Screenwriting : Save the cat by blake snyder! by Divij Kak

Divij Kak

Save the cat by blake snyder!

The "ALL IS LOST" moment is the most important point in a script according to Blake Snyder and his beat sheet. It must happen on page 75. It is the opposite of the 'MIDPOINT' which is either false victory or false defeat. The 'ALL IS LOST' happens when the hero is in shambles and nothing is working for him, then really 'ALL IS LOST'. (STC) RB'S APRIL CONTENT CHALLENGE

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Usually attended by a 'whiff of death'...love that. Happy Monday!

Divij Kak

Thanks and same to you.

Brian Walsh

I've never read this book. That being said, I probably never will. When I see things like 'must happen on page 75' it makes me throw up just a little in my mouth.

Owen Mowatt

The "advice" is actually destructive, not constructive.

Dan MaxXx

@patricia u get it. them other guys who don't want to learn the craft, wanna do it on their own? good luck re-inventing the wheel. lots of people have tried. please support and buy a movie ticket to see patricia's future movies.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Patricia, the issue is: "must happen on page 75"—that's corruptive. It's imposing. It's rigid. Again, no one's disputing the natural structure of story, its function and purpose. But, it's often better to consider major act breaks as something that occurs around and about a range of pages or perhaps at a certain percentage rather than an exact page number. So, generally speaking, the second act break, or break into three, usually occurs around pages 75ish-to-80ish. It depends. :) Just a side note... Laurie posted a link to a great article that talked about what judges look for and the key element is originality of voice. I thought it was helpful. Here's the thread: https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting/What-it-takes-to-stand-out-....

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Brian...I originally kind of thought like you did about the whole stc structure thing....then I read stc. I felt like he was talking to me personally. I laughed, I cried, and I knew, finally & deeply, that I am a screenplay writer. I also recognized that he totally knew what he was talking about and he was just trying to help me make a sale. The Page One re-write process on some of my screenplays was relatively painless, thanks to his help. My understanding of the biz was rounded out. I plan to follow the stc process, from start to finish, as closely as possible on my next screenplay. Blake Snyder, may you rest in peace, but know that so many of us are eternally grateful! I betcha he's doing the tango in screenplay heaven! Or maybe the cha cha. He reads like a cha cha sort of guy.

Dan MaxXx

@patricia! awesome career path! agree with everything. the audience want to be entertained, they don't care about beat sheets;. their asses will tell them if a story drags. franchise! woohoo! say "franchise" to an Agent and his/her eyes light up! aim for Amazon or Netflix. they pay more and fast track projects. they're the new studios. Just ask Max landis :)

Dan Guardino

I wrote screenplays using the save the cat beat sheet and without using it. The results were about the same. I like using the beat sheet because it helps to keep me focus. However I don't try to hit every beat lol! I use it as a guide. The problem with screenwriting is what works for someone might not work for someone else and Lady Luck tends to play the biggest role of all. Just my opinion of course.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Patricia, I'm just trying to encourage writers to keep going, to keep learning—especially new writers. There are other paths and much more to learn about craft than "Save the Cat." Best to you. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Patricia, you may also be misunderstanding my use of the word "corruptive"—from a creative standpoint, it is. Allowing the imposition of someone's interpretation upon your work... even if it may not be relevant to what you are trying to achieve or your creative intent. :) Hell, Dan G just said he doesn't try to hit every prescribed beat! LOL! STC is rather a guide not "rules." :) Anyway, I'm coming from the standpoint that structure is not a template, but rather it is story. Structure is something you use to craft your story, a process, not something to just follow. But...I'll stop. Promise. I've said enough in Divij's other STC posts. So, I'm beating a dead horse, or rather a dead cat. LOL! I shall not comment again. I don't mean to upset, only to encourage. To each their own! Best to you. :)

Dan MaxXx

^^ buddy, if u wanna quote me and also shove Artisotles, we have nothing in common. your humor is dry and u a bit too educated for my company. l luv transformers , F n Furious, books with pictures and small diag bubbles. best of luck

Jody Ellis

Well Peter maybe Snyders screenplays weren't up to your standards but the guy sold a lot of them before he died. IMDb says Stop or my mom will shoot sold for 500k and Blank check for a million. Not terrible for someone who knew nothing about craft.

Jody Ellis

I'm always impressed by entrepreneurship. It shows guts. Better than sitting around bitching about how much the rest of the world sucks.

Bill Costantini

SaveTheCatFights are always the most entertaining forum threads, though. Good job - Divij. Looking forward to the May SaveTheCat threads!

Beth Fox Heisinger

(Oops! I accidentally deleted the image of the hissing cat! Dang! It was a good one too! Fangs and everything!)

Beth Fox Heisinger

LOL! Bill, you crack me up!

Bill Costantini

LOL. Isn't it funny in a predatorial way, though, how a cat naturally BITES right by the ulna bone on the wrist, and the ulnar nerve, deeply and purposefully? Nothing renders a writer writerless so quickly...as those four fangs shear the skin, trounce the bone and slice through the nerve in one beat. All is lost, indeed. Bad kitty!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Disclaimer: The hissing cat image was intended to represent either side of the "Save the Cat" debate and not as an endorsement of one view over the other. Really. Just meant to add some much needed levity. ;)

Doug Nelson

I had the pleasure of knowing Blake some many years ago (not well) and we did talk about his Save the Cat book and the beat sheet. I argued that his page count beat sheet would become chiseled-in-stone in the minds of beginning screenwriters; that it would become detrimental to the art/craft as a whole. His response was that it was intended to only be a rough guideline used to aid in making sure that all the basis were covered. When I see someone espouse the “rule” that the all-is-lost point must fall on page 75 or the theme must be stated on page 5 or that the first act break must be on page 27… I can only conclude that the ART & craft of screenwriting has in fact been sucked down the Hollywood sewer hole. Please, we owe Blake more than that.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Sorry, I said I wouldn't comment... but, Patricia, with all due respect, just because a writer doesn't follow the STC beat sheet (to a tee) does not mean that they are not organized, or that they do not understand structure. Again, this is but one interpretation, one tool. And it is considered by some to be an introductory to structure—not structure itself. Mr. Synder took universal commonalities found or observed in story from an audience point of view and came up with an approachable reductive system—much like other gurus. You write rom-coms, right? Which from my understanding fits the STC structure well. However, it may not work as well for other genres with different structural needs. Anyway, STC is certainly something to build upon as you continue to hone your craft. ...Hey, I'm just happy to hear you've got some exciting things happening. That's fantastic!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Also, I just wish to note that there is a difference between talking about Blake Snyder, the person, verses "Save the Cat," the book. No personal attacks intended, at least on my part. LOL! But, as Doug commented, I've heard how Mr. Synder became concerned about the negative consequences his first book may have on screenwriting, hence the follow up books. :)

Doug Nelson

Beth; FYI, Syd Field had a little change of heart over the years too. Not everything written on paper is chiseled in stone like the 15 (oops) 10 commandments.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Haha! Yes, gurus seem to be "backpedaling" or "softening" as of late. "Oops, sorry, these were meant more as "guidelines."" Generally speaking and not directed at anyone in particular, it can sometimes feel like debating with religious zealots. Some folks take this stuff very seriously—more so on other sites. We're open to discussion here on Stage 32. LOL! So, I say... Whatever works best for you! Whatever helps you achieve your creative endeavors! Go forth brave screenwriters!

Jeff Lyons

My mantra: Listen to everyone, try everything, follow no one. You are your own guru. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well said, Jeff. ;)

Erik Linthorst

I agree with Jeff, I follow everything he says...

Jeff Lyons

Erik--- OMG... great to see you here :) and...yes... kiss my ring.

Doug Nelson

The only hard and fast rule in screenwriting that I know is "There are no hard and fast rules to screenwriting." I never deviate from that rule.

Dan MaxXx

My screenwriting rule, "Show me the money". thats a hard writers life lesson . Make sure the check clears (especially out of state, foreign country checks). when i get a fly-by prod. company check out of state, i go immediately to a check cashing store. Dont wait 5-7 business days for check to clear!

Doug Nelson

Beth, I don’t know that the real gurus really are backpedaling. Blake passed on and I think Syd is reanalyzing the limitations and shortfalls of his early pronouncements. The contemporary self appointed “gurus” who are selling weekend screenwriting seminars at local motel conferences or online classes seem to mostly follow along the aged old pathways. I very much hate to see this trend continuing as it really is a terrible disservice to those few who really do want to have a better understanding of the art & craft of screenwriting. But it does make for easy seminar “hand-outs”.

Fiona Faith Ross

Great thread. When I first read "Save The Cat", I reacted exactly as @Sarah GB did. I felt like he was talking to me personally. I laughed, I cried, and I knew, finally & deeply, that I am a screenplay writer. Very few writers can achieve that instant personal connection. I wish I'd met him and I fully understand why he is so missed. Whilst I sympathise with the feelings that his formula is "too rigid", if you study his arguments in depth, you'll see his advice makes perfect sense. He also backs up his insights by describing the research he did. That's fair enough. The "BS2" works for me. Yes, I distort it from time to time, but the guy makes so much sense. Stop Or My Mum Will Shoot was on terrestrial TV recently in the UK. It was fast-paced and had some great comedy moments and the necessary emotional heart. @Patricia always talks a lot of sense. So, you'll find me hanging round the "Save The Cat" threads, because I'm a big fan. Thanks @DK. @DanMax Ha ha. I'd love you to write a book on screenwriting. Put me down for the first copy.

