Once Upon a Time: Pixar Prompt

by Joe Bunting | 71 comments

Pixar tells perfect stories. Teams of writers spend years writing, rewriting, and then writing each story again. And since Toy Story was released in 1995, they've developed a ton of storytelling wisdom.

That's why I was so excited when my friend Brandon Clements sent me this amazing list of storytelling rules from the writers at Pixar. I picked out this one that provides a simple, interesting story structure:

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Sounds like a good place to start!


Photo by Яah33l.

Need more grammar help? My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid. Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 25 percent off: WritePractice25

Coupon Code:WritePractice25 »


Here's today's practice:

  1. Fill in the blanks using Pixar's story structure above.
  2. After you fill in the blanksm rewrite and expand your story.
  3. Last, if you have time, rewrite and expand it again.

Write for fifteen minutes. When you're finished post, steps 1-3 in the comments section.

Have fun!

How to Write Like Louise PennyWant to write like Louise Penny? Join our new class and learn how. Learn more and sign up here.

Join Class

Next LIVE lesson is coming up soon!

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.


  1. Pjreece

    ONCE UPON A TIME there lived a spy named Vic. Well, he used to be a spy, before he made a colossal diplomatic mistake and got caught. In Iran. He’s recuperating from that nasty episode. More precisely, he’s recovering from nine months of torture at the hands of an Iranian prison guard named Boor-Boor. Vic’s bosses call his current assignments a “rehab” program, but Vic calls it babysitting. Every week he flies out to some far-flung embassy to repatriate a trouble-maker, some national who for whatever reason is considered a national embarrassment. Vic accompanies them home. Babysitting.

    THEN ONE DAY he’s sent to Mexico to find Harriet Chandler, the Prime Minister’s daughter. She’s a disaster waiting to happen. If the drug cartels kidnap her, the government might have to abort their move to decriminalize drugs. Vic’s job — keep her out of trouble. Vic is horrified to find that Harriet is as altruistic as he once was. Was. Before he met Boor-Boor. The last thing Vic needs is to come under the influence of someone as wild and radical as he once was. He despises her.

    OF COURSE, he falls in love with her.

    OF COURSE, his old self, the one he’s been suppressing, yearns to take command once again.

    UNTIL FINALLY, Vic is forced to risk making another colossal diplomatic mistake…to save his love and his higher nature. Oh, yeah, and to save western civilization from the scourge of the drug trade.

    • Beth Zimmerman

      I liked it although the ending seemed abrupt. 🙂 Only issue I found was … why would the government want to DEcriminalize the drug trade?

    • Pjreece

      Decriminalizing drugs… that’s a contentious issue, all right. One train of thought suggests that it’s the only way to take the power (and money) out of the hands of the drug cartels. The USA will likely never see it this way, but there’s a serious “decriminalization” lobby in Canada that might one day be taken seriously. My story is set slightly in the future.

    • Yvette Carol

      The start of something bigger perhaps? I thought I could smell a novel…

    • april657

      Because addicts should not be treated like criminals most want to stop and need help to do so

    • John Fisher

      Laugh-out-loud funny!

    • John Fisher's Enemy

      Nobody types like that in real life

    • Marianne

      This is funny. All three of these pieces I’ve been picturing as if they were Pixar films. The other two were much easier to see that way.

    • zo-zo

      I love this story, especially the tongue-in-cheek feel!

  2. Cynthia Hartwig

    This prompt is a great one for working on how to move a story through time. Michael Byers, a terrific writer, does a 7 paragraph story exercise using time markers like “One day…”, “an hour later…” and so on so that in every paragraph, something happens with time as the driver of the action. Try it. You’ll like it!

