1. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Debate: To save, or not to save the cat?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Flying Geese, Aug 12, 2013.

    I am writing my story right now. It is very close to being finished. One of the scenes that has kept me stumped for months is a scene that I am writing for the "save the cat" scene in my story.
    I am wondering if my story even needs it now. I know that the STC scene is something that writers use to cause you to begin to care about the protagonist, but i just can't seem to come up
    with anything for this scene. If push comes to shove, I will take it out altogether. Do you think this scene benefits or slows down the story's opening scenes?

    Here is how my 'save the cat' scene works (Tell me if it is too cliche)

    The hero is a poor guy who just received a ticket to eat as much food as he wants on the rich side of town. On his way home he encounters a young man who is on the path that the hero was
    on as a youngster. (The kid is about to mug an elderly couple). Before the kid can mug them, the hero talks to the kid and tries to get him to change his mind about it, and he is unsuccessful.
    He is unsuccessful until he decides to give the boy the meal ticket (which the hero had just received) in exchange for the weapon he was going to use to stick up the elderly couple.

    And that is how the scene works. Here are advantages and disadvantages as I see them -

    + Using this scene, I can use the kid's emotion to give the reader a better sense of the struggle that poor people in the city go through and flesh out the poor vs the rich subplot a little more
    - The problem is that I can't come up with ANY good dialogue for this scene! NONE! this is the scene that has me stumped. I know what I want to convey but i can't seem to pull it off.

    What do you guys think? Not only about my particular structure for 'saving the cat', but for save the cat scenes in general
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had to google the term 'save the cat' - apparently it's where the audience meets the hero for the first time. How is your story nearly finished if you're audience hasn't met the hero yet?

    If your writing is in the same style at the way you have posed your predicament you want to put a thousand words up for critique here and people can help you out.

    Anyway back to your problem; Picture the scene in your head, what's the weather like? Is their traffic around? What accents do they have? Were they schooled well? Is one absolutely starving, the other desperate for money - all of these factors and many more will have an effect on your dialogue. Remember too they haven't time for small talk, one has a weapon and needs to get off the street quick.
     
  3. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I thought this was about saving a cat and I was going to argue yes, we should save the cat.

    Well, I don't know if you really need this, I mean, if what happens is directly related to the plot, let's say, it sets it off somehow, creates conflict, mystery, etc. then it sounds like a good idea. If the only purpose is to show your hero is a good guy and there're poor and rich people who struggle, I don't know, I don't think I'd do it right at the beginning, especially if I couldn't even come up with any meaningful, natural and potentially entertaining dialogue.
     
  4. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    You probably don't need this. It's like giving the protagonist a dog just to show he's the 'good guy.' That works, sure (take a look at I Am Legend), but any well-written protagonist's side and character should become explicitly clear through their actions and motives in the book. You shouldn't have to resort to forced scenes like this, and, given the technical trouble you're having with it, I'd recommend scrapping it.

    The 'rich vs poor' subplot can be conveyed through a simple description of the street as he walks down it, looking at the people and the changing quality of the houses, rather than a mugging (which seems a little cliche anyway; I know nothing about this city, but most muggers in real life don't mug for food).

    It should be, but isn't always. It's purpose is to make the reader root for the hero by showing what a kind, upstanding guy he is.
     
  5. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    I am going to try to see how the story flows without the scene. I also have some scenes that I scrapped...perhaps I will switch them out and see what fits there. I agree with you Gallow..I don't think I want to force that scene in there.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The scene feels VERY cliche, and very forced, and too obviously there to serve a purpose - I'd take one look and know the author's trying to force some moral value down my throat and force me to agree with him, and that'd really put me off. If you wanna show your character's er, character (lol), do so properly, fleshed out in a real scene that moves the story forward. Don't just throw in a dog and yell, "See? SEE? He's a GOOD GUY. A good guy!"
     
  7. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Y'know, as I read your post, I could envision this scene unfolding in at least half a dozen different ways, and I could see the exchange between the two characters. The big question then is, why can't you? It's your story! You're nearly finished? No! If you haven't introduced your MC, you've barely begun! As others have mentioned, this could come off as a very contrived/forced scene. But it doesn't have to. And a lot depends upon just what kind of a story your are trying to write. And, if you can't see/hear the dialog between the two characters, then you probably aren't ready to write this story.


    All I could think of was, "Ask Schrödinger what to do with the cat!" :)
     
  8. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Well, they say a cat saved is a cat earned. I will echo several other posters and agree that if you feel your story works well without the scene just leave it out. If you really want to do the scene, then do it and see what happens. I recommend you throw in a twist, though. What you sketched out wasn't particularly compelling.
     

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