In Save the Cat
Blake Snyder has written the first book that I have been tempted to sit down and USE. Meaning, not use bits and pieces of enlightenment and tips, but actually use the whole book.
Now maybe part of this comes from the fact that plot
has always been the most difficult part of writing for me. I've been knocking heads with plots since I wrote my first novel.
"But Carol, I'm on chapter seven and I don't even have a plot!"
"Just keep writing, it'll show up sooner or later!"
I somehow managed to write eight books (five published) by guts, trial and error.
Then I decided to write a script, bought Screenplay
by Syd Field, and almost fell off my chair.
He told how plots were constructed. Three act structure, page numbers, etc. Now, I'll admit it was too rigid, but I didn't even care about page numbers -- I was overwhelmed by the idea that there was a specific structure I could follow because -- and this is vital -- every one of my published books fit that structure. If I'd understood structure when I wrote them, instead of following a general storyteller's instincts, I could have made them better. So whether or not it's everybody's cup of tea, I realized that what he was talking about in that book fit the way I tell stories.
There have been other books, particularly Making a Good Script Great
where Linda Seger picks up where Syd Field left off, and I've picked up lots more from talking to screenwriters, attending conferences, watching movies, etc.
But I reached the point where I was ready to read what Blake Snyder has to say, and ready to throw myself onto the tracks and just DO it. I've tried various outlining techniques from no outline at all, to 3x5 scene cards, but never have I tried a system as clearly defined as his.
I am using his system to write my current script. So far I'm pleased with it. But the script isn't written yet and hasn't gone out into the world to be tested. So all I can say is, if plot is my toughest challenge in any script, Save the Cat seems to be my strongest weapon to combat it.
I'll update when I'm through with the script.
And for those who are interested, I'm blogging about the writing process "next door" at guiltyofbeing. In the sidebar you'll find links to the posts about writing, most of which involve Save the Cat.