“There is no secret ingredient,” says the great dragon warrior.

Finally, finally, finally I watched KUNGFU PANDA. Can I just say that animated films follow the Blake Snyder beat sheet to a T. Or it seems. And this one was no different.


And yes, as I watched, I picked out all the different elements. #plotnerd Because that’s what I do for fun. My husband even joins in sometimes.

BUT, I walked away from this movie with three lessons.

1. As I watched the training sequence, I understood why last year my sons kept grabbing themselves saying, “Oh, my tenders.” Yup. I totally get it now.

2. I didn’t buy that this obese Panda could become a Kungfu master just because he started to believe in himself. He trained, yes. But I think it was overnight. Maybe if they had showed a season or two passing, I might’ve bought it.

My husband argued that the Kungfu skills were buried deep within the Panda.

What. Ever.

But this fact didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the movie. I’m not a stickler with things like that.

3. I absolutely loved the scene when Po’s father, who is some kind of goose, revealed that there is no secret ingredient to his noodle soup. Po’s face lit up as he realized it was all about what he believed or didn’t believe.

And that was the moment he started believing he truly was the great dragon warrior. For what we believe can truly transform us.

So as a writer, I truly believe that self confidence plays a huge role in writing.

What do you think?

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27 Responses to “There is no secret ingredient,” says the great dragon warrior.

  1. anne gallagher November 4, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    I truly believe that semicolons aren’t necessary punctuation.

  2. anne gallagher November 4, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Just kidding. Self confidence is absolutely crucial in developing yourself in any kind of the arts, even if you only try, like Po, practice makes perfect.

  3. Heather Kelly November 4, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    “My husband argued that the Kungfu skills were buried deep within the Panda.” This made me laugh out loud. 🙂

    I know that when doubts creep in, I have off days for writing. But I’m not entirely sure anymore if I am doubting myself, or seeing the flaws in what I’m writing. That being said, it doesn’t matter whether the doubts are backed by truth or fiction–if they tie up my words, they are not helpful.

    I’m a big fan of the fake it until you make it philosophy.

    I wish this comment was more cohesive. I have not had my coffee yet. 🙂

  4. Sarah Pearson November 4, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    I guess that makes me the one person left who hasn’t seen this film?

  5. christine danek November 4, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Self confidence and practice. Totally agree.

  6. Stina Lindenblatt November 4, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    We have that DVD but I haven’t watched it.

    Confidence was a term I heard a lot during Holly Root’s and Molly O’Neil’s session at WriteOnCon this year. They can tell if a writer is confidence about her writing, and those are the books they want to represent/publish.

  7. Louise November 4, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    My mom used to tell me, when I would say to her, “The teacher said I can grow up to be anything I want if I just believe in myself!” that well, that only worked to a certain point: I could believe I was an alligator as much as I wanted, but that was not going to turn me into one.

    Which written down like that, looks like a really mean way of crushing a kid’s dream, but it wasn’t, I promise! It was Mom’s way of warning me against buying into the popular idea that all you have to do is “believe” and everything will come to you. She wanted me to know that it takes hard work and dedication, and even then, some things just might not ever be physically possible.

    So while I am BIG into self-confidence, I have to admit I cringe away from movies that send the message that belief in oneself is all one needs!

  8. Ansha Kotyk November 4, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    I loved this moving for its message. And I thought it was going to be totally cheesy. You’re right animated films are great for following a traditional plot line. Another good but often never seen movie is Disney’s HERCULES, Danny Devito, James Woods among others… great plotline too, you can’t go wrong with greek myth. Well, you can… I’m with Heather, I need my coffee!

    • Laura November 4, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      Great points. Yes, more than self confidence is needed – obviously. There has to be practice and skill too. But sometimes the confidence is about believing that you can do it, even if you’re not there yet. and yes, sometimes dreams don’t come true. Did those people truly believe enough to put in the hard work. Regardless, I think confidence does show up in writing and how writers present themselves. And that is important. I’m off to some appts. but will be back to check your blogs!