  3. Beth Zimmerman

    I think I took more than 15 minutes. 🙂

    Once upon a time there was a little girl named Kit. Every day, Kit woke up with the sunshine and raced outside to play in the wide open fields. One day the sun was hidden behind gloomy storm clouds and rain pelted the windows. Because of that, Kit’s mother wouldn’t allow her to go outside. Because of that, Kit was bored. Until finally Kit pulled down the ladder to the attic, crept quietly up the stairs, pulled the ladder up behind her and …

    Kit Maxwell was living a wonderful life. It was summer time and every day, as soon as she had eaten her breakfast and finished her chores she would run outside to play, all day, in the sun drenched meadows and cool shaded apple orchard near her home. Adults some times wondered what she found to do all day. Kit thought that maybe adults lost all their imagination! If that was true she didn’t intend to ever grow up! She loved playing with her imaginary friends, dreaming up daring adventures, stalking prey in the tall grass, or waiting for a suitor to come rescue her from the branches of a tree. The rocks, twigs, and branches were her toys. Wild creatures her favorite companions. As the sun was setting, Kit would make her way home, from her adventures, to bathe in a tub filled with iridescent bubbles. And then Mama and Papa would pray over her and tuck her into bed where she would dream sun dappled visions of new adventures.

    One day, when Kit woke up, the air was filled with the sound of crashing thunder. Gloom filled her usually cheerful room. Lightning pierced the gloom for a second with a knife sharp shaft of light. It was immediately followed by the booming roll of thunder. Kit got out of her bed and knelt in front of the window. She could barely see the yard through the rain until the lighting flashed again and for just a moment she could see the apple tree whipping wildly about as if ghosts had possessed them in the night. She stood up, made her bed, and dressed in a t-shirt and overalls. The chill in the air made her decide to add a sweatshirt, socks, and sneakers. Then she went down the stairs for breakfast.

    After she had finished eating Kit stepped, as usual, to the back door and was getting ready to turn the knob and head outside when her mother’s voice stopped her. “Not today Kit!”

    “But …”

    “Kit … you may NOT play outside during a thunderstorm. It’s not safe. You will have to find a way to entertain yourself indoors today. If you can’t find something to do though, I’m sure I could find a few chores for you to do.”

    Kit sulked her way up the stairs to her room where she sat and pouted at her collection of dolls, doll houses, toys, books and puzzles. They were okay but not nearly as much fun as playing outside. She tried to play for a while but she was just plain bored. After a bit she decided to see if she could figure out something else to do. She stepped out into the hall and almost immediately noticed the pull cord for the attic stairs. She’d been in the attic once or twice with Papa to get boxes. Other than that she’d never been allowed up there. She was almost certain that if she went up there she could find an adventure. It was IN the house where Mom had told her to play. And while she had been told not to go up there before … Mama hadn’t said not to today!

    Kit jumped to see if she could reach the pull cord. Not quite. She jumped again. Mama called, from the bottom of the stairs, “Kit! Stop that! We do not run and jump inside the house!” Shoot! Now how was she going to do this. Struck by a sudden inspiration, Kit crept quietly down the stairs into the living room where her grandpa’s old cane was leaning against the fireplace. She grabbed it and headed back up the stairs. It took her a few tries but finally she snagged the loop of the pull cord and pulled the attic stairs down. Cringing at their creaking noise she hoped her Mama hadn’t heard. She set the cane off to the side and scampered quickly up the attic steps. She pulled the string at the top to turn on the light from a bare bulb hanging above her head. Then she turned and pulled the ladder up behind her.

    Kit turned and surveyed a dust covered adventure land!

    • Beth Zimmerman

      Here was my short version:

      Once upon a time there was a little girl named Kit. Every day, Kit woke up with the sunshine and raced outside to play in the wide open fields. One day the sun was hidden behind gloomy storm clouds and rain pelted the windows. Because of that, Kit’s mother wouldn’t allow her to go outside. Because of that, Kit was bored. Until finally Kit pulled down the ladder to the attic, crept quietly up the stairs, pulled the ladder up behind her and …

    • Thomas Dohling

      and … blinked her eyes in disbelief (wonder)…

    • John Fisher

      Great story filled with all the imaginative sense of fun and wonder of a kid. If you wrote all that in fifteen minutes, you’re a lot faster than I am!

