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Looking for the Save the Cat Beat Sheet for Novels? Click here!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The 7 Point Plot System aka Save the Cat for Pantsers

ETA: Don't worry about having to keep with the links! I've compiled a list at the bottom of this post!

One of the things I hear most about Save the Cat is that it's damn complicated and what the shit is a theme and why does it have to be in the form of a question? This is a BOOK, Liz, not a freaking episode of Jeopardy!

Pantsers especially, I've noticed, are hella skeered of the beat sheet. And I guess I can understand why. Breaking your book down into 15 steps when you don't even know what your book is about yet does fall under the heading of "intimi--wait for it--dating".

But fear not, you writerly peoples, you! For there is a solution for you heathen pantsers!

The 7 Point Plot System

Developed by Dan Wells, who attributes it to Star Trek RPG, the 7 Point Plot System gives you all the goods of Save the Cat, but with fewer, less intimidating steps.

Here's what it looks like:

The 7 Point Plot System



Hook
The beginning. The mirror image of the end.

Turn 1
Introduces conflict and bridges the gap between the Hook and the Midpoint.

Pinch 1
Something bad happens.

Midpoint
Bridges the gap between the Hook and the Resolution.

Pinch 2
Something even worse happens.

Turn 2
Bridges the gap between Midpoint and End.

Resolution
The climax. Everything in the story leads to this moment.

There's more to it than that, but I'm not going to go into it because he does it so much better. Fortunately for you, the workshop presentation is on YouTube!



He's even made the PowerPoint slides available for download: 7 Point Plot System slides!

I would strongly recommend watching the workshop and going over the slides if you have a free hour this weekend, because not only does he go over the different steps using examples from Harry Potter and The Matrix, but he also goes into some hardcore layered plotting, and breaks it down in a way that it's so simple to use, even for the most die-hard pantser.

(For those of you saving it for later, here's a direct link: 7 Point Plot System. You can also download a PDF of the PowerPoint slides here: 7 Point Plot System PDF.)

How it Works with Save the Cat

I've been over this a hundred times with Liz Poole, and I can say unequivocally, it matches up near perfect with Save the Cat.

Here's the breakdown:

7 Point Plot System
Save the Cat
  • Hook
  • Opening Image
  • Theme Stated
  • Setup
  • Turn 1
  • Catalyst
  • Debate
  • Pinch 1
  • Break into Act II
  • B-Story
  • Fun & Games
  • Midpoint
  • Midpoint
  • Pinch 2
    • Bad Guys Close In
    • All is Lost
    • Black Moment
    • Turn 2
    • Break into Act III
    • Finale
    • Resolution
    • Final Image

    So you can see, it matches up pretty well. For a better example, I went ahead and did a Beat Sheet and 7 Point Plot worksheet for Wicked (the musical, not the book):

    (If you hate Scribd, don't worry--there are links to downloadable PDF versions of these at the bottom of this post.)

    7 Point Plot Worksheet - Wicked
    Save the Cat Beat Sheet for Novels - Wicked

    If you're one of the people who tried Save the Cat and it just didn't work for you, I hope this helps to fill in that gap. These days, I find it's easier to scratch out a loose plot using the 7 Point Plot system, work with the story for a few pages, and then fill in the blanks on the Save the Cat beat sheet as they come to me. A lot of the intimidation that comes with the Save the Cat beat sheet comes from the feeling that you have to have this enormous chunk of information before you even begin writing, and I like how the 7 Point Plot System simplifies that so that you're only working on one aspect of the plot (action, romance, betrayal) at any given time.
    Links!
    Part 1 of the Story Structure (7 Point Plot) workshop: YouTube
    Story Structure (7 Point Plot) slides: PowerPoint | PDF

    Beat Sheet example for "Wicked": PDF
    7 Point Plot example for "Wicked": PDF

    Save the Cat Beat Sheet for Novels: Excel

    7 Point Plot Worksheet (Printable): PDF
    7 Point Plot Worksheet (Layered): Excel

    Thank You
    I love that so many people have found the Save the Cat Beat Sheet for Novels helpful. As always, if you have any questions or comments (or corrections!), feel free to let me know.

