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Save The Cat by Blake Snyder by Mind Map: Save The Cat
by Blake Snyder
5.0 stars - 3 reviews range from 0 to 5

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder

1- What is it?

one sentence logline


mental picture

audience, 4 quadrant picture, men < 25, most desired, business wise, men > 25, women < 25, women > 25

budget/cost, block comedy, company moves

killer title

says what it is

pairs with log line, 1-2 punch

legally blond, 4 Christmases

test marketing

pitch log line/story to strangers

no fear of idea theft

Catalyst guy comes, affects, leaves life

2 - Give me the same thing, only different!

movies it's most like

10 story genres

Monster in the house, confined, sin committed, good ones: alien, exorcist, fatal attraction, bad ones: arachnophobia, lake placed, not confined

Golden fleece, inner growth and learnings while on journey to chase a goal, set pieces used as growing milestones for hero, ex: Jason and the argonauts, road trip, star wars, wizard of oz

Out of the bottle, wish granted to underdog, ex: blank check, Bruce almighty, the mask, comeuppance to deserving yet redeemable guy, ex: liar, liar, freaky Friday, groundhog day

Dude with a problem, average Joe in primal problematic situation, the badder the bad guy, the better, hero uses his individuality to overcome immense odds, ex: die hard, titanic, shindler's list

Rites of passage, monster=life, alcohol, drugs, puberty, divorce, death..., victory is to surrender with smile, that's life!

Buddy love, Typical sequence:, Hate at first, Realize they need each other, All is Lost moment: fight, separation, Win = surrender ego, Catalyst subgenre:, Main guy does most of the changing, Shangai noon, rain man, love stories

Whydunit, The hero = surrogate = the audience, Discover the dark truth, Dark side of humanity=our own dark side, ex: JFK, the insider

Fool triumphant, Working parts:, Underdog, Outsider, Institution/Establishment bad guy, Accomplice (Salieri, Lieutenant Dan), Ex: Forrest gump, amadeus, the jerk

Institutionalized, honor institution and expose problem of losing one's identity to it, Breakout character, Often a new comer, Denounce the group's goal, Groups, Ex: mash, animal house, one flew over the cuckoo's nest, avatar, Family, ex: Godfather, American beauty

Superhero, Opposite of Dude with problem, Extraordinary guy has hard time fitting with rest of us, Ex: Superman, Spiderman, Zoolander

3 - It's about a guy who...

Audience needs the who to identify with

Amp up the logline

add:, Adjective for hero, Adjective for bad guy, Compelling goal

Pick the hero so that:, Offer the most conflict, Primal, Longest emotional way to go, Most demographically pleasing, Audience can:, Identify with, Learn from, Believe he deserves to win, Compelled to follow

Character Archetypes

Don't write for specific star, write for archetype

Examples, Young man on the rise, Adam Sandler, Ashton Kutcher, Good girl tempted, Reese Witherspoon, Meg Ryan, Imp, MacCauley Culkin, Patty McCormick (evil opposite), Sex goddess, Marilyn Monroe, Halle Berry, Hunk, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Viggo Mortenson, Wounded Soldier, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Troubled Sexpot, Angelina Jolie, Lovable fop, Hugh Grant, Cary Grant, Court Jester, Woody Allen, Rob Schneider

4 - Let's Beat It Out


Protects against Credit Jumpers

Beat Sheet

Opening Image (1), "Before" snapshot

Theme Stated (5), Thematic premise, Ask out loud

Set up (1-10), First Reel, Intro all A Story characters, 6 things that need fixing, running gags, Makes the audience "know" the hero, Twist near the end, Callbacks

Catalyst (12), Life changing event

Debate (12-25), Hero is pondering, Ask a question

Break into Two (25), Big moment, step into act II, Must be hero's choice

B Story (30), Ex: "Love" story, Booster Rocket, Get over slow spot, New anti-thesis characters

Fun & Games (30-55), Trailer moments, Promise of the premise, Heart of the story, Set Pieces

