Friday, May 29, 2015

Soft Skills: How to communicate effectively

To be successful, you must communicate your ideas. The heart of communication is a story which must be written. Emma Coats wrote stories for Pixar, and tweeted a series of “story basics”. Most of these are applicable to communicating, and I’m posting them here to remind myself how to communicate better.

What do you want to say?

  • Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  • Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  • What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

How you want to say it?

  • You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
  • Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  • Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  • Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  •  Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

How do you stay motivated as a writer?

  • Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  • Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  • When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. The material to get you unstuck often shows up.
  • No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  • You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, it testing not optimizing.

How to become a better writer:

  • Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize to use it.
  • Take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

No comments: