Book Reviews, Writing

Writing Resource: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

by Jessica Brody

SAVE THE CAT!® by Blake Snyder is a popular screenwriting book series and storytelling methodology used by screenwriters, directors, and studio execs across Hollywood. Now, for the first time ever, bestselling author and writing teacher, Jessica Brody, takes the beloved Save the Cat! plotting principals and applies them to the craft of novel writing in this exciting new “workshop style” guide, featuring over 20 full beat sheets from popular novels throughout time.

Whether you’re writing your first novel or your seventeenth, Save the Cat! breaks down plot in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step method so you can write stories that resonate! This book can help you with any of the following:

Outlining a new novel
Revising an existing novel
Breaking out of the dreaded “writer’s block”
Fixing a “broken” novel
Reviewing a completed novel
Fleshing out/test driving a new idea to see if it “has legs”
Implementing feedback from agents and/or editors
Helping give constructive feedback to other writers

But above all else, SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL will help you better understand the fundamentals and mechanics of plot, character transformation, and what makes a story work!

After hearing fellow writers and authors continually recommend Save the Cat!, I was excited to finally read a copy.

The Save the Cat! story beats are pretty similar to the Three-Act Structure, which I’m very familiar with. What was new in Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, though, was the scene count for each story beat. Prior to reading the novel, no one had ever told me how long various structure beats should be, which has resulted in my pacing being off. So I was very excited when Brody explained how many scenes each beat should be.

In addition to walking through the Save the Cat! story beats, Brody explains the ten genres/categories that stories fall into, and their genre expectations. There were a few example novels that I would have liked her to explain how they fit that category. But the ten categories are an interesting idea.

As Brody says in the novel, story structure is for plotters and panters. The only difference is when you pause and write out your structure. So no matter which writing camp you fall into, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel might be a helpful resource.

Cautions: there are several bleeped-out swear words, but it’s clear what the words are. While going through the beat sheets of the example novels, multiple cautionable things are mentioned–such as affairs, alcoholism, heavy violence, ghostly possession, and abuse–though it’s always brief and non-detailed; it’s just stated.

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