Writing Blog #1- Save the Cat Opening Image and Other Things

Hello everyone,

So you may have noticed, but my website changed. Again. I am really trying to build a professional platform and create more consistent content for you guys. The transition is not complete yet and I am still updating a few things, but I thought that I would at least create a post in the meantime.

I have a new update schedule:

  • Sundays I will post a Writing Blog
  • Tuesdays I will feature a song from my writing playlist
  • Wednesday will be Top Five Wednesday
  • Saturdays will be book reviews. These will be less frequent.

So without further ado, here is my first writing post of the year!

As many of you know, I am writing a novel. Throughout this whole process, I have experimented with various structures and while some of them were effective, I have finally settled on one that perfectly serves my story’s needs: Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat Beat Sheet or the BS2.

save-the-cat

“Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder. Image from Amazon.com

For those of you who don’t know, Blake Snyder was a screenwriter who was most famous for writing the live action Disney film, Blank Check. Snyder propelled his success into a bestselling book called Save the Cat, which breaks down the process of screenwriting. I have found it helpful for my story and have modified it slightly to fit the novel form. Here are the 15 beats Blake divides his stories into:

  1. Opening Image/Scene
  2. Theme Stated
  3. Set-Up
  4. Catalyst
  5. Debate
  6. Break Into Two
  7. B-Story
  8. Fun and Games
  9. Midpoint
  10. Bad Guys Close In
  11. All is Lost
  12. Dark Night of the Soul
  13. Break Into Three
  14. Finale
  15. Final Image/Scene

For the next fifteen weeks, I will be breaking down these beats, starting of course with the Opening Image. Just like in a movie, the opening image or opening scene should convey a sense of what your novel is about. This is the place we should meet our protagonist and the world they live in. It should also set the tone of the story.

A movie that does this effectively is Citizen Kane. The opening shot takes us to an isolated mansion on the hill, cut of from civilization by a wrought iron fence. We are introduce to our protagonist and the mystery that kicks off the whole film.

In novels, these ideas are usually conveyed through opening line. Jane Austen has good ones. One that really sticks out to me is from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak:

First the colours.

Then the humans.

That’s how I usually see things.

Or at least, how I try.

*** HERE IS A SMALL FACT ***

You are going to die.

This opening scene or these opening lines establish our narrator and the tone. The story is told from death’s point of view and we are drawn into his world and his perspective.

Writing a great opening scene takes time. Mine has changed  a lot as I try to find the right balance between character and exposition.

Let me know which opening images from movies or opening scenes/lines from books you guys enjoy the most and check back here next Sunday for my post on the “Theme-Stated” beat.

Until then, kill your darlings, slay your dragons and keep writing!

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