Back in 2011, a Emma Coats tweeted a series of “story basics” she absorbed and distilled during her tenure as a story artist at Pixar. These tweets were aggregated by many bloggers, who tended to refer to them as “pixar story rules,” even though they were never represented by Coats as “rules,” or “Pixar’s.”
I found Emma’s tweets insightful and useful (especially when rendered in Lego). As with any pithy, tweet-sized aphorisms, they were more interesting for the thoughts they spurred in the reader than as hard and fast “rules” on their own (as Emma was always quick to point out herself). To me, what was most valuable about these observations was what happened inside my head when I read them.
Another Pixar employee, Stephan Bugaj (a good friend who consulted on the design of Slugline), would seem to agree, as he blogged his analyses of each of the rules-that-aren’t-rules. He recently completed the series of 22 posts, and has compiled them all into a PDF e-book, which you can download free from his site.
Pixar’s cultural commitment to storytelling is something special, and any window into it is gold. But in the same way that Emma’s tweets were her own, Stephan’s analysis is all him—and it’s definitely worth a read.