Hey there kittens and gents and welcome
back to the channel. I mean that’s not to say you can’t be a kitten and a gent,
that didn’t really make sense did it? Where even was I… Right, Save the Cat. We’re
talking about Save the Cat today. Now shout out to Cam over at Wolfshot Publishing. I did get this idea from him covering the hero’s journey so if
you’re interested in the hero’s journey I will link his video in the description
and in the end card so you can go check that out.
Preferably after you finish watching this video. But I wanted to cover Save the
Cat which is an alternative and though it was created for screenwriters it does
absolutely work for books and of course now we do have the book save the cat
writes a novel written by Jessica Brody which translates of these screenwriters
speak into jargon that us writers are more familiar with. Now to properly break
down Save the Cat I’m going to be using two examples that have absolutely
nothing in common besides being two amazing freakin stories and one … Why am i
dragging this out like you didn’t look at the thumbnail. It’s How to Train Your
Dragon and The Hunger Games. Now in terms of The Hunger Games
that’s gonna be my book example. It’s almost the same as the movie but there’s
a couple of places where it deviates a little bit so keep that in mind.
Oh and spoiler warning for anyone who hasn’t watched How to Train Your Dragon
or read The Hunger Games. And if that’s you I regret to inform you that we can
no longer be friends, so you should work on getting that fixed. I’m kidding. Or am I? So
save the cat is a narrative sort of structure guide map developed by the
late Blake Snyder who is a screenwriter. He called it the Blake Snyder beat sheet
but he put it in a book called save the cat and because that name is way more
fun and because we make the rules we all just started calling it save the cat and
if he didn’t see that coming that’s his fault. And the book itself got its name
from a tip that’s contained within the book that has nothing to do with the
beat sheet but basically says that if you have a
protagonist that starts out unlikable you have to have him save a cat, which is
amazing advice because you can’t hate a protagonist that’s saved a cat. Do you want to
be saved? I will save you. So Blake Snyder later published a nonfiction
book called save the cat strikes back. I’m trying to save you, let me save you.
So save the cat strikes back just contains mostly screenwriting advice
that didn’t fit into the first book but it does contain a slight adaption of the
beat sheet where he makes a five-step finale so I will be covering that. He
also includes a diagram of what he calls the transformation machine which is
supposed to help you understand the beat sheet. I’m not gonna be covering that
because I don’t understand how it works. Now Blake Snyder in his beat sheet *something falls*
you didn’t see that. Nothing fell down. You actually didn’t see that, ooooh, see,
I’m innocent. So Blake Snyder’s original beat sheet included where these
things should take place except he wrote it for screenwriters so unless your
story is 110 pages long that doesn’t work. Jessica Brody’s book save the cat
writes a novel has percentages so that’s where I’m getting those numbers but it
is worth noting that there is a website where if you plug in how many pages your
story is or how many pages you want it to be it will tell you exactly what page
ranges the different beats should fall. So I’ll link that in the description. Now
to the actual sheet. Khajiit: meows Khajiit! Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. I threw the book at him. I’m sorry. It was a light book I swear. Plot twist, I am the villain. Oh
my god I got fur everywhere, eww. So in save the cat Act one refers to the
status quo world. So step one is opening image and this takes up the first scene
and sometimes up to the first chapter. The most important part of the opening
image is to set the story’s tone and mood. Is it gonna be an erotica? Shove the
readers face first into boobs. Is it dark? Have your character wake up
surrounded by concrete walls and pain chemicals surging through her veins. You
know just as a random example. Lean very heavily into visuals in this first beat
because it’ll do a really good job at captivating the audience. So this is the
point where you would show the hero’s flawed life. Their ordinary world. And often even the hero’s own flaws worsening the problem. In How to
Train Your Dragon this is the narration bit. Hiccup: “this is Berk. It’s 12 days north of
hopeless and a few degrees south of freezing to death” And that’s what starts
to color this world and then we see that hiccup isn’t what we normally envision
is a Viking. In The Hunger Games this is when Katniss wakes up to her screaming
sister and comforts her and Katniss is thinking about how she has to go out and
hunt for her family to survive. Which brings us into stage number 2 which is
theme stated and this can happen anywhere between 5% and 10% in the novel.
This is where the character’s need is hinted at right up front in the story.
Readers want to see that you plan to delve into some aspect of what it means
to be human and so this is where you prove to them that you’re gonna be doing
that. Now because you need your hero to ignore that advice for most of the book
the theme should generally come from someone that the hero doesn’t take super
seriously. Sometimes it can even be an annoying platitude on a billboard
advertising underwear. Sometimes it’s Tom that weirdo from work who has pictures
of pugs all over his cubicle even though he doesn’t own a dog. The point is it has
to be realistic that the hero didn’t listen to the theme this first time it
came around. In How to Train Your Dragon this is where hiccup argues with Gobber.
Gobber: “You ever want to get out there to fight dragons you need to stop all this” Hiccup: “What?
You just pointed to all of me.” Gobber: “Yes, that’s it. Stop being all of you.” This is subtle
because the ultimate theme of How to Train Your Dragon is that you should be
yourself. In The Hunger Games, Gale introduces the theme. Gale: “take off, live in the
woods. It’s what we do anyway.” Katniss: “They’d catch us. We wouldn’t make it five
miles.” Gale: “No I’d get five miles.” The ultimate theme is that Katniss needs
to stop playing along with them. She needs to stop being a piece in their
games. If this bit has you stumped that’s okay theme can be really tricky. When you
finish watching this video all the way to the end, yeah I said the end, I will
link in the endcard a video on want versus need where I talk a lot about
theme. Next stage we have set up. So setup starts anywhere between one to ten
percent of the book. The theme stated happens right in the middle of it. This
is the place where you truly introduce your character’s status quo
world. This is also where you introduce your character’s want and their goal as
well as most of the characters that will exist in act 1. This is also where you
show in-depth your character’s flaws and how those flaws are messing up their life.
This can play out in so many different ways but the ultimate goal is to show
your audience that something needs to change. Do I actually have to go save my
cat? He’s freaking out. Can you guys hear him? I don’t think you can hear him. So in how to train your dragon this point actually starts when hiccup introduces Stoics the
vast and here we get some minor character introductions and names of
different dragon types and this is where hiccup runs out and shoots the cannon he
made himself and he hits the dragon but no one believes him. In The Hunger Games
this is where we see district 12 and how the Capitol is basically slowly killing
these people and this is where we learn that Katniss frequently breaks
the law to survive and to protect her sister and mother. Step number 4 we have
catalyst and this happens at the 10% mark or earlier and this is generally a
single scene beat. This is the scene that either yanks your protagonist out of
their status quo world or at least shakes it up. The catalyst has to be huge
and destructive, so much so that your character can’t possibly return to the
way that things were. Humans hate change and so we generally only change when we
really have to which means the catalyst is almost always something bad. In How to
Train Your Dragon this is where hiccup goes out into the woods and finds
toothless and he tries to kill him but he can’t bring himself to do it and so
he sets him free. In The Hunger Games this is pretty hard to forget.
Effie Trinket: “Primrose Everdeen” Katniss: “I volunteer. I volumteer as tribute!” Stage five is debate and this takes
place between 10% and 20% and this is where you show your protagonist’s
resistance to change. This is where they generally debate on what they should do
and weigh their options in some stories where the character doesn’t actually
have a choice this can take the form of denial or preparation whether that be
physical or emotional. In How to Train Your Dragon, hiccup tells stoic that he
isn’t a dragon killer. Or he tries to. *garbled talking over eachother* Both: “What?” Hiccup: “No you go first.”
Stoic: “Dragon training. You start in the morning.” Hiccup: “Oh man I should have gone first.” Way to
go hiccup. Now in The Hunger Games she debates on whether or not she can win.
