If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Introduction to storytelling

Pete Docter, a director of Pixar films including Up, Inside Out, and Soul, explains the importance of storytelling and how it connects with people emotionally. He emphasizes writing what you know, using personal experiences to make stories come alive. He also shares that stories often require multiple revisions to truly sparkle.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user thecreativator20
    What actually makes a story extraordinary ?
    (53 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • female robot amelia style avatar for user SummerFire
      I agree. I often make up and write stories about myself travelling to alternate dimensions. It's fun to think about, but like abiemans said, I, too loose interest in things while I'm not even halfway through. The stories that I actually stick to is ones that I'm extremely excited about...until, or course, I come up with a whole other cool story. After that I end up working on three stories at once, which can be kind of confusing....
      (25 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user abiemans
    Hey guys. I really want to be an author- some of my teachers even say I should do something with the small, short, stories I write in school for our Creative Writing tasks. I really want to be able to write a good, long, chapter novel, but every time I start writing something, when I come back to it, I can't seem to be bothered to actually continue it. I lose interest in the story, even though I kinda want to do it. I suppose some people would call it 'Writer's Block', but I have it a lot of the time.
    I once tried to write a story, but I ended up losing interest in it. But its's so easy for me to create stories in my mind, but I can never seem to write them down, because I never know where to start.
    I don't really know what to do.
    Any ideas or tips? Much appreciated!
    (41 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • leaf red style avatar for user Jonnie Green
      I also have had issues with sticking with a written story, and it wasn't until recently that I've completed any. The only way I did it was to take a little part of one of the stories I wrote in my mind, and fleshed it out and made it much longer, until it was a story in and of itself, sufficient to stand alone, with options for a sequel. This story I recently turned into a film script, and hope to eventually produce it as a completed film.
      (19 votes)
  • boggle purple style avatar for user Kate ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (inactive)
    I get stories stuck in my head but I'm never able to express them properly. :(
    (10 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • boggle purple style avatar for user Crystal
      Exactly!
      I have found that practice helps though. I often talk to my family about the books I am currently reading and have to summarize clearly to do so. I used to be terrible at it, but I've gotten better. Talking about other people's stories improved my ability to communicate and organize my own. I hope this helps you and wish you good luck with your story creation. :)
      (11 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Bontrager, Amie
    I have this amazing world planned out in my head, the world of 'Myosotis' about people with elemental powers. My mom and my sister both say it's a good concept, but I can't seem to find the right way to start. What should I do?
    (6 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • male robot donald style avatar for user Tybalt
      Flesh out your characters first. Regardless of tone, you will need to establish characters to distinguish them from each other and allow them to have interesting interactions.

      For instance, imagine the following simple characters:

      Heather: Reckless and bold. Likes to go in head-first and is not afraid of what will happen.
      Danny: Cautious and shy. Likes to play it safe and avoid danger, if possible.

      Now imagine that Heather and Danny went into a haunted house. While Danny might be cowering behind Heather or urging her not to go in, Heather might just walk right in just for the sense of adventure. Danny might stay quiet or take small steps, but Heather might be running up and down the stairs. Additionally, when the two are trying to escape, Danny might run to look around for the exit, while Heather might attempt to break the house's walls to get out as soon as possible. Characters will have different reactions and personalities, and this will show--regardless if your story will be a comedy or serious story.

      Nest, consider your tone and priorities. Does your story take itself seriously, does it make fun of itself, or is it somewhere in between? What is your intended audience (I.E.: Look at the dialogue in the Avengers movies and compare it to your average Spongebob episode)? Do you want to focus on the story, the relationships between the characters, action, or comedy?

      Think of your conflicts and goals as well. These will provide some basis to your story.

