Blog the Cat, Chapter Six – Common Sense Rules

February 19, 2011

Blog the cat screenwriting index.

Well, since it’s Saturday, we’re back to my chapter-by-chapter reviews of Blake Snyder’s screenwriting book ‘Save the Cat.’

As we move on through Blake Snyder’s book, this chapter is a little bit less structured than the first five. I also found it much less hard-and-fast than its title, ‘The Immutable Laws of Screenplay Physics’ suggested. But then, I tend to side with the school of thought exemplified by the line, “The only rule of writing is: there are no rules.”

And also, as much as Blake goes on about wanting credit for his ‘snappy rules and ironclad laws’, he doesn’t even lay them out as instructions or warnings. There’s details about how to handle each one, but more than anything, this chapter is laid out as an in-depth glossary, so I’ll cover it on the same basis.

Item 1: Save the Cat

I was already familiar with this tidbit from discussions of Blake’s principles around the time of Script Frenzy last year – and it came up in the introduction as well, since it’s the origin of the title.

What is it? The thing that the hero has to do when the audience meets him, so that they like him and want him to win.

Good or bad thing? Good, in fact, required according to Blake.

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Blog the cat, chapter 3 – Characters

January 29, 2011

Blog the Cat post index.
In Chapter Three of Save the Cat, “It’s about a guy who…” Blake Snyder talks about how important characters are to a movie idea and pitch. I’m starting to like these offbeat chapter titles, by the way.

I’m certainly predisposed to the idea that well developed characters are central to telling a story, and that the characters should fit the plot well. Blake starts by telling how good characters give the audience somebody to identify with, somebody to experience the story for them. He also covers how descriptive adjectives for your characters can make the logline more compelling, which is interesting especially since I’ve been hearing a lot about how important it is to avoid overusing adjectives in prose fiction, but a script logline is certainly a very different kind of writing, so it’s not too surprising that the rules should be different there.

He gives this checklist for character-related elements to look for in the logline:

  • A hero
  • An adjective to describe the hero
  • A bad guy
  • An adjective to describe the bad guy
  • A compelling, identifiable goal for the hero

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