tagHow ToSave the Cat!? No, Burn the Bitch!

Save the Cat!? No, Burn the Bitch!

byswingerjoe©

In 2005, a writer named Blake Snyder wrote a book titled, Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need. It was a guide for aspiring screenwriters, which outlined the elements necessary for creating a profitable screenplay. It included a template that writers could follow step-by-step (or "beat" by "beat") and create their own blockbuster-worthy scripts.

This book was wildly successful and remains incredibly influential to this day. (Sadly, Snyder was not around to experience most of his book's success, as he died of a heart attack in 2009.) Almost every blockbuster movie that is produced by Hollywood today follows this template -- which is one reason why today's movies all feel alike. A similar template is followed by the screenwriters of television dramas, which explains why every episode of "CSI", "NCIS", "Criminal Minds", etc. has the same pace and similar plot elements. Writing to a template has become the Hollywood equivalent of mass-production.

A while back, I attempted to write a story that followed the Save the Cat! template. That story, The Third Revolution, remains my highest-rated story to date. Although it was fun to write to a template, I found that this exercise restricted my creativity. If I were writing for profit, I would make that sacrifice and "sell my soul" for the almighty dollar, given that story's ratings success. Since I write for free, however, I probably won't be revisiting Snyder's template again.

It's plainly evident to anyone who has ever spent time reading stories in the Loving Wives hub that the most highly-regarded and highly-rated stories in that category share a common theme. Quite simply, the stories where a cheating wife receives her comeuppance are, by far, the most popular stories on this site's most popular hub. These stories are affectionately dubbed "Burn the Bitch" (or BTB) by their rabid and loyal fan base.

Let's say that you are an aspiring amateur writer with a thirst for praise from anonymous critics. You can construct a sentence well enough, you can spell better than your average middle schooler, and you know the difference between "there", "their", and "they're." You are not, however, particularly creative; therefore the idea of creating a unique work of fiction for this site is daunting. Worry not, my friend. A lack of creativity is not a barrier to enjoying a long and illustrious career as a Loving Wives author. All you need to do is follow my template.

Step One: Establishing the Evil Bitch Wife

Every successful Loving Wives story needs a villain. After all, you can't "burn the bitch" without a bitch. Although that second "B" in "BTB" could theoretically stand for "bastard", almost always the villain will be the wife. Why? Because most readers of this site are men. It really is as simple as that.

The wife in your story must be primarily -- almost entirely -- motivated by the pleasurable sensation between her legs. Any love she feels for her husband or children takes a back seat to that primal urge. She simply must be sexually satisfied at all times -- family, husband, commitments, and responsibilities be damned.

She must show disdain, and even contempt, for her husband. She must display an aloof "take it or leave it" attitude toward her marriage. Although it's not always necessary, she must belittle and emasculate the husband at every opportunity. It is not necessary, however, to give the wife too much dialog. She should be hated; not heard. The less she speaks, the more the readers can hate her. The last thing you want to do is create a multi-dimensional wife with real human emotions. Save that for the Romance section!

The wife in your story must behave more like your spoiled teenage daughter than your partner. She must be rebellious and defiant when she doesn't get her way. She must be demanding and self-serving. She must act foolishly and carelessly as an irresponsible teen would behave. The more despicable qualities you heap upon the wife's character, the more your readers will appreciate it. They will raise their pitchforks to the sky and demand blood.

Step Two: Establishing the Hero

Obviously, the hero in every BTB story is the jilted husband. Therefore, you need to build a character with whom your readers can easily identify -- not as the type of man they are, necessarily, but the type they wish to be. Your heroic husband should be clever, witty, hard-working, righteous, supremely moral, and -- most of all -- stoic. He needs to be entirely void of emotion throughout the story. Shedding a single tear at any point would indicate to the readers that he is less of a man than he should be. Although some outward displays of anger are tolerated, it's best that you portray him as aloof and unemotional at all times.

You will get bonus points if your hero is or was a member of the military. If you choose to go that route, it will help you to include some sort of specialized training in his background, as that can come in handy later in the story.

Step Three: The Discovery

Every good BTB tale includes some detail (oftentimes vivid detail) of the discovery of the wife's infidelity. Usually, the wife's betrayal is discovered simply because she's so incredibly stupid. Maybe she has her affair in plain sight and is caught by either hubby or a friend. Or maybe she decides to screw her latest Romeo in her marital bed with the door wide open in the middle of the daytime. Or perhaps she leaves her cellphone lying around the house, filled with incriminating texts.

