • After: Imagine what it’d be like having Problem A solved.
  • Bridge: Here’s how to get there.

Set the stage of a problem that your target audience is likely to experience ( a problem that your company solves). Describe a world where that problem didn’t exist. Explain how to get there or present the solution (i.e. your product or service).

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Purpose of Storytelling
  • Clarifies The Vision and Mission of an Organization. Reinforces the intent of the leadership. 
  • Helps to Address strong challenges of organizational culture. It ...
Exercise for Corporate Leaders

Consider utilizing the exercise below to help develop a positive story:

  • Identify a successful event within the organization, or, an accomplishment by its personnel.
  • Detail the actions leading up to and following the event in chronological order.
  • Develop a 5 minute and 2 minute version of the story for use when speaking with your internal leadership team and personnel.
Purpose of storytelling

In the workplace, storytelling serves as an essential, powerful tool for effective communication.

It gets people excited around an idea, or a value, or perhaps some drier information t...

Tip 1. Make it personal.
Great stories reveal a piece of yourself. Ask yourself:

- What makes you care about the work that you do?
- What part of you outside of your work is present inside of that world?
- If in financial services, for example, what is it behind the numbers and data that are at the emotional core of your work?

Tip 2. Show passion

The story needs to have stakes without being necessarily significant. Ask yourself:
What gets you excited about what you’re talking about? 
- Why do you care? 


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The Science Of Storytelling

According to Will Storr, author of ‘The Science Of Storytelling’, reality is just a phrase for a common set of shared facts and surroundings and is mainly a mind construct. We may not be living in ...

Change Matters

Human beings react to physical and environmental changes all the time. Likewise, a good story requires changes and challenges, and characters need to be provided with certain crossroads of change, else the story does not move.

Cause And Effect

Incomplete stories are filled automatically by the brain, as we have an urge to find meaning in everything. We also tend to believe the simplest explanations. Stories need to be shown a linear cause and effect for the reader to stay interested. If there are too many effects, the effect is lost.

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Bring People Into Your World

Walt Disney took suspension of reality a step further building theme parks that brought people into his world. You can bring people into your world through storytelling and brand activation.

...

Suspend Reality

Suspending reality is a powerful storytelling technique as it creates a safe, magical world in which to contend with powerful emotions and themes, and it allows the viewer or listener to be transported and associate that escape from reality with the story.

Anything is possible and that becomes inspiration.

Focus on Shared Desires

Disney stories have a near universal appeal because they are designed around struggles and desires that are common to humans everywhere.

You can apply this message to storytelling in your company, too. When you’re communicating with your customers, you should focus on the shared experiences and desires that make your product so valuable.

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Matthew Luhn

“When you share a personal, professional moment where you’ve changed in a positive way, you inspire people. That's..."

Matthew Luhn
Closing A Hiring Pitch

Bring the hiring pitch home with personal stories that show how people authentically live out your company’s mission. Pixar’s films often start from a real, personal story.

Your company’s big-picture mission might be inspiring, but it’s not necessarily personal. You can make it more personal by peppering your pitches with personal anecdotes about ways that you’ve changed.

Feeding Interest With The Promise Of Change

After you’ve hooked your audience/candidate, you need to catch their attention and get the story moving by animating it with change and transformation. In Pixar’s movies, that change isn’t just about reversals of fortune—they’re about personal transformation.

Great stories promise to change the life of the protagonist who we imagine ourselves to be, if not our own. In light of that, recruiters should focus on how candidates’ lives will change—not just their day-to-day tasks, but also how the new role will change the way they feel. 

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Grieving the ending of a series

There are varying degrees of grief (the end of a movie or show is obviously not the same as the death of a person), but many people do experience feelings of loss around different forms o...

Connecting to stories and characters

We are genuinely invested in the outcome of a story and the state of the various characters.

These connections to fictional stories and characters are why many people share their opinions about the plots and characters’ actions. People feel so connected, and in some cases, they feel like they have ownership over something.

TV series as a form of detachment

For many people, watching a show regularly can be a form of temporarily checking out of what’s going on in the real world.

It’s a way we detach from our own issues, our own problems. And the thought of giving that up and coming back to our own world is a little frightening for people.

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