The Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge is all about making sure a writer's screenplay succeeds in its fundamentals. Based on the screenwriting methodology created by Blake Snyder in his trilogy of books, this writing contest isn't just about getting your work out into the world, it's about making sure your story is in the best possible shape.

When you finish that last draft, what do you do? Get your friends, colleagues, and industry contacts to read it, right? But all the advice, notes, and suggestions you get are just that, advice and suggestions. This screenplay competition sidesteps all that and provides actionable feedback grounded in the Save the Cat! Methodology—the same method used by working writers, readers, and decision-makers to make movies big and small.

But why is structure so important to writing a screenplay?

The Importance of Screenplay Structure 

Ask any ten writers for their advice for writing a screenplay, and you'll get ten different answers. However, any successful writer, or any writer you love reading, will tell you that structure is critical to getting a good story on the page. If you don't correctly set up your characters, world, and stakes, you won't have a chance to create a payoff worth reading. Story structure has existed ever since the days of Aristotle and, for the past 2000 years, has evolved to help creatives tell their stories. 

That's the real foundation of screenwriting—structure. As much as we like to claim it's an art form and that we should break all the rules, learning what they are and how to use them (or break them) is the difference between your screenplay getting made or having it find a nice home in the trash bin.

But here's the first problem writers face. What is the right structure? While many books can teach you the fundamentals, having an understanding of how to properly implement a solid structure in your screenplay can be a challenge. This is why Save the Cat! has been such a popular choice among writers breaking in or veterans needing to return to basics. 

Thanks to Snyder, the complexities of crafting a solid story have been boiled down to a series of simple steps. Think of a ladder or a staircase. Each rung or step helps you focus on only what's important at the moment.

First are the broad strokes. You focus on relatable characters and villains and put them in a world with stakes. Then the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet helps refine that idea into distinct moments packed with only the essential information your story needs. This is further refined to create the 40 scenes of your movie, which can be double-checked against a series of questions that will strengthen the spine of your story. We all have to stand up straight, after all. 

As writers, we all get stuck in the unlimited potential each story has. The simplicity of Save the Cat! and its focus on structure helps writers find what their story is truly meant to be. If you've ever been stuck in ACT II like I have, maybe all you need is a feline friend.

But Save the Cat! isn't just about structure. It's also a community focused on helping new writers, and veterans alike, write better scripts.

Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge

There's a reason the Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge isn't called a competition. It's just that. A challenge. Not only to make your work the best possible story it can be, but to ensure it's structurally sound. And Challenge winners will get more than just a trophy. They'll get the tools necessary to succeed by helping writers tighten the spine of your screenplay. 

The Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge was created as a response to competitions that didn't provide writers with what they truly needed. That's the second problem up-and-coming writers experience. While other competitions can allow writers to get their work seen, which can lead to better opportunities, the most important thing is never addressed—the script itself. 

That's what makes the Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge such a standout. All writers receive 50 Points of Analysis to elevate their script to the next level, even if they don't win. All of this feedback is given by readers who are trained to be experts in the Save the Cat! Beat Sheet and Writing Genres.

And all this feedback is grounded in Story Structure, not subjective opinion.

Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge AnalysisJust some of the questions used in the 50 Point Analysis.Credit: Save the Cat!

The Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge serves as your co-pilot, guiding your story’s structure through compelling character transformation from the Opening Image to the Final Image. Winners will also get a chance to meet with the incredible panel of judges, which includes writers working in the industry, Creative Executives, Heads of Development, and producers. Want to know who they are? You can find out more about them here.

Grand Prize winners will get the chance to bring their work to life via a table read, which is probably the most important thing any creative can do when they finish a script. Seeing the story come to life will help you see what moments are working and what beats need help. To top it off, winners and the Top 5 Finalists will also have the opportunity to meet the judges, which almost no other competition offers. 

You have challenged yourself to start, finish, and enter a screenplay competition. Now let the Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge help you perfect your script so that you can achieve your story’s potential.

The Tools You Need To Succeed

Submissions for feature film screenplays and 60-minute and 30-minute TV pilots are now open. If you have a screenplay that is entertaining and has a strong and unique voice that grabs the audience, what better way to test it than this challenge? 

Enter now using either FilmFreeway or Coverfly by the March 26th, 2023, deadline.

But if you're not ready, Save the Cat! can help you get your script to the finish line. Creatives can start with the Save the Cat! books, which cover everything from writing movies and television to even novels. For the digital nomads, the Save the Cat! Story Structure Software compiles all those tools into an application that can sync between your desktop and phone.

There is also a library of completed Beat Sheets covering classic and recent stories in all these mediums. Even if you just need help organizing your note cards, the Save the Cat! Story Cards are a great asset to any writer.

Whatever you need to get your story structure ready for primetime, Save the Cat! is here to help. When you're finally ready, the Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge will be ready to help you cross the finish line. Are you ready for the challenge?