Many of you have probably already read the wonderful book Save The Cat by screenwriter Blake Snyder.

If so you will remember the Save the Cat moment for the protagonist.

If not, here’s a brief explanation: Snyder contends that “liking the person we go on a journey with [the novel’s primary character] is the single most important element in drawing us [the audience] into the story”. To illustrate that, he introduces the Save the Cat scene “… the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something–like saving a cat–that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him”.

In my first published novel Thicker Than Water (Brands Crossing Series), the protagonist, Kate O’Donnell has one of those moments in the Prologue. Eight-years-old at the time, she is spending the summer with her grandparents in Brands Crossing, Texas. The reader is first introduced to Kate when she runs out of the woods with a wounded rabbit, begging her grandfather to heal it and punish the poacher who shot it.

This scene, hopefully, makes the reader like Kate, but also, defines her character.  25-year-old Kate reveals the same qualities. Her dog and cat are rescue pets, she defends her aging Volvo when friends and family tell her to trade up to a vehicle manufactured in the 21st century and she walks away from romance and career to return to Brands Crossing and avenge her grandfather’s murder.

Do you have a Save the Cat moment in your novel?

Could you share it?

I will be discussing this technique along with others in my online creative writing class Simply Creating Fictional Characters which begins on February 1, 2012.

You can go to my website to find out more about the class and sign up. Just click on the Class tab at the top of the page then click on Creative Writing.

Hope to see you there.



About Sharon K Owen

I am a fiction writer, a university professor, a copy editor and an online writing teacher. My first Romantic Suspense: Thicker Than Water (Brands Crossing Series) was published in 2011 and the second book in the series, Whatever Goes Around, will be published in 2016. My short stories and poetry have been published in Descant, Concho River Review, Iron Horse, American Literary Review, Trinity Writer's Workshop newsletter and collections of Christmas stories. I am blessed with a loving, supportive family, a multitude of friends and the good fortune to share a cozy sanctuary in North Texas with my two cats (Matt and Cinders).

Posted on January 12, 2012, in Book Recommendations, Teaching, Writing, Writing Exercises, Writing Lessons, Writing Seminars and Conferences and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This is a really interesting idea. I’ve not considered if there’s such a scene in my stories. I’ll have to look and see. It’s an effective means of transmitting essential personality. Love your site, by the way.

  2. Snyder makes such a great point, Sharon! Sounds like you accomplished ‘saving the cat’ well in your novel.

    I actually had to adjust my protagonist in my first novel to increase my like of her. 🙂 This also involved learning to trust my instincts, as the reasons I didn’t particularly dig her resulted from my decision to take a trusted readers’ advice… Write and learn, right?? Thanks for the insightful post!

    • Thanks as always for your comments. With Kate in my first book, I sort of stumbled onto the moment unconsciously. In my second book, the protagonist has more of an edge. By then, I had read Snyder’s book and knew I had to give her some softer qualities–subtly. That was harder.

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