Thursday, May 21, 2020

Save the Cat! (And How to Do It!)

Who hasn’t heard of the Save the Cat method of writing? I had, of course. However, being old school and a mix of a plotter and a pantser, I was happy with my loose sheets of paper (for the plot/scenes), my big A4 notebook (now falling apart) with sections for each novel in my Middle Grade adventure series, The Chronicles of the Stone. I must say it has become harder to keep track of things with each book, and I have screeds of notes on recurring themes, ‘breadcrumbs’ for each plot that link the books, and what people said in Book One that might be relevant to Book Five (which is where I am now in a 7-part series). I am generally skeptical of new-fangled computer systems of making notes and keeping track. Nothing beats physical notebooks for me. However, knowing about Save the Cat! as a tried and tested (by others) method, I thought it might be interesting to try.

Save the Cat! provides writers with the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957- 2009). Blake’s method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). The books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation.
Save the Cat! Story Structure Software is adapted from the Save the Cat! methodology to help screenwriters and novelists unlock the fundamentals of plot and character transformation. The Story Structure Software is a virtual writer board with digital index cards to help map out your story against the 15 beats or plot points to your story. The software enables writers to track emotional shifts of characters from scene to scene, develop profiles and edit and change your story with ease.

The system starts with a logline to help you define what your story is about. Then the 10 genres which help define the story even further. You’d be amazed at how many writers who mislabel their stories. My series fits into ‘The Golden Fleece.’ Beat sheets enable the writer to create their own plot and character analysis. There are examples and a free blank beat sheet for you to test drive things a tad, in case you don’t want to jump in boots and all. But finally, the board, which is the piece de resistance. This is laid out for the author in such a way that they cannot fail to produce a great story plan, with each scene having emotional change and conflict. But lest you think this is a ‘paint by numbers’ approach that reduces your creativity, think again and give it a try. The website offers so much information to both answer your questions and give you food for thought. I'm going to give it a try! Visit