Review of Save the Cat Cracking the Beat Sheet

Filming Cracking the Beat Sheet

Today’s it is my turn to blog about the new offerings at Save the Cat. As part of their blog tour, I was able to take the new class Cracking the Beat Sheet. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, he broke movies down into 15 beats. Each beat is an event, plot point or scene that is essential to a well-paced movie. Admittedly I had tried it before but I’m not much of a plotter. I just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Thank goodness for this class because now I get it.

15 Beats

One of the first things the class did was explain all of the beats. We got insight on what they are, why they matter and how they work together. I’d read the book but the videos really helped bring this home to me. I was ready to start crafting my beats. But, no. You don’t just run through them from beginning to end. First you plan …

6 Pillar Beats

This step was vital. Instead of planning your beats from 1 (opening scene) to 15 (final scene), you first plan the 6 Pillar Beats. They are the Opening, the Catalyst, Break into 2, the Midpoint, Break into 3, and the Final Image. Not only was it explained why these 6 have to be strong before you work through the remaining beats, the video explained AGAIN how they relate to each other. Only then do you fill in the remaining beats.

I’d managed to make it this far before. My beats weren’t as strong but I’d pulled beats together. Then I would start writing. But the class explained that NO, I still had more work to do.

40 Scenes

The 9 scenes in Act 1

Before you start writing, you need to craft your forty scenes. Sound too fixed? Don’t panic. You can use as few as 36. I have only plotted out Act 1, nine scenes. But I can tell you that I am definitely going to plan out the rest of my scenes before I start writing.

Why? Because following this class has already improved my story. My ending is much better than the ending I had in mind. There is more conflict throughout my story.

And I’ve always started writing before coming up with my individual scenes. That works okay in the beginning but in the middle where the beats are broader? My fiction always felt loose and unstructured. That isn’t always a bad thing but in my stories it was.

You should sign up for this class if you

  • Are struggling to outline your story.
  • Are lost and adrift in the middle.
  • Feel like your story lacks impact.

Put the steps in this class to work for you and you will see your fiction change and grow.