Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Progressive Book Club: Save the Cat

M. L. Swift is hosting this monthly book club event. To learn more about it, click here. This month we're discussing, Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder.

I wanted to get excited about this book, especially after some friends gave it such glowing recommendations. However, I approached with caution. There are so many books and movies I haven't enjoyed and yet people have raved about them. Would this be the same, a lot of streamers without the cake?

Well, I can assure you there is cake!

Blake Snyder starts by explaining why his book is not just another book on screenwriting. His approach, unlike many other books out there, is far more practical, based on knowledge gleaned from actual industry experience, rather than glossed up theory.

This personal trumpeting would normally turn me off, but Snyder's passion for what he does shines through. He cares about storytelling. In fact, he does the very thing he advocates through the entire book. He 'saves the cat' by showing me his human side, therefore making himself likeable and relatable.

"…liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into the story." Blake Snyder, Save the Cat

It seems the theory works in non-fiction as well as fiction because I immediately became more willing to listen to what Snyder had to say.

I found it interesting that he started the book with the importance of knowing what the story is about and being able to express it in one line. Many of us writers will write the book and then work out what it's about.

I recently told my new hairdresser that I was a writer. She asked what my book is about. I wasn't prepared. I stumbled and stuttered and came up with the lamest line in history. I told myself, it's okay. I haven't finished the manuscript yet. I have a few months before I need to think about pitches and querying. Wrong!! If I don't have a clear enough idea of what my book is about, then how can I expect to write it?

While Save the Cat is written in a how-to format it deals best in explaining concepts instead, which is part of a how-to, but not all of it. Occasionally I found myself asking the air, 'But how?' I 'get' the concept but I'm not a hundred percent sure how to implement it. Or perhaps I'm a little thick and missed some of the references because I was reading this for novel writing rather than screenplay writing.

It's a book with so many gems that it needs to be read many times, just as a reminder, to soak it all in, to get those ah-ha moments and hold onto them.

If you've read Save the Cat, what did you think of it? What other great books on writing have you read?

I'll be back in full swing for the A-Z challenge! Woo hoo!