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Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need
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Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  12,466 ratings  ·  1,365 reviews
This ultimate insider's guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a show biz veteran who's proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat!
Paperback, 195 pages
Published May 25th 2005 by Michael Wiese Productions (first published 2005)
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Katia M. Davis No, it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about structure and I could not get on with the obnoxious style of writing. I found The Plot Whis…moreNo, it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about structure and I could not get on with the obnoxious style of writing. I found The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson and Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker more useful.(less)

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 ·  12,466 ratings  ·  1,365 reviews


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Justin Tate
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is often hyped as the bible of screenwriting, but I would take it a step further and call it the definitive go-to for all storytelling. Trade secrets are fully revealed and once you read them you can't watch a movie without seeing the formula scroll right in front of your eyes. Exactly--to the minute. The formula is so precise that Snyder has it shrunk down to page numbers. On page 75, for example, you have to have an "all is lost" moment, or a "darkest just before the dawn" moment. Do ...more
Thompson
Aug 11, 2008 rated it liked it
While this book is a clever and succinct reduction of Hollywood story structure, it is not well-served by its snarky, priggish author, who with every page radiates the very same sort of smug, too-cool attitude that the rest of the world associates with Los Angeles. That he is smart, I have no doubts, especially after reading his reduction of modern movies. Indeed, he is so smart that I will soon pick up his next book, Save the Cat Goes to the Movies. But just as his intelligence and skill are a ...more
CC
Nov 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm torn about how many stars to give this book. If you are completely new to screenwriting, then this would be a five-star book. Otherwise, I'll give it four because it's easy to understand and allows you to start breaking down the movies you watch quite easily.

However, if you've written screenplays and understand basic three act structure, the advice is a little naive -- as in, "The Theme has to be stated on page 5." "Page 30 is where the 'B' story comes in." Well, maybe, but not really in a l
...more
Alexa
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My critique partner swears by this book, and in fact has been holding my revision notes ransom until I read it! :) She was kind enough to gift me with a copy, so I hunkered down and zipped through.

It was a punchy, fast read--the margins are freakishly large, so it's not *really* a 150 page book; it reads like 100 pager. The writing style is at times annoying, but it's readable. As a novelist, as opposed to a screenwriter, a lot of the specific advice in Save the Cat is useless -- such as "you mu
...more
Alex West
Save the Cat: The Last Book on Writing Painfully Banal PG-13 Hollywood Comedies You’ll Ever Need

This book provides the perfect guide to writing movies I loathe.

It may be true that Miss Congeniality and Elf made good money at the box office, but you know what? If I’m going to sacrifice my work and family time to write, I’m going to write about something slightly more meaningful and less demeaning than whether a Hollywood star pretending to be a badly written FBI agent looks smoking hot in a beaut
...more
K.M. Weiland
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a novelist, the more I read screenwriting books, the more I love them. Straightforward, no-nonsense, and endlessly applicable, they cut through the fluff and offer practical tips for writing better stories. Snyder's beloved Save the Cat! is certainly no different. He entertains even as he shares tips on structure and character and little, memorable bits such as his "Save the Cat" and "Keep the Press Out" slogans.

Is there a bit of formulaism here? Sure. But even for authors who completely balk
...more
Stephen Worman
Dec 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
Hack advice given by a hack writer. While it's nice to see the business side of writing examined, it would have been better (i.e. something approaching "acceptable") to have it examined by a competent writer. If your only two credits for screenwriting are "Blank Check" and the so-bad-Sylvester-Stallone-apologized-for-his-role-in-its-creation "Stop Or My Mother Will Shoot", you have no place writing a book on the subject. Even the non-creative side is uninspired rehashes of common sense advice (F ...more
Jeffrey Johnson
Jun 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
A lot of people swear by this book, but I think it's just terrible. If you want to write movies, there is a great deal to be gained by learning about the three-act structure. That being said, though, Blake Snyder will teach you a micro-managed form of it that forces you to meet a very specific and frankly obnoxious rubric.

Snyder says specifically in his book that if he turns to one of the pages where he says X should happen and X doesn't happen, he immediately dismisses the script. Though he pro
...more
Nicholas Karpuk
Jan 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Some people who can't really should teach.

Blake Snyder mentions on several occasions that he sold a screenplay to Steven Spielberg for a million dollars at one point. Impressive right?

