Save the Cat Beatsheet Free Printable

Save the Cat Free Beat Sheet Printable!

Both Mike and I love the Save the Cat plotting system. Not familiar? It was invented by Blake Snyder in his fantastic book, Save the Cat. STC was formulated for screenwriters, but the plotting system is so straightforward and simple and works for every type of plot, whether a novel or a script. It savethecatbreaks down the three-act structure into fifteen easy beats.

I can honestly say that once Mike and I started using Save the Cat, our fiction improved. It was as though we’d unlocked something.

To understand how each beat works, you should really read the book. If you’ve heard about Save the Cat or want a refresher, here’s the run down.

FREE PRINTABLE:

And when you’re done reviewing, download our free Save the Cat beatsheet printable (PDF).

The beats:

Opening image: The first “scene” of your novel; represents the tone of the story and conflict. It’s a a snapshot of the main character’s problem before the adventure begins.

Set up: The main character’s world before the problem, and what is missing in his or her life.

Theme stated: The message or truth of your story. Typically spoken to the main character by someone; not always another important character. Main character won’t understand it at first, may even deny it.

Catalyst: The moment where life changes. Where someone appears or sends a message or allows some new thing in. If the character does not act on this, then it’s metaphorical (or sometimes literal) death for him or her. As Blake says,  stasis=death.

Debate: The main character questions and debates whether he or she can possibly handle the change that is presented. Will he or she walk through that doorway or not?

Break Into Two: Now we’re in Act 2 and the “upside down world” begins. The journey is on; the choice has been made.

B Story: Usually the B Story is the love story, or the deep internal truth of the character.

Fun and Games: the wacky fun the character has in his or her new world. Typically very fun scenes, where the premise of the story is played out.

Midpoint: That moment of a false high or false low; where everything is “great” or everything is “awful”. The main character either gets everything he or she thinks he or she wants  (“great”) or doesn’t get what he or she thinks he or she wants at all (“awful”). Must mirror the last scene.

Bad guys close in: Tension is raised here. Doubt and fear and bad guys regroup to defeat the main character’s goal. The main character’s “great”/“awful” situation disintegrates.

All is lost: The opposite moment from the Midpoint and the moment when the main character feels like he or she has lost everything; his or her goal is never going to be reached, and everything is awful. Often this beat is symbolized by a death or some sort, either by a mentor (think Obi Wan in Star Wars) but this can be emotional too. Death occurs so birth can happen.

Dark night of the soul: After All is Lost, the main character is at rock bottom. Awful, just horrible! It’s the Lord, why hast thou forsaken me? moment. Its the death of the dream and it’s the mourning before the main character can pick him or herself up again.

Break into three: But then! A fresh idea or new inspiration or last-minute Thematic advice from the B Story (usually the love interest) happens and hope is renewed! The main character will try again!

Finale: The main character uses the Theme (that nugget of truth that now makes sense to them) to fight for the goal. The main character now has experience and the A and B stories come together.

Final image: The opposite of the opening image. Changed has occurred and the character is new.

Check the official Save the Cat website for a ton of more resources, including all the movie beat sheets.

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