344. Four Lessons in Storytelling from Disney’s Latest Animated Films

Disney’s three latest animated films—Wreck-It RalphFrozen, and Big Hero 6—offer important lessons in storytelling. I wrote about four of them in today’s blog post, which… um… isn’t actually for this blog.

My post can be read on Animator Island, a community for artists, animators, and people who like animated movies (i.e. cool people). Special thanks to JK Riki for inviting me to write for the site despite my absolute lack of talent for the visual arts!

My latest post, “Four Lessons in Storytelling from Disney’s Latest Animated Films,” can be read here!

8 thoughts on “344. Four Lessons in Storytelling from Disney’s Latest Animated Films

  1. “Skill.” Not talent.

    “Despite absolute lack of SKILL with visual arts.” 🙂 Art isn’t a talent, it’s something you train in. Never hurts to remember that if you wanted to, with a lot of effort, you could become an amazing visual artist!

    Not that I think you should. No, you should focus all your creative efforts on writing. Maybe, like, a book that is a direct sequel to another book about… I dunno… a guy in far off land or something. Whatever, I’m just throwing out ideas off the top of my head here. Maybe they guy’s name is Shelliot or Ellishom or something. Again, just brainstorming.

    Anyway, thanks for writing the article! It seems to have been a big hit. Most of our stuff is a “slow burn” with the comments, gaining one or two here and there over a long time. Your article practically exploded by comparison. 🙂

    • Believe it or not, I tried REALLY hard to be an artist when I was a kid. I wanted to draw as well as my dad, so I took a couple of drawing classes, sketched in my spare time, and read a couple of books on pencil art. It never went anywhere, and I finally gave it up in my mid-teens.

      I’d love to spend more time writing, but I’ll have to rewrite that Lance Eliot book and rework my outline for the whole trilogy before working on any sequels. And I’ll probably need to reread The Divine Comedy, on which the Lance Eliot trilogy is loosely based. And I’ll definitely need to buy some more coffee.

      I’m glad readers have enjoyed the article I wrote. Who doesn’t like discussing Disney? 😉

      • ” I took a couple of drawing classes, sketched in my spare time, and read a couple of books on pencil art.

        I don’t mean to be offensive here, but your definition of “really hard” is pretty… not accurate, lol. Art is insanely hard and takes extraordinary amounts of practice. Extraordinary amounts. (It’s one reason I’m not a great artist, I don’t put the work required in.) Example: Samantha Yousseff (Disney animator and owner of Studio Technique) did life drawing for 7-10 hours a day for four years while in college. Every day. No weekends off or something. And then she went to work at Disney where she drew 8 hours a day for work as well.

        Anyway, I just make that note so you don’t think you’re not capable of doing art based on some early attempts in your youth. 🙂 It’s not easy, for anybody. The difference between the people who do art and those that don’t is in the doing, nothing more. Some people force themselves through the grueling grinder, and some do not. (And again, some like me pretend to and do decidedly average art and are okay with it because hard work is hard!)

        Why do you need to rewrite Lance Eliot #1? I think you’re being too hard on yourself. Gain the lessons you learned from it and move on to the next, making whatever you do that much better from the experience! If you don’t think the first book is perfect, consider how many people enjoyed your imperfect novel regardless. It doesn’t need rewritten! It can make people happy just the way it is, and isn’t that the great purpose of writing anyway?

      • Perhaps I should have written, “I tried REALLY hard to get into art.” I didn’t put in the kind of practice needed by professional animators — realistically, in his spare time, what ordinary kid would? — but I gave it a lot of effort. Hard work matters most, yet some artists are more naturally gifted than others. I wasn’t particularly gifted, and I chose not to invest the astronomical effort needed to be a decent artist.

        As for the Lance Eliot book: I’m not quite satisfied with it. I wouldn’t necessarily rewrite the whole thing, but I’d make some major changes. Given the chance to rework it, I can’t write sequels knowing the first novel is faulty.

        You asked me to consider how many people enjoyed my imperfect novel in spite of its flaws. The answer — very few — isn’t encouraging. The book sold very badly, after all. That’s hardly a great incentive for sequels!

