"Save the Cat!" is a term many of us have heard, and comes from a book on screen writing by Blake Snyder called, coincidentally, 'Save the Cat!'. While the book focusses on writing films, the lessons can be applied to novels, too, and there's even a companion book by Jessica Brody called 'Save the Cat! Writes a Novel'.
One of the big tools found in both books is the 15-point beat sheet (that starts with an 'opening image' of your story, and takes us all the way through to the finale), which is a big help when fleshing out initial ideas for our stories and making sure there really is a 'story' in there. I've personally found it helpful in my own writing, and it's helped me to think about things that hadn't yet come to mind. There are many systems out there that work, but I think this is one that every writer should take a look at.
To that end, we're putting together a tool to help people develop their own 15-point Save the Cat! beat sheets. Many others have simple lists out there, which can be helpful, but don't always convey exactly where in an act a beat has to happen, or how much of the story a beat/section takes up. (We'll get more into the nitty-gritty of how the beat sheet works in an upcoming blog post, but, as a quick example, a simple list of the beats make it seem like 'Opening Image' and 'Fun and Games' take up the same amount of story length, but 'Fun and Games' happens across roughly 30% of your story (which could be up to or over 30,000 words), where as the 'Opening Image' is a single scene/chapter that would only span a few-hundred to a few-thousand words at most.
Here's an image of our work in progress. Most of its form is already there, but it still needs a few bits of polish.
This will be the first in our line of story planning and development tools, and we're excited to see people use them! Our aim is to have it finished and released by the end of October, at which time we'll have another blog post with some more information on how it all works.
If you're interested in learning more about Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat!", you can check out the books here:
(Note that these are affiliate links that help us earn a little extra money to support this site, but will never cost you any more than normal to purchase.)