Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
Loved it! So much useful information. Makes me want to write a screenplay!
Blake Snyder's voice is optimistic, energetic, and realistic. He shows we need to be able to step back and recognize, then laugh at, our silly mistakes. He encourages everyone to stick with it and gives upbeat analogies and examples to show how possible it is to write a great story. The only drawback was the section on casting - but it is written for movie makers, after all.
Here are some highlights.
Save the Cat - I had no idea what this meant and now I love it. I even have a Save the Cat scene in POP TRAVEL without trying! (my MC saves a muddy dog for an old lady, aww) Save the Cat shows the MC's inner character, making the reader like him. SHOWS.
Loglines - so necessary to have one! "...single most important element is irony." (p. 6) Irony hooks interest. It's what makes a story worth telling. That unexpected twist! Don't forget a Primal Urge - what's your MC's motivation? (p. 54) And make sure you "road test" it. (p. 12) Be brave and ask strangers, see if it hooks them. Talking about it to random people will give you a new viewpoint. My attempt at a logline for my new MS, SIMULATION -
A well worn detective and a green FBI agent work together to prove a protected congressman is really a high tech android with a murdered man's DNA.
Top ten story types - a new look at genre by what happens in the story and not the emotion (p. 25)
The famous "Blake Snyder Beat Sheet" - he breaks down a story by pages of a screenplay, which is substantially shorter than a novel. So I converted it by percentages to compare it to a 300 page MS, so page numbers are approximate... (p. 70)
- Opening Image (p. 1, ch 1) - first impression - you want reader to think, "This is gonna be good!" (p. 73)
- Theme Stated (by 4.5% - p. 13, in ch 1) - know your story, it has a theme! and the theme is an arguable point
- Set-up (pp. 1-27) - show the character traits that need to change by the end
- Catalyst (11% - p. 33) - get to this quick or you lose the reader's interest
- Debate (pp. 33-69) - the pros and cons of dealing with the Catalyst are debated...
- Break into Two (23% - p. 69) - decision is made, time to go
- B Story (27% - p. 81) - secondary story with supporting characters who will be crucial later
- Fun & Games (pp. 81-150) - just like it sounds, the getting to know each other, honeymoon, teasing phase... it's fun!
- Midpoint (50% - p. 150) - can be a high or a low, a turning point either way.
- Bad Guys Close In (pp. 150-204) - coming from a high, or false low of the midpoint, the bad guys regroup and show they aren't going to give up
- All is Lost (68% - p. 204) - do you smell that? It's the "whiff of death" necessary in every story that makes the MC ask "What will I do now?" (p. 86)
- Dark Night of the Soul (pp. 204-231) - what the character feels and goes through in this dark time after hitting rock bottom
- Break into Three (77% - p. 231) - the solution is discovered
- Finale (pp. 231-300) - the solution is carried out, bad guys are thwarted
- Final Image (100% p. 300) - the opposite of the opening image, the transformation of the MC is evident
Favorite chapter title - The Immutable Laws of Screenplay Physics. Blake Snyder's quirky rules of do's and don't's (p. 119)
The Bad Dialog Test: read some dialog without tags of who is speaking - can you tell who is who? Is there a difference in the way they talk? And sometimes it all sounds like you, the author! Each character needs his own voice. (p. 154) Each character also needs "a limp and an eye patch," something that will make him memorable. (p. 157)
"...the competition for our attention spans has gotten fierce." & "There are too many choices." (p. 3)
"...we must learn about characters by what they do, not by what they say." & "... be more concerned with what's happening now than what happened before the story started." (p. 148)
That's enough. Want more? Read the book! I completely recommend it! And due to the A to Z challenge, I won't be reading the next book, though I am learning a ton. Thanks so much to M. L. Swift and all the participants. This online writer's book club is just what I needed!
Read SAVE THE CAT? So glad I did! Any thoughts?