  2. “The answer — very few — isn’t encouraging. The book sold very badly, after all. That’s hardly a great incentive for sequels!”

    Hmm… Sounds to me like you’re discounting people on a personal level there. Reaching millions is lovely, but please don’t overlook the impact your book and your writings have made on individuals such as myself. You’ve literally changed the course of my life thanks to that imperfect book of yours. It showed me I didn’t have to do it perfectly, and I could go after that publishing dream of mine like you had. I also thoroughly enjoyed the book, early-chapter flaws and all. (Sidebar, I hope you’ll stop by my blog this week, because I think you’d enjoy the thoughts I had last week on writing that start going up tomorrow.)

    I think we creators, especially when online, want to reach masses of people so badly that we start to forget that we’re first called at a very individual level. Today I went to the bank, and there was a homeless man outside. He asked for money of course, but I rarely carry cash (and also my ministry is food, not money). When I declined he said, very earnestly, “Then will you say a prayer for me brother?” I assured him I would, and did several times between then and returning home.

    I’d like to change the world and end things like homelessness. Today, though, God had me praying for one man in front of a bank. And that was not only “enough,” it was exactly right. That one person was who needed me in that moment (or perhaps it was I who needed him).

    • I certainly don’t mean to devalue any reader of anything I write — and I’m delighted that you’ve received inspiration from Lance Eliot and his adventures!

      In the end, though, I’m not sure I could do it all again.

      It was incredibly hard to write and publish that book. I wrote and rejected two drafts — one remained unfinished, but the other was a completed novel! — before even STARTING the version that became the published work. Once I finished the final version, I revised it endlessly. Finding an agent was indescribably frustrating, and finding a publisher was even worse. I wrote a lengthy book proposal to submit to publishers, started a book blog, and did all kinds of miscellaneous author stuff. It was exhausting.

      All together, taking the earlier drafts and publication process into consideration, The Trials of Lance Eliot represented about six years of hard work. When it bombed, I was kinda heartbroken. I didn’t have the heart to keep writing fiction.

      I appreciate that a few readers may find pleasure or inspiration in my stories, and I’m grateful to every single person who has read anything I’ve written, but I’m not sure I can do it all again. I don’t think I can spare the time and effort needed to rework the first novel and write two sequels, even if a couple of readers might benefit from them. Heck, I’m busy enough with this blog on top of a full-time job! TMTF seems like a better way to reach, encourage, and help people than more Lance Eliot stories.

      Lance means a lot to me. I’d love to finish the Lance Eliot trilogy… but I’m really not sure I can. I’d have to quit working and write nearly full-time. Sadly, I haven’t the funds to do that, and I have to sleep and eat occasionally, so Lance Eliot must remain on hold for now.

    • By the way, I should state, for the record, that I am absolutely not trying to discourage you — or anyone else in the universe — from writing or publishing! My gloomy reminiscences above are entirely mine, representing my own experiences and mistakes. I may be burned out on writing novels at the moment, but the last thing I want to do is discourage other writers!

      • No discouragement here. You see, I already got that bit out of the way with earlier works. When I would pour weeks and weeks into a Fred cartoon and hardly anyone watched it, it was crushing. Then I got over it and kept going. Life’s too short to let repeated failures stand in the way! 🙂

        You certainly should do what you’re called to. I guess my only suggestion is not to have any regrets when you look up and it’s 10, 20, 50 years from March 10th, 2015. If you want to write more Lance, carve out 12 minutes a day to write more Lance. If you don’t, no worries, that means you won’t have any regrets and what else can you do? The only mistake is ever not doing what God calls you to do, and that’s between you and He.

        I would say, the first time is the hardest. If I would have quit after my first unpublished failure of a novel (which by the way I’m now inspired again to go back and finish, perfect or not!) I would not have written the one I just completed and the one I just completed – you’ll learn on the blog later this week so Spoiler Alert – might very well be the book I was put on this Earth TO WRITE. 😛

        Whatever you decide, if you write it (blog, book, on the back of a napkin at Applebees) I’ll gladly read it!

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