Categories and Sub-Categories from Save The Cat! Goes To The Movies

As I wrote earlier, when I make notes about a book I always figure out the Save The Cat! genre. Each genre has five sub-genres, which are set out in Save The Cat! Goes To The Movies. They became much easier for me to remember when I tacked emojis onto them. So here’s my cheat sheet for the common elements and sub-genres.

  • 🦖 Monster In The House: needs a monster, a house and sin; often a half-man
    • 🦂Pure Monster (literal monster)
    • 🧨Domestic Monster (deranged human)
    • 🔪Serial Monster (serial killer)
    • 🔥Supra-natural Monster (paranormal monster)
    • 🕳Nihilist Monster (monster with nihilistic motivations)
  • 🏆 Golden Fleece: needs a road, a team, and a prize; often a road apple
    • ⚾️Sports Fleece (a team pursues a prize)
    • 🛶Buddy Fleece (journey with another changes hero’s life)
    • 🌎Epic Fleece (daring, world-spanning mission with life or death stakes)
    • 💎Caper Fleece (team plans caper and gains larger prize)
    • 🚲Solo Fleece (hero must learn their lesson alone)
  • 🧞‍♂️ Out Of The Bottle: a wish, a spell, a lesson; often rejection of magic, a confidant and a big event
    • 🏺Body Switch Bottle (the protagonist’s body changes)
    • 🧚🏼‍♀️Angel Bottle (magical being bestows wish on the deserving)
    • 🔮Thing Bottle (the protagonist finds a magical object or item)
    • 🧿Curse Bottle (unsympathetic hero learns lesson from apparent curse)
    • 🍄Surreal Bottle (bizarre, dreamlike magic)
  • 🚨 Dude With A Problem: needs an innocent hero, a sudden event, a test of survival; eye of the storm
    • ♟Spy Problem (shadowy entities attack as hero is forced to find a secret)
    • ⚖️Law Enforcement Problem (hero goes it alone to deliver justice)
    • 🥀Domestic Problem (someone in hero’s life threatens them)
    • ☄️Epic Problem (disaster threatens the world)
    • 🌪Nature Problem (nature/illness threatens the hero)
  • 🎭 Rites of Passage: needs a life problem, a wrong way to fix it, and acceptance
    • 🏎Mid-Life Passage (life feels stagnant and unfulfilling)
    • 💔Separation Passage (the hero is newly single)
    • ⚰️Death Passage (death or impending death upends the protagonist’s life)
    • 🥃Addiction Passage (addiction upends life)
    • 🎧Adolescent Passage (young person feels misunderstood & unloved)
  • 🍒 Buddy Love: needs incomplete hero, counterpart, complication; often heroic efforts & false counterpart
    • 🐕Pet Love (bond with an animal)
    • 🛠Professional Love (two professionals learn to work together)
    • 💍Rom-Com Love (two lovers overcome difficulties to be together)
    • 🌋Epic Love (the complication is much bigger than the lovers)
    • 🎻Forbidden Love (a taboo love seems like it can never be)
  • 🔎 Whydunit: needs a detective, a shocking secret and a dark turn; often a case within a case
    • 🏛Political Whydunit (a political mystery)
    • 👑Fantasy Whydunit (a mystery in an unreal world)
    • 🚔Cop Whydunit (the detective is a member of law enforcement)
    • 🥾Personal Whydunit (the detective is a private citizen)
    • 🚬Noir Whydunit (dark, morally ambiguous world)
  • 🃏 Fool Triumphant: needs a fool, an establishment and a transmutation; often an insider
    • 👔Political Fool (fool challenges the halls of power)
    • 🕶Undercover Fool (fool disguises self)
    • 🎩Society Fool (fool challenges mainstream society’s assumptions)
    • 🐟Fool Out Of Water (fool enters new, unusual environment)
    • 🍆Sex Fool (fool navigates sex and romance)
  • 🎪 Institutionalized: needs a group, a choice and a sacrifice; often a Brando, a Naif and a Company Man
    • 🔫Military Institution (military)
    • 🏰Family Institution (family or social group)
    • 🏢Business Institution (business)
    • 🎓Mentor Institution (teacher figure represents the institution)
    • 📡Issue Institution (institution is society issue)
  • 🎖 Superhero: needs a power, a nemesis and a curse; often a mascot, a new name, and a showdown
    • 🕯Real Life Superhero (regular person with a talent/mission)
    • 🦄Storybook Superhero (superhero for children in a magical world)
    • 🐉Fantasy Superhero (superhero in a fantasy world)
    • ⚔️People’s Superhero (a regular person who fights for the masses)
    • ⚡️Comic Book Superhero (hero with special powers in a mundane world)

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