I heard about Blake Snyder’s book,”Save the Cat” from an illustrator who used his concepts to help him with his children’s book writing. I was curious what he meant and how he achieved this. So, I borrowed Save the Cat to find out. After reading the book, I discovered that Blake Synder’s uses, The Blake Synder Beat Sheet. This sheet consists of fifteen stages to create what he considers a successful movie script. The stages are 1) Opening Image, 2) Theme Stated, 3) Set-up, 4) Catalyst, 5) Debate, 6) Break into Two, 7) B Story, 8) Fun and Games, 9) Midpoint, 10) Bad Guys Close In, 11) All is Lost, 12) Dark Night of the Soul, 13) Break into Three, 14) Finale, 15) Final Image. I interpreted these fifteen stages and shortened to three steps, beginning, middle, and end of the movie. I thought this was similar to the three act structure for a children’s book story.
The three act structure just means a beginning, middle, and end of the children’s story. Act I for a children’s story is the introduction. The story introduces the protagonist and problem. This presentation is similar to Blake Snyder’s, Beat Sheet first three steps: Opening Image, Theme Stated, and Set-up. These three stages introduce the nature of the film. The screenplay poses a question or make’s a statement which is the message of the movie. The Set-up introduces all the characters; this seems to be similar to the introduction in a children’s story. The three act structure means a beginning, middle, and the end.
The next ten stages to Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet is what I consider the middle of the movie script or middle of a children’s story. Blake Snyder’s ten additional stages are: Catalyst, Debate, Break into Two, B Story, Fun and Games, Midpoint, Bad Guys Close In, All is Lost, Dark Night of the Soul, and Break into Three. These ten stages are essential, all the characters introduced, and progress made with the plot heading to a final climax or resolution. In a children’s story, Act II, the main character takes action, and more action to solve his problem. The story comes to a down moment when all feels lost.
The Final and Final Image are the last two stages of Blake Snyder’s Beet Sheet. The Final is similar to Act III in a children’s story. The story comes to an end and lessons are learned. The story reaches a conclusion, except for tying up any loose ends. The Final Image with the Beat Sheet shows there is a change in the characters. The protagonist in the children’s story has solved his problem and learned something.
I suggest reading Blake Snyder’s, Save the Cat for the value it offers for sucessful story construction. I was able to apply these concepts to my own children’s picture book stories.