Save the Cat!

save the cat

Blake Snyder (1957 – 2009) was an American screenwriter based in Los Angeles, who became one of the most popular writing mentors in the film industry. The author of three books on screenwriting and story structure, Snyder led international seminars and workshops for writers in various disciplines, as well as consultation sessions for some of Hollywood’s largest studios. His nonfiction book ‘Save the Cat!

The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need’ was written in a no-nonsense and conversational tone, which has resonated with both seasoned and novice screenwriters. The title is a term coined by Snyder and describes the scene where the audience meets the hero of a movie for the first time. The hero does something nice — e.g. saving a cat—that makes the audience like the hero and root for him. According to Snyder, it is a simple scene that helps the audience invest themselves in the character and the story, but is often lacking in many movies.

In his book, Snyder gave greatest emphasis on the importance of structure through his Blake Snyder Beat Sheet or the ‘BS2’ which includes the 15 essential ‘beats’ or plot points that all stories should contain. 1. Opening Image, 2. Theme Stated, 3. Set-up, 4. Catalyst, 5. Debate, 6. Break into Two, 7. B Story, 8. Fun and Games, 9. Midpoint, 10. Bad Guys Close In, 11. All Is Lost, 12. Dark Night of the Soul, 13. Break into Three, 14. Finale, 15. Final Image.

Snyder’s method expanded the 15 beats further into 40 beats, which are laid out on ‘The Board.’ The Board is divided into 4 rows, with each row representing a quarter of the story, namely the 1st Act, the 1st half of the 2nd Act, the 2nd half of the 2nd Act, and the 3rd Act. Snyder also introduced 10 genres in his book that distinguished how stories are structured. According to Snyder, standard genre types such as Romantic Comedy, Epic or Biography did not say much about the story, only the type of movie it is. Snyder’s system explored genre more fully, with categories such as ‘Monster in the House,’ ‘Golden Fleece,’ ‘Buddy Love’ and others.

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