Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Save the Cat!

The month of NaNo brings us writing guides rather than novels for our weekly book review (I know how busy you all are, and I wouldn't want to tease you about all the books you're missing out on by writing all the time--like giving you chocolate but not letting you eat it). Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder has a subtitle of The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need.

Screenwriting? you ask. Ah ha! Let's stop focusing so much on the minuties of writing shall we? It is, after all, NaNoWriMo, in which you furiously scribble as much as you can without thought of writing details. Instead, let's think about plot, character arch. Maybe you get a week in, couple 10K and suddenly you have no idea where to go. Browsing a book solely on plot and character (told in a witty voice that will hold your attention) might help you must through.

Brownie Points: Snyder offers us tips on how to plot before you even write, how to think about each scene and arch (character and plot) to keep you on track. With charts and worksheets! Blake's Beat Sheet might be one of the most useful tools you'll ever need as a writer.

Beefs: It is a book about screenwriting. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I found it fascinating to learn about the movie business, how movies are thought up and planned out--parallels the book business in many aspects. Some readers may find it tedious and want to scream, But I'm a Writer! You watch movies, don't you? It's great practice for when you don't have time to read. Watch movies in your genre (the equivalent of) and deconstruct their plot and character arches.

Recommendation: I believe everyone should at least take a look at this book (what can it hurt?). But those who often find themselves hitting writer's block or are told that their plots are slow or their characters need work, should read it. Take notes. Study. Apply.

Have you read Save the Cat!? Would you recommend it to other writers? Or, to you, is it a waste of time for writers?

What are your favorite writing guides to refer to others and revisit yourselves?

Happy reading!


Elizabeth Briggs said...

I love this book and plot all my books with it. I've recommended it to a ton of other writers. I think it works great if you want a fast-paced, cinematic plot.

Sharon in Houston said...

Terrific, instructive book. Helpful to visualize your scenes like a screenwriter. Also, have used the Save the Cat concept in my novel to great effect. I recommend.

Leigh Caron said...

Haven't read Save the Cat, but have read others and use the visualizing scenes as a technique when writing my novels. Where do all the adjectives and adverbs wind up when edited out of screenplays.

Kristine Asselin said...

Tiptoes over to shelf and pulls SAVE THE CAT down...I need to crack this book open this week...


Keylocke said...

I have read almost every writing book in existence and have my favorites. This one ranks at the top. It might just be my visual mind but something about Snyder's Beat Sheet and deconstruction makes sense to me. I recommend it to anyone who will listen.

Plus you'll never watch a movie the same way again.

Lydia Sharp said...

This book is one of my essentials. I've had it for 2 years now, it's totally dog-eared and marked up, and I still find it useful.

Cat Carlisle said...

"The best piece of advice, that still sticks with me, is:"...? Is something missing there?

I saw Save the Cat on my dad's bookshelf a few months ago and borrowed it. Then I decided I wasn't going to give it back so I had to buy him a new copy! I used his Beat Sheet to outline my current novel.

Katy Upperman said...

I'm a fan of SAVE THE CAT. The only problem is, I can't watch a movie now without making a mental note of all the beats!

Martha Ramirez said...

Ahh so great to see you reviewed STC! I am a HUGE Save the Cat fan.

After Alyson Noel introduced me to Blake and STC, I vowed to never write another book without his beat sheet.

When I read it years ago, I ended up analyzing my mss and reconstructing them based on his beat sheet.

Def one of the most useful tools you'll ever need as a writer! And I can guarantee you that you'll never see a movie the same way ever again.

If anyone wants to learn more about STC, I've done a few blog posts about Blake and Save the Cat. You can find it under my popular posts on my blog.

Suzanne Warr said...

I not only recommend this book, I've started forcing it into my fellow writer's hands. And they've always come back to thank me. It's not just a useful help for those writers strong on character but weak on action/plot, but also for those of us who write plots a million miles a minute...and need something to give the plot structure and help with pacing. A great book!