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message 1: by Chrys (last edited May 27, 2018 12:30PM) (new)

Chrys Fey (chrysfey) Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

NOTE: You can answer the following questions and discuss them here. You don't have to answer them all, though. Just the ones you want to answer. Or you can share your thoughts/review on the book in general.

To create a separate topic for Save the Cat, go to the Discussion Board and click “new topic” at the top (it’s in fine print). Choose “April/May Save the Cat” for the folder, create your topic, and then click “post.”

Let’s start!


1. To create a compelling logline Snyder says you need an adjective to describe the hero, an adjective to describe the bad guy, and a compelling goal we identify with as human beings. Sounds familiar right? We need that when writing novels, too.

QUESTION: Do you use a logline for your story when your writing? If so, does it help you focus?


2. Do you use a logline when you pitch your story to others?


3. Most of the ideas in this book seem to be pretty standard story development ideas, but they are all great tips, especially the stuff about pitches. Do you think this book could have been more comprehensible or was it right on point?


4. Avoiding Clichés: Snyder says to give it twist. To quote Sam Goldwyn, Snider said, "Give me the same thing...only different! You must know the tradition or cliché, understand it in order to avoid it.”

QUESTION: How do you avoid clichés when writing?


5. A. Snyder emphasizes structure, which is why he created the one-page beat sheet. Do you think the beat sheet is a good tool to use in novel writing?

B. Snyder's beat sheet contains 15 beats for the total page, and he limited the word count. Would you use the beat sheet?

Beat Sheet:
1. Opening Image
2. Theme Stated (5 words)
3. Set-up (1-10 words)
4. Catalyst (12 words)
5. Debate (12-25 words)
6. Break into Two (25 words (note refs act 2)
7. B Story (30 words)
8. Fun and Games (30-55 words)
9. Midpoint (55 words)
10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75 words)
11. All is lost (75 words)
12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85 words)
13. Break into Three (85 words)
14. Finale (85-110 words)
15. Finale Image (110 words)

6. Do you use a plot board to see your story to help write it? If so, why do you like it? If not, would you use a visual board to help you visualize your story?


7. Snyder advocates breaking the visual board into 4 parts: Act 1, Act 2 part 1, Act 2 part 2, and Act 3. This is basic storytelling structure. Have you ever thought about how visually seeing your story might help you write it? If so, how and why? If not, will you try it?


8. Save the Cat! is full of helpful story development ideas and some screenwriting tips, but it's clearly dated. Do you think this book is effective as is or should it be updated for modern times?


9. One dated technique Snider suggests for creating a portable storyboard is to have pocket-sized index cards you can carry around. Now-a-days, there are many programs and apps, such as Trello, Scrivener, or even Pinterest that offer you ways to create and access your storyboards on multiple devices, including a mobile phone.

QUESTION: Do you use any of these programs/apps? Share your thoughts about them.



10. Snyder didn’t offer any concrete information or details on the technical aspects of writing a screenplay. Can anyone here recommend a good screenplay writing class or software?


message 2: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Otten | 4 comments I still haven't read this book, and from all the questions you posted, I think it offers ways to view a manuscript from other perspectives which is good when I'm stuck, such as story boarding and visually seeing the story. I've heard this book discussed by so many successful writers, that I don't believe it will ever be outdated. As far as high tech programs, there is something to be said for actually writing things down. I remember better when I put pen to paper, which is why my rough drafts are in thick spiral notebooks.


message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 31 comments Kathy wrote: "I still haven't read this book, and from all the questions you posted, I think it offers ways to view a manuscript from other perspectives which is good when I'm stuck, such as story boarding and v..."

Kathy, I have to agree--good story building will never be outdated. Maybe the book could be revised to mention the digital options for some of the things he does on paper, but I'm with you--I like to plan with pen on paper. But I think my son does it all on the computer, so maybe I'm dated too...


message 4: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Otten | 4 comments Rebecca wrote: "Kathy wrote: "I still haven't read this book, and from all the questions you posted, I think it offers ways to view a manuscript from other perspectives which is good when I'm stuck, such as story ..."

:D Yeah, I'm dated too.


message 5: by Toi, Book Club Admin (new)

Toi Thomas (toithomas) | 168 comments Kathy wrote: "I still haven't read this book, and from all the questions you posted, I think it offers ways to view a manuscript from other perspectives which is good when I'm stuck, such as storyboarding and v..."