    More beat sheet stuff is coming this summer! It's gonna be awesome!

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    The Kindness Project: I Was a Teenage Bully


    About The Kindness Project
    Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good.  But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole . It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.



    "I Was a Teenage Bully"
    I was born into a family of critics. My mother, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles…they all had opinions about the things others did, and those opinions, more often than not, were negative.

    "I can't believe he let her sing in church."

    "He's only faking sick to get attention."

    "Did you see what she was wearing? What made her think someone her size could pull that off?"

    "I don't know how he thinks he's good enough to do that for a living."

    And as it goes, before too long, those negative things filtered down to me. I went through my childhood afraid of what people would think of me because I heard what my family was saying behind closed doors. About other people. About each other. About me.

    After all, it's hard not to believe you're the "fat pig" the school bully thinks you are when your Aunt Rose is sending you anonymous dieting tips in the mail.

    I don't want to imply that I was bullied in school. I mean, I was, but that's beside the point. It isn't the being bullied that tore me apart as a teen. It was being the bully.

    Because being around (and subjected to) that much negativity? Having those around me nitpick every little imperfection, point out every flaw, even the flaws that weren't even flaws until someone said they were? It rubbed off.

    And that muck didn't just distort my view of everyone else. It distorted my view of me, too. All those imperfections I was seeking out in other people? I was finding all of them--and then some--in myself. I was convinced everyone else could see them, too.

    So in eighth grade, when my new friend decided she didn't like my old friend, I ditched my old friend and set out to prove to my new friend that I could be just as cool (read: mean) as she was. Not because I wanted to, really. But because I felt like I had no other choice. I could either be picked on, or I could pick on someone else. And I was really, really tired of being picked on.

    I won't tell you what we did, only that it was sixteen years ago and I'm still ashamed of it. Ashamed in a way that leaves me breathless and makes me close my eyes and tightens like a noose around my neck. Ashamed in a way that even typing this I'm wondering if I should even be a part of this project, because what I did? Unforgivable.

    (And for what it's worth, that thing about reaping what you sow? Totally true. The following year I got what was coming to me, when new friend did to me what I had done to my old friend.)

    I know the goal of today's post was to share a little something about how I've seen kindness affect people, not to talk about bullying.

    But the fact of the matter is, the moments of absolute kindness I've experienced…they are precious. So precious that I (selfishly) don't want to share them.

    And writing about some of the kind things I've done for others? Well, it didn't feel right to do that without first coming clean about how I've mistreated people in the past.

    These days, it's en vogue to be anti-bullying. And while that's admirable, I wonder if it isn't at least a little bit misguided. I mean, really? That's the standard? That's the bar we're setting? To not mistreat people? That's the best we can do?

    Because to me, that's kind of like being a doctor and taking an oath to try and not kill people on purpose.

    Shouldn't we be capable of more than not doing something? Shouldn't we be capable of doing something? Something good?

    Because as a former bully, I know that as easy as it is to ruin someone's day, it's even easier to make their day a little bit better. That rude note left on her desk in first period geography could just as easily be a text message wishing her a good day; that foot stuck out to trip someone in the lunch line could just as easily be a hand reaching out to help someone who has fallen.

    I grew up thinking that kindness was an all or nothing game, that you either had to move mountains or stay out of the way of those who could. Now that I'm older, I know better. No one person or one act of kindness can change the world.

    But a million people doing a million little things?

    There's power in that.

    And that's why I'm doing this. And why I hope you'll join in.

    A single act of kindness can make a world of difference to the person who receives it.

    Not sure where to start? Think of the thing you want/need most in your life right now--patience, support, forgiveness--and give it to someone else.

    Posting today for The Kindness Project:
    Elizabeth Davis
    Christa Desir
    Sarah Fine
    Liza Kane
    Amie Kaufman
    Sara Larson
    Matthew MacNish
    Sara McClung
    Gretchen McNeil
    Tracey Neithercott
    Lola Sharp
    Michele Shaw
    Meagan Spooner
    Carolina Valdez Miller

     

     

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