by Kelly Baugh
A couple months ago I wrote a blog that gushed about the screenwriting how-to book Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. I haven't just blogged about this either; I talk about it ALL THE TIME. I'm pretty sure my husband is sick of hearing the words, "Guess what Blake said about ..." (yes, we're on a first name basis). Much like Lennie from Of Mice and Men, I have loved on and obsessed about it until the poor thing is practically dead.
As an added bonus, I've actually done something about the information in the book, which is not my norm. Usually the roads to my manuscripts are paved with good intentions, but somehow Save the Cat! smacked me with a call to action I could not ignore. Not to show off or anything, but here's a picture of what proudly rests on the edge of my desk:
This is my book in it's all of its fifteen beats and I'm smitten, smitten like when I first fell in love with the Five Paragraph Essay my freshman year (oh Five Paragraph Essay with your thesis statement, topic sentences, transitions and concluding statement, you brought so much joy to my nerdy high school days). The reason for this deep and abiding love was the ironclad structure that guided my creative side as I wrote. For some reason, the rules of writing enabled me to express my thoughts better.
Flash forward to my leap into fiction as an adult. There's nothing like creative writing when I'm in the zone and working on my first draft, but when the dreaded second draft revisions roll around, it's a different story. Up until now I've felt like the editing process is a crap shoot. I try to make story line more cohesive, construct better sentences, refine my grammar, but inevitably I flounder. I get angry when people ask me if my book is finished. "What does that mean?" I want to shout back at them. "Can it ever be finished?"
As a big picture type of person the structural guidelines in Save the Cat! have given me the mile markers I need to wrap my creative writing around. I think this time around, I'll be about to tell when the book's done; my art just needed some rules to guide me along the way.
And I promise, this is the last time I'll talk about Save the Cat! ... in this blog post.