Posted by: steveonfilm | July 12, 2012

Can ‘Save The Cat’ Save You?

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.

Keep writing,
-Steve

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Responses

  1. “Because, let’s face it, nearly all of us won’t ever do this for anything more than fun. ”

    Yeah, that’s true. But when I read something like that (which seems to happen on a near weekly basis), I die a little each time.

    I have a friend who won the fucking Nicholl Fellowshp in the late 90s, and never got any action out of it. He told me last year, “Face it, Dan, at this point we’re hobbyists.”

    I was gutted.

    True? Probably. But still eviscerated.

  2. I just finished Save the Cat. I liked it. I would have loved it if I had before I started writing my first script. I’m glad I read Syd Fields before though. I think the book will definitely help on my biggest issue, especially in first drafts, which is pacing.

    • Yeah, I think Blake’s approach is a bit more accessible than Syd’s, but either way, it’s a good general introduction to screenwriting for people who don’t know anything about it.

  3. Btw Steve whats the latest project you’re working on? I sort of lost track of your blog I’m sad to say.

    • Working on a script called “The Antiheroes,” or at least that’s what it’s called for now.

      About half way through with the outline.


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