NaNo Prep Outline
|Save the Cat Outline Method
See below for some videos I watched about this method.
Opening Image: ~0-1% into the novel
Before snapshot of the main character/hero. Who are they and what are they and their life like?
The guys are driving and decide to turn into an alpaca farm for some reason--alpaca jerky? Want to see an alpaca? Nash saw them and turned around to follow them, so they turn off into the farm so they don't end up doing something wrong and getting a ticket.
Theme Stated ~5% into the novel
Statement made by someone about the hero's arc or what they need to learn or discover by the end of the book. It's the hero's life lesson.
Coming of Age/Growing Up
They start teasing each other that they need to grow up.
"Adulting is hard."
"How would you know?"
"Dude, you need a friend."
"No I don't. I've got you."
"You need a better friend."
"You're the best friend. You're my best friend."
Abuse of Power
"Nash is such a jerk."
(Imitating Nash) "That's Deputy Nash to you."
(Pretending to be inferior) "My deepest apologies, Deputy Nash. You're such a jerk."
"Yeah, I don't know why he has to act like that."
"Oh crap! There he is! Duck!"
"I can't duck! I'm driving!" (Or "Duck!" "Duck!" "Goose!" and they laugh)
"Aw, man! He's turning around to follow us."
"Great. It's just a matter of time before you go 1 mile over the speed limit or turn on your blinker 5 feet too late. Hey, look! A farm! Turn in there! He can't give us a ticket if we're not driving!"
Set-up 1-10% of the way into the book
See more of the hero's life before the epic adventure--including flaws. Introduces other supporting characters and hero's primary goal. Show hero's reluctance to change while hinting at stakes should they not.
They go and decide to take a farm tour to escape Deputy Nash who started following them. They meet the farmer. Maybe they act immature as a way to show their reluctance to change, even when the farmer suggests they do something like maybe confront Nash and they'd rather egg his car?
Catalyst/Inciting Incident ~10% of the way through the novel
Life-changing incident that catapults hero into a new world or new way of thinking with an action big enough they can't return to their status quo.
Farmer dies accidentally--possibly accidentally pushed into an electric fence.
Hero reacts to the catalyst. This makes the decision seem more realistic as the hero is reluctant to make the decision. They often pose a question such as should I go or what should I do?
They decide if they are going to bury the farmer, tell the authorities, or just run away. But they fear they will be blamed for the farmer's death.
Break into Two ~20%
Hero decides to accept call to action and try new world, new situation, or new way of thinking. Decisive action that separates status quo from new world. New or modified goal is introduced.
Another farm tour shows up and they decide to give the tour so they don't get caught. They were in the middle of trying to bury him when they came, so the guys put the farmer in a nearby tractor and say he's praying before he starts plowing. It's not even a plow, but does something else. A farm visitor comments that the farmer has been praying for a very long time. They say it's been a very bad summer.
B Story ~22%
Introduce character who will ultimately help them learn their life lesson.
Deputy Nash stops by to check on the farmer (maybe animals got out) and gets suspicious. Maybe they think he's very on point and are scared of his investigative skills. They may also meet Duf here.
Fun & Games/Promise of the Premise Longest beat of the story. ~20-50%
Where we see the hero in their new world. How is the new world treating them? Are they loving or hating it? Succeeding or failing? We see them working towards their goal. This is the promise of the premise and why the reader picked up the book.
They start learning how to run the farm.
Mid-Point Moment of false hope or false defeat. ~50%
Literally the middle of the book where we see the false victory or false defeat. Something else happens to raise the stakes--plot twist, time clocks, shocking reveal, ramp-ups, etc.
They guys are doing a great job with the farm, making money, and maybe even win something like at the County Fair. Neighbor tells them they're doing well with the farm.
Bad Guys Close in ~50-75%
If previously had a false victory, then things turn down here. If previously had a false defeat, they turn up. Hero's flaws are closing in. They have a new or modified goal to pursue.
Nash brings out the fake FBI to search the farm.
All is Lost ~75%
Lowest point in the novel. Something happens that, when mixed with his internal flaws (his internal bad guys), takes him to his lowest point. Someone or something dies, literally or metaphorically to signal the death of the old hero and the rebirth of the new self.
The FBI starts looking all over and are about to find the farmer--perhaps in the freezer.
Dark Night of the Soul ~75-80%
Reaction beat where hero takes time to process all that has happened. Hero is worse off than the beginning of the novel. Seems like their darkest hr, but is really the darkness before the dawn--right before they find their solution. Hero finally learns their lesson.
They feel like it's inevitable that they will be found out and want to quit. Maybe one of the animals inspires one of them to continue on, but the other still wants to quit, risking their friendship (theme).
Break into 3 ~80%
"Aha" moment when they realize what they must do to fix the problems and themselves. Character arc is nearly complete.
They both agree they want to continue on so maybe here is where the animal inspired the other to stay. Perhaps they were even packing at first. Maybe the mini donkey starts pulling stuff out of the suitcase as they are trying to pack.
Hero must prove they learned their lesson by enacting the plan from Break into 3--bad guys destroyed, flaws conquered, love reunited, etc. Not only is the world saved, but it's better than before.
The neighbor catches them trying to dispose of the farmer and they discover he knew all along and didn't care.
Final Image ~99-100%
Mirror to opening image--shows the "after" snapshot of the hero who has now undergone their transformation. Visual representation of the hero's life now that they are transformed.
Supposed to harken back to the first scene with them on the farm, but may have them in the farmer's wife's dungeon because she was into kink so they think it's a good place to take the sorority girl they plan to kidnap in the 2nd book. They mean her no harm, but she loved being kidnapped to find out which sorority chose her. Naturally, she doesn't realize this story she told them lead them to think she liked being kidnapped. They like the dungeon because she says she likes new experiences and interesting places, so they think that fits the bill. Maybe she even mentions she used to play D&D for a bit when she was younger. They don't know what the dungeon is for and maybe the guys think it's a D&D dungeon.
Save the Cat Scene Beats
1. Setup: Intro to scene and characters and who and where they are physically and metaphorically. Maybe person is in bed and exhausted
2. Catalyst: Something that happens to take the scene in a new direction, sometimes just a question asked or opportunity presented. Maybe the phone rings
3. Debate: They debate how to react to the catalyst. Should they answer the phone or not?
4. Break into 2: A decision is made, usually regarding the catalyst. They decide not to answer the phone.
5. Fun & Games: Introduce new info or history. The person thinks the caller might be their ex- that they dumped over text last night.
6. Midpoint: They feel like they succeeded or failed at the previously mentioned catalyst. They are happy they decided not to answer the phone.
7. Bad Guys Close in: Things seem more perilous. The caller calls back.
7. All is Lost: A low point in the scene with a sense of failure and/or an twist or turning point. The caller texts to say the need to talk or they are coming over.
8. Dark Night of the Soul: They are upset and don't want to deal with the person anymore.
8. Break into 3: Another active step to catapult the character and reader to the next scene. This beat can also come at the beginning of the next scene or chapter as the next setup. It's good to end on a cliffhanger. So, the person decides to answer the phone.
Each chapter should have: Location, goal, motivation, conflict, summary