Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling – Rule 4

Hey there!

Go ahead…ask me about storytelling, and how important it is to your VO career to develop and hone your storytelling skills.

It’s essential.

So, every so often, I like to roll out items from this list from Emma Coats, who used to work at Pixar as a story artist, and who serially tweeted Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.

I’m giving you one of these rules every so often as we move through the next several months, along with how you can apply the rule to your VO artistry.

Today, Rule 4…

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

One of my basic pieces of advice when cold reading at commercial copy in particular (because it’s sometimes a bit difficult to find), and with any copy in general, is to look for the journey.

Your job is to lead the listener to the promised land. To share with them the secret sauce – that which will give them the answer to their pain, the joy to live a better day, a valuable piece of information that could change their lives.

Your character is on that journey. How would you tell the character’s journey to a child? If you had to relate to the character, beginning with the phrase “Once upon a time…” where would the character start and end up?

It may sound strange, but it’s not just in audiobooks and animation/videogames where the characters have distinct journeys. There’s a journey for the announcer or character in every one minute trailer, every 30 second commercial, every 15 second network promo.

Discover the journey, and your path is golden. Fake it, or ignore it, and your path is foggy and dark and dangerous.

So discover it. And tell it.


Next rule?


I’ll share that with you in the next post about these rules.

Hope this helps.


2 Responses to Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling – Rule 4

  1. KK Ryder April 24, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    This is so true-about the journey I notice when I notice doing the audiobook I am on right now-there is a certain cadence in my narrator which carries over to the slightly different cadence in my main character- bbut if I start off not giving it that “Journey” feel- it does FEEL like something is not quite right and it just keeps feeling like I’m sort of walking off a dark cliff. when this happens I stop-go outside for a breather,play with my dog and take a 10 min break. when I go back in… just get rid of the other take altoghether start from scratch and usually there is a new found path for my journey!

  2. Tracy Elman April 24, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Very True!

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