“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked.
“Potentially the difference between a blockbuster and a flop, kid!” Hollywood answered, chewing on a cigar and pouring two fingers of scotch.
In all seriousness, it is unfortunately true that more than a few cinematic gems have been buried by their lackluster titles. A good title, by contrast, can get someone to click on a trailer, read a two-sentence description that can clinch the deal, or fill a theater seat on the power of the curiosity it has inspired alone.
At the very least, a good title gets a moviegoer to ask, “tell me more”… and a really good title gets a moviegoer to say, “Okay, show me.”
And this is why Blake Snyder emphasizes in Save the Cat! – his methodology that revolutionized the language of storytelling – that you are not tasked with simply coming up with a title for your movie.
You’re tasked with giving your movie a killer title.
It’s a mission so important—so absolutely paramount—that we hammer it home in great detail in the “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course. We also offer an arsenal of tips and pointers because, after all, imagine pouring your heart and soul into writing a story for the ages, pulling every string to get it into the hands of a decision-maker (or at least an intern) at a production company or major studio, only to have them look at the title, and with a “meh,” toss it onto the “maybe later” (maybe never) pile.
Tragedy! One that would ruffle even Shakespeare’s… ruffles! So let’s prevent it!
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
We all know a good title when we read one. But what makes a title good?
Years ago, Blake offered us an important clue to cracking that case. He pointed out that “a good title must say what it is! and yet give us a fresh, intriguing invitation to your party that gives us a hint of the type and tone of the festivities we’re about to attend. And that’s some tight writing right there.“
So as you can see—and as many of us have had the displeasure of experiencing—it’s no easy task, nor is it a small one. And to prove that it’s a task on which even the biggest films may stumble and fall, allow me to share the example we use in the Save the Cat! “Cracking the Beat Sheet” course:
In 2014, Tom Cruise starred in a movie called Edge of Tomorrow, which was phenomenal by both audience and critics’ accounts with a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The premise was basically Groundhog’s Day in the middle of an alien invasion. A man with no combat experience is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can figure out how to thwart a devastating extraterrestrial attack.
The problem was, none of the excitement of that premise was hinted at or captured with the title “Edge of Tomorrow,” slick as it sounded. And one of the most vocal lamenters of the title’s failure was Doug Liman, the film’s director. He openly blamed this title, which was forced on the film, for the movie’s disappointing box office returns.
“I ended up having to call the person (the Warner Bros. executive) and apologize for pointing out that they were wrong,” he said. “And they started titling it the title I always thought it should have, which is Live Die Repeat. But they tiptoed around it, and when we make the sequel, it’ll be permanently titled Live Die Repeat. The sequel will be Live Die Repeat and Repeat.”
Guess what? That’s a title that says what the movie is.
Hopefully, you’re now fully convinced that a title matters a great deal, and you’re mentally running the “Say What It Is” test on your current script titles.
And if you still only find yourself on the edge of inspiration, we’ve packed our online course with wisdom and tricks to tip you over.
Happy writing! Or shall we say… live, write, repeat!
Jennifer Zhang is a screenwriter and filmmaker who wrote, produced and sold her award-winning debut feature “The Evil Inside” shortly after working with Blake Snyder and adopting Save the Cat! storytelling principles in her screenwriting. She is the instructor featured in the “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course, and has most recently garnered early festival buzz for her feature-length independent thriller “Charon” which has picked up multiple official selections and “Best Writer” nominations.
About Save the Cat!
Save the Cat!® is the bestselling story methodology introduced by screenwriter Blake Snyder in 2005 with his first book, Save the Cat!. Snyder’s acclaimed ideas, methods, and software have provided thousands of writers with the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels.
Save the Cat!’s
WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR OF Cracking the Beat Sheet
Story Development Cards
Tour Begins February 22nd
First, what is Save the Cat!®?
Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957- 2009). Blake’s method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation.
Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their webpage at https://savethecat.com/
About the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course
This course is designed for writers to turn their idea into a movie or novel. This learn-at-your-own-pace online class helps you develop the 15 key “beats” or “plot points” of your story. Strung together, in the right order, these 15 beats make up the blueprint to a successful screenplay or novel.
You’ll Turn an Idea into a Story by Learning to…
• Create a solid beat sheet that will serve as the road map, and “backbone” of your story
• Identify and know the key components of your story genre • Learn the clichés of your genre so that you can break them like an artist
• Plot your hero’s journey and “transformation” • Troubleshoot your story idea for viability
• Write a compelling logline or elevator pitch
This Course Is for Those Who…
• Want to troubleshoot an existing story
• Have so many great ideas and struggle to choose “the one”
• Are ready to write but not sure how to start
• Are determined to finish a half-written story
• Want to learn
This Course Includes…
• Over 3 hours and 17 minutes of original video production
• 9 downloadable worksheets • 3 reading assignments (book not included)
• 4 homework assignments
Course Value: $59
Find out more information about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course by visiting https://www.savethecatcourses.com/courses/cracking-the-beat-sheet.
