Save the Draft!

I’m often exasperated by my own lack of writing progress, but I do enjoy the opportunity to explore new tools, techniques and approaches until inspiration strikes again. I’m about to find out if Save the Cat! can save my 2017 National Novel Writing Month draft, Invulnerable.

I’ve known about Save the Cat!, Blake Snyder’s guide to writing screenplays, for some time now, but hadn’t read it. My friend Lisa, who writes about life on the A Land of Grass Ranch in her column and book Prairie Ponderings: Adventures in Raising Your Food, gave it a ringing recommendation. I perused the book while I visited the ranch over the holiday break, and enjoyed Snyder’s humor, his sensible approach, and the numerous and varied examples of how successful movies follow his basic plot structure. Now I have my very own copy.

As a visually-oriented person, I’ve always pictured my novels’ scenes playing out in my head, as if in a movie. It’s almost like a storyboard with a LOT of caption under each image. (In fact, I’m trying out Wonder Unit’s Storyboarder software, but that’s, well, a different story.) And I know that the Hero’s Journey, a framework used by storytellers for millennia, has a lot in common with Save the Cat!’s story beats.

I’ve created a sort of Save the Cat! template in Scrivener and instead of organizing Invulnerable‘s scenes by day, I’m sorting them into the appropriate beat folders instead. I’m only half done, but so far this has helped me identify several gaps in the plot—things I simply skipped over or forgot to write—as well as some inconsistencies in characters, names and places.

I’m optimistic that this will help me chain together the scenes I’ve written in a way that shows me what scenes I still need to write. One of my writing goals for 2018 is to get Invulnerable to a state of completion that’s at least legible. Save the draft!

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