Then he ruins it by describing his story. It was called "Nuclear Family" and involved a family who camped by a nucleur test site, gaining super powers.

I'm rather glad that failed, and then "The Incredibles" happened instead.

Blake Snyder's ideas are consistently awful. He's the scribe responsible for "Blank Check"
...more
Joe
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
If you didn't like a novelist's stories, would you follow their advice in crafting your own? Would you take cooking instruction from a chef if their meals didn't please your taste buds? What about a painter whose portfolio only inspired shrugs?

That's the dilemma for almost everyone who reads Save the Cat, a how-to guide for aspiring Hollywood screenwriters. The author, Blake Snyder, has written numerous scripts, sold many, had a couple made into movies and earned a small fortune along the way,
...more
Joshua Rigsby
This book gets poo pooed a lot in critical/literary/artistic circles for being a perfect encapsulation of everything that's wrong with Hollywood. These criticisms are not unjustified.

Snyder sets out a systematic, formulaic strategy for writing a screenplay that hits all of the same tired plot points we've seen a million times. Take a big budget studio movie, break it down minute by minute, and almost without exception every plot point hits at the exact minute mark Snyder describes. Save the Cat
...more
Ross Blocher
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Save the Cat! is one of the best-known books on screenwriting, and for good reason. It's fast, smart, irreverent, and gives you a kick in the butt to start work on your screenplay. Figure out your logline (a brief description of what your film is), make sure it's sufficiently enticing, and then write to that. Block out your beats on a big board with index cards: opening image, statement of theme, catalyst, midpoint, dark night of the soul, finale, etc. You should even know in advance exactly whi ...more
M
Feb 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
Blake Snyder subtitled his trendy screenwriting guide, SAVE THE CAT, “The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need,” but it’s unlikely the double-entendre was intentional. While his hipper-than-thou how-to might offer a few common sense essentials, it’s hardly essential in itself. Of course, it’s hard to imagine why a writer of any worth would ever really need an instruction manual in the first place but, to be fair, SAVE THE CAT is not so much about how to write a good screenplay as how to w ...more
Robert Kroese
May 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Blake Snyder is supposedly “Hollywood’s most successful spec screenwriter.” I don’t know how that works exactly, since he has exactly two IMDB credits (for Blank Check and Stop or My Mom Will Shoot), but whatever.

Save the Cat is basically a book full of little gimmicks for improving a screenplay, as well as pitfalls to avoid. The title comes from the idea of having the hero of the story save a cat early on in the movie to establish his/her likability. It sounds silly, but the examples Snyder giv
...more
Melissa Storm
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by my good friend and fellow author, Bonnie Paulson. Don't let the fact that it's aimed at screenwriters push you away, authors! Snyder explores some global truths of good storytelling and breaks them down in an easy to digest manner. The most interesting discovery for me? Most of my "romance novels" aren't technically in that genre. According to Snyder's model, they are "rites of passage" stories. That makes so much sense and really explains what I like to write and wh ...more
Phil
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
Save the Cat! is a great book for understanding the underlying structure that must be built in order to write a good, solid screenplay. Snyder fills this How To book with great information and good examples, and it is easy enough to follow, should one want to try their hand at screenwriting.

Where this book breaks down, though, it its tone and style. Snyder tries too hard to be cool, or hip, or engaging, or something, and the introductions to each chapter are trite, annoying, and a bit like a par
...more
Sam Raines
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
How ironic, for someone to criticize Memento (which is a huge no-no) for not making a lot of money.. Then the director/writer of that movie goes on to direct billion dollar blockbusters such as Inception and the Dark Night franchises (I still think Memento and Following are better). What does Snyder have on him? Nothing. What does this mean? Nothing. The movie world is a crazy and unpredictable world, and this book does an o.k. job at trying to explain it. However, as said by a lot of people bel ...more
Leonard Gaya
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a "how to" handbook, targeting aspiring screenwriters, composed by a man who actually has some track record in writing comedy scripts for Hollywood.

It basically guides the reader through all the stages of writing for the movie industry: how to turn an idea into a marketable "logline"; how to fall within a given genre (Snyder suggests an interesting genres taxonomy, based on what actually happens in the story); how to build a protagonist (again, he offers an original vision of characters
...more
Samantha Luce
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
It was good. Not worth all the hype though. Blake Snyder made it easy to follow. It's helpful not just for screenwriting but any sort of writing.
Abigail Bok
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have a fondness for reading books about screenwriting--not because I have an ambition to be a screenwriter but because they tend to have good ideas about the mechanics of storytelling. Plotting and structure are not my top skills, and these books often give me tools that help me chart a path through the work of telling a story.