Thankfully for you, you don't need to be very creative with the discovery, as BTB fans don't expect much creativity -- especially during this part of the story. You can even skip over this part, casually mention that hubby strongly suspects his wife of cheating, and proceed straight to the next step.

Step Four: Gathering the Evidence

Once wifey is discovered screaming out some guy's name with her legs spread wide, the next step in the BTB template is for Hero Hubby to gather all the evidence he can for the big divorce/revenge crescendo. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, this means that you will need to use the ubiquitous high-tech trope. This is where hubby's past training as a Navy SEAL or Green Beret can come in handy. Even if your heroic hubby isn't a former CIA agent, you can always add a "friend" of hubby's who just happens to be one, and happens to have the connections and/or access to some high-tech equipment.

With the proliferation and easy availability of advanced technology today, even an average civilian can get his hands on small recording devices, video cameras, GPS trackers, and other useful spying gadgets. When you describe this part of the story, you may want to include some lurid details of the sex scene being captured, as BTB readers do enjoy a good sex scene as long as it's followed by some tasty revenge. Oddly enough, although they despise what they call "cucks" who enjoy watching their wives have sex with other men, BTB fans are very tolerant of these descriptive passages of wives and their lovers.

Step Five: Lockdown

The next step in the BTB template is to describe the actions of the Heroic Hubby as he goes about the mundane business of hiring a lawyer, writing up the divorce papers, closing his bank accounts, wiring money into offshore accounts, and doing everything in his power to keep as much of his stuff from his soon-to-be ex-wife.

The purpose of this part of the story isn't to bore your readers to tears (although that will happen), but to showcase how smart and well-prepared your hero is. Again, your goal here isn't to create a realistic and flawed character with whom your readers can easily identify, but to create a flawless character that they wish they could be -- or, in many cases, who they wish they could have been when they went through their own divorce(s).

Imagine sitting at a bar next to some poor bastard who is griping about his divorce, and telling you all the things he wishes he would have done differently. Then, make your heroic husband do exactly that.

Step Six: The Great Reveal

For most BTB readers, this is their favorite part of the story. It is when Heroic Hubby finally confronts his evil shrew of a wife and reveals that he knows all about her affair, and has all the evidence he needs to leave her poor, lonely, and miserable for the rest of her life. It is especially important that you portray your hubby character as being absolutely stoic -- or even apathetic -- during this part of the story.

Yes, this should be a highly-emotional moment, as a lengthy marriage is coming to an end, but you MUST ensure that your husband doesn't choke up or even express anger during this part of the story. The reason is that you must create a stark contrast to the wife -- whose personality suddenly and inexplicably takes a major, 180-degree turn in the next step.

Step Seven: Begging for Forgiveness

Once wifey discovers that she is destined to become a penniless, humiliated, lonely hag for the rest of her life, she immediately morphs into a pathetic, whimpering, puddle of tears. She clings to her husband's leg and begs him to forgive her. If you want to score bonus points, include some of the classic lines like, "It didn't mean anything to me," or "I didn't mean to do it," or "I made a mistake." You get the idea. Again, channel that inner teenage girl and imagine what she might say if she were caught coming home after curfew with cum stains on her blouse.

Why would a wife who cared so little about her marriage at the beginning of your story suddenly care so much? It's best not to ask such questions. Remember, your goal isn't to portray a realistic divorce situation; it is to portray a situation as a divorced man wishes it would have been.

Step Eight: Beating the Pillow

You may think your story is over at this point. Wifey is a slobbering mess, after all, and hubby emerges the heroic, yet stoic (always stoic) victor. But there is still more to do if you truly want to earn that coveted "attaboy" from the BTB crowd.

You're probably familiar with those scenes from the psychologist's office on TV or in movies where the psychologist hands his patient a pillow and asks him to imagine the pillow is the person who is causing his mental anguish. At first, the patient feels silly berating and beating a pillow, but eventually he lets loose a cathartic tantrum, leaving the pillow a tattered mess. That is your goal for this part of the story. You've constructed your pillow. Now beat it.

Here is where you can employ a bit of creativity, as there can be many ways of beating the pillow. If you've introduced children into your story, you can have the children turn on their mother, pouring salt into her wounds as only children can.

