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!

Walk Your Way To Better

walkyourwaytobetterI don’t often sign up for a WOW-Women-on-Writing book blog tour. Not because I don’t read much but because I do read so much that’s work-related, whether it’s mentor texts or books on the writing craft or blog posts or newsletters or webinars—whew! It’s all focused, intentional reading and sometimes, it makes my head hurt. So my non-work reading is rest for my weary mind, usually pure entertainment or meditative. Honestly, those books have to earn their place in the limited space of my brain.

Then I saw Walk Your Way to Better by Joyce Shulman and it called to me. And here is what it said, “You’re already walking and you’re all for being better so here’s a book you need to take the time to read.” And so I read and contemplated as I walked; I made some notes, too. But I must confess that I haven’t finished this book yet. And I think Joyce would be fine with that because this is not the kind of book you speed read; this is a book where you read and walk and think and journal. Maybe you skip one of the 99 walks that doesn’t pertain to you or maybe you spend a whole week thinking about one particular topic. Or maybe you don’t walk so much as relax for a few minutes while you’re on the lounge chair on your back deck and getting your vitamin D when a sudden realization from Walk #27 hits you.

The point is, Walk Your Way to Better is an individual experience. For you, it could be a speedy jaunt, while for me, it was—and is—more of a wandering ramble. But I’m far enough through the journey to share a review:

What I enjoy most about Joyce Shulman’s Walk Your Way to Better is her voice; she shares her life experiences, introducing us to her foibles, her ups and downs, and where and what she’s learned along her journey, often learning it the hard way. But despite her hard lessons learned, there’s no whining here. Instead, you’ll find someone who picks herself up, admits her mistakes, and moves on. She’s all about progress, not perfection, and not too preachy, either. And she genuinely wants you to move on to bigger and better, too, so she’s come up with this format:

Each of the walks examines a particular topic to help you be better, whether it’s physically better (she’s a huge proponent of healthy eating, particularly breakfast), emotionally better (she drills down more than once on goals, dreams, and what brings you joy) or intellectually better (decision fatigue—it’s a real thing, y’all). These are short, conversational meditations that usually end with an expectation of an actionable response from the reader.

Not every topic will resonate with every reader and some of the topics may be all too-familiar. Many of Shulman’s suggestions are already a part of my daily, weekly, or yearly routine. But here’s the thing: I more often than not found a gem that made me think a bit differently, maybe for just a moment or two. But that’s how we change our lives, how we get better, right? It’s usually the little things that make a difference, the small steps we take every day that eventually get us where we want to go.

Just like a daily walk.

 

You can find Walk Your Way to Better on Amazon, and you can find more reviews on Goodreads, too. Plus, you can find Joyce Shulman online here:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/joyceshulman

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH-NR50srbDzKdUBx5BPgQQ

https://twitter.com/joycershulman

https://www.instagram.com/joyce.r.shulman/

https://www.joyceshulman.com/

AND, her book blog tour is still going on! So don’t just take my word about Walk Your Way to Better. Take a look around:

WalkYourWaytoBetter-BlogTour-JoyceShulman

Cultural Diversity in Children’s Books with Fiona Ingram, Author of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

excalibur front cover final2-2Author Fiona Ingram is visiting the blog today, on a WOW! tour for The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

This middle grade adventure picks up the story following the first mystery she penned, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. Cousins Justin and Adam face modern as well as ancient dangers in their search to find Excalibur. And what’s up with Kim, the girl their aunt has sent along to help them?

Fortunately for us, we have Fiona to explain a little something something about Kim–and Cultural Diversity in Children’s Books:

In the early 1960s, Canadian philosopher and writer Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase ‘global village,’ in effect predicting that in time electronic media would draw the world’s populations closer. Now in 2015, over fifty years later, we need more than ever to acknowledge, accept and celebrate that there are people with different languages, cultures and religious beliefs. We should know more about the other people on our planet, but do we in essence teach our children that everyone has the same rights and deserves acceptance? I was brought up in apartheid South Africa by open-minded parents who valued people and taught us acceptance of everyone, regardless of color. Post-apartheid South Africa has a wide range of people from different race groups, languages, and cultural beliefs; and indeed there are still haves and have-nots. In my second book, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, the two young heroes—Justin and Adam—meet someone who is just like them, yet comes from a completely different background. They have well-off parents, while disadvantaged Kim is living with their Aunt Isabel so as to get a better education.

Readers might be interested to know that the character of Kim in Book 2 is based on a real child, an African child I fostered and later adopted. My young nephews (who inspired the book series) did have a bit of a cultural shock meeting someone who did not come from a well off background, and who needed another person’s help to perform better at school. In subsequent books, the heroic trio encounter different scenarios in different countries, and truly experience multiculturalism. Young readers who follow their adventures are steeped in various histories and cultures covering thousands of years in diverse locales. Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) takes the trio to Central America, where they meet an uncontacted tribe and learn about people who wish to preserve their own unique way of life in the jungle. They also learn about the dangers facing the rain forests, wildlife and indigenous people from industry and mining.

A reviewer commented on my books, saying: “Contrary to today’s apparent trend of watering down our differences, your stories celebrate those differences, which I believe will better serve your young readers as they become the next wave of world leaders.” I was moved by this comment because the places I have chosen as locales for the future adventures are rich in ancient history and stories and legends that anyone would be proud to call their heritage. These elements should be preserved as cultural wealth; special and unique moments in a people’s history that have meaning for them. By including diversity in children’s literature, an author is able to help broaden cultural understanding and acceptance between young readers and reduce conflicts. It’s a great way to teach kids that there are others who might not have all the advantages they enjoy, and that caring and sharing, and respecting others is part of the process of being a compassionate human being. As an end note, Book 1: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is now available in Japan and I hope young Japanese readers will just love reading about an amazing Egyptian adventure in their own language.

The internet has made the world a smaller place than when I was a kid, sharing information about people from all over the four corners of the earth. And yet we still struggle with the big issues: accepting others, treating those who are different from us with respect, and celebrating those differences. I love to see books like The Search for the Stone of Excalibur that embrace and celebrate different cultures–and tell a rollicking good story to boot!

FionaIngram-794310And now here’s a little more about Fiona Ingram:

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—The Chronicles of the Stone. This was inspired by a family trip the author took with her mom and two young nephews aged ten and twelve at the time. The book began as a short story for her nephews and grew from there. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is a treat for young King Arthur fans. Fiona is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico.

While writing The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, Fiona fostered (and later adopted) a young African child from a disadvantaged background. Her daughter became the inspiration for the little heroine, Kim, in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Interestingly, the fictional character’s background and social problems are reflected in the book as Kim learns to deal with life. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read and to enjoy books also inspired many of her articles on child literacy and getting kids to love reading.

You can follow Fiona on Facebook or Twitter, and check out her blog, too. (She always shares the most interesting animal stories!) And of course, look for her fun and fascinating mystery, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. You’ll learn something new on every page!