Book Review: Save The Cat
One of the best books I’ve read on writing recently has been Save The Cat by Blake Snyder. Snyder is a screenwriter who has has his share of both failures and successes and he shares what he has learned about the way to construct the perfect script. The intriguing title of the book comes from Snyder’s suggestion that writers have to make audiences like the hero by having the hero do something nice, such as saving a cat.
By the time I’d read the intro, I was hooked and raced through the rest of the book. It covered creating and improving your logline; testing your pitch; deciding on genre; working with your hero; the beats of a movie; framing your screenplay; writing techniques; checking and marketing your work. I have never written a screenplay, but by the end of the book, I felt I could.
What’s more interesting is that since reading the book, I’ve noticed how the structural elements that Snyder identifies appear in movies and TV shows. For example, the Pope in the Pool is a technique where writers create a diversion to distract audiences from the weight of some of the necessary information they get.
This book is easy to read and very memorable. One possible criticism is that Snyder does not use the same genre names as other screenwriters so you may find it difficult to compare his advice with that given by other screenwriting gurus. However, I believe that Snyder has a lot to offer and if you’re stuck with a script, this could provide the kickstart you need to begin writing again.
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6 Responses to “Book Review: Save The Cat”
My own private Idaho
Tips and tricks on how to sell popcorn
Another book of another egomaniac. ( I was about to write ‘ pathological narcissist )
My very first impression was that book is about how to sell your script, not how to write your script.some of the films studied in the book are ‘ legally blonde’ and the like, which automatically measures a successful screenplay by the amount of popcorn that is sold in the theaters on Box Office weekend. That is so creative!
He talks in one of the painfully long chapters about the structure and the ‘beat sheet’ which he appropriately names ‘ the Blake Snyder beat sheet’ . I can’t think of any Bergman movie, any Linch movie or any of the truly original movies to hold to his beat sheet. He didn’t talk at all about character development I just remembered him mention that you have to have the bad guy and the good guy. I didn’t understand why he so openly mocked ‘ memento’ , I could sense is not his cup of tea since a opened the book, but what with the ‘ screw memento’ comment?
‘ Give me the same thing.. Only different’ – genius !
Yes, it’s a consumer book for consumer movies. I probably sound pretentious here, but I don’t think one can write something good with the box office profits in mind.
The sad thing is that the enthusiast about this book doesn’t see that he is screwing them too, by selling them a book of how to sell their script in a market that is already taken. Hollywood: there are already ” established’ spec writers who write for the studious ‘ the same thing… Only different’ , which it isn’t a rocket science that require new ‘ talent’ .
Honestly is like a scam that promise you to give you the ‘ knowhow’ of how to make millions of dollars if you make a small investment of buying this book.
I am currently reading ‘Save The Cat’ and, like the reviewer, was hooked immediately. I’ve found it very stimulating and will definitely be using his BS2 structure to adapt my novel.
The BS2 structure is completely accurate: the audience expects to see those events in a movie and, as Blake correctly states, they expect to see those events at precisely those moments.
My problem is: when those events occur in a movie, my heart usually sinks! Those structure breaks just make me think, “Oh, Christ, here we go again!”
Maybe that’s because my favourite movies are not box office favourites? But I guess that’s my problem?
Book Reviews Online
Very excellent review –
I love the way you brilliantly described the book and its subject. This is about one of the best reviews I’ve seen in a very long time.
Blake’s book is an excellent break down of a Hollywood movie. It shows you screenplay structure at its best.
It certainly was an eye-opener, Tiggy.
Sounds like a worthy read. Screenwriting is certainly a different beast compared to other forms of writing!