“Everybody’s looking for the elevator. There is no elevator. You have to climb the mountain.”
Brian McDonald wrote the two best books on storytelling that I have ever read. (I have read a lot of books about storytelling.)
‘Invisible Ink’ will equip you as a storyteller. ‘The Golden Theme’ will give you a sense of purpose as a storyteller.
Brian has taught story classes at Pixar, Disney Feature Animation AND Lucasfilm. So though I can’t be 100% certain, I think that certifies him as the coolest guy on the planet.
He’s also written a bunch of comics including ‘Abe Sapien: Drums Of The Dead.’
In our interview, Brian shares some interesting insight about working at Pixar that will cure you of any anxiety you’ll experience about your own story craft.
Read on for more about storytelling, links to Brian’s books as well as some of his own book recommendations…
“Just because this is hard doesn’t mean you’re failing.”
Lora and I have said from the beginning that the single most important thing in your entire comic is the story.
Everything else can be held together with chewing gum and shoelaces but a strong story is the only way to elevate and transcend the medium of comics. It’s the only way to make a comic that means something.
“If you ever feel like you’re there. You’re not there.”
If you’re going to create an indie comic with an audience of more than a handful of people, you absolutely have to tell an engaging story.
Lora and I have also said that the good news for all of us is that storytelling is a learned craft. …just like drawing or golfing.
(Sure, there’s the ambiguous “talent” factor but that’s just too ambiguous to evaluate. …and even if we could evaluate our own talent, would we want to? I don’t think I’d want to.)
My point is: This episode will help to make clear what greatness in storytelling is and how you can achieve it. That’s Brian’s deal. He approaches the mysticism of storytelling with practicality. He treats storytelling as both an art AND a science and he’s an incredible communicator.
…which is why we wanted to interview him.
When will we ever feel equipped to craft a story that will resonate with people? Why not now?
Press play and aim high.
“There is no ‘Advanced.’ ‘Advanced’ doesn’t mean you learn more complicated concepts. The simple concepts get more complicated. ‘Advanced’ means that you get a deeper understanding of the basics. So the thing is to not be afraid of the basics. People who are novices run away from ‘simple.’”