The Ten Save the Cat! Story Genres
In its quest to delve deeper into the mechanics of story structure and development, the Save the Cat! system goes beyond the regular genres of sci-fi, fantasy, romance, and the like! In fact, Blake Snyder and Jessica Brody created ten new story genres for us to write our stories and screenplays in, but they might not be quite what you think.
What is a "Save the cat!" genre?
Regular genres help to set reader/viewer expectations for a story (such as romance readers expecting explorations of relationships and interpersonal drama, or sci-fi readers expecting high-concept adventures), but there is a lot of leeway in how these genres can be executed.
For instance, a "sci-fi" story could also be a detective story of a killer using drones, or a romance set in space. So these might be refined genre mash-ups, but knowing this high-level detail doesn't really help us as writers plot out our stories or know which elements are truely needed to tell each type of story.
Enter: the 10 Save the Cat! genres.
What are the 10 Save the Cat genres?
- Buddy Love
- The Fool Triumphant
- Out of the Bottle
- Dude with a Problem
- Monster in the House
- Golden Fleece
- Rites of Passage
These ten genres have been derived from hundreds of books and movies from over the years, and help describe various "story types", irrespective of their traditional genre. For example, 'The Fool Triumphant' could just as easily describe a stoner comedy or a fantasy adventure. And knowing which of these ten genres you're writing in will help focus your story-telling and the needed structural elements.
Once you've decided on your genre, you can then start creating your Save the Cat! beat sheet without beat sheet manager!
The Buddy Love genre is about (usually) two characters who start out hating each-other but are made to work together. This could be because they are complete opposites (the trope being the straight-edged personality paired with a loose cannon), or because they have some sort of conflict or rivalry. The key elements of this genre are friendship and teamwork.
The Fool Triumphant
The Fool Triumphant genre is about a character who starts out as a fool, but eventually becomes wise and successful. This could be because they learn from their mistakes, or because they have help from someone else. The key elements of this genre are growth and transformation.
Out of the Bottle
The Out of the Bottle genre is about a character who is granted a wish, but the wish goes wrong in some way. This could be because the character was not specific enough when making the wish, or because they did not realize the consequences of their wish. The key elements of this genre are comedy and irony.
Dude with a Problem
The Dude with a Problem genre is about a character who must overcome some sort of obstacle or challenge in order to achieve their goal. This could be something physical, like climbing a mountain or running a race, or it could be something mental or emotional, like overcoming fear or self-doubt. The key elements of this genre are determination and perseverance.
The Superhero genre is about a character with superpowers who uses them to help others. This could be because they want to make the world a better place, or because they are seeking revenge for some injustice that was done to them. The key elements of this genre are justice and altruism.
The Insitutionalized genre is about a character who is confined to some sort of institution, such as a mental hospital or prison. This could be because they are considered to be dangerous, or because they cannot function in society. The key elements of this genre are confinement and isolation.
Monster in the House
The Monster in the House genre is about a character who must protect others from a dangerous monster. This could be an actual monster, such as in Godzilla or King Kong, or it could be a metaphor for something else that is dangerous and threatening, such as a disease or a natural disaster. The key elements of this genre are suspense and danger.
The Golden Fleece genre is about a character who goes on a quest to find something of great value. This could be literal treasure, such as in Raiders of the Lost Ark or National Treasure, or it could be something more abstract, like inner peace or self-acceptance. The key elements of this genre are adventure and discovery.
Rites of Passage
The Rites of Passage genre is about a character who must undergo some sort of trial or test in order to prove their worthiness. This could be literal, such as in The Hunger Games or Lord of the Rings, or it could be more metaphorical, like starting a new job or going through puberty. The key elements of this genre are growth and change.
The Whydunit genre is about a character who commits a crime, but the audience is not sure why they did it. This could be because the character is mentally unstable, or because they were coerced into committing the crime. The key elements of this genre are mystery and suspense.
Where to go next?
Now that you've decided on your STC genre, you can head on over to Scene One's Save the Cat! beat sheet manager and start planning out your story's plot!
Also, if you haven't already, it'd be a great idea to pick up one or two of the Save the Cat! books to learn more from. If you're new to the series, the original "Save the Cat!" or "Save the Cat! Writes a Novel" would be two great places to start.