I agree that there is merit to the idea that writing things by hand helps you remember better and be more creative. The only reason why I think the approach in the book is dated is because it doesn't mention or offer any modern or digital options. I like to write my notes out by hand, but then at some point. I scan them and manipulate them in various ways. I think this book is great, but considering the times, I fear anyone under the age of 30 may not embrace it simply because it doesn't address the modern scope of cinema or the digital age.


message 6: by Juneta, Book Club Moderator (new)

Juneta Key | 81 comments I don't think handwriting is outdated as brain science links it to certain process in the brain and certain improvements in areas that govern creativity.

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/handwri...

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nancyols...

I tend to do handwritten lists but I have trouble reading my writing when I do a lot it is not legible, so if important I type it, BUT mind mapping by hand works really well when developing ideas.

1. I do like log lines, but tend to do a sentence of at least 30 words to use a guide to keep me on point for the story. A reminder of where I want to go.

2. Never done a pitch.

3. I thought the book had great information that can be used today. The pitch especially in a Twitter Pitch party.

4. I don't necessarily avoid cliches in a first draft, don't really worry about it because they can help me capture a mood, atmosphere, idea that want to express in the story. In the edit, I go back and fix it and rewrite.

5, Yes, I would use the beat sheet. I do my own version of it sometimes. Sometimes turns into a mini-outline.

6. I have not used a plot board, but I am going to try it with my current story.

7. Yes, I think seeing the story might help me. I think it might help me work it out better and see the holes in the structure.

8. I do think the book is still effective but I do think it could use adding to, expanding, not taking stuff out.

9. Yes, I am going to create a portable plot book. I love this idea. Here is the link. http://www.whatisaplot.com/?s=portabl...

10, Joanna Penn took a screenwriting course and has been talking about it quite a bit on her blog.
https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2018/...

https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/...

https://www.thecreativepenn.com/tag/s...

Google list https://www.google.com/search?q=joann...

Snider has a screenwriting software called Story Structure.
https://store.savethecat.com/collecti...


message 7: by Chrys (new)

Chrys Fey (chrysfey) Kathy wrote: "I still haven't read this book, and from all the questions you posted, I think it offers ways to view a manuscript from other perspectives which is good when I'm stuck, such as story boarding and v..."

I write by hand a lot. Every one of my books has a notebook that I spend time writing in, especially in the evening. Handwriting is definitely a great technique to help you remember and better compartmentalize things. For example, you can write out a speech you need to remember by hand a few times to get it into your memory.

But having index cards (Question #9) as a method to mobilize a storyboard is a bit dated and can become difficult with too many index cards that you have to shuffle through. I actually like having a hard-bound journal with me when I'm out-and-about for story ideas, plotting, etc. But a more modern method to bring a complex storyboard with you wherever you go would be to use a program like Trello as an app on your smartphone. I'll add that I don't currently do this (all of my plots are written out on paper), but I am interested in trying it out because my paper plots tend to stay home.


message 8: by Chrys (new)

Chrys Fey (chrysfey) Rebecca wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Kathy, I have to agree--good story building will never be outdated. Maybe the book could be revised to mention the digital options"

I don't think there will be an updated version to include digital options...Blake Snyder passed away in 2009. :(


message 9: by Chrys (new)

Chrys Fey (chrysfey) 1. I love loglines, but I usually come up with them when I'm finished with a story. I'll have to try coming up with a logline to see if it inspires or motivates me.

2. Yes, I do use a logline when I pitch my story to others. It's the easier way to pitch. lol Once you have a good sentence (or two if need be), all you have to do is remember it and repeat it. Easy peasy.

4. I have a short list of cliches that I used to write a lot or that have been killed from overuse. Back when these cliches would slip into my writing, I would do a search for them in Microsoft during my revising/editing process. Now, I don't even have to think about the cliches on that list. They've learned their lesson and stay far away now. lol

5. A. I definitely think the one-page beat sheet could be a great tool for writing novels. It could help you nail down your plot and even figure out what to put in your synopsis.

5. B. Yes! The one-page beat sheet looks like fun.

6. I use a plot board only once when I was revising a book and had to change scenes and chapters.

7. I love photography and love the idea of a visual board. I know writers use Pinterest to create visual boards. I have yet to join Pinterest (for free of becoming addicted. I've heard it happens), but I am even more tempted now.

