Save the Cat! Saves the Writing Day

When I saw that WOW! Women on Writing was hosting a blog tour for Save the Cat! AND specifically for the Storycards, I was all in for this adventure. I’m a BIG fan of Save the Cat!

So I already had the book (Actually, I’ve got the original plus Save the Cat! Writes a Novel) and I had an idea that was clearly a sign ( see my post, Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign over at the Muffin). And now all I had to do was…well, write.

BUT here’s where I diverged from the usual Cathy C. Hall writing-of-a-book. I decided that I would write this story–I call it ALTHEA–totally by the book. The book being Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. After all, I only had a couple chapters and a small notebook of notes written out. And perusing my notes, I could already see some problems. Plus, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to write a book and not spend 3 years revising the mess I made of it?

Honestly, I had nothing to lose (except three years) and everything to gain (“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done,” to quote Mr. Dickens). So I spent February thinking and plotting and reading my STC book. I made copious notes, about whether my hero was heroic enough to carry an entire novel (yep, she is!) and pages and pages of plotting (basically, a synopsis) and then, I tackled what genre this story followed.

At this point, I chose the story genre: it had to be Dude (or Dudette, technically) With a Problem. But a few days later, with lots of notes in my head, I thought, maybe this isn’t so simple. So I took a look at Buddy Love. Yes, I thought, twirling in my office chair, this is the one!

Except–and I’m not just saying this because I didn’t want to completely rewrite my story to fit the genre of Buddy Love–it didn’t feel quite right, either. So I tried another genre. Which just happened to be the genre directly following Buddy Love in the book: Out of the Bottle. And as the saying goes, third time’s the charm!

I still have a little bit of tweaking with the plot to add the magic element at the right beat but it was time to hit the Story Cards. Which is what we’re here for today.

Here’s what the Save the Cat! Beat Cards are all about:

Crack your story from the “Opening Image” to the “Final Image.” Save the Cat!® Beat Cards provide writers with the 15 key plot points to map out your script or novel. Every set contains 15 individual index cards with helpful explanations of each beat to form the foundation of your story. 

Now, I think it goes without saying that the story cards alone will be much more illuminating if you have Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (or take the course). So if you’re working in tandem, as I’ve done this past month, you’ll find that the beats practically write themselves, and it’s just a hop, skip, and a typity-type to your novel.

I’ve filled out my beat cards in pencil because a. I like writing in pencil and b. sometimes, I make mistakes. Also, at this point, I’ve just written a line, maybe two, on the beat cards. Once I finish filling out all my beats (I’m tweaking since I changed the genre; I’ve got a specific beat I want to work out before I move on to the rest), AND I’m sure I have the beats in the right order, I’ll color code them (Act I, Act II, Act III). I’ve left room for more notes, as needed.

I also have Save the Cat! Scene Cards, and here’s how they work:

Every scene of your story needs to communicate “place,” “basic action,” “emotional transformation,” and “outcome.” The Save the Cat!® Scene Cards help writers nail the purpose of every scene. Each set of cards contains 40 color-coded cards broken down by act, with 10 extra cards because we know you’ll need them. 

You’ll note that the Scene cards are already color coded; I haven’t filled these out yet but I know I’ll approach them in the same way, pencilling in my notes.

Obviously, if you have Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, you can get all this helpful info and DIY it. But the set produced by Save the Cat! is of excellent quality and will withstand LOTS of handling because let’s face it, you’re going to be messing with these cards the entire time you’re writing your novel.

Bottom line, I give a two thumbs up to the Save the Cat! Writes a Novel program, including the card sets. Whether my finished novel will get a two thumbs up remains to be seen, because…well…first, I have to write it.

And now, more info about the blog tour:

First, what is Save the Cat!®? 

Save the Cat! provides writers 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). Our 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. 

Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their webpage at https://savethecat.com/

About the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course

This course is designed for writers to turn their idea into a movie or novel. This learn-at-your-own-pace online class helps you develop the 15 key “beats” or “plot points” of your story. Strung together, in the right order, these 15 beats make up the blueprint to a successful screenplay or novel. 

You’ll Turn an Idea into a Story by Learning to… 

• Create a solid beat sheet that will serve as the road map, and “backbone” of your story 

• Identify and know the key components of your story genre • Learn the clichés of your genre so that you can break them like an artist 

• Plot your hero’s journey and “transformation” • Troubleshoot your story idea for viability 

• Write a compelling logline or elevator pitch 

This Course Is for Those Who… 

• Want to troubleshoot an existing story 

• Have so many great ideas and struggle to choose “the one” 

• Are ready to write but not sure how to start 

• Are determined to finish a half-written story 

• Want to learn 

This Course Includes… 

• Over 3 hours and 17 minutes of original video production 

• 9 downloadable worksheets • 3 reading assignments (book not included) 

• 4 homework assignments 

Course Value: $59 

Find out more information about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course by visiting https://www.savethecatcourses.com/courses/cracking-the-beat-sheet.

Find out more information about Story Cards at https://savethecat.com/story-cards

And finally, the tour is STILL going on, so please check out any of these posts to find more information from lots of writers about the cards, the course, or Save the Cat!

Blogging Through

There comes a time–and I believe it was when the plumber’s 47th bang rang out–that a person has to throw in the towel and give up on writing anything terribly creative.

However, I am a professional writer. And so–Great. Now it’s drilling.–I shall power through. Because earlier (that would be May 16th), I wrote a terribly creative blog post for The Muffin that you might want to check out. Although to be honest, I only wrote what I heard at a recent SCBWI schmooze (translation: writer’s workshop.)

Thanks to the brilliant Janice Hardy and Shelli Johannes Wells, our writer heads were brimming with plotting and marketing tips and insider knowledge.

And under normal circunstances, I’d elaborate. But now the floor guy is here.

Words of Wisdom (From The Younger But Wiser)

Lots of years ago, after a particularly bad day at school, one of the Junior Halls said to me, “Mom, I know I have a lot to learn, but why do I always have to learn it the hard way?”

I think when we learn a lesson the hard way, it tends to stick in our brains. But sometimes, we get to bypass the really crappy teachable moments because someone else has learned the hard way and is willing to share the lesson.  And so I present these two lovely folks who had sparkling blog posts this week.

Agent Rachelle Gardner (who has an awesome blog, packed with awesome information) shares her words of wisdom for those just dying to get published. Specifically, she shares that the dream of being published may be a teensy bit different from the reality. Read, learn,  and don’t say you weren’t warned.

Editor Cheryl Klein (who also has an awesome blog) shares her words of wisdom all the time. But in this particular post, she shares words of wisdom from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park,  on writing, and particularly on plotting. She’s posted these guys’ video on the discussion and even tells us where to listen and learn. Now, frankly, if Cheryl Klein is going to go to all that trouble, I’m going to pay attention.

Because it’s getting a bit old, having to learn all my lessons the hard way. Today, I’m taking the short cut (even if tomorrow, it all falls out of my brain.)