Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Less is More
My obsession with all things Pixar is well documented, and so naturally a new interview with John Lasseter is going to catch my attention. And, as always, the Pixar head doesn't disappoint, but has cogent things to say about the business and creative sides of the storytelling craft:
"There's that funny saying: 'I'm sorry this letter is so long, but I didn't have time to write a shorter one.' And it's so true. My older brother Jim, who passed away six or seven years ago, was a brilliant interior designer who studied Japanese design. What he loved about their approach is that they'll design something and then they take away until they can take away no more. We have adopted that same philosophy here in our films."This is something that I've recognized in my own work, over the course of the last few years. It first came to my attention at the Turkey City writers workshop, when Ellen Datlow told me that a story of mine had "too many words." I didn't know quite what that meant, but a short while later Harlan Ellison called with a critique of the second chapter of Any Time At All (the original version of Here, There & Everywhere), and pointed out just which were the words I didn't need. In the years since, my writing has become more and more streamlined, my short stories progressively shorter. It isn't that I'm consciously decreasing the length of the stories, it's that I'm gradually learning to use only the words necessary to tell the story.