Here’s a sampling of Emma Coats' rules:
1. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
2. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
3. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
4. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
5. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
6. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
And here's a Pixar exercise for the road:
Take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How would you rearrange them into what you DO like?
Remember, "Adventure is out there!" (Russell, from UP)
Wishing you the spirit of adventure, too!