  9. Kris November 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Ok, so I’m becoming a Blake Snyder convert. Spent two hours in the library last night working on the beat sheet. 🙂

    @Louise–my daughter has wished to fly AT EVERY BIRTHDAY since she was four. And I can’t bear to tell her that it’s probably not going to happen unless she’s in a plane. LOL.

    Confidence in our own skills. Confidence in the time that it takes to learn new skills. Confidence in the process. Sometimes it’s overnight, sometimes it takes a bit to get there. 🙂

    Great post, Laura. You plot nerd you.

  10. Ava Jae November 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Kung-Fu Panda is such a great movie. I’ll admit the bit about over-night ninja Kung-Fu skills didn’t quite suspend my disbelief, but I like your husband’s explanation. Perfectly acceptable. 😀

    Anyway, you make a great point–there is no secret ingredient. With enough determination, belief and practice, you can accomplish whatever you want.

  11. Anna Staniszewski November 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I can’t believe I still haven’t seen this movie. It seems like my kind of thing. I do like pandas, after all… 🙂

  12. Joyce November 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    I like to believe I can channel my inner kung fu abilities at a moments notice without training for even on one millisecond. It’s sort of my secret power when I’m in dire need of cutting words.

    • Laura November 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      Yes, I think we can all use a little of kungfu when it comes to our writing!

      And it really was a cute movie. Worth the watch.

  13. Creepy Query Girl November 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    LOL it cracks me up how you can dissect movies like kung fu panda! #plotnerd. But I agree with your assesement:)

  14. becca puglisi November 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    I like this message because it values the positive over the negative. You have to be positive in the world of writing or your confidence is going to go squish-like-grape (dissected Karate Kid yet? :)). I’ve been pondering a post about this very subject (confidence vs negativity, not grapes and Ralph Macchio movies) for awhile now. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Becca @ The BookshelfMuse

  15. Sherrie Petersen November 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    I think that’s true with anything. Many of the people we consider “beautiful” aren’t really. They’re just comfortable with who they are and carry themselves with confidence. As writers, believing in our ability is one of the first steps to becoming authors.

  16. Botanist November 5, 2011 at 2:14 am #

    You probably do need a few other ingredients too. I don’t believe that self-confidence is all it takes, but it is most certainly a prerequisite in this rejection-riddled industry.

    BTW the whole family enjoyed Kung Fu Panda 2 too. Many sequels are serious disappointments, this wasn’t.

  17. Amie Kaufman November 5, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    I love when you end up in the middle of these arguments (whether it was always deep inside the Panda), then pause to wonder how you got there.

    I think self confidence can make a huge difference. I was reading an interview with Corey Stoll, who played Hemmingway in Midnight in Paris. He said that from time to time, if he wanted to pull it off, he just had to think to himself: “You’re Hemmingway, you’re indestructible!”

  18. Traci Kenworth November 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    You’re right. It takes more than just believing in oneself to do something. I usually show my characters going through the struggle to believe in themselves and then by the ending, the transformation happens. Good lesson!!

  19. Leslie Rose November 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Ah, the illusive self-confidence nugget. As a writer I seem to have equal bouts of self-confidence and self-doubt. I think that’s part and parcel of being an artist. It’s the self-doubt that makes me push harder.

  20. Sheri Larsen November 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Love Blake, btw. And I’ll be a #plotnerd with you. I love that! I find myself dissecting a film every time I watch. 🙂

    Have a fabulous weekend.

  21. Michael Offutt November 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    It’s definitely a cleverly written movie. Most of Dreamworks productions are.

  22. Ghenet Myrthil November 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I learned some serious life lessons from this movie. 🙂

  23. Laura Marcella November 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    I love this movie! I can’t wait to see the sequel. And I totally agree with your hubby that Panda’s skills were buried deep inside. He was just a little (okay, a lot) too fat and it took a very very strong belief to bring out the Kung Fu mastery! 🙂

  24. Leigh Moore November 9, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    wow. And I saw this movie in the theater w/my oldest daughter. But that’s so true. There is no secret ingredient. Good stuff, Laura~ :o) <3

  25. Shane Carranza January 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Fantastic blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

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