Pixar Rules of Story #12 – Experiment!
Discount the first thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
Rule #12 is closely linked to Rule #9: Avoid the obvious choices which taught us not to go with the obvious; to think outside the box a little if we are stuck. Stephan Vladimir Bugaj sees it as a little at odds with Rule #11, where we were told to not let perfection be the enemy of the bad – i.e. don’t let striving for perfection stop you from getting ideas out of your head, even if they are bad. Personally, I don’t feel this is necessarily a problem. I don’t see Rule #12 as concerned with perfection, but with trying stuff out to see what works.
Like many of the other rules, Rule #12 is encouraging the simplest of behaviours from us as writers… writing! Keep writing, coming up with ideas, jotting stuff down and trying different things out. The first thing we think of may be obvious and it may even be boring but it is the foundation upon which we can build, develop and twist ideas.
I doubt any of us have written any screenplays and just used the first ideas that came into our heads for each scene, plot twist or piece of dialogue. Even if we do for the first draft we will no-doubt change things as we move into rewrites.
The main aim of Rule #12 is to steer us away from obvious writing and test ourselves in generating ideas and coming up with something different or surprising when we need to.
Where I do agree with Stephan is that we should not be discounting work, just because it is the first thing we think of. Try the first thing, then the second, etc. etc. and then decide which works best. It may well end up being the first thing, on occasion, that turns out to be the best option, but that might only become apparent after going through other potential solutions to see how they work. Or don’t.
Anyway, I don’t think you need to listen to me going on about this any longer – just go and find a pen and paper and start generating ideas. We can use Rule #12 as the basis for writing exercises to come up with ideas and variations on them… an important skill to hone, so that we can generate ideas as we write stories and become better at avoiding the obvious.
Enjoy playing with ideas to get better at generating them and finding alternatives to the obvious.
So just get writing!
How do you generate story ideas?
Do you try out more than one idea when writing?
Feel free to comment below and remember to come back next week for Rule #13 – Passive is Poison
Please also check out the Introduction to the series if you missed that!
(Thanks again to Alex Eylar for permission to use his great images)