I want to blog a little bit about my world. In part because after more than ten years of getting this ridiculously wrong, I finally realize that nobody cares. I always thought that if I made my world interesting enough, then people would care. That’s what I was wrong about.

This is something that every world-builder should come to understand.

Nobody cares. I have to blog about it because *I* care. This is for me.

I technically already knew that nobody cares. I learned about it through experience. Then I watched a video about “game developer pitches” on the recommendation of my wife. Really, she had meant to help me understand why she didn’t like this other guy we’d been talking about but I also took the advice to heart.

He says “backstory” but you need to realize he’s talking about the world. Also, his list is about 10-15 items too long (if you watch the whole thing) and honestly the first point is the most important point.

Try to internalize this as “your world sucks and nobody cares.”

The REASON for this is because the world matters to you as a storyteller, and your job is to make your audience care about it. You need to begin with the core assumption that nobody cares about your world. You have to SHOW your audience why they should care, and this is done primarily through your characters and story, in that order. The world can come next but realize that it’s third.

Get that? THIRD. After ONE: CHARACTERS and TWO: STORY, you get THREE: WORLD.

Here it is as a priority list:
1. Characters
2. Story
3. World

You need to also internalize a related concept which is that YOUR STORY IS UNORIGINAL AND NOBODY CARES. As if writing and storytelling weren’t hard enough, the “best parts” which are coming up with cool stories and cool places for stories to take place.


Why are your characters boring? Here’s the thing: you spend a long time developing cool stuff about your characters and nobody cares because the characters never change. It’s hard to change stuff about a character after you’ve spent such a long time developing them.

Seriously, writing is a curse and you shouldn’t do it. It isn’t worth the pain.

But if you have storytelling in your blood (like a lot of people do) you can’t help it. Even though it is SUPREMELY UNFULFILLING, and RIDICULOUSLY HARD, you muddle through it even though nobody likes your characters, your story is unoriginal, and nobody cares about your world.

And people give you really unhelpful advice all the time, like “the characters sucked in X but the story was really interesting,” and “I didn’t like the characters or story in Y but the world was fascinating.” See, because people justify all the time why they endured a crappy story. Maybe they found something to like about it even though most of it sucked. Yay, good for them.

Their advice is worthless.

I am going to confess that I don’t like somewhere in the order of 60-80% of Pixar movies. Back when they started, I disliked a solid 50% of them (I called it the “Every Other Pixar Movie” rule) but I’ve learned better since then. They’ve made enough movies at this point that I can tell ahead of time that I pretty much won’t like the movie, and it’s exceptional when I do. You might ask why I have a rock instead of a heart.

Honestly, their movies are really boring. I mean like, all of them.

Are they good storytellers? Sure, because they actually follow the rules most of the time.

They totally get the whole “tell a story” and emotional investment that an audience has to have for a story to carry its own weight. But I don’t think they have anything new or interesting to say. Sometimes I need an emotional punch in the gut, and Pixar movies are good for that.

Sometimes I want to be jerked around by the feels. But you know what that means? Pixar more or less perfected the Tearjerker and then made it more “kid-” or “family-friendly.” I mean, Tearjerkers make you sad really effectively, but nobody wants to watch them again. Pixar gives a happy ending to a Tearjerker and they’re hailed as the second coming of some visionary filmmaker.

I would say they perfected it (technically I did), but they continue to stumble and making boring movies too.

So like, I liked the first ten minutes of Up, and I hate the rest of the movie because it’s boring. The beginning reached such a satisfying emotional climax that the rest of the movie was the longest denoument ever. It was like the emotional (and engagement) opposite of Fury Road, which was a much better story.

Actually, I think John Wick ripped off the beginning of Up and then proceeded to tell a much more interesting story about much more interesting characters in a much more interesting world… and better. Sure, you could see it as a retread of a Revenge flick but it EXPLORES revenge. It actually does some things like the Count of Monte Cristo does well but like, a little better because it’s focused on revenge against one guy instead of revenge against a whole bunch of different guys.

John Wick explores darkness like Sweeney Todd (the good one, not the Johnny Depp one) does but with sadness instead of humor.

Sorry, I got way off-track there.

What did I have to say in closing? Pixar delivers on pathos well with otherwise boring stories. Audiences give really crappy advice about storytelling. Nobody cares about your world, your stories, or your characters.

Storytelling is an act of persuasion.

Maybe that’s why most people suck at storytelling so much. Most people are really terrible at persuading you of stuff, and if they are good at it, they go into Direct Sales instead. Most authors don’t know how to talk to people, and thus don’t know how to persuade people of anything, and thus can’t convince you to care about their characters, story, or world.

All the writers and storytellers will look up and shout “Care about my stuff!” … and the audience will drown them out with a cacophony of “No.”

Oof. That was quite a rant.