I came across a post on Instagram during the summer of 2020 and it asked the question "Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?" I had absolutely no idea what this meant! Then in the same post I saw a reference to "Save the Cat." I had never heard of that either, so I googled.
I discovered that it related to a book written by a Hollywood screenwriter, Blake Snyder, in 2005 who had analysed the plots of successful films and broken them down to fifteen plot points, or beats as he called them. It caught on, and soon lots of screenwriters were using his guidelines.
Why 'Save the Cat'? Well, a key thing is that the hero of the story, apart from having a goal they want to achieve will also be flawed. But, if you have an unlikeable character, you then make them rescue a cat from a dangerous situation (doesn't always have to be a cat) and then the audience will be rooting for them.
I won't detail all the plot 'beats' here, it's easy enough for you to find them on the internet, but some notable ones are 'Bad Guys Close In' in the middle of the film, followed by 'Dark Night of the Soul, and then 'Gathering the Troops', as you get ready for the finale.
Unfortunately, Blake Snyder died unexpectedly in 2009. In 2018 Jessica Brody adapted the book to make it relevant to novel writers, and she applied the formula to many successful novels, from Jane Austin's 'Emma' to 'Me before You' by Jojo Moyes. So, I bought this book and thought 'Interesting.' By then I had already written Stuck (in time) and Stuck (1595) An Elizabethan Adventure. So I decided that when I wrote the next book in the 'Stuck' series I would give it a go!
I realised that I had been somewhere between a Plotter and a Pantser - A Plotter works out the plot beforehand, a Pantser writes by the seat of their pants- making it up as they go along. I only had a loose idea where the story was going. Enough of an idea that in the last book I could write whole sections out of order, but when I set out, I had little idea of where I would end up.
So that's where I am now - I am trying to plot the story out, and have made a large cardboard chart, to which I pin notes that will each be developed into a scene. It's actually very useful as I know less about the period that the book will be set in, 1824, than I did about the previous two books (WWII & the Elizabethan age), so it means that the background research I am doing at the moment has a direction.
What's that I hear? 'Meow'? - I must go and investigate.