Saturday, July 10, 2010

Book Review: Save the Cat!

The full title of this book is: Save The Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need. ‘Course, it’s not the last book since this is book 1 in a three-book series.

The series was recommended by the fabulous author and writing instructor, Les Edgerton. You can click over and read Les’ post on the book. Based on his post, I bought both of the first two books in the series – and I’ve no doubt I’ll end up getting number three.

I’ve taken a class in screenwriting and have read other books related to movies and writing in general, like The Writer’s Journey. What was interesting about Save the Cat! is that the author Blake Snyder is a working screenwriter. He’s been in the business for years. He not only knows what he’s talking about, he backs it up with lots of examples from movies. He doesn’t use just his movie scripts as example, but other well-known movies. Each chapter has Exercises at the end for you to do if you want. He also includes a glossary at the back of the book.

You don’t have to be a screenwriter to learn from Snyder. By breaking down a movie, he shows all writers how to better their own stories.

I opened a random page and found I had highlighted this:
 The forces that are aligned against the hero, internal and external, tighten their grip. Evil is not giving up, and there is nowhere for the hero to go to get help. He is on his own and must endure. He is headed for a huge fall…
That was from page 86 and it was in the section called “Bad Guys Close in (55-75) in Chapter 4: Let’s Beat It Out!

Personally, I think this book would be a good resource for any writer. And in case you’re wondering, he doesn’t just cover action or thrillers, he looks at all genres of movies. I’m looking forward to starting book number 2 in the series. Thanks Les!
FTC Disclaimer: Save the Cat! was recommended by Les Edgerton, someone I respect and admire as a teacher and writer, but that’s not why I’m recommending it, nor did it influence my review. And I paid for the book myself. I was, however, influenced by the cute kitty on the cover, hanging onto a rope for dear life. Clearly, that symbolizes the writer, hanging onto her story by a thread and hoping someone will pull her up and teach her the kitty kung fu needed to finish the book and get it published. She’s in such danger I bought book 2 so I could see if she gets saved on that cover. I’ll tell you the outcome when I finish reading book 2. You’ll be shocked. (This, folks, is what’s called a cliffhanger.)
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  1. A "cliff hanger" or a "cat hanger?"
    Thanks for the review Helen.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book. It would probably fall into the category not to just a book by it's cover because looking at it I would have never guessed it would about writing.

    Wonderful disclaimer as always. And you had to leave us hanging worried about the cat, oh my. :)

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. Another great disclaimer!

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. It sounds like a great book. I've read that scripts use a 3-part method while novels use a 4-part, but I really don't understand why there would be a difference. I'm going to buy it!

  4. Liza, you're so much more clever than I am!

    Let me know if you like it, Laura.

  5. There's so much we can learn from others, with their own unique perspective. I appreciate how the screenwriter viewpoint can shine a light on all our crafts. And I hope that kitty still has its nine lives ahead of it!

  6. True, Joanne. So much to read, though, and so little spare time!

  7. Sounds like a resourceful book.
    And as always, your disclaimer rocks. At least you admitted your were influenced by the cat!

  8. Oooh, very intriguing. I love the excerpt you shared, too. I just might check it out. Thanks, Helen!

  9. A screenplay was on my list of goals this year and it's already the end of July and I haven't started! I'll definitely pick up a copy of this book, maybe it will give me a push.
    Cozy In Texas

  10. Alex, I'm always influenced by kitty cats, puppy dogs and hummingbirds.

    Cozy in Texas, it's good to have goals. I just wish I could achieve one once in a while.

  11. I've heard of this book before - also a good review - and after reading this it's become a must-add to my basket!

  12. Hope you find it worthwhile, Judy.

  13. This is a marvelous book. On a sad note, though, Blake Snyder died this past winter. While he did write a follow up book or two, there won't be any new ones.

    "Save the Cat" is a wonderful study in how what we write is seen by readers. The title refers to the fact that we need to see what the hero is really made of early in the story - we need to see him save a cat, in other words.

  14. I'm right about to submit an order to, so maybe I should add this one to the basket as well. Then it will be 5 books in the package >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  15. The Daring Novelist, so sorry to hear about Snyder's death. Bummer - not just because of the books, but the movies he wrote.

    Cold As Heaven, I have a feeling Amazon likes you.

  16. Among my best friends in the book-world are and the Salvation Army's 2nd-hand stores, where I dump the books when I'm finished with them; can't store them forever >:)

  17. Les Edgerton already uses movies to help us become better book writers, so it doesn't surprise me he'd recommend a screenwriting book.

    Once, I tried to write a screenplay, but it was harder than I thought it would be. I'll check out this book.

  18. Cold As Heaven, I gave up on trying to store mine. Too many books, too few shelves. I've donated a great many of them.

    Theresa, I wrote on about ten years ago. Have no idea where I stuck it.

  19. Interesting post, Helen. Sorry to hear the guy passed over. Sounds like he was quite gifted. Great title! I am not a cat lover but I have dear friends that are--the title alone would catch their eye.

  20. Thanks for the great recommendation. I have not read a scriptwriting book since I read "Making a Good Script Better" and some of Syd Field's screenwriting books. This one sounds like it would be a good one for a refresher course.


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