    • Beth Zimmerman

      I know. I’m not good at time limits. 🙂

    • John Fisher's Enemy

      Shut the fuck up. Okay? This isn’t fucking IMDB. I don’t want your opinion you punk ass bitch. “Oh wow, imaginative sense of fun and wonder, can’t wait for the movie” Just please, leave your opinion in your asshole. So fucking cringey the way you praise her like it’s shakespeare or some shit.

    • Marianne

      I like this child’s resourcefulness. That could be simplified and made into a children’s book.

    • Yvette Carol

      …and then what?!!! Don’t leave us hanging Beth. That was great 🙂

  4. Tom Wideman

    Once upon a time there was an old married couple who lived in the big city.

    Every day, they would take a walk through the city park to throw a coin in Angel Fountain.

    One day, in August, when it was very hot, the old couple decided to take off their shoes and put their feet in the fountain to cool off.

    Because of that, the new park ranger came by and told them to get out, but the old couple refused, saying this was their fountain.

    Because of that, the overzealous ranger decided to teach them a lesson. He pulled out his taser and tased the old couple, but because they were in the water, the taser shocked them and they collapsed into the pool of water, face down. A great crowd had gathered and witnessed the whole incident. When they saw the little old couple lying face down in the water, they became very angry and they charged toward the frightened park ranger and attacked him. One of the men in the mob grabbed the taser and began tasing the park ranger over and over again. “How does that feel, mister? Do you like being tased?” The park ranger pleaded for him to stop. “Don’t tase me, bro! Please don’t tase me!”

    Until finally someone yelled at the top of their lungs, “Stop!” The crowd grew still and turned toward the fountain and they couldn’t believe their eyes. The little old couple, who had been floating face down in the fountain, was now standing up in the pool, dancing. They were alive, and they were dancing, but they were no longer a little old couple. Now they were young and beautiful, like the day of their wedding over 60 years earlier. The crowd stood in stunned silence as they watched this miracle unfold. But before the dance was over, every person in the crowd had jumped into Angel Fountain and were begging the poor beat up park ranger, “Tase me, bro! Tase me!”

    • Beth Zimmerman

      This is great! VERY creative!

    • John Fisher

      Very imaginative and well-told, I like the element of the miraculous. And I also like the fact that the author completely got himself out of the way and told a good story — in contrast to what I posted today; what I write tends to have too much “me” in it! Thank you, Tom, for an object lesson I’ll do well to heed!

    • John Fisher's Enemy

      Wow look who’s fucking at fault. You put to much “you” in my existence

    • Marianne

      Oh my Goodness Tom. I love that!!! You should enter it in a contest somewhere. How very very sweet. If we had a way to link to the particular entries here I would “share’ that with some of my friends. Very well done.

    • Thomas Dohling

      A share button is available!

    • JB Lacaden

      At first I thought the old couple were dead and the young versions of them are their souls. Haha. Nice writing!

    • Christy Boston

      That was awesome!!!! I love how the dialog went from “Dont’ tase me bro” to “Tase me bro!” Cute story!!

    • Katie Axelson

      I’m glad the old coupld wasn’t dead. 😉 Great surprise ending.


    • Adam Night

      You know they aren’t real, right?

    • zo-zo

      I loved that! Very unique!!

    • Mike Hansen

      Great unexpected turn of events from tense to miracle with a great use of humor. Very creative!

    • Yvette Carol

      Ha! A comic turn to something going seriously dark…I like it.

  5. John Fisher

    Once upon a time, there was the assumption that the conservatives had it right every time. Every day, in school, in church, they made their views plain and emphatic. One day, I finally asked a question: “What about people like me?” “Like what?” they responded. “You’re no different than us.” I thought but didn’t say, You know, you’re wrong. Because of that, I started doing my own thinking, and drawing my own conclusions. Because of that, the answers I was hearing daily began to make less and less sense, and respect for diversity claimed more and more of my allegience and adherence. Until finally, I became a full-fledged liberal.

