Course: ANI 402 – 3D Animation Projects

3 Lessons For Writing Timeless Stories :: “Toy Story” Edition, by Chris Oatley

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      Carlo Diego

      Buzz Lightyear puffs his chest. Woody is unimpressed.

      What makes Toy Story a timeless classic?

      In this short video tutorial, I share three lessons to help you create stories that resonate – to infinity and beyond.

      [ download the video ] [ download the transcript ]

      Lesson 1: The Premise Is Universal
      Almost every child wonders, at some point, if their toys come to life when they leave the room.

      When developing new story ideas, be careful not to overlook familiar subjects and situations.

      Lesson 2: The Humor Is Universal
      Buzz Lightyear thinks he can't breathe.Buzz Lightyear thinks he can’t breathe.The humor is grounded in truth.

      …but not the truth of our ephemeral pop culture.

      The humor in Toy Story is grounded in the timeless truths that each character represents:

      • Woody’s Temper
      • Buzz Lightyear’s Hubris
      • Rex’s Insecurity
      • …and so on.

      You can avoid shallow jokes when you infuse your story with humor that is vulnerable, personal and even embarrassingly honest.

      Lesson 3: Woody’s Fear Is Universal
      Woody in a dark a moment while trapped at Sid's house.Woody in a dark a moment while trapped at Sid’s house.Woody helps us deal with our own darkest fears.

      His primal motivation is the fear of being forgotten and replaced.

      …a spiritual death of sorts.

      When his relationship with Buzz evolves from resentment to mutual respect, we learn that true friendship is worth the struggle because it makes us a more present, vital and invested individual.

      Whether you’re writing a gritty indie comic or family-friendly animation, confront your own darkest fears.

      Use the story teach yourself a lesson and you’ll be more likely to inspire lasting, meaningful connections with and among your audience.

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