TOY STORY 3, Part 3: The Foundation Of Structure

By Jacob Krueger

As discussed in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, the structure of Toy Story 3 is built around a simple desire shared by its characters, and unified around a simple theme, loyalty.   As Andy grows older and heads off to college, the desperate desire of the toys to be loved and played with leads them to question their loyalty to Andy, and his loyalty to them.  This leads the toys to seek out a new home, and new love, at a daycare center, only to discover that the very thing they most want is likely to be their destruction.

But one of the things that makes the structure of Toy Story 3 so successful is the way it explores different variations of the same theme, though the journey of its main character, Woody the Cowboy, the one toy Andy still loves enough to take with him to college.

Push Your Characters To The Limit

Unlike the other toys, who turn their back on Andy when they think he doesn’t love them anymore, Woody is a character governed by his loyalty.  But it’s easy to be loyal when you’re the most loved toy in the toybox.  So Woody too must be tested.

The structure of Toy Story 3 is designed to test Woody to the greatest extent possible, by forcing him to choose between the one thing he truly wants, to stay with his beloved Andy, and saving his friends from certain death at the hands of the daycare toddlers. Remaining loyal to his friends, Woody risks losing the one thing he truly wants and proves himself worthy of Andy’s loyalty, and of ours. In the process, he leads his friends to rediscover their own loyalty and their own faith, in Woody, in Andy, and in each other.

Wants Are The Foundation of Structure

As a writer, when you clearly establish your characters’ most deeply held desires early in the script, you arm yourself with the structural ammunition you need to build the kind of emotionally powerful story that moves your audience to laughter and tears.  Structure can then grow organically, as you inspire your characters to seek their desires, and create obstacles that test and challenge who they are, and what they believe in.

If you want to learn more about structure check out our upcoming Write Your Screenplay class starting April 29th.

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  1. […] back tomorrow for the next installment of the Toy Story 3 Series:  “The Foundation of Structure.” FORMATTING BOOTCAMP: Video Seminar With Formatting Guru Jessica Hinds Whether you’re […]

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