    Once upon a time there was the assumption by everyone I knew and interacted with that the conservatives had it right every time. Every day, in school, in church, they made their views plain and emphatic, even vociferous. One day, I finally screwed up my courage and asked a question: “What about people like me?” They responded with blank stares, and answered: What ABOUT you? You’re no different than anybody else.” I thought but chose not to say: You know, you’re wrong. Because of that I started thinking for myself, making many mistakes along the way, but eventually drawing my own conclusions. Because of that, the answers I was daily hearing began making less and less sense, and respect for diversity and freedom of thought and conscience claimed more and more of my allegience and adherence. Until I finally became a full-fledged, unrepentent liberal!

    • Marianne

      That’s cool John. You are a good clear and concise writer. Thanks!

    • Tom Wideman

      Hey, John. Thank for sharing this part of yourself. It seems to me, we’ve been on similar journeys. Do you have a blog?

  6. Mike Hansen

    Once upon a time there was raindrop.

    Every day, the raindrop drifted along in form or another-in a cloud, riding the jet stream, in the winds of the lower atmosphere.

    One day the raindrop noticed a change. A change in light, a change in direction in temperature.

    Because of that, the raindrop rolled and rolled, changed form and tumbled up and down violently in darkness and cold.

    Because of that, the now frozen raindrop made one final tumble toward the ground, being pulled by and unseen power, accompanied by other frozen raindrops.

    Until finally the hailstone landed in a field with with a thud with the others. Eventually a warm five fingered object held it in front of a camera and people smiled.

    • Christy Boston

      I like how you gave life to an inanimate thing. Very nice and imaginative!

    • Marianne

      Interesting idea. I thought it was going to be snow but I like the hail better.

    • Katie Axelson

      What a beautiful description of an everyday event. Very creative, Mike!


    • Yvette Carol

      Oh yeah! Have to love a story that starts with once upon a time there was a raindrop!!

    • Mike Hansen

      One thing I had in mind, for some reason, was the creative shorts Pixar does. Often without words and with inanimate object like lamps or clouds.

    • Suzie Gallagher

      Mike this is really col, I can imagine the Disney voice over from the 60’s talking about water precipitation. Like it very much.

  7. Christy Boston

    Ok, so mine is a little silly, but I couldn’t resist! Hope you enjoy..

    Once upon a time there was a pyromaniac. Every day was a mundane day at the office where he worked. His boss micro- managed him and his coworkers treated him like a piece of dirt. He never talked about his fascination with fire because he knew that none of those half minded yuppies would appreciate it. Day in and day out between filing papers and typing letters he would think about fire. He loved everything about fire, the way it moved, the way it ate, the way it breathed…

    One day the pyromaniac left work after having a very disheartening day at the office. He got to his car and the piece of junk would not start. Frustrated, he got out and walked toward the center of town where the train station would be. As he walked with his hands shoved in his pockets, he saw a crowd gathered up ahead in the town square. Darn people, he thought, he was not much of a people person, but just as he turned to round the corner, something caught his eye.

    The sides of the buildings were glowing. Only fire could flicker and dance that way and the pyromaniac felt excitement surge up in him. As he neared, he saw what all the fuss was about. In the town center was a fire performer doing his thing and oh what a wondrous thing it was!

    The pyromaniac went home that night and searched the internet for fire breathing instructors. He found one willing to teach him and scheduled lessons. He was a quick learner and was soon spitting twelve foot plumes of beautiful fire up out of his mouth.

    The pyromaniac practiced and practiced. Eventually he got so good at fire breathing that he surpassed the skills of his own instructor. But he did not stop there. Soon he was spinning fire and eating fire and throwing fire around on batons in ways no one could ever dare to imagine. The pyromaniac had become a fire performing prodigy.

    One day the pyromaniac started to make money with his fire performing. He came to be known as one of the best fire breathers around as well and people came from far and wide to see him cast forth his magnificent plumes of fire. He did this until he was making enough money fire performing so that he could quit his office job, and life was then no longer boring for the pyromaniac.