Prim: “Just trying to win, okay.” Katniss: “Maybe I can. I am smart you know.” so this encompasses the whole period from when she starts to say goodbye
up through her whole time on the train. And that brings us to act 2. Act 2 is the
opposite of act 1 and these worlds should be as different from each other as
possible. So step 6 is break into two which takes place at the 20 percent mark.
As the name implies this is where the character falls straight into the
upside-down world, the extraordinary world, the unordinary world… That’s the same
thing as extraordinary… Words how do they work? Now it’s important to note that the
character doesn’t actually have to go somewhere else in this stage. The story
could instead just throw them straight headfirst into something very new and
that could be a new experience or a new place. In How to Train Your Dragon this
is where we see the arena for the very first time and get our very first scene
in it. In The Hunger Games this is the moment where the train enters the
capital and for the first time we see the capital citizens and how very
different this world is from district 12. And then we have stage 7 which is B
story and this usually takes place around the 22% mark of the book this is
a single scene beat that technically can fall within the past stages but this is
where we meet the B story character for the first time. Though I should note that
sometimes there are multiple B story characters and that’s okay too.
Generally the B story character is a love interest, a mentor, a friend, but the
B story character exists to help your hero embrace the theme and generally
they need to be someone who didn’t exist in the ordinary world or else how did
your character not change before. And your B star a character can perform this
role in multiple ways. In How to Train Your Dragon the theme is
to be yourself and it’s toothless that helps hiccup reach this realization. So
this is the scene where hiccup goes back into the forest and tries to befriend
toothless for the first time. In The Hunger Games this is actually a few
steps back. Peeta is our B story character and he is the embodiment of the theme.
Peeta: “I don’t want to be another piece in their games, you know?” And stage number eight is
fun and games and this takes place generally from 20% to 50% of the novel
and it is a long beat and that’s because this is the section of your story where
you deliver on your premise. And don’t let the terminology trip you up,
fun and games means fun and games for the reader and does not necessarily mean
fun and games for the character. Because this is where your character is trying
to handle the new world and generally you have a little mixture of failing and
succeeding but in the end your characters should either have more
successes than failures with kind of an upward trend or more failures and
successes with kind of a downward trend. In How to Train Your Dragon this is the
moment in the movie where the song plays. So this is where we see the montage of
visuals showing hiccup spending time with toothless and learning the tricks
of training a dragon and then using that knowledge in his training arena gaining
him the admiration of those around him. He’s experiencing mostly successes and
wins. In The Hunger Games this is one of the stages where the book and movie
differ the most. The movie focuses very heavily on the prep period, so in the
book this spans from them starting to prep her all the way up a fair distance
into the games. So this is a huge chunk of ups and downs but overall a trend
towards the down side of things where Katniss is kind of getting beat to hell.
Stage number 9 is the midpoint and this happens at the 50% mark of the book and
this is a single scene beat. This is where the A story and the B story
intersect and we see the hero either experience a fake defeat or a false
victory. So if overall in the fun and games your
hero was failing this is the point where they’ll experience a false defeat and
if overall your hero was winning this is where they’ll experience a false victory.
