Designing conversations? What can you learn from Pixar’s rules for storytelling?

Emma Coats, a freelance artist best known for her stint as a story artist at Pixar and the author of a viral list of 22 rules of storytelling.


Google has brought on board Emma Coats, a storyboard artist who worked on Pixar’s movie “Brave,” as part of a Personality Team assembled to make Google Assistant more chatty.

Coats does chat bot  dialog design for Google Assistant and told the BBC she comes up with “fun things the Assistant can say and do, whether that’s games or things to discover.” She remarked, “We add delight wherever we can.”

Imgur user Dr. Claww has created a series of images featuring Pixar characters in silhouette.

Pixar’s 22 rules to phenomenal storytelling


Stories are a way to look at a branch of a conversation. Stories are used to describe a distinct flow or part of a flow. They also allow us to encapsulate or isolate conversational flows.

Not all of the rules apply to Google Assistant, however, for one simple reason: unlike in a film, this character isn’t the hero. ” the person interacting with it, are the hero,” Coats says. That’s why the Assistant can’t be opinionated: it’s there to be reliable, not to have depth. “If we gave it some dark conflict secret, that probably wouldn’t be a great user experience.” In Pixar terms, it’s the “fun, trusty sidekick”: Slinky Dog, not Buzz or Woody.

Couple of things also to consider while chat bot dialog design

  • Invest equally in the natural language generation part of the challenge, rather than put all of your resources in the natural language understanding end of the equation.
  • Create a well-rounded character, be able to handle questions from any direction and to enable a consistent persona. A great personality is one that makes your great service shine and keeps the experience delightful and memorable.
  • Adding humor or just picking a set of words that imply a certain personality.
  • Adding empathy, and making it more friendly and approachable is a great best practice.
  • Use visuals including images and color schemes to create a branding and conversational User Experience.