    • Mike Hansen

      Know what I like? That he turned his passion into a profession he loved! I kept thinking he was going to burn down the office. Or (science fiction like) burst into a flame. I like the distance from the mundane to the money making!

    • Mike Hansen

      Know what I like? That he turned his passion into a profession he loved! I kept thinking he was going to burn down the office. Or (science fiction like) burst into a flame. I like the distance from the mundane to the money making!

    • Tom Wideman

      I thought the same thing. The first part of the story made me think of the movie, Office Space. LOL. So I was thinking the office was going up in flames. Good job, Christy.

    • Suzie Gallagher

      Office Space – lol. I was working for Aetna and it was mind numbing. One of my rebel colleagues got this and we all got to watch it over a number of months. It was like a documentary to us – the office set up, the boss etc. I put five years down paying claims, their expectation of how many claims a day we could pay was so low I spent a fortune on books to read for the rest of the day.

    • Christy Boston

      Yes, Office Space!!!! I love that movie, too.. you know I never thought of it while writing this piece though but come to think of it now, I see where it relates, lol!

    • Suzie Gallagher

      Find the thing you love and pursue it! This is a tale that could be told to teenagers agonising over which exams to take, which subjects to choose, which direction to take. Some follow the money. Some follow the love.

      I know none of us should expect happiness but which are the happier, the rich or the lovers

    • Suzie Gallagher

      Apols Christy
      You writing is really good, a lovely tale, would love to see you keep with it and tighten it up in places and expand in others. Like how was he a pyromaniac – only in the mind or did he set fires and stuff – it could turn into a redemptive story arsonist to fire breather!!

    • Christy Boston

      Thank you! I ran out of time to clarify, but he was pyro only in the mind… I actually poured a little of myself into this practice… I also have a thing for fire but I am a good girl and much like my character learned professional fire breathing so I could play with fire in a positive way. Unlike my character though, I still have to work in an office to pay the bills, lol! But you have a great point… how this could be a redemptive story for my character. I like that idea a lot!

    • Suzie Gallagher

      I was three when I set fire to the first house…..
      I don’t do that anymore

  8. Katie Axelson

    his is an example of how music can affect your writing… I was listening to a song about a cowboy when I started.

    Once upone a time there was a cowboy. Every day the cowbody Bill went to the town saloon and drank three steins of beer while flirting with Allison, the beautiful red-headed bartender. One day he went in and found Cody behind the bar with his hands aorund Allison’s neck. Bill ran twaords her and didn’t slow down as he reached the bar and leapt over the counter like it was a horse. He punched Cody square in the eye. Because of that, Allison was able to get free. Because of that, she always gave Bill free beer until finally he worked up the courage to marry him.

    Bill’s morning started just the same as any other. Once he was done with his morning chores, he mounted Buckeye, his trusty horse, and rode into town. Bill loved the spray of gravel in his eyes. It helped him feel extra manly when he burst through the double doors of Ole Joe’s Saloon in the middle of town.

    “Oh, Billy, you’re all dirty,” the gorgeous red-headed bartender Allison said to him as she filled his first stein from the tap. He’d flirt with her while he swaggered to the counter and took a seat.

    “Thank you, little lady,” he’d always say. She’d giggle. Allison wasn’t little by any stretch of the imagination.

    Except this time he pushed through the louvered doors and heard screams rather than Allison’s traditional greeting. The bar was empty except for Cody, the town drunk, was behind the bar hoovering over his sweet Allison with a pool cue raised high above his head. The growing red mark across Allison’s face led Bill to believe she’d already been hit once.

    Bill took off running, gaining speed as she approached the counter. He firmly planted both hands on it and leap, almost as if he was mounting Buckeye. He accidently kicked a stein full of beer. He mourned the loss of such a great treasure but wasn’t distracted from his treasured Allison.

    Bill used the empty stein to smack Cody upside the head. He dropped the pool cue and it hit Allison in the face again. Cody stumbled backwards and—

    • Yvette Carol

      What cruel torture is this? To leave us there, before they even got to kiss! Katie, you could write a Western with this start. It’s great.