These have to be false because your hero hasn’t yet learned the lesson and 50% of
the book is still left and if they won here there wouldn’t be any more book. In
how to train your dragon this is a false victory where toothless and hiccup do
the test flight, cooperating to fly together for the first time in a moment
that takes the audience’s breath away. In The Hunger Games this is a moment of
false defeat where Katniss has been hit by the fireball. she’s climbed the tree,
she’s in the top. she’s in pain. she’s basically caught. she has no
plan. the careers are sleeping beneath her. In this moment it truly seems like
she’s defeated. Which brings us to stage 10 which is the bad guys close in and
this isn’t multi scene beat taking place from about 50% of the novel to 75% of
the novel and this is where you get the flip side of the midpoint. So if you had
a false victory in the midpoint this is gonna be where everything starts to go
downhill. And if you had a false defeat in the midpoint this is gonna be where
things start to look up. This is often the point where the bad guys regroup and
is often also the point where the hero’s flaws
close in. They still haven’t dealt with them and now they’re catching up leaving
a path of destruction in their wake where the casualties are generally the
character’s relationships, their hope, their dreams, their plans. In How to
Train Your Dragon this is the moment where hiccup is declared the winner of
the training and is given the honor of killing a dragon and then Astrid is
angry and follows hiccup seeing toothless and then this is where we see
the Dragon Nest for the first time then in the test hiccup refuses to kill the
dragon but a mishap leads to the dragon trying to kill him at which point
toothless saves his life but is then captured this is where hiccup messes up
and accidentally reveals to stoic that toothless is able to find his way to the
nest. In The Hunger Games this is when Rue shows up and shows her about the
tracker jackers and she drops the nest and escapes and then this is the whole
period that includes Rue. Stage 11 is all is lost and this is a single-action
filled beat that takes place at the 75% mark of the story. Change is hard and so
often we don’t change until we’re at our lowest of lows and even denial can’t
save us. They should at this point be in a worse position than when the story
started. So this is where you destroy your character and don’t pretend you
don’t want to. We all enjoy it. There’s no judgment here. Unless you haven’t watched
How to Train Your Dragon or The Hunger Games in which case I’m judging you. “For legal reasons that’s a joke. For legal reasons that’s a joke.” This is generally a place where a lot of
characters die, especially the mentor. If you’re a mentor and you reach this part
of the story, you better just run. And sometimes even
the main character nearly dies or experiences a fake death or is brought
to the brink of death. And because your hero still hasn’t learned their lesson
more often than not this pain and all of this destruction is something that they
caused because of their flaws. In How to Train Your Dragon this is when stoic
leaves taking toothless with him to find the Dragon’s nest. Astrid: “You’ve lost everything. Your father, your tribe, your best friend.” Hiccup: “Thank you for summing that up.” And in The
Hunger Games this is the moment when Rue dies and Katniss sings to her.
Which brings us to step number 12 which is dark night of the soul and this is
75% 80% and brings us into act 3. All is lost is a single scene beat but the hero
needs more time than that to process it all. This is where the hero broods, and
then broods some more. This is where they walk through the rain and kick puddles
and a car drives by and splashes them and they curse the world for being so
cruel and you laugh because you did this to them. In How to Train Your Dragon
hiccup broods very briefly but then Astrid gives him the spark in the
darkness reminding him that he’s not like the other Vikings.
Hiccup: “300 years and I’m the first Viking who wouldn’t kill a dragon.” Astrid: ” First to ride one
though.” This is when he realizes that the solution is to be himself. In the hunger
games this is where Katniss puts the flowers on Rue’s body and gives the
three-fingered salute. Which is her first sort of open act of rebellion.
