The Lost 23rd Rule of Storytelling – Pixar’s 22 Rules

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Tl;dr - Former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats famously tweeted out the 22 rules of storytelling according to Pixar, but we found the 23rd rule.
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The 22 Rules of Storytelling

Former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats famously tweeted out the rules of storytelling according to Pixar.

This list came out as a series of tweets, each describing one rule and providing some serious wisdom for writers.

Here are Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling, according to Emma:

The Missing 23rd Rule

For years, this list has been published, quoted, and republished. Teachers reference it when lecturing to future screenwriters, and young storytellers have this list pinned to their wall as a reminder.

But, after looking back at Emma’s tweets, I uncovered a hidden gem…

In the corner, under a pile of dusty articles and retweets, I pulled out a missing 23rd rule.

The tweet reads:

#23: Be aware of the conventions & assumptions that go with your genre. Acknowledge them, then subvert them; don't ignore them.:

Why This Rule Is So Important

In this rule, Emma points out that often genre conventions are ignored, in hopes that they’ll go away. But the conventions are there for a reason, so understanding them gives you the power to subvert expectations of the audience – thus creating a powerful moment in your story.

There’s a common phrase that says, “you must know the rules in order to break them”.

This is so important for new creatives. It’s tempting to simply run the opposite way as everyone else. This can grant you some fleeting acknowledgment, but simply being contrarian to go against what everyone else is doing doesn’t make your story interesting.

Instead, understand, deeply, the root of the tropes. Dive into the origin of these things that have become second nature, and then you will be able to masterfully manipulate your audiences emotions and send them on a new ride.

See the original tweet below. What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment.

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