Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

Billed as “the only book on screenwriting you’ll ever need”, Save the Cat’s main focus is on structure.

Snyder outlines specific “beats” or plot points that should be followed in any script, and argues that every great movie has a storyline that follows these exact same beats. The title itself, “Save the Cat!”, refers to a decisive “beat” in the story, when the protagonist demonstrates that they are worth rooting for.

An argument for constraints enabling creativity to flourish is one I’ve heard many times recently, and Save the Cat supports that. It’s true that there are very few stories that don’t share a certain structure, when you truly stop to analyse them. However, I can also understand the criticism the book’s received for encouraging formulaic plots.

I think it’s important for writers to balance a deep understanding of the patterns most stories follow with a constant curiosity and willingness to explore unexpected twists. Save the Cat’s focus on the former doesn’t necessarily negate the latter. With the disclaimer that I don’t believe that its guidance around structure needs to be strictly adhered to, I think this is an interesting book for any writer.

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