Save the Cat takes a very practical approach, aimed at those who want to write for mass audiences. The author advises you to start with a basic idea, which you refine do
...more
Rebecca
My year of listening to the Harry Potter series has gotten me really interested in story structure. I stumbled on this series and, though it's about screenplays, not novels, it's got some really solid story and revision advice (regardless of the cheesiness of Blake Snyder's own scripts). I've thought repeatedly about 1) ALL STORIES ARE ABOUT TRANSFORMATION, and 2) his advice to make characters' drives primal: rooted in survival, hunger, sex, protection of loved ones, fear of death. This has chan ...more
Kolcs
May 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
Think of those stereotypical snake-oil salesmen, or the Gordon Gekko wanna-bes, who dress in suits and travel around the country, renting conference rooms or even small diners and trying to convince middle-aged suburbunites to join their programm on how to be succesful.
You know the type: slightly sleazy, fast talking, very friendly but also aggressive, addressing everyone with their first name: "John, you look like a great guy, I like you, but how dare you not be rich? Believe you me buddy, the
...more
K Todd Ramer
Sep 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
Absolute nonsense. This was PURE speculation from beginning to end that starts out by criticizing others for taking educational and clinical approaches to the writing process.

Has an opinion on just about every film from 11 years ago or beyond, but basically has no ACTUAL input on as to why these films worked. Was very quick to dismiss works based on established novels though. I couldn't help but notice that (Minority Report).

This probably is the last book on screenwriting you'll ever need, mos
...more
Maria
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
loved this book!

it's written the way i like books to be written - very structured. your journey as a screenwriter begins with the idea and then the author takes you thru the whole process, explaining every step and its meaning

i read this book looking for storytelling tips, and i must say - it delivered. it really does teach you how to write a story which is not too long and not too short, which is engaging with twists, with characters to love and rewarding ending. of course, some of the advice i
...more
Audrey
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great, concise book on story structure. Although written for screenwriters, any kind of story writer can benefit. (Mostly the advice on pitching will be a bit different.) He goes over key plot elements every story must have to be interesting. If your story is lacking something, there’s a good chance it’s missing one of these elements. The book also shows you how to focus on making your story marketable to agents/publishers/producers. This is definitely full of useful advice. There are ...more
Jessica Bell
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a screenwriter, I'm a novelist, and I tell you, this book has shed some light on so many things that I was aware of, but most times fobbed off. Everybody has their own process and there is never just one right way to plot a story, but this made me realize how much easier life would be if I followed a few hard plotting rules.

I want a whole wall dedicated to THE BOARD. Don't know what I'm talking about? Then read this book. You'll save yourself a lifetime of unnecessary rewrites.
Stephen M
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Essential for scriptwriting, but hard to take seriously when it bashes momento on one page (on the grounds that it made no money in the B.O.) and then praises miss congeniality as a great movie the very next page.

His best advice comes from Campbell, McKee, & Field anyway.
...more
Jolene Perry
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
EVERYONE who writes anything should read this book.

SO.
FREAKING.
GOOD.

And simple :-D
Evie Hughes
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maybe 3.5
Troy Blackford
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a very enjoyable and informative read.

I've read a few books on screenwriting as part of my reading about writing in general, and the author of this book, the late Blake Snyder, is correct in his early statement that many of those other books, though excellent resources, -do- hold a reverence for film that perhaps obscures and interferes with their ability to tell advice. I'm thinking of Robert McKee's 'Story,' right off the bat. Not a bad thing, and of course you'd want someone to be re
...more
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In his 20-year career as a screenwriter and producer, Blake Snyder has sold dozens of scripts, including co-writing Blank Check, which became a hit for Disney, and Nuclear Family for Steven Spielberg. His book, Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need, was published in May, 2005, and is now in its eleventh printing. It has prompted "standing room only" appearances by Blake in ...more

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“To be a screenwriter is to deal with an ongoing tug of war between breathtaking megalomania and insecurity so deep it takes years of therapy just to be able to say “I’m a writer” out loud.” 9 likes
“True originality can’t begin until you know what you’re breaking away from.” 7 likes
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