Plot Busters – TANGLED breakdown in 15 sentences!

Scroll down for the link to Plot Busters – Tangled (part 2)

I usually only do one Plot Busters breakdown a month but Stina and I decided to team up and post together about the movie, TANGLED. I used Blake Snyder’s beat sheet from Save the Cat. And she used Emotional Structure: Creating The Story Beneath the Plot. A Writer’s Screen Guide by Peter Dunne. Check her post out too!

This time I’m going to describe each beat with only sentence. And then I have a challenge for you at the end. Okay? Let’s get started.

1. Opening Image:

Through narration we learn about the magical flower, Mother Gothal (the witch) and how Rapunzel got her wicked cool magical hair.

2. Theme stated:

(Okay, I watched the movie and took notes with six kids in the room, 3 of whom I was babysitting. I forgot to watch out for the stated theme. And the movie left with the kids, so I couldn’t rewatch it. Sorry.) But I’d say one of the themes is courage to follow your dreams.

3. Set-up

Rapunzel wants to leave the tower and see the floating lights but Mother Gothal says no; and as the viewer we know all the big stakes and implications of her goal, even if she doesn’t yet.

4. Catalyst

Flinn, who stole the royal crown, runs away and climbs Rapunzel’s tower to hide.

5. Debate

Rapunzel must decide whether to trust Flinn and leave the tower. (Awesome debate scenes.)

6. Break into Two (Act II that is)

Rapunzel leaves the tower, and through song, experiences the outside world for the first time. (Sounds cheesy, but I loved it.)

7. B Story (love story or subplot)

After leaving the tower, Flinn and Rapunzel learn to trust each other.

8. Fun and Games

Rapunzel and Flinn stop at a bar filled with ruffians and Rapunzel wins them over with her sweet ways; and using her hair, she saves her and Flinn from soldiers.

9. Midpoint

With soldiers chasing them, Rapunzel and Flinn run through tunnels and escape a flooding dam only to be trapped in a cave where Rapunzel reveals the magical qualities of her hair to save them.

10. Bad guys close in

Mother Gothal tries to convince Rapunzel that Flinn doesn’t like her and challenges her to give Flinn the stolen crown as a test whether he’ll stick around or not.

11. All is lost

Mother Gothal “rescues” Rapunzel from Flinn’s old thieving buddies and reveals Flinn sailing off without her and with the stolen crown.

12. Dark night of the soul

Back in the tower, Rapunzel remembers her parents and that she is a princess so she decides to confront Mother Gothal. (This was the weakest part of the movie for me. Babies can’t remember their parents! Not believable.)

13. Break into Three (as in Act III)

In her ultimate act of courage, Rapunzel confronts Mother Gothal with the truth.

14. Finale (climax)

When Flinn climbs the tower to save Rapunzel, both of them choose the road of self sacrifice to defeat Mother Gothal. (To really describe what happened in the climax would either require three sentences or a bunch of semi-colons.)

15. Final Image

Through narration, we see Rapunzel reaching her dream, reunited with her parents and together with Flinn.

Phew. It’s hard at times to sum up entire scenes with one sentence. But it helps with focus and figuring out what your scenes are really about. And you’ve got to check out a more thorough version of TANGLED at Blake Snyder’s website! I didn’t notice it until I went to link to his site. And I didn’t change any of my answers, and some of them are different too! Check it out.

So, here’s my challenge: Spend an hour and fill out this 15-point beat sheet with your own current wip or a story you are plotting. One sentence per beat! If you combine the 15 sentences you’d have the most concise synopsis ever!  With room to add details.

Read Part 2 – Three tips from TANGLED

What part of structure do you struggle with the most?

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39 Responses to Plot Busters – TANGLED breakdown in 15 sentences!

  1. Andrea June 13, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Thanks for the analysis, Laura. Off to check out the emotional side now…

  2. christine danek June 13, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    I loved this movie. I totally agree on the her remembering her parents as a baby. Sort of unbelieveable. I think maybe she was just putting it all together.
    I will check out the links and will try this with my WiP. Thanks.

