Your Great Story Starts With “One Day”

It snowed.

It snowed!

(It snowed last night…)

Nothing changes the landscape and one’s perspective like a fresh blanket of white. Whether you respond by wanting to rush outside and play (like our three-year-old) or by counting the days toward spring (like every commuter), an obvious change in seasons is felt by everyone. It’s as though the snow invites us to wake up and re-discover the world (and pay better attention while driving).

And snow days are the kind of things that help make good stories.

Here’s how.

Pixar’s Stories

Pixar has told some of the most well-loved stories of our generation. From Toy Story to Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. to Cars.

Every one of Pixar’s stories follows a familiar structure. Emma Coats, a story artist at Pixar, shares the recipe:

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

The turning point in any story is the one day.

“Once upon a time there was a toy cowboy named Woody. Every day he played with his owner, Andy, who considered Woody his favourite toy. One day, Andy got a new fancy toy named Buzz Lightyear…”

“Once upon a time there was a clown fish named Nemo. Every day he explored the ocean under his father’s over-protective eye. One day, he drifted into the deep water all by himself…”

Your “One Day”

In your story, and mine, most days are every day kind of days.

The same routine, the same program.

Same old, same old.

Nothing particularly noteworthy.

The exciting days, though, the stories that we tell to our friends, start with one day. That turning point when something out of the ordinary occurs.

Sometimes one day is forced upon us. Like snow days. Or graduation day. Or even tragedy.

Most other times, though, one day is something that can be chosen. And since we’re living thousands of micro-stories at once (unlike most kids films), one day can happen in a multitude of small ways.

We can choose to introduce ourselves to a neighbour that we pass in the street every day.

We can choose to help someone when it feels uncomfortable.

Even when snow days are forced upon us, we can choose to pull on our boots and make a snowman.

If living a great story is up to us, how will you make today the one day that becomes the turning point of a great story?

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist