How to Use the Five-Point Finale

drafting plotting save the cat
Save the Cat Five Point Finale

“Wow, I can’t stop thinking about that story! It was so good!” Every writer dreams of hearing this response from their readers. You worked hard on drawing the reader in and keeping them turning pages until the end, but the end — your finale — will be the deciding factor on whether readers are singing your praises or you’re left hearing crickets. 

But don’t worry, because this is where the Five-Point Finale comes in! 

What is the Five-Point Finale?

The Five-Point Finale is an integral part of the Save the Cat! beat sheet— a story structure tool adapted for novelists by author and Writing Mastery Academy founder Jessica Brody in her bestselling book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel.

Story is all about action and reaction. In Save the Cat! terms, for every Catalyst, there is a Debate. The Five-Point Finale helps you break down the final 20% of your story into the actions and reactions that add up to a satisfying and engaging ending for your readers. This is when your hero finally figures out what they have to do, makes a plan, and executes that plan… with a surprising twist or two along the way. 

If you’re ready to write a strong, memorable finale that is sure to captivate your audience, then the Five-Point Finale is the blueprint you’ll need. Just a note of caution, the examples in this blog post will contain spoilers for Amari and The Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Point 1: Gathering the Team

This first point is all about preparation. Now that your hero knows what they need to do, it's time for them to create a plan, gather their team and/or tools, and get ready to storm the castle. This can be literally or figuratively. Your hero might have burned a few bridges before getting to this point, so as they prepare for their final showdown, this may be a good time for them to mend those bridges. This will be another step towards the completion of your hero’s arc

In Amari and The Night Brothers, Amari discovers that a dangerous magician named Moreau, who was thought to have been captured by the Bureau of Supernatural Investigations, was never captured. She knows he’s somewhere in the world looking to get the Black Book and the Black Key for himself, which would put the entire supernatural world at risk. The Bureau is placed on lockdown upon this discovery. 

Here’s where we see the preparations begin. Amari gathers her team (her best friends Dylan and Elsie), and some supplies (a bag of gadgets Elsie has been working on), and creates a plan to escape the lockdown and go after Moreau. 

Point 2: Executing the Plan

Time to storm the castle! Now that your hero’s got a plan, they've gathered their team and the supplies they’ll need. It's time to execute the plan. You’ll want to create a sense of impossibility here. The plan may seem like a complete Hail Mary, but as your characters work together and progress through the story, there will be a growing sense of accomplishment. Maybe a skill they learned earlier or a device they’re in possession of will finally pay off. Your characters may even think, “This was easier than I thought,” but of course, we know things are never that easy.                

This is also the point where some of your secondary characters may sacrifice themselves for the cause. Though this doesn’t always mean they have to be killed off. They could just be moved aside to allow the hero to step up and shine. 

Amari and her friends execute the first part of their plan by escaping from the Bureau, but other agents almost catch them. Elsie sacrifices herself by staying behind to fight the agents while Amari and Dylan continue on with their plan.   

Point 3: The High Tower Surprise

Just when your hero thinks everything is going well and their plan works flawlessly, things go off the rails.


Your hero faces yet another roadblock or conflict, forcing them to rethink their plan. This moment shows how overconfident or naïve your hero and their team have become. The High Tower Surprise is another twist (or Catalyst) in your story. It’s an obstacle that forces your hero to reevaluate things and change or try something new. 

Once Amari and Dylan are outside of the Bureau, they track down Moreau. But in true High Tower Surprise fashion, Amari discovers that one of her best friends, Dylan, has been working with Moreau all along—and has led her into a trap.

Point 4: Dig Deep Down

The hero’s plan has failed, and all hope seems lost. Now is the moment of truth. Your hero has to dig deep inside themself to find another solution. 

If The High Tower Surprise is another Catalyst, then the Dig Deep Down moment is the Debate. It’s the moment your character searches deep within and realizes the answer they need has been right there. It’s the theme of the story. The flaw they’ve overcome or proof that they’ve changed. However, it is always something they would never have done at the start of the book. 

This moment can also be called the touched by the touched by divine moment. This doesn’t mean your story has to be spiritual or religious to include this moment, but it should speak to your readers on a deeper level. Stories have a way of connecting us. Use this moment to connect to your readers and show them the heart of your story.  

After a few more surprising twists, including Dylan betraying his mentor, Moreau, and trying to convince Amari to join his side, Amari has to dig deep down and learn to truly believe in herself and her powers to defeat Dylan. She has to learn to silence all those other voices of people telling her she’ll never be good enough and realize that she is unstoppable.  


Point 5: Execution of the New Plan

Your hero has finally realized what they need to succeed and has a new plan to overcome that High Tower Surprise. This is when your hero will put their new plan into action, and, of course, they will finally succeed! All their hard work, their trials and pain, and their character transformation have led to this very moment when it all pays off, and they’re victorious.  

Or… maybe they’re not victorious. Maybe, in the end, they still fail. But, there’s still a purpose to their failure. We learn more from our failures than our successes, so even if your story ends in failure, there will always be a lesson for your hero to learn. It could be something about the world they’re in or the theme of the story, or something your hero learns about themself. Either way, if they fail, it shouldn’t be just to shock your readers but to explore a deeper meaning. 

Once Amari learns to believe in herself and lets go of the lie that she isn’t good enough, she’s able to use her powers to defeat Dylan. Even without knowing the exact spell she needs, because she believes in herself, her magic can cast the spell she needs to win.  

You're ready to write your finale!

As you approach the end of your story and are thinking of ways you can excite your readers and give them a satisfying ending, remember this blueprint. Gather the team, execute the plan, throw in a High Tower Surprise, have your hero dig deep down, and execute the new plan. If you use these tips, you’ll create a brilliant ending that will captivate your audience long after they turn the final page.

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