This may sound strange, but I didn’t want to read another novel after I finished Mockingjay. The story left me with so much to think about and I wanted to keep thinking about it, not immerse myself in someone else’s story. So I picked up a book on writing that a friend had loaned me a while back.
Blake Snyder wrote Save the Cat! for screenwriters. But a lot of the information applies whether you’re writing for print or movies: master your pitch, know what your character wants, conflict in every scene. I found a lot of great tips in this book, but what stood out for me was the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. This is a “template” he uses to outline his story. For a 110 page script, he breaks it down this way:
- Theme stated by a character by page 5
- Catalyst (life changing moment) on page 12
- Act Two starts on page 25
- B Story, the theme or the love story, starts on page 30
- The midpoint where the hero thinks he peaks or collapses hits on page 55
- The All is Lost moment comes on page 75
- Act Three, where the internal and external stories intertwine, begins on page 85
On pages 85–110, the hero leads the way based on the lessons he learned in Act Two.
There’s more in between, but basically, he emphatically states that you should hit your Act break on page 25, hit the midpoint and All is Lost moment hard, and stay within these page confines to keep your script from getting too bloated. Since a novel is much longer, you’d have to do some algebra *cringe* to figure out the page or word count equivalents for a novel, but this skeleton outlining system fascinated me. I’ve gone back and forth trying to decide if this would help or stunt creativity.
What do you think?
BTW, saving the cat refers to a scene near the beginning of the movie where the hero does something, like saving a cat, to define who he is and make us like him. He could be a criminal, but that save the cat moment shows us his humanity and gives us hope that he’ll be okay.