  3. Katie Ganshert June 13, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Love that movie! Great breakdown Laura.

  4. Jennifer Carson June 13, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Fantastic, Laura. Will use with my YA wip!

  5. Stina Lindenblatt June 13, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    I’m impressed you could do all of these beats in one sentence. I’ve done that for my wip (although some of them will have to be changed now).

    We definitely agreed on all the points, even if the approach between the two books is different.

  6. Sheri Larsen June 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Definitely weaving in my character’s emotion arc. I tend to write my characters rather emotionally complicated. I didn’t know that about myself until I wrote my second manuscript and now my third–which beta’s have told me is very emotionally complex but understandable. That’s actually what makes them want to keep reading.

    I have Blake’s book but haven’t finished it yet. This format is in there??? I have to look. It’s great!!

    • Laura June 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      Sheri – Emotionally complex characters are good! That means depth. Good luck with it.

      I love comparing my wips to this breakdown b/c this breakdown covers emotional aspects too! And if we can state it one sentence we know our focus! Thanks everyone!

  7. Jennifer Hoffine June 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Great stuff! Need to look into Save The Cat. I enjoyed Tangled, but also found her realization about her parents a little weak…sometimes being a writer can mess with enjoying a perfectly good movie 😉

  8. Talli Roland June 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    What a great breakdown!

    I always struggle with the first part of act 2 and keeping the narrative moving forward.

    • Laura June 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

      Jennifer – I still fully enjoyed the movie but a book could never get away with a baby remembering her life’s biggest secret! Kinda funny when you think about it.

      Talli – I struggle too unless I have planned it out and have a purpose for the middle. 🙂

  9. Lydia K June 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Another great one! I have been going through all your plotbusters lately to help with my new outline. I agree with the big reveal #12. I was like, “huh?” That’s not possible.

  10. Susan Sipal June 13, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Laura, this is fabulous. I’ve not seen this movie, though I have been wanting to, but I love your clear concise way of plotting this out. And yes, I’m going to try it this afternoon with my WIP.

    Absolutely LOVE the idea of putting these 15 sentences together for a synopsis!

  11. Patti June 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    You summed the movie up perfectly. I’m definitely trying this with my book that’s done and my two other WIPS.

    I probably struggle with the midpoint the most.

  12. Stacy June 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    I need to really compare my WIP to this. I know ACTs 1 and 3 are strong, but I’m worried about the middle getting muddled. That’s where I’m going to focus most of my content editing.

    I’ve also read Larry Brooks Story Engineering where he touts a 4 part structure. Does it really matter which we follow as long as the elements are there?

  13. Lisa Green June 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    First off – LOVED that movie!! Second, I now love the Beat Sheet. Awesome breakdown. 😀

  14. Bluestocking June 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    What a fun and educational exercise! I haven’t seen the movie but obviously the analysis can be applied to other ones.

    And thank you for the recent follow and comment on my blog. I’ve been traveling and not as attentive as I should be to the blogosphere — but it is appreciated!

    • Laura June 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

      In answer to Stacy’s question. There are many structural break downs out there. But they all pretty much say the same just from a different angle and sometimes different terms. Save the Cat works for me. Find the one that works for you. Or plug your story into more than one. They all offer something.

  15. write-brained June 13, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Spot on–this fit perfectly (NICE JOB)! I took out my book and went along with you! That book has definitely been eye-opening for me!

  16. Theresa Milstein June 13, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I like how you broke down Tangled. I think I’m doing okay with the items on this list. Right now, I’m rounding out a character and dealing with believability with another character, and adding some atmosphere near the end of the book.

  17. Anne-Mhairi Simpson June 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    I so want to see this film, and now even more so! Thanks for the breakdown. Definitely running my last and current WIPs through this 😀

  18. Kristen Wixted June 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    I’m going to try your questions on my WIP, I think it’s great.
    Wouldn’t you say maybe the midpoint is also when she sees the floating lights?
    Besides the fact that I cry every time I see that scene (I think it is so beautiful), I think it’s the midpoint, because she has achieved what she wanted in the beginning. I mean, along with the flood scene.
    Or am I missing something?

