The Magic of Encanto

It’s been almost a year and a half, and everyone is still talking about not talking about Bruno. (Read the sentence again, you’ll get it.) If you were around back in 2014 when the Frozen craze hit, you’ll recognise the signs of an instant Disney classic. But Encanto is truly something special – it has such a wide reach and its music is the most popular in Disney’s history.

When something like this happens, the question I always seek to answer is: why? I want to know what makes a good story tick. When a story blows up as much as Encanto has, it means the creators probably did something right. My goal is to find that “secret sauce” and share it with you in a bite-sized post so that we can all learn how to write better stories.

Encanto‘s secret: relatability

Looking beyond the fantastic music and beautifully colourful animation here, the story of Encanto makes everyone watching it feel like they’re heard and understood – especially in today’s world.

Mirabel is definitely relatable in some ways (like her love-hate relationship with her family), but she’s more of a sympathetic protag. We root for her because we feel sorry for her – she’s kind and caring, yet ignored or slighted by many because she doesn’t have a magical power.

It’s the other members of the Madrigal family who really bring the relatability factor to the max. Not only is each character struggling with something different, but their problems are extremely relevant to the world we live in right now. You know things are bad when a song about doing too much and running yourself into the ground is in a kid’s movie. But who, in our society, doesn’t feel that stress? Who doesn’t feel those lyrics in their very soul? “Surface Pressure” is something we can all understand, and so our empathy pulls us further into the story and makes us more invested in the characters and their goals.

Isabela and even Abuela widen the pool further. Perfectionism is a prolific disease in our world that infects nearly everyone at some point in their lives. And once we realise that we, too, have at some time been so busy trying to hold our lives together that we mistreat the people we love, Abuela’s story really hits home.

Of course, relatability alone isn’t what makes a story great. You have to add other factors like humour, a solid character arc and plot, and great supporting characters and dialogue. But the relatability factor is, mainly, what gives Encanto such a wide appeal. I will note that it’s also a smaller-scale story; it feels cosy and safe, and it’s not some earth-shattering quest to get stressed out about. It’s a story about family, and we all have one of those.

Do you still watch Encanto? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re struggling to find that little extra “something” to make your story great, my feedback services start at just $10.

Happy writing!

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Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

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When you write as much as I do, you have to take frequent breaks from sitting. A standing desk (not a whole desk, but a mini desk that will sit on top of my current desk with my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and extend upward) will allow me to continue working while maintaining that good blood flow to my brain. Thank you so much for your support that allows me to keep producing free content. God bless you! ♥️ E.J.


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