9. I've been meaning to try out Trello. I think this would be a great technique for a complex story.

10. Thanks, Juneta, for your recommendations!


message 10: by Christine (new)

Christine Rains (christinerains) 1. I write loglines after I've finished writing a story. Sometimes I can't think of a thing, and I have to get writer friends to help.

2. Yes. I use them for marketing too.

3. I think it's handier for plotters than pantsers.

4. I try to twist cliches around, turn them on their heads. Though, sometimes, it gives the reader something familiar to have a cliche, even if they're small ones.

5. A. Yes, very nice.

B. I've tried using his beat sheet (filling it out after the first draft has been written!), but it isn't for me.

6. I don't use a plot board. I take notes as I write. I mark dots with different colors for various kinds of hits in the story. Each chapter must have a major plot point or that chapter isn't necessary. The romance and action go up and down.

7. No, it doesn't help me.

8. It can be updated, but I think it hits on some excellent points, especially for plotters.

9. I don't use any apps or programs. Maybe I'm a little dated! Yet anything I've tried hasn't struck a chord, and they've made me feel hindered.


message 11: by J. (new)

J. Dorner (j_lenni_dorner) | 15 comments I read this back in Oct 2014, but refer back to it often.

1. I have been using loglines most of the time since I read this book. I feel it was helpful for the story I had on my blog for the 2017 April A to Z.

2. I have included it with some past query letters, but I found that I prefer to self-publish.

3. I feel it was well written for the time. And, if he lived longer, there probably could have been more books with better specifics. He really did write what he knew, at least in my opinion.

4. Sometimes I avoid them. Sometimes I include them and have the characters mock the cliche to add a little humor to a tense moment.

5. I use a version of the sheet that works for me. It's very close. But I'm also not writing a script, so I have a little wiggle room.

6. I have tried something kind of like this, but my characters like to lead me down unexpected paths. I think I just organize my thoughts differently than other people.

7. I killed a story I tried to write this way. So now I just use something kind of close to it, but not nearly as structured. Like I said, my characters like to steer.

8. The trouble with the question is wondering who is going to do the updating. This guy was considered a legend. Who has filled his shoes and wants to redo this book? Knowing that at least some people are going to say it isn't as good as the original. Anyone who takes it on is going to have a comparison crisis. So maybe, if they get Steve Kloves.

9. I have fallen in love with Scrivener. I wish it existed when I started writing my fiction book. I have files upon files, all in Word, that I wish had originally been in Scrivener. I'm working on importing and fixing them, but it's a bear. So yes, we've got way better tech now.

10. I think Scrivener is really good. I had Movie Magic a few years ago, but it doesn't do anything Scrivener can't do, really. I took a class Joseph Michael offered a few years ago to really master the program. Great class. Of course, now I get emails every month from him offering other classes, some of which sound good, but I just don't have time and money for all that. So I guess that's a recommendation with an asterisk.

- J


message 12: by Chrys (new)

Chrys Fey (chrysfey) J. wrote: "I have included it with some past query letters, but I found that I prefer to self-publish."

I've also used a logline for the opening for my query letters. :)

That is a good point about who would update this book. I don't think much would need updating, though.


message 13: by Juneta, Book Club Moderator (new)

Juneta Key | 81 comments J. wrote: "I read this back in Oct 2014, but refer back to it often.

1. I have been using loglines most of the time since I read this book. I feel it was helpful for the story I had on my blog for the 2017 A..."

I love Scrivener. I also bought Joseph Michael Ninja level back 2012 and have never regret it. And I too have wanted to try some of his new courses. I have cashed in on new bonus he offers because I have lifetime access to all upgrades. So have access to some of his smaller courses which are done well because he always does a great a job with them.

But yeah, Scrivener is the best. That is good to know about the comparison to Movie Magic. I had looked at that once.


message 14: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 31 comments I got Scrivener a few years ago, but the learning curve was too steep, and I felt like I was doing what I needed very well with Word. I ended up gifting my copy to my brother who uses it for researching and writing his sermons.


message 15: by Chrys (new)

Chrys Fey (chrysfey) Rebecca wrote: "I got Scrivener a few years ago, but the learning curve was too steep, and I felt like I was doing what I needed very well with Word. I ended up gifting my copy to my brother who uses it for resear..."