You can also choose to inject a little public humiliation into this part of the story. Maybe Wifey's friends and/or family and/or co-workers are shown the incriminating evidence, for example. In many stories, the wife will lose her job over the discovery of her affair by her employers. (Again, don't worry yourself by questioning the likelihood of such a thing happening in real life.) In other stories, the wife's family is sent a copy of a video (or, in one story I read, actually witnessed the event live), and the entire family abandons her on the spot.

Step Nine: Fight Club

To this point, you've done an excellent job of redeeming the Heroic Husband and completely humiliating and destroying the Evil Bitch Wife, but there is one more crucial checkbox that remains empty. No BTB story worth its weight lets the wife's lover off the hook without a good beating (or worse.) After all, what kind of man lets some other man screw his wife without "loverboy" ending up seriously injured, financially destroyed, or dead? Any man who would allow the other guy to get away with it is instantly branded a "willing cuck" by the BTB crowd. Trust me -- you don't want that.

This is another part of your story where a background in the military (or perhaps as a professional fighter) would (and often does) come in handy. Don't even allow yourself to consider the possibility that the wife's lover may be bigger than the husband, or a better fighter, or that he served in the Special Forces himself. The lover can be a better lover than Heroic Hubby, but under no circumstances should he be bigger or stronger. That's a no-no.

Here, you may want to repeat Steps One and Eight, but substituting the wife with her lover. At some point in the story, you'll need to establish the character of the lover. That's an easy one. The guy should be at least as evil and amoral as the wife. He should be smarmy and conceited. When introduced to the husband, he should be condescending and provoking. Basically, think of every "bad guy" from every 80's movie you've ever seen and double the smarminess. Then, after you've constructed that pillow, beat it until the pain goes away.

Step Ten: The Happy Ending

"What can possibly be left?" you may be asking yourself. After all, we've established the Evil Bitch Wife, discovered her cheating, gathered the evidence, prepared for the divorce, confronted the wife, beat her to a tear-stained pulp, exacted our delicious revenge, and beat up the bad guy for good measure. What's left? The epilogue, of course!

Every good BTB tale needs an epilogue in order to give the readers closure and assure them that Heroic Husband lived happily ever after, and the now ex-wifey (if she survived) is living a desperate and lonely existence.

This is another easy part to write. Simply have Heroic Hubby end up with whatever other female character you included in your story. If the wife had a sister, that works. If the lawyer was a woman, bingo. The marriage counselor? Why not! Another classic trope is that Heroic Hubby ends up with loverboy's wife. Whatever you decide, whoever hubby ends up with must be much, much hotter than his ex-wife, must be sexually insatiable, and must be more faithful than Mother Theresa.

In real life, the ex-wife would simply move on with her life and find some way to live a happy life without her stoic husband. Don't you dare think of giving your BTB audience a realistic ending! The ex-wife in your story must end up miserable for life. She must never find happiness with another man, she must remain alienated from her friends and family, and she must continue to regret her actions and long for the invention of a time machine so that she can take it all back. If you want to add some STD's and/or drug or alcohol addiction, you'll score extra points. A suicide might get you into the Loving Wives Hall of Fame!

***

There you have it, aspiring writers. I've practically written your story for you! All you have to do is add some names, and that coveted "red H" awaits you! The beauty about this template is that you can use it over and over and over again, and your readers will adore you for it. Simply change the names, and you're good to go!

Since I discovered Blake Snyder's template, it has changed the way I watch blockbuster movies. I now look for the telltale pattern set by Snyder -- and more often than not, I find it. I believe the same can be true of Loving Wives readers and the template I've created above. It's there if they're willing to look for it.

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by Anonymous

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by danoctober11/02/17

Very interesting

Very informative. 5 STARS!

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by sandymonroe08/25/17

Funny, good writing!

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by danoctober03/27/17

Thanks for sharing.

Great DIY guide for beginners.

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by rnebular01/04/17

Hilarious

Joe, I took this at very face value for the humorous piece that it is. While I am sure anyone could actually use this formula and get a decent rating, I usually tend to pass over or skim these very repetitivemore...

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by luedon12/13/16

It was careless use of a word, Joe

I agree with SB regarding the application of 'pandering' to his contributions here. And I can understand his taking offense at it.

But it was only one word in a long comment about 'consequences'. Themore...

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