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Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need Paperback – May 25, 2005
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“Want to know how to be a successful writer in Hollywood? The answers are here. Blake Snyder has written an insider's book that's informative ― and funny, too.” – David Hoberman, Producer, Muppets Most Wanted (2014), The Muppets, The Shaggy Dog , Raising Helen, Walking Tall, Monk (TV)
"You'd have to look far and wide to find a better book to help you achieve your goals. Quite simply one of the most practical guides to writing mainstream spec scripts on the market." – Screentalk Magazine
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Self-gratifying at best, Blake Snyder spends half of the book promoting his own screenplays that no one has ever heard of while bashing true classics. The remaining half is spent laying out an almost page by page guide on how to write a story that might sell but likely won't be anything groundbreaking or even good. Snyder attempts to make a science out of an art thus killing any scrap of creativity with his heavy beat layout.
If you want to have any type of career in writing (no book is going to *teach* you to be a good writer) avoid this book like the plague.
This book is best known for its discussion of what is known as "beats." Snyder created a basic formula of elements that will fit almost every story out there to tell. He even breaks the beats down to what page number they should appear in the screenplay which has lent itself to a spreadsheet called the "beat sheet" that has become essential in modern Hollywood. The beats have also been applied to TV shows, novels and other forms of fiction. There's been a lot of the criticism of the beats as being formulaic, but it's really just a system that fits story arcs going back to ancient mythology. Almost any story is going to have a midpoint where there are highs or lows and "bad guys closing in."
Beyond the beat sheet, there are also tips like writing young characters to reach the widest audience, using distraction to gloss over exposition, and not making the story too complicated. I thought Snyder's advice was very practical and could be applied right away, but is something I've never seen in print, so it's welcome.
Yes, this book isn't for people who want to write metaphorical or metaphysical drama that explores the human condition. If you want to write a movie or novel that will sell to a small and limited audience, this isn't the book for you. If you want a book that will tell you how to write blockbuster stories for the biggest audience, I can't think of a better one.
One can tell many reviewers, readers, wanna be screenwriters, and others are certain this book is off the mark and too formula to have value. These same folks need to spend more time actually watching and analyzing many of the films Hollywood puts out even today (2018). This book is right on the money. Sure, there are exceptions to the rules, but as Snyder - and any expert, trainer, pro, or individual with a track record and street cred will tell you, you must know the rules before you dare break them. Save the Cat is a prime example of this concept.
I've heard of the book many times over the years, but until I decided to commit full time to my screenwriting I'd not taken the time to grab it and read. I'm sorry I wasted the time. Not only as an academic, non-fiction, and fiction writer, but as a media psychologist this book is a great read with some seriously solid insights. On the other hand, as a newer screenwriter it's a great help, and it lays a solid foundation for much of what Hollywood offers, has become, and will remain. Whether or not you agree with anything he writes, as any professional knows, you always read the books and experts who know the pathway.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is considering being a screenwriter - or writer - or loves film.
Top international reviews
It is an entertaining read and put across in a friendly way. I'm aware that Blake has left this planet but I'm glad that others have carried on with and from what he put together in this book.
I'm aware that there is a soon to be realeased Save the Cat book for novelists but I felt that it makes sense to familiarise myself with what it's about and I'm glad that I did. I have seem some people state that Save the Cat encourages formulaic stories and I suppose if you're not at all bothered about making more that a few quid from your writing then you might not like this. But if you do hope to make money, be successful and appeal to a large audience then surely you must accept at some point that you need to write very commercial stories.
Anyway, I recommend the book for a writer of stories, whether a screenwriter or a novelist. It's the second screenwriting book that I have bought and I hesitated over this one for quite a long time. And there's so much more to it than the 'Save the Cat!' element that the book is named for. Obviously it's not the only book on screenwriting that you will ever need, but one of them that you need.
Beat sheet adds the structure to your screenplays. I now have 3 boards 90 cm x 55 cm hung on doors to use for screenwriting.
Great book, pleasant read, and the author has a distinct charming personality in their writing. A must-read for aspiring feature film script writers or those studying film, but maybe not the priority of those focusing on short film or television.
This book started out as an analysis of successful films and the beats they all shared. The writer got a little proscriptive in the telling of his results, and so every junior script reader at the studios thinks it's the bible and absolute truth. This means every script that they send up to their employers pretty much hits all these beats to the page, and so every film feels the same. This book is why. That's why l hate it.
It is, however, a great analysis of story structure and how to implement that in a form that studio execs will understand and like. If you're a scriptwriter and trying to sell to studios, spend a few quid and learn what they're buying, then tailor your script too actually be saleable. Great book, I hate it!
My only gripe is that Snyder's rules are too specific, i.e. "this thing MUST happen on THIS Page"
This is not a quick fix! For those who have read other screenwriting theory books in the past the honest truth is that this book isn't going to tell you anything ground breaking. If you are looking for an easy way to make, write and sell a billion dollar film this isn't going to magically make one appear on the table.
However, it is a great read and it will take you through a very logical approach to screenwriting, It emphasises certain areas you may have overlooked as minor detail and tells you that these are the key to getting it all right a. It is also all written in a very readable way. This isn't a book of theory that will beat you over the head until you are sick of hearing terms like 'three act structure.' It is a book of good advice from someone who has been there and lets face it Blake Snyder is a legend!!!
The Blake Snyder beat sheet looks like a very useful resource, though I can't say I have tried it yet. Overall this has been an incredibly useful read to me if only to bring me back to basics and get me fired up again for a new batch of writing.
This book would be invaluable for new writers and is still well worth a read for those who have been doing it for years. If nothing else Blake seems like a friend who is here to help you through and in the world of writing that is a precious thing to have!
Follow the advice from one line concepts to the three acts and include the 15 or so beats that make up every great selling movie and you are well on your way to polishing up a bestseller. It does exactly what it says on the tin; except saving cats.