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Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

Do you know Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling? They have become a guiding beacon for storytellers and filmmakers, offering a comprehensive blueprint for crafting narratives that captivate audiences across the globe.

In this exploration, we delve into the essence of the Pixar storytelling rules, unraveling the intricate threads that weave together the magic behind some of the most beloved animated films in cinematic history.

What are Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling?

The 22 Rules of storytelling Pixar can be a helpful outline for constructing your narrative.

Storytelling, or the science of storytelling, is a methodology that uses narrative as a means created by the mind to frame events in reality and explain them according to a logic of meaning.

It differs from simple storytelling, however, because it starts with the purpose of achieving a communication goal. It is not limited to a simple chronology of events (chronicle), but its goal is to lead users to empathize, feeling the story as their own. In doing so, the message pierces all barriers because it becomes the viewer’s personal narrative.

Beginning with the first film produced by Disney and Pixar in 1995, Toy Story, the elements of storytelling that Pixar has often followed can be grouped into a list of 22 rules, the Pixar Rules.

Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling

These are the Pixar’s rules of storytelling.

  1. The viewer admires a character for trying more than success: a character who makes attempts and fails, showing that they can improve themself and turn the situation around, is an honest and sincere character to whom one becomes attached.
  2. You have to think with the viewer’s head and create a narrative that entertains the audience, not just the story’s writer.
  3. Starting with a theme is essential, but the most important and interesting part of the story develops only at the end of the narrative. Once you get to the ending, reread the story and rewrite it.
  4. There are structures that are repeated in Pixar storytelling. Expressions that are also part of the world of fairy tales such as “Once upon a time there was…”, “One day…”, “Because of that…”, and “Until finally…”.
  5. Less is more. Simplify the characters, make them interact with each other, and avoid any kind of digression that is unnecessary. A story with few elements is much better than one with too many details, which is confusing.
  6. Think about the character you created and what they are good at. Don’t make them feel in their comfort zone. Otherwise, they won’t have a chance to make mistakes and make the audience fall in love. Put your character to the test.
  7. Don’t get caught up in the narrative, not knowing what the ending of the story will be. That is the most important part, the part that will have a moral and that will stick with the audience. The advice is to think about the narrative and the ending, then to write aiming for the ending you have in mind.
  8. Perfection is difficult to achieve and is often not the goal of good storytelling. There are imperfect narratives, however, that are beautiful and remain in memories.
  9. Writer’s block happens to everyone and is something that can stop a narrative. In this case, make a list of things that would not happen in your storytelling. Often inspiration comes from just something you would have never initially considered.
  10. Read a lot and take inspiration from many stories. Make what you like your own and think about how to bring it back into your narrative.
  11. Think of as many ideas as you can think of and write them down. Seeing your inspirations in black and white will help you not to forget them and incorporate them more easily into the storytelling.
  12. As we have said, little is always better. Once the narrative is written, start eliminating one thing, then a second, a third, and so on, until you arrive at a basic but essential narrative.
  13. The audience likes characters who have their own opinion and personality. Indifferent and impassive characters, on the other hand, bore and appeal to no one.
  14. For what reason are you telling this story? What is the reason you started writing it and want to make it public? Express it.
  15. Think about your characters. How would you behave if you were in their place? Put a little bit of you into the narrative.
  16. As mentioned, the audience likes to see the attempts rather than the successes of the characters. However, it is necessary to make it clear what is at stake, and the purpose of the attempts; otherwise, the viewer may feel lost.
  17. If you get stuck at a standstill, don’t push it. Move on; think of something else. It may be that what you wrote down that stuck you initially will come in handy later.
  18. Writing a story is a test of oneself. Often hidden sides of a writer come out that one did not know. Sometimes they don’t even fit into the story and don’t make it perfect. Storytelling tests writers and allows them to get to know themselves more deeply.
  19. Write about coincidences that test your characters. These are the elements that make a narrative interesting. Those, however, that get them out of trouble are much less interesting.
  20. In item 11, we suggested writing down the ideas. Similarly, try to think of a movie you did not like and write down why. Take these elements you didn’t like, fix them and make them interesting in your storytelling.
  21. After thinking about your character and whether you would behave the same way, also try to explain why. Provide explanations for your characters’ behaviors.
  22. By now, you must have realized that the more essential a story is, the better. However, try to convey what is the heart of the narrative and its essence. The elements that surround it are outlined.

If the conflict in your story merely allows your character to show their skills, or to stretch them, you’re only halfway there. Try cranking up the discomfort, forcing your characters to dispense with whatever baggage is hindering them, and build themselves anew, to deal with the threats you’ve created.

Dean Movshovitz- Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based on Pixar’s Greatest Films

Use bibisco to effectively apply Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling

Using bibisco’s novel writer software can provide several benefits for writers who want to apply Pixar rules of storytelling. Here are a few ways in which bibisco can help:

  1. Organization: keeping track of the 22 rules of storytelling and the basic elements of storytelling can be overwhelming. However, bibisco’s software provides a structured framework for writers to organize their ideas and notes in a way that makes sense.
  2. Planning: bibisco’s software includes tools for outlining and planning a story. This can help writers apply Pixar 22 rules in a deliberate and strategic way, ensuring that each element of the story contributes to the overall narrative.
  3. Character Development: Pixar’s rules emphasize the importance of well-developed characters. bibisco’s software includes features for creating detailed character profiles, allowing writers to flesh out their characters and ensure that they are consistent throughout the story.
  4. Revision: one of Pixar writing rules is to “simplify and focus“. bibisco’s software can help writers identify areas where their story may be too complex or unfocused, allowing them to revise and refine their work.
Pixar's 22 rules of storytelling- bibisco's chapters section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s chapters section

Overall, using bibisco’s novel writer software can be a valuable tool for writers who want to apply Pixar rules for storytelling. By providing a structured framework for organization, planning, character development, and revision, bibisco can help writers create more compelling and effective stories.


Each narrative is different and should not reproduce the same elements as the previous one. These 22 rules of storytelling, however, are a great starting point from which to begin building storytelling that captures the audience and allows you to create characters that the viewer will fall in love with.

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