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 heard about this book ages ago.  Someone in a long ago writer’s workshop recommended this book, but when I found out it was a book on screenwriting, I said “Eh” and didn’t pick up again.  I wish I had.

This book is not just for screenwriters.  It’s for every writer who wants to tell a story, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, novel or screenplay or memoir.  Throughout the book, Blake gives astounding information on how to create the pictures you want your audience to see, and how to do it in such a way to get attention from those with the power to get it in front of your audience.  He introduces the writer to loglines and how VERY important they are in the beginning of the writing process.  From there he leads you into test-pitching and give you five games to jump-start your idea-creating skills.

Next he discusses the 10 genres that every movie ever made can be categorized by.  Then it’s off to hero land where he gives you all the how-to’s and why’s of great heroes – what makes them, what breaks them.

One of the great tips he offers up is how to make a storyboard and how to utilize index cards – only 40 of them .  Great way to troubleshoot plots, characters, anything that doesn’t work in your story.  This is an idea I actually started using in the past couple of weeks and I have to tell you, it works!!!

He then takes us on the journey of how to decipher what is wrong with your manuscript, novel, non-fiction piece, whatever it is you’re working on, and he gives you the tried and true, proven methods on how to repair what you’ve written so it will sell.

Last but not least, he gives you the why’s and how’s of the dreaded M word – marketing.

What I liked about Save the Cat! is Blake’s enthusiasm, his love for what he does.  It comes through in every word.  I thought this was going to be a boring book.  Far from it!  He uses humor and his ‘voice’ is down to earth.  He IS the guy next door who has tons of answers, is personable and never treats you like you’re a dummy.  More than anything, he teaches authors how to write the best they can, with the best tools they have, and keep swinging.  To quote:

“They can buy your script and fire you, or rewrite it into oblivion, but they can’t take away your ability to get up off the mat and come back swinging – better and smarter than you were before.”

This book will definitely make you smarter than you were before.  I wish I’d been smarter long ago in that writer’s workshop and purchased this book then.  Oh well.  I have it now.  Trust me, it’s not just for screenwriters.  You can apply it to every aspect of whatever it is you write.  Stephen King’s On Writing is fantastic…Save the Cat! is phenomenal and a must-have.  Get out your sticky tabs and highlighters.  You’re going to need them.  It’s the best book you’ll ever read on how to write material that is enjoyable, marketable, and uniquely yours.


18 thoughts on “Save the Cat!

  1. I seem to be alone in a bit of skepticism about how this might translate to writing novels, but even I have to admit that using his approach would probably de-mess the process and make editing a lot easier! I may buy a copy just to reference the editing discussion on a regular basis.


    1. You know, Rebecca, that’s why I didn’t pick it up all those years ago, but I’m amazed at how much transfers over to whatever kind of writing you’re doing. All writing has similar elements even though they’re called different things, and Snyder hits them all in this book. Definitely worth a look. Check it out from the library first if you have doubts.


    1. The logline thing almost had me in tears. He’s all into creating them before you ever write. I think Snyder might be on to something. Thanks for stopping by. I always love to see new faces.


  2. Hi, J. Keller.

    We completely concur with your assessment of Snyder’s book. It’s chock full of strategies that any storyteller can use. And we’ve tried his note card technique (just 40 cards, no more, no less) to focus where we want our outline to go and how to get there. It’s a great tool for creating a plan for a tight story.

    BTW, like your site!


    1. Hi Kym-n-Mark! Thanks for stopping by. Thank you for the compliment. I really do like the card technique. It really made me visualize where I could actually move scenes. I realized some scenes I don’t even need in this book but they will fit well within one of the other 2 books in the trilogy.


  3. Hi Jenny– nice review of the book. I was in a revisions group when I first heard about this book. They kept talking about their “beats” and I had no clue what they were talking about. I think if I ever try to write a work of fiction again, I will definitely reread this book and apply the concept much more precisely. Thanks for the review!


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