5 Secret Pixar Techniques to Boost Your Students’ Narrative Writing Skills

Have you ever been so immersed in a story that you could see it playing out in front of your eyes? Maybe you were reading a particularly vivid book or watching an amazing movie, but something about the way the narrative was written sparked images inside your head. If only you could do narrative writing like that!

This blog post covers narrative writing techniques for using animation to improve and immerse your students in their own stories, as well as how to use some of Pixar’s storytelling techniques to make their work stand out from the crowd. Keep reading to learn more!

Establishing Shot: Who’s Where and What’s What?

The first thing you need to do is establish the setting and characters at the start of your story. This is a great way to immerse your reader in the story, and also set the scene for what is to come. The best way to do this is to write a short descriptive paragraph about your characters and the setting.

You can even break these into separate sections if it makes it easier to read and understand. Once you have these sections written, you can use them to create a “setting storyboard” that describes each setting, character, and scene. This is like an annotated map where you describe each location and what is happening.

Sequence: Narrative Writing Through Action

Once you’ve established the setting, the next step is to describe the action as if you were filming it in a movie. This establishes the story and characters in the scene and moves the narrative forward. You can also incorporate some of the techniques an animator would use to create the scene, such as framing, camera angle, and lighting.

You can use these techniques to reveal character traits, emotions, and the story’s themes. Lighting, for example, can be used to show a character’s mood. Bright, warm light can show happiness, whereas shadows and cooler light can symbolize a darker mood.

Lighting to Reveal (or Conceal) Meaning and Emotion

When you write your story, use descriptive language to convey the mood and emotion of your characters. Pixar’s style of animation often features a high-contrast color palette that easily conveys the story’s themes and emotions. You can do the same thing with your narrative writing: choose specific words and imagery that evoke particular emotions and respond to your story.

This kind of sensory language engages readers at a deeper level and helps them to truly understand what you are trying to say. For example, in “Finding Nemo,” the dentist’s office is brightly lit with big, shiny lights that overpower the fish. The office is also filled with bubbles and other distractions. The dentist’s office is an anxious place: it’s loud, confusing, and overwhelming.

Cohesion: Continuity in Timing, Animation, and Narrative Writing

When you are writing your story, it is important to consider how each scene flows into the next. This is known as maintaining continuity and is especially important in visual media like animation because everything is happening at the same time.

In animation, this can be as simple as keeping the characters’ body language consistent from one scene to the next. Pixar excels at this type of seamless storytelling, which helps them to create a cohesive narrative that engages viewers from start to finish.

Frame by Frame: Using Still Frames to Show Change Over Time

As well as writing scenes that flow seamlessly into one another, you should also consider how your story progresses over time. In most narratives, characters have an arc and the plot unfolds over a set period of time. Pixar’s signature frame-by-frame animation style allows them to show this change through the visuals. By animating every frame of their films, Pixar is able to reflect the passage of time throughout the story.

Their visuals show character development, growth, and change, adding a new layer of meaning to the narrative. This is done through a number of techniques such as squash and stretch, slow-motion, and jump cuts. All of these techniques allow the animators to create visuals that reflect the passage of time through movement.


When you are writing a story, it is important to consider how to tell it. The best way to do this is to break down the narrative into separate scenes and write them as if you were filming them. This will help you to understand your story and structure more clearly, enabling you to create better work.

Use Pixar techniques in your writing class. It only takes 6 steps to create a short story frame and avoid that writer’s block. Click on the picture to find out how!

Narrative Writing

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