    • Laura June 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

      Kristen – The midpoint is usually the middle of the book. I’d say when she sees the floating lights is her meeting one of her goal so probably closer to the end. From what I remember it’s after that that she hits her dark moment when Mother Gothal convinces her that Flinn left her with the crown. There is usually only one midpoint. 🙂

  19. Meagan Spooner June 13, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Siigh… I liked this movie so much. Although I was a bit disappointed by the character of Mother Gothel. She had the potential to be so fascinating, and at times she really was–conflicted and complex. But in the end she just was totally evil, which made me sad. Give us our complex villains, plz!

    Great breakdown. And boy, is it ever helpful to do this with my own books. Brings a kind of clarity to the revision process that nothing else does!

  20. Karen Lange June 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    Love your breakdowns; they are insightful and inspiring. And they make me think. 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us!

  21. Laura Marcella June 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    Awesome awesome! I’m going to do this right now. Love Tangled, btw!!!

  22. Janet Johnson June 14, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Okay, you convinced me to read this book. 🙂 Just for the simply synopsis, it’d be worth it!

    And great breakdown. 🙂

  23. Jemi Fraser June 14, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    That’s great!!! I struggle most with planning – I’m a pantster, although I do tend to know the ending scene before I start. So I don’t always have the plot steps done properly. But I’m working on it!

    • Laura June 14, 2011 at 1:14 am #

      As a pantser you can always look at this after the first draft though, right?

  24. Carolina Valdez Miller June 14, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    I love this movie! How fun to see it broken down into its parts.

  25. Laurel June 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    This 15-beat structure looks like just the thing to help me out of my muddled middle and happily drafting again! Awesome! Thanks, Laura!

  26. Angela Ackerman June 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Awesome job here Laura. Your challenge is one of the first things I did after reading STC, and it revealed a few places where I needed to maybe refocus a little, so it was a great exercise. It really helped me get in tune with my story’s structural bones, so i recommend everyone give it a try (and read STC!)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  27. Tana Adams June 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    This is one of my more recent Disney favs. Great job breaking it down! I was sad to learn that Disney was not going to be making princess movies for good long while after this because the audience of young girls had matured so much. Sad, right?

  28. Margo Berendsen June 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Great analysis! I love one sentence challenges like Twitter pitches and so forth, so I took you up on your challenge and wrote out a sentence for each of the 15 points of my WiP. Very cool!!!

    I did run into two problems though, I couldn’t write a sentence for Fun and Games (good thing I have a copy Save the Cat now, I can find out more about this point) and it doesn’t make sense to me that the Dark Night of the Soul happens BEFORE the break into Act III? I thought the Dark Night of the Soul is what happens right before the climax? – you can bet that tonight I’ll be skipping ahead from Chapter 3 in Save the Cat to the Darkest Night/Climax part to figure this out!

  29. Pam Torres June 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Save The Cat pulled me out of several muddled middle issues! I have been using the beat sheet on movies that I watch periodically for practice. I really agree that boiling down each beat to one or two sentences is the only way to make sure your beats are actually there. Another meaty post. Thanks, Laura!

  30. susan June 15, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    Lincoln asks to watch Tangled every day. I think his favorite character is the horse. As far as plot, theme, writing, and structure…I will ask him his thoughts in about 15 years 🙂

  31. Lynda R Young June 15, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    I only recently saw this movie and I loved it. You did a great breakdown. I should take up your challenge for my own WIP.

  32. Ghenet June 16, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    My plan after I finish my first draft (almost done!) is to read a few books on craft and Save the Cat is on my list! I’d love to do this for my book. Also, I still need to see this movie! 🙂

  33. Susan Fields June 17, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I just came over from Stina’s blog. I love the analysis you two have done of Tangled! I’m off to check out Blake Snyder’s website.


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