Outlining your script using the “Save the Cat” screenwriting method:
- Opening Image: Establish the tone and setting of the story with an image that captures the audience’s attention.
- Theme Stated: Introduce the theme of the story through a statement or action that sets up the central conflict.
- Set-Up: Introduce the protagonist, their world, and their flaws or weaknesses.
- Catalyst: Present an event that disrupts the protagonist’s world and sets them on a new path.
- Debate: The protagonist wrestles with whether or not to pursue the new path.
- Break into Two: The protagonist commits to pursuing the new path and takes action.
- B Story: Introduce a secondary story or subplot that enhances the theme and character development.
- Fun and Games: Show the protagonist having some initial success or fun on their new path.
- Midpoint: A major event or realization occurs that changes the stakes and raises the stakes.
- Bad Guys Close In: The antagonist or obstacles become more threatening and the protagonist’s progress is hindered.
- All is Lost: The protagonist suffers a major setback or loss, leading to a moment of despair.
- Dark Night of the Soul: The protagonist confronts their flaws or weaknesses and considers giving up.
- Break into Three: The protagonist finds a new approach or solution to the central conflict.
- Finale: The protagonist confronts the antagonist and overcomes the central conflict.
- Final Image: Show the protagonist in their new world, having grown or changed in some way.
The “Save the Cat” method, developed by screenwriter and author Blake Snyder, emphasizes the importance of creating a likable protagonist that audiences can root for. The method also emphasizes the importance of structure and using genre conventions to engage the audience. While the method is primarily geared toward screenwriting, it can be adapted for other forms of storytelling such as novels and plays.