Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I've been reading SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder, and I have had so manny A-HA Moments about plot structure.  In this book, he says your plot should have 15 beats to flow correctly.  They are:

1)Opening Image: The hook that gets you interested
2)Theme Stated: Statement the entire plot is based on (Life isn't fair. Quitters never win, etc)
3)Set-Up: This clearly sets up the protaganist and other main characters, antagonist, theme, and conflict
4)Catalyst: The inciting incident. The wake-up call. The thing that shakes up the MC.
5)Debate: The period of reflection, self-doubt when the character doesn't know what to do.
6)Break into 2: The hero moves into act 2 and the journey begins.
7)B Story: The secondary plot  starts here.
8)Fun and Games: The conflict and action is esculated here. The MC experiences set backs.
9)Midpoint: The climax. This is where the stakes are raised and the MC might not pull through.
10)Bad Guys Close In: The MC is in real trouble.
11)All is Lost: The MC is at their lowest point. This is where most of the changes in the MC happen.
12)The Dark Night of Soul: The MC has lost control and goes through internal struggle.
13)Break into 3: The MC has a new plan (usually thanks to someone else)
14)Finale: The MC emerges with new knowledge and new attitude. The transformation is made.
15)Final Image: This scene is a flip of the opening image.

So to put this into perspective, Mr. Snyder suggest you watch a favorite movie and compare the beat sheet for plot structure.  I did that very thing with one of my favorite movies of 2010, Letters to Juliet. WARNING: SPOILER ALERT (if you haven't seen this movie, please watch before reading.)


PROJECT TITLE: Letters To Juliet
GENRE: Buddy Love (BL)

1. Opening Image (1): Sophie Hall (Seyfried) is fact checking a source of the most romantic photo taken of all time (the sailor/nurse kiss in Time Square after WWII). Sophie is a determined detective. She likes the journey of finding things. She finds the source. This scene shows us that Sophie is a hopeless romantic and wants to be a writer.

2. Theme Stated (5): Sophie is meeting with Bobby, the editor of The New Yorker, and verifies the story that the photo of the kiss was a real celebration of true love. Bobby says to Sophie, "I guess people want to believe in true love, don't they?"

3. Set-up (1-10): Bobby asks Sophie about her trip to Verona, Italy. She explains that it is a pre-honeymoon and suggests she could write something. Bobby dismisses the suggestion and she doesn't dispute it. Sophie retreats to her fiancé's restaurant. Victor is charismatic and she loves this about him. However, he is also a workaholic and neglects Sophie's feeling of loneliness to do want he wants to do. He calls it the "win-win". In Verona, Victor continues his dominance of the schedule of events and Sophie makes a deal with him that they separate so she can see Juliet's House while he meets with his suppliers. At Juliet's house, Sophie discovers that people write letters to Juliet and those letters are then taken and answered by the Secretariats to Juliet. She spends the day with the group of ladies. Victor learns cooking techniques while Sophie helps the Secretariats answer letters.

4. Catalyst (12): While collecting letters from Juliet's wall, Sophie moves a loosened stone and finds an aged letter from fifty years ago.

5. Debate (12-25): Sophie takes the letter to the Secretariats. Victor wants to continue his cooking lessons instead of being with Sophie. The Secretariats are unsure of what to do, but Sophie explains to them that she has to write back. They agree to let her answer this one letter.

6. Break into 2 (25) Sophie is sitting with the Secretariats when young man, Charlie Wyman (Egan), enters the office asking for the Juliet who wrote the letter to his Grandmother, Claire (Redgrave). Sophie stands and tells him she is the writer. He is obnoxious and rude to her telling her it was the worst mistake. Now he is there with Claire who has come to find her long lost love, Lorenzo. She meets Claire and they agree to have a drink and to talk.