    • Suzie Gallagher

      Katie, it is great when something in reality stirs our imagination to create something from nothing .
      Well done, nice writing, good tale, perhaps you could finish it for us???

    • cali hocking

      AND WHAT…..I MUST KNOW….oh i thought allison and bill were already married? why would he have to flirt with her if they are married? confused!!!!!!!

  9. zo-zo

    Disclaimer – I couldn’t get the flow in this piece, but I figured it was still important, so I’m posting it anyway.

    Once upon a time there were a president who loved doing nothing. He sat on his throne and did nothing. He watched his people do everything, sipping on his gin and tonic while cursing the name of every colonialist that ever lived (and they were all before his time).

    Every day the memory of the evil colonialists increased his rage, and he started watching the people who were living on his land and working on his soil. Their light skin, he said, proved that they were not meant to be there.

    One day he told the people who were doing something that they had absolutely no right to be doing anything on that land. Because of that, the president’s people who were doing nothing kicked out the people who were doing something, and told them to go back to their land. What land, the people cried? This soil is all our feet have ever stepped on. They refused to leave.

    Because of that, the machetes and the knives and threats emerged from their hiding places and were waved in front of them. They had to run away in the night, sometimes a suitcase, and sometimes with nothing, but looking back over their shoulder at the land they loved.

    The people who did everything kept on leaving until finally the president had thrown out most of them. He had won.

    He stretched his hands out over his country, sipping his gin and tonic, closing his eyes to the fact that the valleys and fields were dry and desolate, closing his ears to the cries of starving people. He now had people just like him on the land who were doing absolutely nothing.

    • Christy Boston

      You took an important observation and put it out there very frankly in a way that was also an interesting read. Well done, and it flowed pretty well, I thought.

    • zo-zo

      Thanks Christy! Appreciate that. I don’t often do political stuff AT ALL, but I’m reading a book on Zimbabwe that’s made me mad!!! It’s interesting how you sometimes don’t know what’s on your heart til you write…

    • Suzie Gallagher

      I have friends who lived in Zimbabwe and had to leave. Some were white. Some were black. They all had to leave. They left at different times. I have whiney friends who bemoan losing land, pensions, businesses. I have “real” friends who don’t moan but flinch at being touched and don’t trust easily.

      The sequel of this zo-zo (cos it is pixar so there has to be a sequel!) could have El Presidento working the fields because no one else knows how to do it and there is no food.

      And the third in the franchise could be son of President coming of age, having compassion etc etc

      Did I mention I like it, I think where you feel you stumbled were because you wanted your tale to fit into Pixar rather than bending your tale to fit. But it did work, so you didn’t stumble, just felt it.

    • zo-zo

      Wow, those Zimbabwians must be amazing!! 🙂 I find they have got the most beautiful spirit, and laugh at so much! The book I’m reading at the moment is called ‘The Last Resort’ by Douglas Rogers, about the turmoil. Highly recommended and suprisingly funny!!!

      I cracked up about sequel 2 – ha ha, that’d be great, and I love the idea of compassion happening in sequel 3. It sounds like Zim is doing better nowadays.

      Thanks for the reassurance! 😉

  10. Suzie Gallagher

    Once upon a time there was a young girl.
    Every day, she would avoid contact with all humans.
    One day a boy followed her and wouldn’t stop.
    Because of that, she ended up talking to him.
    Because of that, some other boys got jealous.
    Until finally only her and the boy were left.

    Hilary lived in a strange little room, in a strange little house with strange people. She wasn’t allowed to talk to people, not even them. Every day she was sent out to collect wood for the fire, bottles for one of the people who filled it with liquid and sold it, old newspapers for another who created bowls and vases from them after mushing them up. She avoided people so she couldn’t be talked to. Sometimes not talking to people was worse to the people than talking. She didn’t really know so she just kept to herself. A lot of her day was spent in the wood on the edge of the town collecting twigs and cutting branches into smaller pieces. Little forays into the town for the bottles and newspapers and then back to the more comfortable woods.

