Brenda Chapman on Writing BRAVE

Writersdontcry BraveBrave rocked the box office. Its themes of identity, responsibility, and family were equally appealing to boys and girls, adults and children. Its unique characters were memorable and brimming with personality, with pitch-perfect dialogue and solid arcs. And it’s technically brilliant.

Watching Brave, I found so much inspiring material, I wanted to watch it twice, so I could take notes the second time around. Because movies are a different medium from books--with different demands and limitations--they offer novelists some unique insight into writing. And there is a lot an author can learn from Brave--from how to design a resonant character to how to turn that into an engaging plot.

Brenda ChapmanSo, I was beyond thrilled when Brenda Chapman, writer and director of Disney-Pixar's Brave, agreed to do an interview on how she did all that magic. Because while there’s a lot you can learn from watching it and piecing things together, the chance to glean techniques from Brenda Chapman herself is simply irreplaceable. 

Beware: spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen it. Otherwise, enjoy!


Susan: Merida, Elinor, and the rest of the cast of Brave are such unique and memorable characters, courtesy of their strong and distinct personalities. How did you go about creating them?

Brenda: I drew from my own life. Merida and Elinor’s characters are inspired by my relationship with my daughter. I think a writer needs to draw on truths for characters, and then expand on them. What is it you admire about that person that you could use? What is it about another that you can’t stand? Mix it up . . . it will just feel a bit more believable when the audience experiences those characters.

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