7. B Story (30): Sophie, Claire, Charlie, and the Secretariats sit at a little cafe and drink wine. Claire tells the story of her love affair with Lorenzo. How she agreed to meet Lorenzo to runaway and get married, but instead she left him waiting. Claire has decided to go and find Lorenzo. She wants to find her one true love. Sophie asks to accompany them and write about the story. Victor asks to go to a wine auction for a couple of days, which leaves Sophie free to go with Claire and Charlie.

8. Fun and Games (30-55): The fun ensues when Claire, Charlie, and Sophie hunt down all the Lorenzo Bartalini’s in Tuscany. They go from one to another; each time the man she finds gets farther from her memory. Charlie gets more irritated with the search. Claire gets more doubtful they will find him.

9. Midpoint (55): In the midpoint, Sophie learns more about Charlie, that he isn't a snob. He works on pro Bono legal work as a lawyer. The banter between Charlie and Claire sets up the potential romance and flirtatious behavior between the two of them. They spend a day together, playing, sight-seeing, ice cream fighting. Charlie reads some of Sophie's writing and tells her how good it is. Sophie finds encouragement and support in Charlie, something she doesn't get from Victor.

10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75): All three of them begin to doubt they will find Lorenzo. The last Lorenzo on the list is dead and they end up at a cemetery. Charlie become angry that Claire is hurt again. He takes his frustration out on Sophie by telling her that she doesn't know true loss.

11. All Is Lost (75): They decide to call off the search because Sophie wants to get back to Victor, mostly because Charlie hurt her so much. Charlie apologizes, but the damage is done.

12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85): Sophie breaks down about Charlie's insult. Claire comes to her room and sees how hurt she is. Claire understands that Sophie has developed feelings for Charlie and hates that he was so mean. Claire brushes her hair, helping to remember what love and care feel like.

13. Break into 3 (85): The last night, Sophie finds Charlie lying in the grass. She joins him, and they talk about the journey and that they hate to leave. They kiss. Sophie leaves and Claire watches the whole thing from her window. The next morning Claire makes a point to let Sophie sit in the front set with Charlie. She sees this as her last opportunity to get them to see that they love each other.

14. Finale (85-110): On their drive back Claire sees a sign for their favorite wine vineyard, she asks Charlie to stop so they can have one last toast. As they pass by the grapevines, Claire sees a young boy who is the spitting image of her Lorenzo. They stop. Sophie goes up to the boy and he tells her his name is Lorenzo Bartalini. They discover that the vineyard is owned by her long lost love. He rides up on a horse and they are reunited. They rekindle their romance and Sophie tells Charlie she has to leave. As she leaves, Claire turns to Charlie and says "How many Sophie's do you think are in the world. Don't wait 50 years like I did to find her. Go!" Charlie goes and follows her back to Verona where he sees her with Victor looking so happy. He leaves heartbroken. Back in NY, Sophie shows her story to Bobby who loves it and says he will publish it. She goes to tell Victor but he dismisses her again. The following day, Sophie receives the wedding invitation for Claire and Lorenzo. She makes the decision to go...alone. She goes to the restaurant and breaks up with Victor stating that she had changed and no longer understands their relationship.

15. Final Image (110): Sophie goes to Claire and Lorenzo's wedding. She sees Charlie again but believes he is back with his ex-girlfriend. During the reception, Claire reads the letter Sophie wrote to her about what If? True love is never too late. Sophie is so overcome with emotion for her love for Charlie that she runs away from the reception. Charlie chases after her, finding her on a balcony just like Juliet. Sophie confesses that she is no longer engaged and loves him. She says it is clearly too late since he is with Patricia. Charlie tells her that the girl is his cousin not his ex. He climbs the vine outside the balcony like Romeo and tells her he loves her too. Before they kiss, Charlie falls to the ground. Sophie runs down after him and they share a kiss.

So, is this more clear.  Again, I love this book. Stay tuned tomorrow for contest details. You can win your own copy. Any comments?


  1. I was going to order my own copy of this book. Maybe I'll hold off for the contest! Love what you did!

  2. Wow! Never read it, but wow!

    And nice work on seperating out the plot points. I really need to start doing that sort of stuff...