Among the many things on my writing plate right now is Cracking the Beat Sheet. If you’ve ever worked with Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, you know he has created his own story types. One of the exercises is to decide where your story fits.
Why is this so important? Because each type has a set of features that make it work. If you don’t know what type of story you have on your hands, getting it to work is much more difficult. So I’ve been taking a hard look at my WIP, Air Stream/Space Castaways.
Monster in the House
In this type of story someone does something wrong (often something vain or greedy) and ends up facing a monster of some kind. The house can be any confined space. Movie examples include Jaws and Exorcist.
My story does start out in a confined space but there really isn’t a monster.
Rites of Passage
Think change-of-life and you are heading in the right direction for this type of story. The hero is going through a big change and probably not doing a great job of it. A lot of YA coming-of-age stories fit in this category.
Not only is my story middle grade but there is not rite of passage anywhere in sight.
Some romances fit this category but so do a lot of “friend” stories. At first the two characters may not get along but in the end they can’t see living without the other. These stories may be comedic or tragic, but buddy movies (and stories) are often big hits.
There is no buddy in sight so I know my story doesn’t fit here.
Some mysteries fit this category but so do a lot of thrillers. It isn’t so much about the antagonist as the deep, dark depths of a damaged soul. Not who did it but why could anyone do something like this. JFK was a Whydunit movie.
My story? No. The why is clear but isn’t the center of the story.
The Fool Triumphant
The underdog POV character, someone who initially seems clueless, goes up against someone who has power, an establishment bad guy. In the end, we realize just how wise the fool is. Forest Gump is this type of movie.
My story? Still no.
Out of the Bottle
The title for this type comes from the idea of a genie bottle. The character wishes for something or is cursed with something and their life is turned upside down. Very often they find that what they thought they wanted more than anything was a huge mistake. Think Freaky Friday or Groundhog Day, one of my husband’s favorite movies.
My story didn’t fit this category either. What about yours?
Dude with a Problem
This story type is about a normal person with a great, big problem. Think Die Hard. This type of story is popular because so many people can see themselves as this character.
My character definitely has a problem but she is not “every-girl.” She is more Mega-Nerd.
This type is the opposite of Dude in that this character has a magnificent ability. Because of it, this character does not fit in. From true superhero movies to math-geniuses, these stories appeal because we all sometimes feel like we don’t fit in.
At first I thought that this was where my nerdy story fit in…
This story is about a character fighting this system. The system might be the Army (Mash) or Panem (The Hunger Games), but your character fights back and the cost is great.
My character does end up fighting the status quo. So for a few days this is where I thought my story fit . . .
In this final story type, the character is on a quest. He might be trying to become a jedi (Star Wars) or it could be a heist story (Ocean’s 11). Road trip stories also fit in here.
This is finally where I’ve decided my story fits. Why? My character is on a physical journey and she is on a quest to find Home. Yes, that’s Home with a capital H.
Where does your current WIP fit into the Save the Cat types? You can find out more about the class here.