Books Writers Should Read—1. Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

How can you improve your ability to write well? Besides attending conferences and writing every day, reading books is one of the most important ways a writer can develop their craft. You should not only read your routine fiction novels, historical biographies, or whatever else strikes your fancy, but you should also read books about writing. Over the next few days, I will share six writing books I have studied that can help everyone become a better writer.

Though Save the Cat! is specifically geared towards screenplay writers, I think all fiction writers can benefit from the advice Blake Snyder offers. I have heard many writers recommend this book, and I do so as well because it gives great advice for new writers and experienced ones. I especially loved the beat sheet of 15 essential elements in a good plot and the board organization system for building a story. This book offers excellent writing advice such as creating a logline, the Pope in the Pool concept, how to overcome clichés, and of course, why you need your protagonist to save the cat.

cat and book

  • “Liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into a story.”
  • “You can be near a cliché, you can dance around it, you can run right up to it and almost embrace it. But at the last second you must turn away. You must give it a twist.”
  • “It’s not the incidents, it’s what the hero learns about himself from those incidents that makes the story work.”
  • “True originality can’t begin until you know what you’re breaking away from.”
  • “ ‘Give me the same thing . . . only different’ then is what storytelling has always been about. But it’s the way we put new twists on old tales, bring them up to date, and give them a spin that’s meaningful to our contemporaries.”
  • “I like the catalyst moment because—it’s life. Those moments happen to all of us. And life-changing events often come disguised as bad news.”
  • “In a sense, stories are about And the measuring stick that tells us who succeeds and who doesn’t is seen in the ability to change.”
  • “As in life, character is revealed by action taken, not by words spoken.”
  • “But we cannot protect our hero from danger and challenge; we must throw a little more at him than he is able to take.”
  • “The hero and the bad guy are very often two halves of the same person struggling for supremacy, and for that reason are almost equal in power and ability.”
  • “It’s not enough for the plot to go forward, it must go forward faster, and with more complexity, to the climax.”
  • “Whether it’s a comedy or a drama, wringing out the emotions of the audience is the name of the game.”

To learn more tips about writing that are inspired from this book, check out savethecat.com. Also keep an eye out for my post tomorrow, where I will share a book about writing and publishing that is an excellent pick for new writers.

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