Collage header with the covers of the Save the Cat books

If you can master this awesome method of storytelling, there is no question that your writing will improve. What is this fantastic framework? It’s the Save the Cat story structure method. It’s an incredibly powerful method for crafting riveting narratives. It can help make your book unputdownable.

What is Save the Cat?

The Save the Cat storytelling framework was developed by the late screenwriter Blake Snyder. It is also a philosophy. Where The Hero’s Journey focuses on the transformation of the hero, Save the Cat emphasizes the importance of creating likable protagonists and engaging storytelling beats.

The book cover of Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, with a cat hanging by a rope Save the Cat Beat Sheet Workbook using Blake Snyder's Story Structure Method The book cover of Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, with a cat hanging by a rope

The Key Elements of the Save the Cat Storytelling Method

Now, let’s take a look at the specific steps of the Save the Cat framework so you can master this effective storytelling method. They form the building blocks of a successful story.

  1. Opening Image: Begin your story with a powerful visual that sets the tone and introduces the audience to the world of the story. It sets the tone and draws readers into the narrative. It could be a bucolic landscape, a busy city street or town square, or a quiet moment of introspection, the opening image sets the stage for the adventure to come.
  2. Theme Stated: Explicitly state or hint at the central theme or message of the story. This lays the groundwork for what is to come.
  3. Save the Cat Moment: Have the protagonist perform an act of kindness or heroism early in the story, endearing them to the audience and establishing their likability. This is crucial to this structure. This is where the title of the structure comes from. The hero’s act of kindness could be as simple as saving a cat.
  4. Fun and Games: This is the “fun” part of the story, where the protagonist embarks on their journey, encountering challenges and obstacles along the way. It mirrors the Road of Trials in The Hero’s Journey or Act II of the three-act structure. It’s like a rollercoaster ride—full of twists, turns, and surprises.
  5. Midpoint Twist: Around the halfway point of the story, introduce a major plot twist or revelation, changing the direction of the narrative. This raises the stakes. It’s the moment when the protagonist’s belief is derailed. They have to pivot to move forward.
  6. All is Lost: Make something happen that causes the protagonist to believe they cannot achieve their goal. They experience a setback or failure that threatens their entire journey and success. They may feel lost, alone, and unsure of what to do next. The All is Lost point is a pivotal moment in the story that tests the hero’s resolve and forces them to confront their deepest fears.
  7. Dark Night of the Soul: Make the protagonist grapple with doubt, fear, and uncertainty. They question whether they have what it takes to succeed. This is their darkest moment.
  8. Break into Three: Just when all seems lost, make the protagonist forge ahead with renewed determination and resolve, continuing their journey. It mirrors the Resurrection in the Hero’s Journey–a moment of triumph and transformation as the hero rises from the proverbial ashes and prepares to face their final challenge.
  9. Finale: In the story’s climax, the protagonist faces the final challenge and ultimately achieves their goal. Loose ends are tied up, the story comes to a satisfying conclusion, and reader expectation is met.

Bringing the Save the Cat Steps Together

There you have it. Save the Cat is one of the best ways to improve your storytelling. The effective method is powerful and will help you write better. If this method resonates with you, use it to craft your story. Developing the plot around story beats will help you create a compelling narrative that leaves readers begging for more.

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