Art of Plotting Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Save the Cat

Author introduces himself and his history in the world of screenwriting

Reason for writing the book -- to help readers not make the same mistakes he made and to avoid common screenwriting pitfalls

Meaning of 'Save the Cat:' Using scenes that define who the hero is that are dramatic (like saving a cat)

Selling the story

Importance of a good 'logline' (attention-getter for the person to whom your pitching the film). A film cannot be 'sold' without a good logline, no matter how strong the picture

Importance of 'high concept' (movies that are easy to visualize), even today

Make sure your story falls into one of the 10 basic genres to enable it to be marketed to a target audience

Creating characters

A. Need a hero

Use Jungian archetypes that the audience can easily identify with when constructing characters

C. Never cast the movie before you write the script: you never know what actors will be available

Pacing the film

A. Create 'beats:' Map out the film, give yourself somewhere to go

1. 15 beats

B. Remember you will eventually need to put the film up on 'the board' (a storyboard) and map it out visually

1. 40 index cards only

C. A good script should be about as long as a good jockey weighs -- 110 pages

V. 'Laws' of screenplay writing

A. 'Laying pipe': remember rules like 'Save the Cat' and 'The Pope in the Pool.' Use dramatic scenes that are significant in the way they define characters and lay the ground for the drama to unfold. Exposition scenes are important.

B. Be able to figure out why your script isn't working, despite obeying these laws (such as too many minor characters) so you can repair it

VI. Marketing your screenplay

A. Even the best screenplay must be 'pitched' to make it into theaters

Outline: Aristotle's Poetics

I. Introduction: What is poetry (drama)

A. Drama is imitation: Instead of explicating like an essay, drama shows what is occurring 'in the moment'

B. Imitation of either 'high,' 'low' or 'everyday' can be accomplished through words, dance, or music

II. Defining narrative structure

A. Drama has a beginning, middle, and end

B. Plot, character, thinking, diction, song, and spectacle make up tragedy in descending order of importance

C. Tragedy requires dramatic unity: the time span of the depicted characters on the stage should not exceed the time it would actually take to perform such actions in 'real life'

1. Note: Unity of plot does not mean unity of the character of the hero, who may be multi-faceted.

2. Episodic plots should be avoided.

III. Types of plot

A. Simple vs. complex

1. Complex plots contain both a reversal of the situation and recognition by the main character of the nature of the situation

IV. Elements of tragedy

A. What it evokes in the spectator: Pity and fear

1. Tragic flaws: interior reversals are superior than ones caused by exterior means

B. Tragic characters must be 'good' (even if women or slaves)

C. Means of unraveling the…

Sources Used in Document:


Aristotle. Poetics. Internet Classic Archives. [14 Jan 2013]

Memento. Directed by Christopher Nolan. 2001.

Snyder, Blake. Save the Cat. Michael Wiese, 2005

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