MidPoint (55), (False) victory/peak, or (false) collapse for hero, up to down or down to up, Stakes are raised, end of fun & games, Opposite of All is Lost

Bad Guys Close In (55-75), Toughest to write, Bad guys regroup, Good guys doubt

All is Lost (75), Opposite of midpoint, Whiff of death (ex: Obiwan Kenoby's death)

Dark Night of the Soul (75-85), Here is Hopeless, Clueless, Desperate

Break into Three (85), The solution appears, Thanks to B story characters

Finale (85-110), Act III, Applying the solution, All bad guys are defeated in ascending order

Final Image (110), Opposite of opening image, Proof of change

5 - Building The Perfect Beast

The board: Corkboard with 4 rows:

Act I

Act II before midpoint

Act II after midpoint


One card per scene, 9-10 card per row

For every scene:, location, time, who, what, +/- emotional change for each character, >< Conflict, Physical or Psychological


Put first the big ideas, then the 3 major turns, starting with midpoint

If Act III is too light: resolve 6 things that need fixing

Fill Black Holes

Regroup sequences into one (ex: chase scene)

Color coding, Per Character, Per Theme, imagery, C, D, E stories

6 - The Immutable Laws Of Screenplay Physics

Save The Cat

Hero has to DO something that makes us LIKE him when we MEET him/her.

If hero is damaged good, make the bad guy worse

Ex: Aladdin, Pulp Fiction

The Pope in the Pool

Bury the exposition

Create funny/entertaining situation during boring exposition

Double Mumbo Jumbo

Only 1 piece of magic per movie

Ex: Spiderman, Signs

Laying Pipe

Too much backstory

Ex: Minority Report

Black Vet aka Too much Marzipan

Black veterinarian and war veteran

No! Only one concept at a time

Watch out for that Glacier

Bad guys closing in too slowly

Ex: Dante's Peak, Outbreak

The Covenant of the Arc

Every character arcs

Only bad guy doesn't change

Success in stories is accepting change. Inspires the audience to change.

Ex: Pretty Woman

Keep the Press out

Breaking the 4th wall is risky

Advice from Steven Spielberg

Inviting the news breaks the secret

Ex: E.T (yes), Signs (no)

7 - What's Wrong With This Picture

Don't be lazy, fix it, rewrite it

Tips for fixing

The Hero Leads, Avoid passive hero, checklist, Hero's goal clearly stated in set-up?, Hero seeks out clues or do they fall on his lap?, Active or Passive?, Other characters tell hero what to do?, Hero never asks questions!

Talking the Plot, Use Subtext, Subtle. What is not said is more important, Show don't tell, Characters don't serve you, they serve themselves

Make the Bad Guy Badder, Ex: James Bond vilain, 2 halves of same person, Matching power and skills, Advantage to the bad guy, looks impossible to beat

Turn, turn, turn, Acceleration, not velocity, Intensify tension, Reveal more and more

Emotional Color Wheel, Emotional Roller Coaster, Not one note, all the emotions, Lust, frustration, fear, sadness, Use color coding

Hi how are you, I'm fine, No Mundane, Engaging characters talk differently than real life, Every character must speak differently, Test: hide character names and read

Take a step back, Error: caught in end result, Story is about change/journey, Take each character all the way back

A limp and an eye patch, Pb: minor characters don't stand out, Solution: add a limp and eye patch!

Is it primal?, Would caveman understand?, Basic needs: protect family (Die hard), Protect home (Home alone), find mate, revenge, survival...

8 - Final Fade In

Ambition vs Fate


Get out and sell yourself

Preparing the Field

Soul Eating First Contact

Every sale has a story

It's about you. Show your face

In person > Phone Call > Query letter > Email

Build reputation. Think long term


Film festivals

Classes, Ex: production classes to meet producers

Screen-writing groups

Become an expert, Write film critics

Come to LA


Screenplay contests

Stupid tricks

Marketing hit and miss

During spec sale era: specialty presentations (ex: nuclear family box, blank check backpack) to set mood

It is what it is

Persevere, today might just be "the day"

Give it your best, then let it go