I started the year with a controversial book. It might not seem controversial as it is, at its heart, a guide to being a more successful screenwriter. But Save The Cat By Blake Snyder is a screenwriting guide for those looking to sell their script, not to be necessarily critically acclaimed. Written by Blake Snyder, who sold many scripts in Hollywood and whose film Blank Check was turned into a major motion picture, the book guides the aspiring screenwriter towards building better structure into their script. It also encourages building out the critical pieces that surround a successful script: log lines, planning boards and how to pitch the film. He shows, for example, how simply modifying a log line can help build the foundation for a better script and ultimately one that gets sold in Hollywood.
In Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell asserts that every story follows a simple arch and that every three act structured story aligns with the transitions between our ordinary and adventure worlds. Snyder takes the concepts set up in Hero and revs them up. He sets up an opinionated guide that says each story must break into certain acts and set pieces by a certain page in the script. For example, if we’re writing an 110-page script, then the Bad Guys Close In beat better have started and been wrapped up between pages 55 and 75 of the script.
The book encourages some good practices about planning and building off a working framework, however, you as a reader are quick to find how many of your favorite films may fall into this story structure. If you are into screenwriting or films at all, it is a must read to better understand how mainstream Hollywood films are written and sold.