Imagery, Humanity, and Storytelling with Miyazaki

When I want to watch a movie on a random night, there’s a good chance I’m going to pick a movie by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Movies like Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle are some of my favorites, and I go back to Miyazaki’s work over and over. The storytelling is thoughtful and the art is fun and beautiful, and even in fantastical settings his characters feel so real.

I love this video that talks about why Miyazaki’s films are so successful, including his focus on precise character actions, clear character needs, and fostering human empathy on screen.

Basically, Miyazaki’s films are a masterclass in storytelling and character development. So when I watch them over and over, it’s totally for professional reasons.

When Words Aren’t Enough, Use GIFs

GIFs may have been around for a while, but they’re certainly having a good time in 2012. I’m certainly happy that GIF was picked as the Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year 2012. Of course, Dumbledore expresses it better than I can:

Where would we be without GIFs? In a land of sadness, that’s where. A few of my favorite GIF-related blogs:

Feel free to share your own GIFs in the comments. Happy GIFing!

The Rules of Storytelling According to Pixar

Yesterday I caught the beginning of Finding Nemo. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times now and I always tear up at the beginning. “No, this time will be different,” I tell myself. “I know what’s coming.” But damnit, every time Marlin holds that little fish egg my lip starts quivering. Sometimes I think Pixar is out to make adults weep as much as possible.

Even if their goal isn’t to steal the tears of every living adult and child, Pixar does know how to tell a good story. So even if you’re not a screenwriter, you should probably check out this list of storytelling rules by Pixar artist Emma Coats. A few that I really liked:

“#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.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.”

To me, these are all about pushing yourself as a writer. In early drafts, I tend to give my characters easy outs or not insert enough tension to really fuel the story. You want to make things hard for your characters because a) life is hard and b) drama is compelling. And if you can think of an easy way out for your characters, the audience has probably already thought of that as well, which isn’t compelling for them.

Make sure to check out the whole list. It’s a fantastic resource for writers of all levels.

(Also, who’s excited for Brave?!)

(via 109)(image: Pixar Wiki)