The Disney Approach

Disney and Pixar: what better of artists could we trust to shape the Play-Doh that is our childhood imagination? Classics like Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland captivate us. And contemporaries like Toy Story and Wreck-it Ralph harmonize the old and the new. Ask any kid, teenager, or adult you know and they will happily pick out their favorite Disney character for you.

Happy Kid Portrait

Oh, the choices!

What’s Disney’s magic?

Good, wholesome storytelling.

Think of how Disney makes you care. They present you with a likable character. This character is not perfect by any means, but he or she is genuine – as real as they come. The character goes on a journey, full of chance encounters and precarious obstacles. These encounters challenge and test the character. The character makes mistakes, learns…and adapts. After a series of build-ups, a major, climactic event occurs. Hard choices are made. The character faces her opponent and takes him on with courage and conviction. Tension draws thick in the air. The character secures an advantage, then loses it…gains another, and then loses it yet again. You – the audience – hold your breath, wait in suspense, and finally…let out a huge cheer as the hero emerges victorious! The final scenes pan to happy faces of all the minor characters – who are now living new, better lives with evil vanquished from the lands. We let out a satisfied sigh because we have also completed a journey of our own. After all, did we not grow and persevere alongside the protagonist? In unraveling the story, we became a part of it. We became the hero.

Hero Dog

Hero dog: to know me is to love me. To be me.

Disney takes this bulletproof recipe and uses it in every major production. It has universal appeal – giving everyone the same warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside after the movie is over. It’s no coincidence that their market is children’s entertainment – kids relate to the honest treatment of human emotions and tough situations. And so do the rest of us.

Even if our adult lives have expanded to unending complexities

We still enjoy the fundamentals.

It’s not like Disney productions are blatantly formulaic either. Each one is incredibly creative. It’s just that they are all built upon the same, high-quality platform. That platform calls for compelling narrative, emotional accessibility, and simplicity.

Your goal is to be like them – to appeal broadly to a diverse and anonymous audience. So what can you do? Use the same outline they use!

Small Luchadores

Use your story to inspire.

Can you do the following with your topic?

1. Set up a background.

2. Introduce some facet of yourself.

3. Create a sequential journey, with some problems, challenges, or obstacles…something to give the reader a sense of progression. It could be as simple as waking up and cooking breakfast, but something happens.

4. End with a satisfying resolution.

If you can manage to incorporate all four elements into your story, you will create narrative structure and an enticing sequence of events. Put your statement back-to-back with the usual free-flow script that gets submitted, and you will immediately have a stronger hold on your reader’s attention.

Creek Run

Bring the reader along your adventures.

Summary of 4.1 The Disney Approach

No matter what topic you’ve chosen, your personal statement should contain all the elements of a good story. Disney provides a good example you can relate to. Compare any two films you’ve seen. Identify their character progression and plot sequence. Use such a structure for your personal statement to take hold of your reader’s interest.

Next: The Ending