I've heard from a few people that Scrivener wasn't right for them but they liked Trello. Maybe you can check that one out. :)


message 16: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 31 comments I might, Chrys. But realistically, I'll just stick with Word. I know how to make it behave.


message 17: by Chrys (new)

Chrys Fey (chrysfey) Rebecca wrote: "I might, Chrys. But realistically, I'll just stick with Word. I know how to make it behave."

I depend on Word, too. So much easier. lol


message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Foster (sarah_a_foster) | 3 comments I just finished the book so I'm a little late to the party, but wanted to share some thoughts. I've been working on the same WIP for forever, so as I read this book, I took the tips and strategies and tried to apply them to helping work on this particular WIP. Which did get the wheels in my head turning! Part of why I really liked this book. I think it will help me with my editing process.

As for the questions (some of them, anyway):

1. I don't usually use a logline when I'm first creating the story idea (although maybe I should?). I've been thinking about this sort of thing a lot lately, like how I can describe my book in a way that will make people want to read it. It's always been a difficult thing for me, particularly with the WIP I'm working on now (because I probably wrote an un-sellable book! But it's still good, I swear! Makes sense, right?) Is it bad that the adjective I've always thought of using to describe my "hero" is "manipulative"? Yeah, I have problems with loglines...

I've been thinking about this also since IWSGPit is coming up - do you guys think a logline would basically be what you would use in a Twitter pitch? (My book probably won't be ready to pitch by then even if I was brave enough, but I would like to try it someday).

5. This was my favorite chapter in the book, and I really liked the beat sheet Snyder shared. I think sometimes book writers may not think their novels follow the same structure as a movie, but they really do (or should, for the most part). I was actually surprised how well my WIP fit in with most of the points on the beat sheet. And I wasn't even trying (I'm a die hard pantser)!

What was really helpful to me with the beat sheet was that as I got to the end, all of the Act Three points, that's where it felt like my WIP differed. And this wasn't surprising to me. I know my third act is crap, and it's probably too long. But reading this chapter helped me to think about it in a different way, and hopefully when I get around to rewriting that part of the book, I'll be able to figure it out.

9. I have Scrivener and I plan to use it in the future. It's a little to late for this WIP, I think. But I have found it very helpful in planning other story ideas. I have a story with multiple POVs and timelines, so having the organization and story boards to mess around with is very helpful!


message 19: by Chrys (new)

Chrys Fey (chrysfey) Sarah wrote: "I just finished the book so I'm a little late to the party, but wanted to share some thoughts. I've been working on the same WIP for forever, so as I read this book, I took the tips and strategies ..."

I'm glad the strategies you used from this book got the wheels in your head turning. :)

Usually I struggle to come up with a logline while working on a WIP because the story is still so new and fresh and...well...a work-in-progress. lol

I personally think a logline would be perfect for a Twitter pitch.


message 20: by Juneta, Book Club Moderator (new)

Juneta Key | 81 comments Sarah wrote: "I just finished the book so I'm a little late to the party, but wanted to share some thoughts. I've been working on the same WIP for forever, so as I read this book, I took the tips and strategies ..."

Yes I think the logline would as Twitter limits the number of characters so the pitch has to be short but powerful, meaningful and encapsulate the larger idea. The idea is to grab attention so they will ask you for more.


message 21: by Roland (new)

Roland Clarke (goodreadscomroland_clarke) | 21 comments On the Scrivener/Word discussion - I use Scrivener to organise and write novels now, although I use Word for blogging and even some later stages of editing as I'm still perfecting my Scrivener skills.


message 22: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 31 comments Roland wrote: "On the Scrivener/Word discussion - I use Scrivener to organise and write novels now, although I use Word for blogging and even some later stages of editing as I'm still perfecting my Scrivener skills."

I avoid Word for blogging, because it clutters the text up with all sorts of disruptive HTML. When I draft something in Word, I have to copy it to TextEdit, then copy *that* to Blogger to avoid weirdness.


message 23: by Roland (new)

Roland Clarke (goodreadscomroland_clarke) | 21 comments I get a few bits that need editing in Wordpress but nothing major. (My problem now is Microsoft not accepting that I've moved from the UK to US so sub has expired.)


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