SJ Reads: Save the Cat

I’ve also been trying to read more about writing, so today’s SJ Reads goes with that line of thought. I try to be aware of anything that will help me out, and I’ve noticed a lot of my writerly friends mentioning this title. I was skeptical at first, and then I paged through it at the library, and then I bought it, and then I obsessively read it and bought gigantic board to stick on my wall and five million index cards.

Of course, I’m talking about Save the Cat.

save the cat


You may be confused, because it’s a book on screenwriting. Here’s the deal – I will take any help I can get, and this book breaks down story development in really nice, specific ways. Some of it was not always the easiest to hear because we all know I like to be a little too clever-clever at times. The thing is, you can be that way, but also plan and follow a structure that will make things easier for you in the long run.

What I like about this is how it discusses ways to plan your overall basic story/theme in a pitch that I can definitely see helping not just in writing, but when shopping a project. Then, the discussion of beats and how limiting the amount and planning how energy flows ahead of time…this would have made some of my early writing so much easier, let’s put it that way. I also like the concept of using index cards vs trying to sit down at a computer and write out a giant outline or synopsis…or even to just start writing. This makes things feel more manageable, and I will take all of that I can get in my life. While the examples given aren’t always the most current, they’re still good examples and things are explained specifically and well. This is the kind of advice book that feels like the author actually has done this technique and used it, and it isn’t just something thought up to pitch an advice book. It does make you think and consider parts of your story or idea and how they’re working. It does make you do homework before you sit down to write. You know what, if it means I’m not trying to correct multiple points in time and aspects of a structure simultaneously, sure, I’ll try it.

Quick read, easy to understand, doesn’t talk down to the reader, enjoyable and feels doable. If you’re into any sort of writing, definitely check it out.

I do have the sequel, but haven’t gotten there yet, so I’ll update accordingly when I do.

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