1. Asaph Judea Wagner
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    Asaph Judea Wagner Member

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    The Pixar Formula

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Asaph Judea Wagner, Feb 5, 2013.

    I attempted now to create a "formula" I feel all the Disney and Pixar movies fall into. Still there is much room for interpretation, especially about minor characters.

    Act I

    1. Introducing the character and settings, the character is relatable by being in a diminutive situation
    2. Protagonist hesitates for a change (planting punch line I)
    3. Protagonist goes through a breakdown
    4. Protagonist is off on a quest to redeem himself
    5. Protagonist reaches his goal
    6. Protagonist loses the goal and creates a bad mistake from it
    7. Protagonists doesn't regain the goal in the blame of the foil
    8. The protagonist is pursued by others wanting to fix his mistake (punch line II)

    Act II

    9. Protagonist has to go on a journey he didn't want to for that goal forced by foil
    10. Protagonist is attempted to be stopped by the yet to be reveled antagonist under seems to be lawful claims
    11. Pursuers may run into the antagonist, hindering them from fixing that mistake
    12. Protagonist begins to attach to the new foil when realizing more about it
    13. Protagonist helps the foil reach his goal
    14. Protagonist is conceived somehow to stop the foil's journey, usually by the unknown antagonist

    Act III

    15. Protagonist returns from original quest victorious
    16. Protagonist realizes the foil's goal is the one that mattered
    17. Protagonist also realizes about the nature of the antagonist (punch line IV)
    18. The pursuers of the protagonist come to help him
    19. The antagonist reveals himself; it is the punch line
    20. The original mistake made by the protagonist has sprouted
    21. Protagonist is in a lose-lose situation
    22. Protagonist sacrifices himself
    23. Protagonist is miraculously saved by the foil
    24. The protagonist and the foil win something
    25. In the epilogue, everything is better than before, the protagonist and the foil gained what they were looking and each other and all loose ends are tied with a happy ever after ending

    Is it on the money, or requires a few changes?
     
  2. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    It works for them I am sure. And loosely, it can probably hold some good advice on structure. But it's a bit too specific for my tastes.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    my question is 'why?'...

    what's the purpose of this 'formula'?... are you trying to write a script to submit to them?... or what?
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I've both heard, and read this, and every time I still shake my head. Hard and fast "formula" type thinking creates "formula" cookie-cutter novels. What works in screen writing doesn't necessarily translate to novels and short stories. Despite the claim otherwise by some posters, there ins't an "Act 1, Act 2, Act 3" formula in forms of writing outside of plays and movie scripts. Sometimes people spend so much time trying to reinvent the wheel that it doesn't work. As Scotty said in Star Trek III:

    "The more they over think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain,"

    Create a good story line, and then tell your story. Worrying about the other things will paralyze a person.
     
  5. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    You should look into vladimir propp's narrative mechanics, Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" and the Monomyth - all of these things are devoted to the notion of breaking down a story into its common elements.

    As an academic study of why traditional storytelling is done in a certain way, it's very interesting. I wouldn't say using it is cookie-cutting exactly because their elements are so ubiquitous they can be stretched to accommodate almost any general narrative.

    I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of you trying to create this formula is:

    If you think you're the first person to notice, you aren't. Story composition like this has been studied for centuries.

    If you think Pixar are the first to have a successful formula, they aren't. They're just adhering to a tried a true formula that's been around for over three thousand years.

    Finally, if you're planning on writing to this formula, just don't. I shouldn't have to describe the flaws of writing to a set list of criteria like that.

    Hint: In creative circles, "formulaic" is an insult.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You already posted this in this thread: http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=59549.

    Why did you repost it here, ESPECIALLY after the other thread was moved to the Lounge?
     
  7. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    i thought the formula was "sugar and spice and everything nice" cooked in an evil looking pot :D
     
  8. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    Well, every kid goes through all this one way or another. Some of them have it much easier, but the life "plot" is the same over and over again, that's why Pixar does it so great. But its for the kids, so they shows motivations, that everything is a journey, not just a depression. Even if you didn't experienced it, you can understand them, because you kind of know something about these things.

    Its for sure like group of social scientists brought it up and they strictly follow some common rules, to make everybody happy and motivated. Unfortunately almost everytime is the issue solved by something protagonist didn't really influenced and then it goes kind of lame. Like Harry Potter who can't really do almost any magic tricks, but somehow does it with faith or whatever. That is not very good example for the kids
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    very perceotive observations, teo!
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Google "Hero's Journey". It is basically a theory of a monomyth, it's been around since the '60s and it represents the stages in the journey of the protagonist in traditional fairytales, all of which show this progression.

    All the stages are outlined and discussed in much (useful)detail in the book "Writer's Journey" by Vogler.
     
  11. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    thanks, mom
     

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