About Save the Cat! Story Cards
Introducing Save the Cat!®Story Cards, consisting of Save the Cat! Beat Cards and Save the Cat! Scene Cards, all designed to outline and develop your story.
Save the Cat! Beat Cards
Crack your story from the “Opening Image” to the “Final Image.” Save the Cat!® Beat Cards provide writers with the 15 key plot points to map out your script or novel. Every set contains 15 individual index cards with helpful explanations of each beat to form the foundation of your story.
Save the Cat! Scene Cards
Every scene of your story needs to communicate “place,” “basic action,” “emotional transformation,” and “outcome.” The Save the Cat!® Scene Cards help writers nail the purpose of every scene. Each set of cards contains 40 color-coded cards broken down by act, with 10 extra cards because we know you’ll need them.
Cards Value: $10.95
Find out more information about Story Cards at https://savethecat.com/story-cards
More information about Save the Cat!:
Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course
Save the Cat! Website
Save the Cat! Best-Selling Books
Save the Cat! Story Cards
– Blog Tour Dates
February 22nd @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us today over at our blog, where we launch another blog tour for Save the Cat! We talk about their online course and their story cards, interview the Save the Cat team, and host a special giveaway you don’t want to miss.
February 23rd @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books
Join Cathy as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course. Perfect if you want to finally outline your novel!
February 23rd @ And So She Thinks
Join Francesca and read her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course. You don’t want to miss this!
February 24th @ Chapters Through Life
Visit Danielle’s blog as she reviews her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Course.
February 24th @ Margay Leah Justice
Join Margay as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Story Cards.
February 25th @ Author Anthony Avina
Join Anthony as he shares a Save the Cat! guest post about why the title of a story matters.
February 26th @ Writer Unboxed
Join Therese as she reviews the Save the Cat! writing course Cracking the Beat Sheet. Don’t miss it!
February 27th @ Jessica Samuels
Join Jessica as she shares her insights into the Save the Cat! Story Cards.
February 28th @ The Faerie Review
Visit Lily’s blog as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards and shares her insights into the Cracking the Beat Sheet course.
March 1st @ Michelle Cornish
Join Michelle as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.
March 1st @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Kathy shares the Save the Cat guest post discussing stress testing dialogue and scene.
March 2nd @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books
Visit Cathy’s blog again as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards! Find out how this item will help you storyboard your novel.
March 3rd @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy’s blog as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.
March 4th @ Author Anthony Avina
Visit Anthony’s blog where you can read his experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.
March 5th @ Quill and Books
Visit Kathryn’s blog and read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards.
March 7th @ Sioux’s Page
Join Sioux as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards and her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.
March 7th @ Help Me Naomi
Visit Naomi’s blog today and you can read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards and the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.
March 8th @ World of My Imagination
Guest writer, Stephanie Anne, reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and Save the Cat! Story Cards on Nicole’s blog World of My Imagination.
March 9th @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books
Visit Cathy’s blog again where you can read a guest post from the Save the Cat! team about why structure is a friend, not a formula.
March 9th @ Sandy Kirby Quandt
Sandy shares her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.
March 10th @ Brooke’s Reviews and Sweeps
Join Brooke as she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.
March 11th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog
Visit Jill’s blog today and check out her insights into the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! Story Cards.
March 12th @ Finished Pages
Join Renee as she reviews her experience with the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.
March 13th @ Writer Unboxed
Visit Therese’s blog again as she reviews the Save the Cat! Story Cards. You’ll want to check these out if you want to storyboard your novel!
March 14th @ The Margate Bookie
You’ll definitely want to catch today’s guest post where Save the Cat! discusses the power of the writer’s board.
March 15th @ My Heart is Booked
Join Danielle today where she reviews the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course and the Save the Cat! story cards.
March 15th @ LM Harley
Visit Laura’s blog and check out her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.
March 18th @ Cathy C. Hall Writes
Join Cathy as she shares her thoughts about the Save the Cat! Story Cards.
March 19th @ One Writer’s Journey
Visit Sue’s blog today as she shares her insights into the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.
March 21st @ World of My Imagination
Join Nicole and read her review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards.
March 22nd @ Mint Miller Writes
Mint Miller treats us to a review of the Save the Cat! Story Cards. Don’t miss it!
March 23rd @ Karen Brown Tyson
Join Karen as shares a Save the Cat guest post discussing the benefits of using a board.
March 25th @ WOW’s Editor Blog
You don’t want to miss WOW’s editor-in-chief, Angela Mackintosh’ review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.
March 26th @ World of My Imagination
Writer Kate Mahony is a guest reviewer at World of My Imagination and she shares her thoughts about the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet course.
March 27th @ Joyful Antidotes
Visit Joy’s blog today where you can read her review of the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet online course.