How to Use Save the Cat if You're a Pantser

Saturday, October 24, 2020

There are two types of people when it comes to NaNoWriMo: the plotter and the pantser. I am proudly a pantser, so I have spent a lot of my writing time trying to let my freedom flag fly while also trying to not write myself into a corner. Earlier this year, I was introduced to Save The Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. This book has revolutionized my writing life and I believe that it can help even the wildest pantser. Today, I’m sharing how you can use the principles of Save The Cat Writes a Novel even if you don’t plot.

About Save The Cat Writes a Novel

Jessica Brody’s Save The Cat Writes a Novel reviews a story structure method created for screenwriters and breaks it down for novel writing. Brody reviews fifteen beats that crafts best-selling novels. She also reviews the ten universal story genres to help you learn what will make your story work. You can visit this page here to learn more information about the book and to get a free starter kit that lists the beats out for you.

I actually purchased the audiobook version, but I was happy to learn if came with two in-depth PDF guides that listed the beats and other concepts featured in the book. Whether you prefer audiobooks or reading physical books, Save The Cat Writes a Novel is easy to acquire and understand. Here’s how you can use Brody’s work to help you pants your own novel.

Use it as a Roadmap for your Novel

The way my creative process works is I have an idea for the beginning of a story and I know where I want it to end. The problem for me is filling in all of the in-between stuff and making it into a rich plot.

By using the Save The Cat beats, I can track what beats I’m missing to get to the things I already know I want to happen. The beats also help churn ideas on how I can meet those beats with my current story. I do not plot a novel, to begin with, but I have been enjoying using the beats to finish up my current work in progress. As long as you know the roadmap, you can use Save the Cat to fill out the missing pieces of your novel. This will allow you the creative freedom to word vomit on the page, but also be able to guide your word vomit into usable work.

Figure out What Category Your Novel is

One of the best parts of Save the Cat Writes a Novel is when Brody breaks down the ten different types of novels. In each novel breakdown, she tells you the major plot points that make that particular novel type work. This gives you a guide of things your novel needs to do to be successful.

Read through the book and figure out what category your novel falls under. Then you can use the description to figure out what your novel needs to do to be successful. Even if you don’t use this to plot your novel, you can have this in the back of your mind, so your brain can weave this into the novel as you go. This trick is also great for editing later on when you’re trying to figure out if your novel hit all of the plot points it needed to hit.

Use the Non-Plotted Related Tools

Writers always talk about Save the Cat’s plot-related tools, but Brody also gives logline and synopsis templates. These templates are incredibly useful and work for almost everything. If you choose not to use the beats while writing, I still highly encourage you to use the logline or synopsis template for marketing. You can also use these tools to see if your plot works the way you have it written.

I hope you enjoyed this post about how to use Save The Cat Writes a Novel even if you don’t plot. I think this book has a wealth of knowledge and I highly recommend adding it to your craft book collection. Happy writing!

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