10 things I learnt from Save The Cat
I’ve been meaning to get around to writing posts summarising the key aspects of the things I’ve been reading for a while. So I’ll start with the first book I ever read about Screenwriting: Blake Snyder’s ‘Save The Cat.’ There’s no way to include every interesting aspect of Save the Cat in 10 points so reading this book is a must.
Here are my top 10 takings from Save The Cat:
- Decide your genre/topic and watch/read absolutely everything ever created. Develop an understanding of what worked and what was utter clichéd crap. “True originality can’t begin until you know what you’re breaking away from.”
- Genres don’t have to be generic. Ever pause a little too long when trying to decide what genre a particular film falls into? You’ve clearly never looked at Blake Snyder’s genres then. His were brilliant and encompassed all the middle ground we writers love to create. With Snyder there isn’t just generic comedy or romance. Instead you have genres such as the Monster in the House, Superhero, Rite of Passage, Golden Fleece…There’s 10 of them. You’ll forgive me if I don’t list them all.
- The perfect hero is the one who offers the most conflict in the situation, has the longest emotional journey, and has a primal goal we can all root for.
- Plot always intensifies. It doesn’t just move ahead, it spins and develops. “It’s not enough for the plot to go forward, it must go forward faster, and with more complexity, to the climax.”
- Make your Bad Guy as complex and true to life as your Hero. Make the Bad Guy Badder. A Hero is unimpressive if his obstacles aren’t great. Yet if the Bad Guy is almost impossible to beat then the Hero has more to lose and the act of defeating the Bad Guy becomes even more impressive.
- Talk to strangers about your idea BEFORE you start writing. If they’re bored, rework your pitch.
- Don’t talk the plot! No matter how much back story you have to get out. “Good dialogue tells us more about what’s going on in its subtext than on its surface.”
- Your hero must always be ACTIVE and must make the decisions that push the story and plot forwards.
- Every character should change in the course of the story. If they don’t they’re probably redundant. “Everybody Arcs!”
- Too Much Marzipan/Black Vet Rule: Too much of something isn’t good no matter how much YOU may love it. Don’t choke the life out of a good idea by adding too much. Once concept at a time.