Story Wisdom From Pixar

Emma Coats is a Pixar story artist who tweeted a series of story advice back in 2011. Here’s what she wrote:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

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

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#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.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

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

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

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

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Sumputous Souvlaki: Rockin’ Greek

What are a few of the foods you know they eat in Greece?

Gyros.

Baklava.

Greek salad.

Tzatziki. (This is one we are especially proud we can pronounce or spell.)

Let me introduce you to the Souvlaki.

The meat of souvlaki is marinated (with lemon, oil, and spices) steak, chicken, or lamb, placed on a skewer, broiled over charcoal. The bread is  pita bread- thick pockets of dough. Tzatziki can be added to the dish. But you also have onions and peppers to add to it. There’s also lettuce and tomatoes you could add and each place is different in how it will be plated.

It is usually served with fried potatoes or french fries. I’ve found it served at the most unlikely places, but next time you get the chance. Take a chance on it.

So what’s your favorite Greek dish? Where do you get the best Greek food (aside from in Greece)?

Traveling for $3.50 with Megabus

Have you heard of Megabus?

It’s a bus service that will often travel non-stop routes to certain popular destinations. They operate in the US, UK, Canada, and Europe.

These double-decker buses with bathrooms are available to you if you would like to travel, work, and relax at the same time. The bus offers free wi-fi, outlets next to your seat for charging your electronic devices, and you have to have a credit card to travel so there is a possibility of eliminating all sorts of unfavorable characters from your trip.

I have seen these buses traveling on the highways with some frequency and always figured the $1 fare was a farce. But when a friend recently told me of a trip from Chicago to Atlanta for $3.50, I checked it out. The trip was $1 each way and a $1.50 travel fee. This friend is going to travel for $3.50. Granted you kind of need to keep your schedule flexible for those kinds of fares to happen. However, if you are in a pinch, consider it. I’ve heard it’s a lot better than Greyhound.

In my research, I’ve seen people travel from Manchester to London for 2.50 sterling pounds or pretty similar from Newcastle to London as well. Considering a train or plane fare is considerably more, this seems like a good way to travel on a budget. You can also travel via Megabus from Ireland to England.

Since I have never actually taken a trip on one, I’ve included some links of reviews that I read and their comments. So next time you think you can’t afford to travel, think again. With some good noise-cancelling headphones and a good book to read, you might be at your destination before you know it.

Megabus reviews:

http://janschroder.com/blog/?p=1692

http://www.traveling9to5.com/2013/05/the-ultimate-guide-to-riding-the-megabus/