If you’re thinking about doing NaNo, but worry you won’t be able to make your way over the hurdles when you reach them (because you know they’ll be there), then I’m here to help.

I’ve raved about the screenwriting book, Save The Cat before, but today and Friday I’ll take you through a couple STC steps that you can use for NaNo this year. I have every confidence that if you use these STC steps in a short period of time (it took my just under two hours to get a book very well outlined), you’ll have an outline that’ll guide through even the darkest of NaNo hours.

So, STC lesson #1: BS2, by the numbers. Copy the document below and fill in a sentence or two that addresses that “beat” or plot point. You can go here to get an approximate breakdown of where these beats should land in your manuscript, depending on the anticipated length of your novel.

*I’m purposely vague on the description of the beats because I don’t want to plagiarize Mr. Snyder’s work. I think there’s enough here to get you on your way, but if you want to learn more, I highly recommend purchasing the book (also available for download). Here’s the link for Amazon’s page.

If you’d like more information, there’s lots to learn on Blake Snyder’s website.

1.     Opening Image: Set the scene.
2.     Theme Stated: What will your character’s arc be? What is the moral of your story? Usually the theme is stated by a supporting character.
3.     Set-up: Pretty self-explanatory, right? This is where all the pieces are put into play.
4.     Catalyst: Again, you know this one. A chain of events that set things into motion.
5.     Debate: This is where your MC has to make some decisions about what he’s going to do.
6.     Break in to Two: The transition from static MC to MC on the move.

7.     B Story: This is where you move into the second act of your story, or, the dreaded middle section. (duh duh duhhhh) It’s usually the B story, or the love story, or the big action/adventure story of your book.

8.     Fun and Games: Pretty much more of all the love, the action or … whatever! (Yeah, you can tell I love mid-sections!)
9.     Midpoint: This is like a mini act-break. It’s the corner you turn toward the second half of your book, like your MC is standing on a cliff and needs to decide: fight or flight?
10.   Bad Guys Close In: Your MC hasn’t jumped, but the bad guys are almost there and …. maybe there’s still time to jump!
11.   All is Lost: It looks like the Bad Guys are going to win. Sad. 🙁
12.   Dark Night of the Soul: Your MC has to decide if he’s just going to give in, or if there’s still some fight left in him.
13.   Break into Three: Another all-important corner. This is where the MC makes his DECISION. And we being our movement forward with purpose.
14.   Finale: Wrap up the B story, wrap up the A story.
15.   Final Image: Usually a mirror image of the opening scene. This shows us how the MC’s life has changed, how the theme played out and how all the questions you posed are answered.
And there you have it! Friday I’ll show you how to make your very own storyboard, screenwriter style. 

Do you have any questions about what I listed here? Or anything you’d like to add?
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16 comments on “Preparing for NaNo the STC Way Part 1 of 2”

  1. very cool, ali. Your sheet reminds me of the notes I took in a workshop that Blake gave a few years ago. Thanks for reminding me what a great book STC is for novel writers. I saw your post a while back and then promptly forgot about this great resource and now here it is again. thanks:-)

  2. This is GREAT! I`m in the middle of outlining right now, and I`m starting to feel like I don`t know where my scenes should go anymore… But his looks like it will help me clear it all up! I think I need to go get this book…

  3. Awesome! Thanks Clarissa!

    I love Save the Cat, Matt! NaNo or no NaNo!

    Tess ~ How exciting! Can’t wait to hear all about it!

    Aw, thanks Laura! And yep, you definitely do need the book!

    Hi Kellie! I hadn’t heard of it either until about six weeks ago, but now? I can’t get enough of it! I swear it has changed my writing life!

    Sara, I know right? Am I becoming a bit of a broken record? Sorry! But I really do love the book!

    Melissa, it IS brilliant! And if I’m brilliant it’s only because I recognized the brilliance in STC! 😀

    Krispy ~ If you end up using the sheet, let me know! I’d like to know if it ended up helping you at all. 🙂

    Yay Karen! I love it too! (in case that wasn’t completely obvious the way I’ve been talking about it nonstop for the last few weeks!)

    Glad I could help, Paul!

    A Zombie Rabbit Award! Sweet! Just what I’ve always wanted! Thanks Jenny! 🙂

    Excellent Ishta! I hope you find it helpful!

  4. Girl, you are preaching to the choir. I thought I had an outline for a book in my head, but when I pulled out STC and started an outline, i realized I only had THREE elements.

    Yeah… so this book rocks!

  5. oooh I love any variation of the Hero’s Journey. I just recently got into plotting although I’ll still always be a pantser for my first draft.

    What’s your NaNo handle? I’d love to buddy you – I’m YellowTypingFiend.

    Surfed over here from L.T.’s glowing praise for your blog 🙂 (And can I just say that I’m so relieved to meet another blogger over the age of 30? Will you please give me some suggestions for my 30 After 30 contest/list?)

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