Tag Archives: Save the Cat

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?