Do you think writing is more effective with a formula?

Of course! Formulas are buried in every book, movie or play. 

Take the Pixar movies! Who doesn’t love the little train that could? Or the little fish that doesn’t quit? Our hearts go pitter-patter when boy meets girl and live happily ever after. And what about the underdog who keeps plugging along until he wins. We love to cheer for Rocky Balboa, Scarlet O’Hara, the Great Ali, Harry Potter, and yell run Forest run. The list could go on to “infinity and beyond.” buzz lightyearI think you get the idea.

So what do I need to know about formulas that are repeated over and over in books and movies?

Do they work?


Yes! They work if we understand how to apply them. How to make them ours.

Here are 22 Rules of Storytelling from Pixar to get us started.

What did I learn from these formula rules?

  • A character that I cheer across the finish line, you may boo.
  • My readers may not think basket weaving is fun.
  • Forcing a theme on my characters may not work.
  • Whatever makes my character a star, steal it for a time. hehe
  • A formula works because it is tried and true. Once upon a time….
  • KISS, (keep it simple) until I reach the end. There is always time to go back and flesh out the details second round.
  • Characters have opinions, might as well let them speak.
  • Give the readers a reason to cheer or jeer.

What do you think?

Can you spot formulas in your writing?

Is there a formula that works for you? 

When you get stuck does a formula put you back on track? 

Tell me I’d love to know!

Leave me a comment – I love comments.

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7 thoughts on “Do you think writing is more effective with a formula?

  1. I think the idea of using a formula feels like the opposite of creativity, but in fact we all use them whether conscious of it or not. There are certain myths and archetypes that are inherent in us and will reappear time and time again.

    Liked by 3 people

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