Dan MaxXx

@fiona i'm selling my life story. bid starts $10mil or best offer. @peter corey i am not familiar with your career. can u point me to some of your published books, produced movies, broadcast radio? thank u

Beth Fox Heisinger

...Yeah, Doug, "backpedaling" was just a figure of speech. Although, I have seen some interviews of main gurus, Syd and McKee (I believe?), where I got the distinct impression of "softer" phrasing. I don't remember exactly? They were links posted by members. I have read comments/articles from a few people who knew Blake Synder personally and said he was aware about the affects of his first book, hence more books that delve deeper—but in all fairness, it was hearsay. So who knows? :) The problem is this false notion that screenwriting is easy. Hey, just three acts, hit these major turns, tick these boxes and BOOM! Award winning script! Structure/beat sheets/formula books, seminars, etc, often overwhelm new writers and crowd out other elements of storytelling. And unfortunately some new writers often think that's all they need. They stop there. Of course, we all know that's not the case. There's so much more, plus it takes a lot of hard work. :)

Dan MaxXx

my screenwriting book would be short. a fancy binder and 1 page. the page would say. "Write a novel. The End. credits."

Dan MaxXx

Peter Can u point me to some of your produced movies? If u want to be examine as story telling, look at how the entire movie is constructed, from set up, to sequence to scene; i covered 10 years of story into 6 major sequences . Anyways, lots of keyboard warriors. Best of luck. Oh, i think i found one of your commercials. Some Chinese beer? Scott Free prods is always looking for commercial directors. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

C'mon... Let's keep it to the thread topic please.

Doug Nelson

Beth – I’m with you on this. I try to remain fairly close to the thread’s theme but they do tend to sometimes wander a bit. But when it degenerates into a pointless little playground dust-up; I’m outta here. As a moderator, I guess you don’t have that option – sorry. Doug has left the building.

Marvin Willson

Save the cat is standardized screenwriting-by-the-numbers reading for Script readers in the industry and the reason most movies are exactly same. When I do coverage/consultancy it is painfully obvious which writers adhere to Blake's system and the problem is that it's formulaic and predictable. IMO the book, ANY book should be used merely as a guide. Draw from it what you need and add something of you that will help develop your voice. If your moment happens on page 75 all good, but the fact it might naturally occur on page 85 doesn't make your screenplay any less compelling.

Dan Guardino

Marvin. I agree. I only started using save the cat about a few years and I love it but I only use it as guide.

Marvin Willson

Okay, here is a suggestion... I have read just about every screenwriting book out there and most of them are crap. However there are, IMHO the four books that are essential reading and in this order.... SAVE THE CAT - For beginners to teach some form of structure, but please do not adhere to the rigid formula. CRAFTY SCREENWRITING - Alex Epstein - Great for understanding what development people look for in a script from someone who worked in development. INSIDE STORY - Dara Marks - The best book ever for character development and transformational arcs. YOUR SCREENPLAY SUCKS - William Akers - Read this after you've written your masterpiece and you will be truly humbled. And if you want to know how the business works, read HOW TO MANAGE YOUR AGENT - Chad Gervich

Michael L. Burris

Well I just figure any screenwriter worth a damn and invested in their craft should eventually be able to write their own screen, television craft book and its most probable they read them all a couple years in. Yeah that's it: any screenwriter invested enough can write their own. It helps to listen and not be a know it all but you know what: any worth a damn really kind of are a know it all of their craft continuously keeping up with trends as well as the tried and true. Hate to say it, but its true. My worry is forgetting half of what I learned and it takes work to stay sharp and that "Doubting Thomas" syndrome lingers even with the best I imagine anyway.

Marvin Willson

Michael - Write everyday and you'll start to use a lot of it subconsciously .

Dan Guardino

Michael. Eventually with enough practice everything becomes second nature and you don't have to think of anything except telling your story. That is when screenwriting becomes more enjoyable then if you keep it up it becomes less enjoyable..

Beth Fox Heisinger

Let's please return to the thread topic. Thanks.

Doug Nelson

Kathleen – it’s like trying to learn from a Mocking Bird, eh? I just hope that Divij and others find some value in this thread.

Leo Sopicki

I read the Save the Cat books, but they didn't really help me that much. I found The Story Solution by Eric Edson more helpful. His equivalent beat (actually getting back to the beginning of this thread) is what he calls Stunning Surprise #2 "...which provides the biggest reversal for the Hero in the entire story -- usually to the negative." No exact page is specified. :)

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