Thursday, August 1, 2013

The 22 Rules of Storytelling

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

As a mom, one of the most special pleasures in my day is tucking my kids in at night and telling them a bedtime story.  Each of my kids has their favorites—Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by the talented Eric Carle, and one of my top picks—The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, to name just three. 

Sometimes, I truly don’t know who enjoys this ritual more—me or my kids.  For one, I have their undivided attention because they are finally winding down from a very busy day, and though their little minds may still be racing about the slimy frog they caught in the backyard or about the gigantic pillow fort they intend on building in our family room the following day they begin to relax into the safe haven of their bedrooms and a feeling of contentedness and bliss just envelopes the room.  It’s like flipping an invisible switch from chaos to peaceful the minute those first few pages are read.

We don’t always stick to the tried and true book requests every night.  Many times one of them will excitedly say “Mom, can you tell us a story about________________?”  We fill in the blank with countless topics—outer space, mermaids, secret tunnels in our back yard—you name it.  If I’m feeling particularly creative I find there is no end to the story lines I can conjure up in a moment’s notice.  On the other hand, there are plenty of nights I have to really search my make-believe data base to come up with something that I hope will hold their attention. 

Writers can often think off the cuff and regardless of whether their ideas turn into anything tangible or not, it’s the process of grabbing a concept out of thin air and turning it into something concrete that can be so fulfilling and exciting. When we get stuck, however, we seek out our favorite methods to bust through our writer's block so we can keep at it, and for me watching funny movies usually does the trick.

During the summer months, my family and I tend to see movies more than any other time of the year.  Last week, we saw a delightful children’s movie called Despicable Me 2.  I won’t go into detail about the plot, but what I will share is that watching this animated movie really got me thinking outside the box with my own storytelling.  No matter how ridiculous some ideas may seem, when they are fabricated into a final product that bring loveable and even sinister characters into your life which cause you to think, feel, and breathe a little differently the result in my mind is a job well done.

I recently found a list of 22 Rules of Storytelling created by Pixar that have really sparked my muse.  I thought I’d end my post today by sharing them.  Perhaps you’ll find a few of these rules as interesting as I did.
My favorite on the list is:  “Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle.  Seriously, endings are hard, get yours working up front.”

Which rule do you like best?  Please share with us here in the comments.

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