Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I didn't know Blake Snyder

I vowed some time ago that I would never ever read Save the Cat. It's nothing personal, it's just that so many of the people I know have become little Save the Cat automatons, refusing to write anything unless it was Blake Snyder approved. That's not really his fault. He became kind of an accidental cult leader, but one who is really nice and right about a lot of stuff.

I just got so sick of hearing about what Save the Cat thinks that I never ever wanted to hear it again.

And that's why his death has dismayed so many. The man had an impact. He changed the way people write. He gave new writers a method that they swear by, to the point where if you give them five minutes of your time they will do their level best to convert you, like the Jehovah's Witnesses of screenwriting.

That's why even though I didn't follow the man's method, or actually know what his method was, I'm still bummed by his early departure. Everybody says he was really nice. And he wrote Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot! and we've all heard of that movie even if we didn't see it. Most writers would take their success and run. He took it back to the ton of baby writers trying to work it all out. I'm still not reading his book, but he was a good dude and he will be missed.

Now we'll see how long it takes for people to turn his writings into a religion.


  1. Yeah, I heard about his passing last night. Bummer. and I also refuse to read Save the Cat, so I'm right there with ya.

  2. You have to wonder how anybody ever became a screenwriter before all these screenwriting gurus came into prominence, don't you? And don't even get me started on "readers," those experts who'll tell you how to improve your screenplay, but yet have actually never, ever sold one themselves... But you're right, Snyder seemed like a decent cat. We all gotta go sometime though, that's the rule: nobody gets out alive.

  3. I met Blake when he came up here to Seattle put on an event with the NW Screewriters Guild.

    He was a very energetic, nice man who gave us all his email and asked us to email him our loglines and he would comment on them...

    ...and he did.

    Save the Cat, for me, simply breaks down movies and molds them into his beat sheat. For a new writer groping in the dark it shed some light on film structure.

    I enjoyed his books and feel for his family.

    You just never know who will be here today and gone tomorrow.


  4. Hm. First I heard.

    I read the book way back like I do all books on scriptwriting - taking the bits I feel are useful and disregarding the rest.

    Since then, I've met those who treat his "formula" like gospel - just like those who worship at the altar of Field or McKee.

    (There's a production company here that insists on the Save the Cat method and only considers material that follows it.)

    My theory is a good story will show through independent of X formula but a bad story will be bad story no matter how well you fit it with steps 1 to 23.

    Still there's some good in the book. Almost all of scriptwriting books have something to take away. I figure the test is learning what makes sense and making it work for you.


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