I’ve talked a few times about Blake Snyder’s book and screenwriting method ‘Save The Cat.’ Snyder’s approach takes the three act structure that Syd Field formalized, and evolves it into a 15 beat structure, with strict adherence to certain beats hitting on certain pages.
Snyder had a lot of solid ideas and unlike a lot of screenwriting “gurus” out there, he actually had a few credit to his name. However, one of the things that I didn’t like about Snyder was how restrictive his method was. But, to his defense, he did push that his method was for a specific type of screenplay, and in his opinion venturing outside of his template moved you solidly from “studio” to “indie” film.
Sndyer has since passed way, but while he was alive he was very active with the community that evolved around his book and methods. His old website still flourishes and his message boards are still active.
Over at JohnAugust.com, John’s assitance Stuart, has read and written a review of ‘Save The Cat!’ and I thought it was worth sharing:
The first book goes on to offer methods for constructing your own stories quickly and efficiently once you’ve accepted these basics. Snyder lays out plans for an easy and well-organized 40-beat note card board (ten each for acts 1, 2a, 2b, and 3), ways to organize said beats so they work together emotionally and build towards a whole, and ways to break down the beats into manageable chunks.
Snyder makes the whole task of writing a screenplay seem downright doable.
That was one of the things that I really enjoyed about ‘Save The Cat!’ It offers a very approachable way for someone to learn what a screenplay is, and a template for how to write one. Is it a good method? I’ll leave others to argue those merits. But it removes the fear and encourages you to start, offering a firm guiding hand and reassurance.
Because, let’s face it, nearly all of us won’t ever do this for anything more than fun. Even if we’re rock solid as a writer, there are so many variables involved with becoming a pro, that you need to LOVE writing first. If a book helps you write your own script, I see no ills with that. But the next step is up to you, no book is going to help you write the second one.
You should check out Stuart’s review. It’s a short read, and it offers some good summary and opinion.