May 16, 2011

Save The Cat - Screenwriting for Novelists

Save the Cat is a book for screenwriters that gets a lot of airtime on blogs. I don't do screenwriting, but I did find Writing Screenplays that Sell contained valuable advice for novelists. You can see my post along with a free PDF download on that book here:

Save the Cat contained a lot of personal experiences in the movie business and Snyder does go through some of the necessities like creating the perfect logline. In fiction this is usually called the elevator pitch. It's that one or two sentences that sum up your whole story.

So what do you need for a good logline?
  • Irony. Think commitment phobic reporter must pretend to be marrying his working partner to get the story of a lifetime from a mobsters wife who happens to be a wedding coordinator. Irony is great for stories, you can see a post here if you need help: Get a Little Irony in your Diet.
  • Imagery. You need to be able to see the whole movie in that one sentence. Conceited prince gets turned into an ugly beast is not enough, you need to add 'and must convince someone to love him as the beast to break the spell'. Now we have the whole story.
  • Market. The logline should acknowledge who it's aimed at. It should be clear if it is a children's story or a romantic comedy. This will help sell your manuscript.
  • Include the title. I'm not sure if this works if you have a working title that will probably change once published. But once the title is set in stone it will help promote your novel.
Snyder also explains the need for a catalyst moment in the first ten pages. That's not the main conflict, it can be as small as a phone call telling Miss Jones she has inherited a fortune, but only if she spends one whole night at terror castle, it can be a kid truanting school only to find that will be the reason they later stumble on a dead body. Or, in the case of a lot of murder mysteries, it can be the discovery of the first victim.

Overall this was a good book for screenwriters with some helpful advice for novelists, but I think Michael Hauge's book is still my favourite.

Now I'm reading:
I hope to find out if I've been doing everything wrong online :)


  1. Wow, this is interesting. I see my books in movie form and only write in novel style because I have no idea how to write a screenplay. I gotta have this book, thanks!!!!!!!!!

  2. sounds like it maybe worth a read.

    Hmmm, I suspect Veiled in Shadows would make a great movie.

  3. I thought this book was a fairly standard how-to for mainstream screenwriting. The big selling point seemed to be his 'save the cat' moment he felt you needed to make the hero sympathetic and likeable. I found it a little simplistic.

    Have you read or posted about Robert McKee's book Story?

  4. There's so much stuff need to read. Really? Wish I didn't need to sleep or pee.

  5. I read this book and found it to be fairly helpful in parts.

  6. I'm interested in both noveling and screenwriting, so this could be very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  7. Screenwriting sounds challenging, but I know you're always up for a challenge.

    Don't know what the other book will reveal. But I doubt you've been doing everything wrong on line. Your blog is delightful.

  8. I've been wondering recently if a screen writing tips book would help to develop more believable dialogue. Thanks for the idea!

  9. Word Crafter - You're a visual person, me too, makes it easier to write a story when you can see it happen.

    Mooderino - You're right, it was good, but not quite what I was expecting after all the hype I've heard. I'll bog about Story soon, I do have it on audio and have heard it, but I need a refresher. I do remember it had some great characterisation points.

    Shelly - Theres masses of books on writing, and it's worth weeding them out (or just going crazy and buying everyone that comes across your path like I do). Amazon's look inside and their Kindle first three chapters is a good place to start, read the reviews too, people are pretty honest. I've read heaps but there's only a couple I consider essential.

    Suze - It's a really popular choice judging by writer's blogs. I think I would have got more out of it if I was into screenwriting.

    Sarah - Then this book would be more helpful for you. I admire screenwriters - I can get my head around the logistics.

    Myrna - Thanks, I'm pretty happy with my little social media world, I've found some great blogger friends - like you.

    Josh - Most welcome. I look forward to seeing what's on your blog today.

    Alleged - I think there are better books for dialogue, I'll see which ones I can find in my collection.

    Thanks for writing everyone - I'll be popping around and visiting blogs today :)

  10. Ooops - Missed Al! Soz :/

    Al - I agree, when I read your work I do think it seems movie-like.

  11. Never heard of this book. I will have to look for it. Thank you! Blessings, Joanne