by Jennifer Bozell
One of the best screenwriting guides out there is Blake Snyder’s best seller “Save the Cat.” It’s a straightforward book that’s a great resource, particularly for writers struggling with story structure. The unusual title of the book comes from Snyder’s suggestion that writers must make audiences like the movie’s hero by having the hero do something nice, such as saving a cat.
The book’s approach to the fundamentals of screenwriting embraces the challenges that all screenwriters face. These include crafting a successful logline, creating likable, relatable characters, and solid script structuring from fade-in to fade-out.
Snyder’s method for structuring a screenplay involves using “beat sheets.” These beat sheets allow writers to break down their stories into basic thematic elements that make structuring easier. It walks you all the way through your opening image, to your script’s final scene. It’s a tried and true formula for a successful narrative in film. It’s also a useful way to generate a coherent plot quickly.
Also useful is his chapter on error fixing, which identifies problems such as “Talking the Plot” and “Take a Step Back.” He examines typical trouble spots that writers face when attempting to guide the reader away from these traps. Snyder is clear, concise, and to the point, and he uses examples from current movies to make his argument. So, if you’re working on your script and you’re stuck, pick up a copy. This book could save the day.