I'm in the middle of plotting out my WIP, so natually I took a break and went looking for a short cut. A friend had mentioned a formula used by Pixar to balance moments of pathos and fun. I couldn't find that, but I did find a bunch of good posts and articles about Pixar's creative processes and theories of storytelling.
The top three lessons I learned from reading about Pixar:
1. The first draft is just the first draft. Writing is rewriting.
2. Create a safe environment for yourself where you aren't afraid to fail, afraid of criticism or afraid of criticizing.
3. Work like crazy to make your story good, strive for greatness, but know perfection isn't attainable. Sometimes you just have to release it into the world.
And here are a few of the posts/reports I found:
Animation World Magazine recapped the lessons learned at Screenwriting Expo 5 which hosted a panel filled with Pixar writers and artists.
Jim Hill Media's Recap of the talk includes the rules Pixar set up for itself as they developed Toy Story.
The Animation Guild's Recap (amazingly, each blogger tells a slightly different and informative story).
The authors of Mavericks at Work talk about the business model of Pixar which also their creative practice.
Pixar's website posted a series of articles by a critic dissecting each film. Each is a thoughtful exploration of good storytelling.
Toy Story 2
Finally, because I'm a mother of two girls, I'm linking to Linda Holmes great open letter to the good people at Pixar
Dear Pixar, From All The Girls With Bandaids On Their Knees
And Jon Lassiter's response -- more or less.