    Billy watched Hilary for a week before he followed her. He was a curious chap, new to town and already ostracised by the cool kids. He was geeky enough to put kids off from being friends but not geeky enough to not care, he was in his own world at the same time as being part of the bigger one. He followed her from town to the woods, on her second trip that day, at first he treated it like a spy story being thirteen he wasn’t quite old enough to find playing uncool but was just on the cusp of it all.

    “Why you followin’ me boy?” Hillary sprung from behind a tree.

    “Oh, hello, my name is Billy, I am new, I want to be friends. I have no friends. Will you be friends?

    “I ain’t allowed. Go away!”

    “No seriously, the kids in town, they don’t want to know me and there is no one else. Please!” Billy countered, not willing to give up after spending all week watching.

    “Okay, kinda, only in here, only in the woods, and not all the time. I have work to do. I don’t have friends either. It might be nice. There isn’t much that’s nice, here,” Hilary was softening.

    Over the summer they got to know each other, odd they may have been but fun they had. Halfway between childhood and adulthood, not quite one or the other, there was fleeting hugs, fleeting kisses, all chaste, not quite ready for anything else, not quite ready to even know.

    One September evening they were just saying goodbye when Jeremy Spencer and Rob Dickinson were running through the woods away from some mischief at a nearby farm. All tallness, angles and the beginnings of muscles they circled the two youngsters.

    “What do we have here Mr Spencer?” Rob began.

    Later, much later, Hilary half limped, half crawled to her strange little house. She knew what had happened, so did Billy, being forced to watch. Hilary didn’t go to the wood for three days. The people did not like this, they needed the wood, the bottle and the newspapers. On the fourth day Hilary went. Billy went too. They found they couldn’t look each other in the eye. They wanted to talk but found they couldn’t. They wanted to cry, to comfort, to love but found they couldn’t.

    Billy killed Jeremy and Rob, everyone thought it was an accident because the rest of the world didn’t know. There was a fire in the shed of the strange little house, everyone thought the still had blown up because the rest of the world didn’t know.

    Billy’s parents, pastors at the new church, brought Hilary to live with them. She didn’t need to be told to not talk anymore. She no longer tried. Billy looked at her but couldn’t see her eyes anymore. They lived in the same house but might as well be on different continents. As they grew up Billy continued killing and Hilary continued being mute. Both traumatised by an event in the wood, that no one was left to talk about and the ones who should talk about it, unable.

    • Yvette Carol

      Wow. Girl, you never shy away from the big issues do you? Suzie you’re one brave rebel!

  11. Jhalon Foster

    Once upon a time, there was a gardener named Cyrus who lived in a town called Vesryn.

    Everyday he would try to convince the folk in the town that he never wanted to be a gardener, for his passion for drawing portraits gave him joy.But because of the tag (label) placed on each civilian by the town’s leaders , he was stuck being a gardener for the mayor.

    One day the mayor decided to celebrate with all the townsfolk, as the harvest was plentiful this year. The celebrations were to take place in the town square.All of his staff were able to attend.

    Because of this, Cyrus was allowed to leave work early to prepare for the event.

    Because of this he enters a store, about to buy something new to wear when he spots a man with a label which simply read ‘wealthy man’.

    Until finally he stole the man’s tag and replaced his own with it, not knowing the
    premonition of his decision.

  12. Andrew Banal Castro

    ONCE UPON A TIME: There lived 2 cells wondering in a human’s body. Their goal was to protect the human body from bacteria.

    EVERYDAY: The 2 cells controls the body of the human. (What to do,What to say,What to eat,What to think etc.)

    ONE DAY: The Human had an open wound which means the skin was opened and bacteria is free to enter.

    BECAUSE OF THAT: The 2 cells have to beat the bacteria by putting them in to the stomach which is full of acid that is to harmful and can Cause Death.

    BECAUSE OF THAT: The human was acting weird and keeps on vomiting.

    UNTIL FINALLY: The 2 cells beat the bacteria.
    THE END!

  13. Thomas Dohling

    These posts are from three years ago! Aren’t people active any more? Why so?

  14. Kimberly Terese

    Once upon a time, many dogs could not find homes.

    Everyday, people would try to help, but many of them did not have good photos of the dogs.

    Then one day, a group of photographers came together to volunteer their services.

    Because of that, the dogs now had photos that made them look like movie stars.

    Because of that, people fell in love and lined up to adopt them.

    Until finally, one day, all the dogs found homes.

  15. Gary

    You are missing the last step of Kenn Adams’ 7 Story Spine Steps: And ever since that day…

  16. FM

    If you’re going to give the prompt the least you can do is write it correctly. jesus.
    Once upon a time_____, and every day_____, until one day_____, and because of that_____ and because of that_____until finally______ and ever since then______.



  1. Write Anywhere #43 | kristin nador writes anywhere - [...] afternoon stuck in the house. That inspiration, plus a fun writing prompt from Joe Bunting’s The Write Practice, helped…
  2. 5 Rules of Writing From Pixar - […] love Pixar. There hasn’t been one movie they made that I didn’t like. My family goes to see the…
  3. Signs and Wonders: Chincoteague Island | Plain and Fancy - […] this link with me last week, which I pass on as a template for your own story. Here is the PIXAR…
  4. Breakfast Blend 11.21.14 | Scribblepreach.com - […] Rules of Writing from Pixar: “I love Pixar. There hasn’t been one movie they made that I didn’t like.…
  5. Short Stories | thewordtoyourmotherblog - […] Pixar story prompt […]
  6. Introducing Team Contacts on CloudMagic | CloudMagic Blog - […] make it fun and simple, we used the Pixar story formula to show how Team Contacts will work in…
  7. 100 Writing Practice Lessons & Exercises - […] Once Upon a Time: Pixar Prompt […]
  8. Pixar Story Theory – Paul Mc Veigh Blog - […] Once Upon a Time: Pixar Prompt […]
  9. The Story – Paul Mc Veigh Blog - […] Source of info: https://thewritepractice.com/once-upon-a-time-pixar-prompt/ […]
  10. Formulas, Plots, and Narratives | Gretchen Turonek - […] as a sentence, and in the case of a pitch, leaving the final act or so a mystery. There’s…
  11. Wednesday, September 13th | ENG 2010 - […] your way into the story. Write what is interesting to you. – You briefly filled out the Pixar Plot Prompt on…
  12. Ideation. – shivvblake - […] https://thewritepractice.com/once-upon-a-time-pixar-prompt/ […]
  13. How to Plot Your Novel: 5 Ways to Write Your Bestseller | Kristian, Writing - […] Of course, you want to use the Pixar method for writing fiction, and who could blame you? Getting started…
  14. Geleceğin Başarılı Kişileri “Storyteller”lardan Oluşacakmış. Pixar Hikayelerinin Temel Yapısı ve Rolex Reklam Örneği – Serkan Koç - […] https://thewritepractice.com/once-upon-a-time-pixar-prompt/ […]
  15. The Meaning of the Garden of Eden for Leaders Today - Leaders Go Last - […] or collection of laws, but in actuality it is a story. To help us see that, I want to…
  16. 5 Methods for Writing A Novel ~ WRITERS HELPING WRITERS® - […] the Pixar method is used primarily for screenwriting, their $14 billion profits last year suggest they must be […]
  17. Everything You Need to Know About Sales Management – Experfy Future of Work - […] best structure for storytelling is the Pixar Once Upon a Time formula, which is adopted by hundreds of big and…
  18. Everything You Need to Know About Sales Management – Experfy Insights - […] best structure for storytelling is the Pixar Once Upon a Time formula, which is adopted by hundreds of big and…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Say Yes to Practice

Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts:

Popular Resources

Books By Our Writers

Surviving Death
- Sarah Gribble
Vestige Rise of the Pureblood
- Antonio Roberts
Share to...