I admit that I jumped on the bandwagon of Save The Cat after hearing about it from several people. Then I knew that the author, Blake Snyder, was going to be at RWA Nationals...and THEN I heard that he really wowed the people attending his workshop. So...Save The Cat came to me along with some other books from Amazon.
(First of all, a bit about amazon. I know brick and mortar stores are wonderful, but I can't tell you how many times I've gone in for a specific book and it is not stocked. If I want a new release, or a best selling author I know will have backlist on the shelf, in I go. If not, though...all my craft books come from amazon. Same with research books, and any fiction I read that I doubt I can find elsewhere. It's one stop shopping, I spend MORE money and I get free shipping each and every time.)
Right. Back to Save The Cat.
There are things about this book that appeal to me and scare me to death. The logical part of my brain says "YES!" to the idea of mapping out your story. It makes sense. His beat sheet makes sense, in a "let's make this book tight" and a pacing sort of way. However this also frightens me. I have gotten to the point where planning so much makes me feel like I'm in a box before I've even started the actual writing. The saving grace is that Snyder does say that after you've gone through the process of creating your "board" - of laying out your beats for your story - you MUST be willing to throw it all away in the face of actual writing. In other words, what you thought would work might not work at all, or you might have an insight that changes everything. See, this I can get on board with. I tend to know my characters, but don't think too much about planning out every scene. When I let my characters guide me, that is when the magic happens. So I'm of two minds when it comes to laying it all out before hand. It makes me feel like I'm a slave to MY story instead of being the conduit through which my characters tell THEIR story. Not sure if that makes sense or not.
That being said, what if I took this idea and made it my own in that I write the story, THEN do the beats, and that way I can find the holes and fix them before I send it off to my editor? Similar to when I did a colour coded synopsis a la Jennie Adams. It showed me where my holes were. It also showed me structure, because you will be heavier on some elements than others in different areas of the story.
There are other absolute gems in this book and IMO every new and aspiring author should read chapters six and seven several times. Screenwriting is very similar to writing romantic fiction (and possibly most genre fiction). So the "rules" he lays out - Save the Cat, Pope in the Pool, Black Vet, The Covenant of the Arc (possibly my favourite) - they all apply. And it would save a lot of beginning writers A LOT OF TIME if they knew this before hand. Same with chapter seven - the first heading is The Hero Leads and BOY do I remember being at fault of this!
I also love the idea of the logline. A logline is like finding your centre while doing Thai Chi. When you feel at sea, go back to your logline. Remember what your story is about, and go from there.
All in all a highly recommended book on craft, conversational, clear, and funny. Now I'm thinking I should get Save The Cat Goes To The Movies.