Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sarah Saves the Cat! I Think...

As mentioned in my last blog post, I was going to read Save the Cat! (The Last Book OnScreenwriting that You’ll Ever Need), which is by Blake Snyder. No, I’m not writing a screen play. Just because the book is about making movies doesn’t mean there isn’t something that can be taken away and used for books.

For instance, Catherine Ryan Hyde did a guest post on Anne R. Allen’s Blog on what can happen to a book when it’s turned into a screenplay. Reading Blake Snyder’s book explains why some of that happens. I’m not sure a lot of books follow his fifteen beat plot. But, apparently that’s what makes a movie successful. After all the audience wants their entertainment in short time frame.

Not to mention I’ve seen the book pop up on other blogs, or maybe it’s just that Roni Loren (steamy romance novelist) has mentioned it, a lot. So I ordered the book, it was delivered and I’ve read through chapter four. And what all has Blake been talking about in chapters 1 through 4? I’ll tell you, using My Phoenixes for my examples. *grins*

Chapter One is about the logline – that one line that you use to get people interested in your story. He suggests walking up to strangers and pitching your idea, but, I’m not quite sure I’m up to that sort of thing, so I’ll pitch it here. Unfortunately, it’s for the trilogy and focused on Sarah. If you have suggestions to improve it, I’ll gladly take them. 
  • Logline: A war weary independent young woman finds herself in a medieval world helping her future husband save it from a warmongering General

Chapter Two is about Movie types – not necessarily genres, because each type can be made into any genre. What Blake is talking about are story lines. In a condensed format like a movie, you’re pretty much going to have one (I’m beginning to see how I could apply this to a short story). In a novel I suspect you might have more than one of his 10 types. I pined my trilogy down to three
  • Phoenixes Blake Types: Dude with a Problem (there’s a war to avert), Buddy Love (the romance), and Institutionalized (the sacrifice of one for many, military mind set).

Chapter Three is whom the story is about and the Primal urges that connect it with the audience. In addition, there is an emphasis on growth of the protagonist. Someone once told me that Hasón was too perfect. They might be right. He has no growing to do, while Sarah has loads.
  • It’s about a Guy Who:  Sarah’s a war weary, independent young woman. Hasón’s a staunch commander who follows his gut. Wholwaski is a conniving war mongering General.
  • It’s Primal Elements Are:  Survival, Protection of Loved Ones, and Fear of Death

Chapter Four is about Blake Snyder’s beats. One story, split into Three Acts, that are broken down into a total of fifteen “beats”. Each one to be placed in the script at specific point for maximum effect. Let me summarize them in my words, as best I can.
  1. Opening Image: Shows us where the hero begins, his life before the story happens
  2. Theme Stated:  Someone states something that clues us into what the story’s theme is
  3. Set-Up:  Where we meet everyone in the A Story, showing what needs fixing in the hero’s life
  4. Catalyst:  The thing that turns the Hero’s world upside down and starts him on his journey
  5. Debate:  The answer to the question of – can the hero handle what he’s been tasked with and how?
  6. Break Into Two:  The hero takes the action that leads from his life onto the path of his new life
  7. B Story:  It’s a break from what’s been going on and introduces new people to the hero
  8. Fun and Games:  Slightly lighter in tone than the rest, it’s the fun part – the part that trailers take their clips from...
  9. Midpoint:  Halfway through, the hero gets a small, or false full, victory though sometimes it can be a down as well as an up
  10. Bad Guys Close In:  Everything begins to align against the hero as the bad guys close in for a win
  11. All is Lost:  There is a whiff of death, be it metaphorical or actual, where it seems the hero has lost
  12. Dark Night of the Soul:  This is how the losing affects the hero, how it manifests itself
  13. Break Into Three:  But now the Hero has a solution taken from both the A story and B story
  14. Finale:  The hero wins and his old world has  now completely transformed into his new world
  15. Final Image:  A mirror image of the opening image, showing us how far the character has come

Art by Gabriel Morrison
I tried beating out Sarah’s Phoenix and found myself mixing it with Phoenix Rising – clearly a novel can have a lot more going on in it than a movie can – that’s why books are so often better. It’s also helped me realize that the story revolves very much around Sarah – after all it’s all from her viewpoint right now. But, I’m going to change that and Hasón is going to become less than perfect so the two of them can grow together.

At least that’s what I’m hoping.

But, for NaNo2012, I’ve decided to pick on ‘Lori and her Boys’. You’ll be hearing more about them as the march towards November continues!

:} Cathryn Leigh


  1. Thanks for this, Cathryn - very interesting! Nice to see how you're going about your editing. As you well know, I'm going to be doing a similar thing with Watching, i.e. rewriting.

    1. So I saw on your blog (as well as in our e-mails). Glad I've been helpful. :}

      I'll be continuing on - posibly plotting my rewrite of Sarah's Phoenix along with the plotting of my NaNovel 2012 - and hopefully posting up my notes weekly (I think) so you can follow a long.