The clues to a great story – Andrew Stanton’s TED talk on storytelling
In his TED talk, “The clues to a great story,” acclaimed filmmaker Andrew Stanton provides a masterclass in storytelling. Best known for his work on Pixar films such as “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” and “WALL-E,” Stanton has proven himself to be one of the most talented storytellers in the industry. Through his talk, Stanton shares his insights on how to craft compelling stories that connect with audiences.
Stanton begins by stating that storytelling is inherently about communication. He argues that a great story is one that resonates with its audience and leaves them feeling something. To achieve this, Stanton advises starting at the end of the story and working back to the beginning. By doing so, storytellers can ensure that their stories are thematically cohesive and emotionally satisfying.
Stanton then introduces the concept of the “unifying theory of two plus two.” According to this theory, a good story should involve the audience by presenting them with a question or mystery to solve. This question should be answered by the end of the story, but it should not be answered immediately. Instead, the audience should be given the opportunity to piece together the answer themselves. This allows them to feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when they finally arrive at the solution.
To illustrate his point, Stanton provides examples from his own work. He explains how “Finding Nemo” begins with a tragedy – the loss of Nemo’s mother – and ends with a triumph – Nemo’s safe return home. In between, the audience is presented with a series of challenges that Nemo and his father must overcome, all of which lead to the final resolution.
Stanton also discusses the importance of character development in storytelling. He argues that audiences will only care about a story if they care about the characters. To achieve this, the characters must have relatable motivations and flaws. They must also face difficult challenges that force them to grow and change over the course of the story.
Finally, Stanton emphasizes the importance of simplicity in storytelling. He argues that the best stories are those that can be boiled down to a single, simple sentence. For example, the premise of “WALL-E” can be summarized as “What if mankind left Earth and forgot to turn off the last robot?” This simplicity allows the audience to quickly grasp the concept and become invested in the story.
Andrew Stanton’s TED talk on “The clues to a great story” is very interesting for any animator and storyteller. Through his insightful analysis of his own work, Stanton provides a roadmap for crafting compelling stories that resonate with audiences. By starting at the end and working back to the beginning, presenting a question that the audience can solve, developing relatable characters, and keeping the story simple, storytellers can create works that leave a lasting impact.