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Crafting Unforgettable Stories: A Guide to Planning Your Narrative Using "Save The Cat! Writes a Novel"

Every writer dreams of creating stories that captivate readers from the first page and leave a lasting impact. "Save the Cat! Writes a Novel," a popular storytelling guide by Jessica Brody, offers a robust framework to help writers structure their narratives effectively. Drawing inspiration from screenwriting principles, this approach can be a game-changer in your journey to craft compelling stories. In this blog post, we'll explore how to plan your story using the "Save the Cat!" method.


1. The Opening Image

The "Save the Cat!" method starts with the Opening Image, setting the tone and introducing readers to the protagonist's world. This snapshot offers a glimpse into the protagonist's daily life before significant changes occur. 

  • Consider how the Opening Image reflects your protagonist's ordinary world.
  • Craft an engaging scene that establishes the protagonist's current status quo.


2. The Theme Stated

Next, the Theme Stated phase introduces the story's central theme or message. This is often delivered through dialogue or a situation that challenges the protagonist's beliefs. 

  • Identify the core theme you want to explore in your story.
  • Introduce the theme subtly through character interactions or internal reflections.


3. The Catalyst

The Catalyst is the moment that propels the protagonist into the central conflict. The inciting incident disrupts their ordinary life and forces them to react. 

  • Determine the event that will shake up your protagonist's world.
  • Craft a compelling catalyst that sparks the protagonist's journey.


4. The Debate

After the Catalyst, the protagonist enters the Debate phase, where they grapple with the consequences of the inciting incident. They often wrestle with doubts, fears, and conflicting desires. 

  • Explore the internal struggle your protagonist faces in response to the Catalyst.
  • Develop situations or conversations that showcase the protagonist's internal conflict.


5. The Break into Two

The protagonist consciously enters the story's central conflict in the Break into Two. This decision launches them into a new world, pushing them to leave their comfort zone. 

  • Decide on the protagonist's decision that marks the start of their transformative journey.
  • Consider how this decision aligns with their personal growth arc.


6. Fun and Games

This phase involves the protagonist navigating challenges, often with a touch of humor or excitement. These experiences help them learn the rules of their new world and build connections. 

  • Create a sequence of challenges that showcase the protagonist's adaptability.
  • Incorporate elements that highlight the protagonist's strengths and weaknesses.


7. The Midpoint

The Midpoint marks a pivotal moment where the story takes a dramatic turn. It can be a moment of revelation, a significant setback, or a twist that reshapes the protagonist's understanding of the conflict. 

  • Determine the critical event that will redefine the protagonist's mission.
  • Craft a compelling twist that keeps readers engaged and invested.


8. The Bad Guys Close In

The protagonist faces mounting challenges and obstacles in this phase, and the antagonistic forces appear stronger. The tension increases as the protagonist's goals seem to slip away. 

Identify the challenges or conflicts that will test the protagonist's resolve.

  • Build a sense of urgency that propels the story toward the climax.


9. The All Is Lost Moment

The All Is Lost moment is a dark point where the protagonist's hopes are crushed, and they confront their deepest fears. This low point sets the stage for their ultimate transformation. 

  • Determine the event that leads to the protagonist's lowest moment.
  • Consider how this moment forces the protagonist to confront their vulnerabilities.


10. The Dark Night of the Soul

Following the All Is Lost moment, the protagonist experiences a period of reflection and growth. They must find the strength to rise again and confront the antagonist. 

  • Craft a sequence that allows the protagonist to process their challenges and doubts.
  • Develop a moment of self-discovery that paves the way for their resurgence.


11. The Break into Three

The Break into Three phase marks the protagonist's final push toward the climax. Armed with newfound insights, they make a crucial decision that sets up the story's resolution. 

  • Determine the transformative decision the protagonist makes to confront the antagonist.
  • Showcase the protagonist's growth and determination in this pivotal moment.


12. The Finale

The Finale is the climactic showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist. This is where the story's central conflict peaks, leading to a resolution.

  • Create an intense and emotionally charged confrontation between the protagonist and antagonist.
  • Showcase the protagonist's growth and ability to apply what they've learned.


13. The Final Image

The Final Image offers a glimpse into the protagonist's life after the story's events. This closing scene reflects their transformation and the impact of their journey.

  • Craft an ending that resonates with the story's themes and character arcs.
  • Consider how the Final Image reinforces the story's message and emotional impact.



"Save the Cat! Writes a Novel" provides an invaluable roadmap for crafting stories that resonate with readers on a deep level. Following this method, you can effectively plan your story's structure, character arcs, and pivotal moments. Remember that while the framework offers a guide, your unique voice and creative choices will shape your story into an unforgettable narrative that lingers in the minds and hearts of your readers.

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