Saving the Cat This NaNoWriMo

Yes, it’s true.

Big Move + Busy Work Season + NaNoWriMo = Total Chaos and Crazy Making

It’s not that I’m a glutton for punishment. The truth is, the past four or five months have been so chaotic, I haven’t really written much of anything.

And that, in itself, has been driving me crazy. Not writing often feels worse to me than a whole lot of stress does.

So with NaNoWriMo approaching, a part of me kept saying, “You know, Belle, if you could do NaNoWriMo this year, just do it and finish it … think of all that you could accomplish, writing-wise, in a normal not-crazy month …“

I decided to listen to this particular voice. So here I am, embarking on my fourth year of NaNoWriMo.

Save the Cat!

In the back of my mind I kept thinking, now would be such a good time to try out the index card method. So I kept a stack of index cards by me, but I didn’t really have a chance to sit down with them until yesterday.

And while I did end up with a handful of cards, the thing with the index card method is, you’re brainstorming, right? You need to end up with a jumble of cards, so you can sort and stack and discard as necessary.

That definitely wasn’t going to happen. I had about fifteen cards in all. Three of which were my main characters’ names.

So then I hit on another idea. One that has me very excited.

Save the Cat!

Save the Cat!, by Blake Snyder, is a great book for screenwriters, but the tips and tricks in it can be used for novel writing too (at least, that’s what I think).

At the last minute (it was, as I recall, pretty close to the stroke of midnight), I decided to download the Save the Cat beat sheet. If you haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, Tim Stout has posted an explanation of the beats here.

My Save the Cat NaNoWriMo Schedule

I then did some wizardly mathematical calculations, and figured out approximate word count points for each of the beats. I then transferred it to a blank November 2011 calendar:

Photo 11-11-01 12 51 14 PM

You might have noticed that the last day of writing for me is scheduled for November 28. This is because I decided to calculate everything based on finishing my 50,000 words in twenty-five days.

I’ve crossed out November 6, 7, and 8 because November 7 is our move-in date (it was the earliest date we could book the service elevator!), and I wanted to be realistic and save those three days for packing, moving in, and unpacking.

The end result of my last minute panic about not being prepared for NaNoWriMo? I’ll still be winging it, like I have the past three NaNoWriMos, I will be doing it in a more structured way.

What about you? Are you NaNoWriMo-ing this year? Do you feel prepared, or did you have a last minute panic like I did?

10 thoughts on “Saving the Cat This NaNoWriMo

  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    You have a plan! I participated last year, but not this year. I’m still forming an idea for my third book.
    And I have several of the Save the Cat books – they are awesom!

  2. Dorte H

    I didn´t understand a word of the procedure, but I am sure it is brilliant if you say so 😉

    No, NaMo is not for me, but today I came up with a plan to save my own sorry ass. When I am too tired to write creatively, I´ll try to translate my Danish debut into English. I began well, but let´s see in a week or two…

    Best of luck to you!

  3. Barbara

    I can’t even deal with the auction of my husband’s machine shop equipment and write, let alone do everything you’re up against and also write. I’m just waiting for Nov. 12 to be over with and take it from there. Good luck to you on both the writing and the big move.

  4. Zoe

    I’m doing NaNo *waves* and I’ve never heard of Save The Cat, but it sounds brilliant. Just off to have a look at it now.
    Good Luck with your book!

  5. J. D. Montague

    Belle, you never cease to inspire me. I swear, you’re Wonder Woman in disguise or something. (You know you can tell me if you are. I won’t tell anyone. I promise.)

    I’ve been meaning to email you. Have no idea where my head’s been lately, but I don’t feel too horrible now because your life is already chaotic…you don’t need an email from me adding more chaos to the fire (that sounded better in my head).

    Seriously though, watch for a home-warming email from me this weekend. 😛

  6. Pingback: Book Review: Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder | Joy's Book Blog

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