She also breaks down in broods. Which brings us to stage number 13 break into
three this happens at the 80% mark and is a single beat. This is where that
spark in the darkness truly catches fire and spreads. While brooding and thinking
about all the things that made them so miserable the hero stumbles upon a
solution. This is where they find their first little bit of clarity about what’s
been holding them back. In How to Train Your Dragon this is when hiccup enters
the arena with his companions. In The Hunger Games this is the moment where
the rule change is announced and Katniss blurts out Peeta’s name. Her instincts have
always been too ultimately choose survival first before
anything else but in this moment she risks her life by blurting out his name
because her instincts are no longer the same. Which brings us to the finale which
takes place from 80% to 99% which is the five point finale called storming the
castle. So 14a is gathering the team this is
where the hero gathers the people or tools that they need to storm the
metaphorical castle or sometimes the real castle. Now in many stories the hero
broke a lot of their relationships over the last few stages so this is where
they make amends. In How to Train Your Dragon this is him
introducing the dragons to his companions and showing them how to ride
them. In The Hunger Games this is where Katniss sets out and goes to find Peeta
at the river and drags him out. 14b is executing the plan and this is where the
hero actually storms the castle but it should also feel futile like there’s no
chance they can actually win but they’re hyped so they’re gonna try anyways. In
how to train your dragon this actually takes the form of stoic starting his
attack on the Dragons in tandem with hiccup and his companions going after
them. In The Hunger Games this starts with Katniss in the cave and then she
goes out and risks her life to get the medicine for Peeta and this also stretches out to include all of the running from the mutts and
all the way up to killing Cato. Which brings us to 14c which is the high tower
surprise and no that isn’t a dessert but it sounds like a dessert name and I want
whatever the hell that is. So this is named after the oh so common
moment when the hero opens the door to the highest tower and instead of finding
the damsel in distress he finds a wolf in pajamas. Because the bad guys were a
step ahead all along. In how to train your dragon this is where the giant
Queen dragon is revealed and toothless sinks into the water and hiccup fails to
free him. In The Hunger Games this is the moment where the game makers announce
the rule change. Which brings us to 14 D which is dig down deep or dig deep down
there’s too many D words on that one. The high tower surprise is a mini
catalyst so this is sort of a mini debate. This is where the hero re-analyzes the situation and tries to find a new solution. And the true solution
should be something that they never would have done in chapter 1 but makes
perfect sense now because they’ve changed.
In How to Train Your Dragon this is a place where we see a lot of focus on
stoic who sees what hiccup would do for toothless and goes back and saves him
and then when hiccup goes to leave stoic apologizes and tells hiccup not to go
but hiccup embodies the theme by returning Stoics words from the start. Hiccup:”We’re Vikings, it’s an occupational hazard.” But now the
theme is applied with new context. In The Hunger Games this is where the B story
boy himself says: Peeta: “One of us has to die. They had to have their victor.” Which leads to Katniss realizing away she can rebel and force the Capital’s hand. Which brings us
to last but not least 14 E which is the execution of the new plan. This is where
the hero goes all-in and jumps, blind leap of faith, and because the whole
point of the story was them finding the true theme they succeed. Or at least
generally they do. Sometimes the theme is a little bit of a switch and the theme
is that you shouldn’t trust the theme. In how to train your dragon the new
plan is sort of just hiccup now having toothless because stoic saved him so this
is a point where without the combination of toothless and hiccup we wouldn’t have
had a victory. In The Hunger Games this is where Katniss hands Peeta some of the
berries and they start to bring them towards their mouths and the game makers
stop them and declare them both victors. The ultimate goal of these last five
steps is to wipe away the fog concealing the message of the story. Which brings us
to step number 15 which is the final image and this takes place from the 99%
mark to the 100% mark. So this is where you show the hero post-transformation. So
often you’ll find that the final image takes place somewhere familiar where we
can have these similar settings that really bring out the differences in the
protagonists. This is really important because it proves to the audience that
the story meant something. Things are different now and there’s no way for the
hero to go back to the way things were. In how to train your dragon we get the
scene where stoick gestures to all of him. Stoick: “It turns out all we needed was a little more of this.”
Hiccup: “You just gestured all of me.” And so we see the same village where the initial
image showed it attacked by dragons and now we see it full of dragons living in
peace with the Vikings. In The Hunger Games this is the train ride home where
we see Peeta and Katniss as victors. So with all that laid out How to Train Your
Dragon on the Hunger Games are two fantastic pieces of storytelling and yet
they don’t fit perfectly within the confines of this box and that’s okay.
Writing is art and therefore you should sometimes break the rules especially
where it suits your story better. And so that was it for this video sorry that
was super long. If this didn’t quite seem like the beat sheet for you I actually
designed a fusion of save the cat and the hero’s journey, end card, description.
All the other videos are also linked in the places. And thank you guys so much
for watching as always I will see you in the next video.