Author:  Jessica Brody

This book came highly recommended on Instagram and when Bethany Atazadeh and Brittany Wang did their #STCExperiement – YouTube videos of them using the book to outline a novel – I decided I had to get it so I could join in.  

What is the book about?

The book is based on books by Blake Snyder who writes guides for scriptwriters.  Jessica identified that the best novels use the same structure.  In this guide to writing she adapts the ‘Save the Cat’ beats for novel writing.  She also gives plenty of examples form best sellers – even if you haven’t read them you will know their names.  

How it works?

This guide splits the novel into four Acts.  Each act is broken down into beats.  The Beats have names and descriptions to prompt you what needs to be happening in your novel.  

Once you read the book you will start noticing the beats in films you watch.  It is a real eye opener. 

How I used it?

Editing (Jewel of the Sea)

When the book arrived I had just decided that Jewel of the Sea needed yet another edit!  I wanted to re-write the ending, however, that’s not as easy as just jumping to the end and writing it.   There are little details that need to be woven in throughout the novel.

After reading STC, I created a spreadsheet based on my word count and used the percentages to see where certain beats should be happening.  It turned out I had a lot of the beats but in some places my pacing was off.  I then used STC to help with that.  

Plotting Act 1 (Scarlet Dresses)

For Camp NaNo April, I used STC to draft out the first Act for a new novel called Scarlet Dresses.  During the challenge I made a really good start on this novel.

My only hold up was that I felt my characters were a bit flat as I had not spent long enough developing them.  I feel the story had got potential so I plan to return to this project and complete it… one day.  

Plotting and editing (Diamond in the Sky)

This month, I decided to do Camp NaNo July.  Jewel of the Sea is out with Beta Readers and I need to start thinking about writing the next novel in my shifter series.  Now, Diamond in the Sky has been started but never finished.  Now I am more familiar with STC, I decided to use it for both editing and plotting.  

To start with I need to edit what I already have.  I have used STC to plot the first Act and created my spreadsheet to check the pacing is right.  There are a few instances where it is slightly off and I have noted this on my spreadsheet to check later.  First, I want to get the novel written.

The next step will be to use STC to plot the rest of the novel – the unwritten chapters.  I will use STC to check that when I create the different beats that I am getting the pacing right.  

Final thoughts…

This book has changed the way I write.  I have always been a pantser and found editing incredibly hard.  Writing without a plan often can take you off on wayward paths that are not necessary or haven’t been preempted to create the right impact.  This results in a lot of editing – something I hate. 
 
With STC, I feel have a guide keeping me on track and I can check my pacing is working.  Previously, my outline was incredibly brief and left a lot of gaps for me to fill but having a plot keeps me on track and I don’t get stuck.  
 
If you need help plotting and with pacing, then I highly recommend this book.  Now, it is always close to hand and I wouldn’t write a novel without it.  I love it.  
 
Do you have any writer resources that you swear by?

If you like this, you may enjoy:

How I edited my novel – 12 tips for self editing

Where to find great story ideas…

Book Review: Who runs the world by Virginia Bergolt

Book Review: Lion’s Share

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13 thoughts on “Book Review: Save the Cat – Writes a Novel

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