      Do you need more advice?
      (13 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Tahiri
    Hi my name is Tahiri.So you said write what you know well I am writing a book about a goddess and a human girl with an abusive family a betrothal. How can tie in what I know about humans and greek mythology with the modern world?
    (7 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • primosaur tree style avatar for user Dumindu
    story telling include our own experience and our crazy thoughts😁. Am I right?
    (8 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user malachin3154
    What actually makes a story extraordinary ?
    (4 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Shimona Singh
    I always have a problem writing a story :
    My stories get very boring at the end....... I don't really know the problem??
    (4 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • female robot amelia style avatar for user SummerFire
      For me, when I get near the end, I start to get impatient and I want to get the comic done like that afternoon😳. The ending always turns out quick and meaningless. I suppose in this su bject, patience and imagination is the best policy. Get sometimes, I get too much imagination and some parts turn out nonsensical and scary..
      (4 votes)
  • starky seedling style avatar for user BW3000
    I am more interested in game development then movie making, will this still be applicable?
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user JackC
    She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene
    I said don't mind, but what do you mean, I am the one
    Who will dance on the floor in the round?
    She said I am the one, who will dance on the floor in the round
    She told me her name was Billie Jean, as she caused a scene
    Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one
    Who will dance on the floor in the round
    People always told me be careful of what you do
    And don't go around breaking young girls' hearts
    And mother always told me be careful of who you love
    And be careful of what you do 'cause the lie becomes the truth
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
    But the kid is not my son
    She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
    For forty days and forty nights
    The law was on her side
    But who can stand when she's in demand
    Her schemes and plans
    'Cause we danced on the floor in the round
    So take my strong advice, just remember to always think twice
    (Do think twice, do think twice)
    She told my baby we'd danced 'til three, then she looked at me
    Then showed a photo my baby cried his eyes were like mine (oh, no)
    'Cause we danced on the floor in the round, baby
    People always told me be careful of what you do
    And don't go around breaking young girls' hearts
    She came and stood right by me
    Just the smell of sweet perfume
    This happened much too soon
    She called me to her room
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
    But the kid is not my son
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
    But the kid is not my son
    She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
    She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
    But the kid is not my son
    She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
    She says I am the one
    You know what you did, (she says he is my son) breaking my heart babe
    She says I am the one
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    Billie Jean is not my lover (don't Billie Jean)
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    Billie Jean is not my lover
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user

Video transcript

- Hey Pete. - Oh hey Val. - How's it goin'? - You know what, I'm havin' a really bad day. - What happened? - See what Val's saying when she says, "What happened," is, tell me a story. And that's actually what this season of Pixar in a Box is all about. To make a movie here at Pixar takes years, but it all starts with a story. Humans have been telling stories since we could speak, probably before. We tell stories around the campfire, we write plays, we write novels, short stories. We make movies, we take photographs, tweet to each other, the list goes on. The power of story is that it has an ability to connect with people on an emotional level. One of the things you hear all the time, this advice, is write what you know. Now, as a kid I was like, I don't want to write about suburban Minnesota, that's boring. I wanna write about explosions and monsters and car chases. Well, what that actually means is, yeah go ahead and write about monsters and explosions and car chases, but put something into it that talks about your own life, how you feel. Do you feel scared? Do you feel alone? Something from your own life will make that story come alive and not just be a boring car chase. - (mumbles) - When I started directing Monsters, Incorporated, the way I would pitch it is, it's about a monster who scares kids for a living. That's his job. He clocks in, he clocks out, he eats donuts and talks about union dues, and we thought that was a pretty funny idea. And sure enough, when I would tell it to people, they would smile. But when we told the story as a film, people started getting bored and restless and they're like, "I don't understand "what this movie's about." Well, what I finally figured out was that it's actually not about a monster who scares kids, it's about a man becoming a father. (laughing) That was what was happening to me. So, why write about what you know? Well, it's because, probably what happened to you made you feel some particular way. And what you're trying to do really when you tell a story, is to get the audience to have that same feeling. One of the big revelations for me telling stories, is how much work they are, really. I always thought, you would just tell the story once, and it would be perfect. And geniuses like Walt Disney or Miyazaki, this brilliance comes out of their head once, and there it is. Well the truth is, our stories don't always come out exactly perfectly the first time, or the second time, or the third time, or the fourth time, up to the 30th time. And so you keep going again and again. And only after retelling the story many, many times, does it really sparkle. This season of Pixar in a Box is about how we at Pixar tell our stories, in hopes that it will inspire you to tell yours. - But, seriously, what happened? - Oh, oh, so the first thing. I get to my desk, right? It's eight o'clock in the morning...