Plot Grid vs Save The Cat for novel structure guidelines

Novice storyteller here looking for feedback on these two different methods for planning and organizing a draft. I am pantsing my way through this year’s NaNo with a limited understanding of how to use a structuring template or guide to help me tell a more cohesive story. However, I am hoping for enough raw material after NaNo to use a structuring method to write a better second draft.

I have looked at both Save The Cat for Novel Writers and Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid.

Would one of these books give me a better working understanding of how to to use the plotting tools in Dabble for a second draft/re-write after the completion of this year’s NaNo?

Opinions? Suggestions?



I’ve read a lot of books on story structure and plotting, and my favorite has been Save the Cat! Writes a Novel.

Others I enjoyed:

  • Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
  • Structuring Your Novel by K. M. Weiland
  • Story Trumps Structure by Steven James

You’ll find after reading a good number of these, that while their terminology is different, and the approach to teaching it varies, most of the principles in each are found in the others and support each other. I found Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (not the screenwriting one which I also read) to explain it best, both the What and the Why. But it may have just taken a long time for things to click. :slight_smile:

Dabble’s plot grid is generic so you can fit any of the methodologies in it. You can use plot lines for subplots, but you can also use them to add additional information to scenes, such as a structure label such as “Inciting Incident”, “Break into 3”, “Point of No Return”, or whatever you want.

I will be adding additional plotting tools in the future to help structure better.


Thank you! I have some K.M. Weiland’s stuff as well.

1 Like

This (technically the free, not as in depth guide on her website) is what I used to structure my novel for this NaNo.

Now, I’m a solid Planster, so this may not work for you. Weiland suggests going through and outlining each of your scenes in detail after organising your three act structure. I organised the three act but didn’t outline every scene; that bogs me down and while I can write it, I end up with a novel that sounds like an alien on a recording trying to English.

I haven’t read Save the Cat but I have used the basic principles in one of my novels, which worked very well in that circumstance.

For my plot lines, like Jacob has suggested above I have an additional plot line that states which scene is the inciting incident, pinch point #1, etc. We have a great post on how to use the plot function here if that helps! :smiley:


I have two “dummy novels” which I use as reference (and later on, maybe, we’ll be able to copy projects and I’ll use them as templates :wink: ).

This one is according to Weiland’s work in the manuscript overview:

I made the chapters and scenes first and created the plot grid afterwards, so that it had all the respective cards in it.


That’s amazing Chris! I love it. I jsut dotted down some notes in my BuJo, yours puts mine to shame! :smiley:


You are too kind, @Tori :slight_smile: as always.


I love it @Chris! I wish there was a quick way to share templates.


This is one Dabble definitely plans to do. It isn’t scheduled yet though.


This is great! You have inspired me to try and create a dummy novel template after NaNoWrio wraps up!


It think it is important to find your writing style and your own workflow. Dabble allows many different approaches, ‘playing around’ with the app is just as important as the writing itself. Make it your own and it’ll help you progress even more.

( … this was my main problem with Scrivener, too many functions, too many options, exporting alone was overwhelming. If you’re writing as a hobby then the most important thing is to keep having fun!)


I agree completely. In terms of Scrivener, I downloaded it for the 30 day trial (or however long it is, it’s been a while). I attempted to use it for a day and then went ‘It’s too hard’ and shut off my computer.

With Dabble on the other hand, it’s all been so intuitive! And there are so many different ways to use all the features. I’ve only in the last few months refined my plotting process to the point where I’m 100% happy with it.


I agree, Emma. I hate the idea of having to retype the dummy template every time I start a new project. Waiting with great anticipation for some type of copy and paste at least for Plot Grids and Story Notes


Perhaps what Dabble needs is an additional Create menu that says Create New Book From Existing Book, where Existing Book would be one of our own templates?


Good idea, Johannes. Or maybe a menu idea for “duplicate”? It could be under book, manuscript, chapter, scene, plot and notes.


The current thought is to make it part of a copy-paste operation, so you can copy-paste things around. Perhaps encoding data into an image of the project. I’d love one to be able to copy a project and paste it into a blog post to share with the world, then have people drag or copy-paste that image into Dabble to import it. Is that getting too fancy?


So if you have a scene, a chapter, a note, a plot grid, a range of characters or chapters, or an entire manuscript selected, you can do a copy and then paste it somewhere and the entire kit and kaboodle would make it across? What’s not to love?


Is there any way to copy a Plot Grid in one project and past it into another project or duplicate it?

I have a 3 Act Structure plot grid that includes all of the Save The Cat Points 55 Cards in all, 7 Plot Points Grid, & a Theme or Obligatory Scenes and Conventions Grid specific to the genre I’m working on - I got the idea from this blog post by Savannah Gilbo >

This would be so helpful to have as a template in each project instead of having to spend the time to redo it over and over again.

I thought I was a planner but now believe I am a discovery writer, (plan some/figure out some as I go).

With this I am able to keep somewhat organized to finish what I’ve started, it acts as a guide, helps when I’m stuck or need to rearrange scenes or chapters.

Here is a picture of what mine looks like:

Any suggestions on how to paste this entire thing into a new project?

Thanks! :blush:


Copying projects and duplicating even partial content that is not mere text, e.g. file structure, note structure, plot grid, is not available at the moment.

However, if you reach out to Dabble’s founder _at_Jacob through the app’s support chat, he can usually do that for you!

Duplicating stuff is on the roadmap!


Thank you, Chris, I did reach out and hopefully, this will be added soon.

1 Like