The Journey of PAKA


Devil in the Details

The details, in this case, is the first 15 beats.

Children’s book should not be more than 32 pages.  In my case, I will be using both the left page and right page for one illustration.  With 15 beats, that is 30 pages.  28 pages is good.  This will be tight, leaving the two pages for everything else that needs to be in the book (i.e., copyright statement, publishing information, title page, etc.).  I decided that this will be okay…what else are the inside covers and back for?

To get a handle on the beats, I wrote them down in a format I found useful.  One that combine the title and purpose.  I included additional information found in Save the Cat!, as well as information I need to convey to the illustrator, since it is a children’s book.  Here is my Page One:

Opening Image Beat:  Its tone, it mood, the type and scope of the film.

Scene:  Cheetah running across the Serengeti in the early morning light, away from poachers.

Ext:         dawn, on the Serengeti, early spring – beginning of the dry season (March)


Pounding, fur-padded paws

Breaking to the left,

Then to the right,


Run, cheetah, run,


Morning silence, snatched away,

By a piercing bullet spray,

Hot shells, dry grass.

Run, cheetah, run.



Left Page – shower of hot casing shells falling on the dry grass, just beyond the hunters, and smoke starts to rise.  Two trucks are in the background, and if possible, distinct tire tracks.

Right Page – the cheetah running off the page – forcing the reader to turn to the next page.

With the 15 beats complete, I am in the process of expanding it out to the 40 beats.  Stay tuned…


And Beyond…

I had the basic idea for my story for the last two to three years.  I knew the two main characters.  I knew where I wanted them to go in the story,

And Beyond…

Stuffed animals, clothing line, board games, video games, and ultimately a movie (or a short) and a YouTube cartoon series.  And yet, how can I get this into one or two sentences?  And the pitch – not that clever under stress.

The work the logline is suppose to do according to Save the Cat! Strike Back:

  • type of protagonist
  • type of antagonist
  • a conflict and
  • an open-ended question (what will happen?)

And a good logline includes:

  • irony
  • a mental picture that blooms in our minds
  • a sense of audience and cost, and
  • a title that ‘says what it is’

All this in one or two lines!  This is where I poured through Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies.

First, dump the ‘And Beyond!’ and focus on the story.  Take the first bite.  What is the story about?  For those who are technical, it is the abstract for the technical article…don’t worry about spicing it up – just the facts.  The logline is the steak.  The pitch is the sizzle.

The question becomes,

What type of steak do you have?

Chuck? Round? Sirloin? Ribeye? Filet Mignon?  I like ribeye.  So I tried, and tried.  You get the idea.  I was trying too hard.  Mix the steak and the sizzle.  Once I went for boring, I got this:

PAKA is accidentally abandoned by his mother during a raging fire started by poachers.  After the fire, he sets out to find his mother, if she is alive.

Straightforward, and meets the eight bullet points, or at least I think it does, above.  (Don’t worry about me giving the story away…applied, on-line, for the copyrights and paid my $35 filing fee.)   Break down what Blake Synder is saying into small, literal bits.  I lost a lot of time here, trying to do too much.  The eight bullet points in two lines is enough for this step.

Next, the Sizzle (a.k.a. the Pitch)

I would like to say that it is logical, but…

I read in one of the books that the pitch doesn’t have to represent the story, exactly.  I asked my illustrator for an image to add to the flyer I am taking to the 2016 Pitch Fest.


Matt gave me ‘Sizzle’.  Pitch Fest, here we come!



Butt-Kicking Monsters!

Back again, at the Writing Wizards writing desk, writing…

As a poet, I describe my process as building a poem.  I begin with a word, or a phrase, and build a poem around it.  Pretty easy if you use free-form.  Sonnets, the stuff of structure, maybe one day.  I have to develop more as a writer, in both discipline and structure.

That is the challenge!

Finding a structure and follow it through a writing project.  That is NOT the only goal.  How to make money writing?  Poems and memoirs are great for personal development, but some commercial success would be nice.  With over 2 million new books published each year, how can I improve my odds?

What is the magic formula?

We all know that Hollywood makes tons of formula movies.  I had no clue on where to find it.  It was through my constant talking about the project, when my illustrator said, “You keep saying you want to write a screenplay about the story, you should get the book Save the Cat!”  Matt learned about it while working on his fine arts degree.  It not come up in my geology or math classes – go figure.

Save the Cat!

The book was written by Blake Synder.  In the book, Blake recommends watching a lot of movies.  But, who has time?  I bought his book “Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies” and “Save the Cat! Strikes Back”.

I used the first two books to write a children’s story, using Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet (BS2).  I am in the process of turning the children’s story into a screenplay.

Save the Cat! delineated the structure of good storytelling.  Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies provided the examples I needed to see how the structure works.  I am half way through the Save the Cat! Strikes Back which is helping expand the 15 beat from BS2 into 40 beats recommended for a movie.

I bought the books on Amazon, but have since learned about the website:  You will find everything you need to write a screenplay on this site – who Blake Synder was, his books, his podcasts, Save the Cat workshops, and private consulting.

Great information – so now, “Why are you blogging?” you may ask.

Why I blog!

I live my story. I dream my story.  I bore friends, family and strangers about my story.  And at times, I need to wrestle with the monster in the closet, or the one under the bed.  These are different monsters than the monster in your head.  You know that monster, the one that taunts you, saying you can’t do it, and that you are not good enough.  THAT monster is internal to all of us, and everyone beats his or her own monster back in their own way.  The monsters I am blogging about – the external monsters, the butt-kicking monsters.

Butt-Kicking Monsters!

Form, structure, understanding terminology, understanding techniques, and of course, applying techniques.  And the hardest part, finding someone who knows the system you are applying to critique your work, or at least, a descent editor.


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