Save the Cat

October 20, 2008 at 12:20 pm (Writing)


Hello all. Believe it or not, my October resolution is to try and post more, even if it’s smaller items. See, sometimes I get stuck in the “If I post, it has to be lengthy, witty and informative” mindset, and you can see how that would cause a person to really slow down on posting. So, be ready for smaller, shorter posts and possibly more cat humor. Can’t go wrong with cat humor…


General business: Montana and I celebrated the finishing of Book #5 by taking a little trip down to Tucson. I got to see the band I would walk across broken glass for (a.k.a. Great Big Sea) and we got to have a fun adventure in The Old Pueblo. (Betcha didn’t know that was a nickname for Tucson. Neither did I until I googled it. See, without even trying I was informative. Yea, me!) And any adventure that includes pancakes automatically moves up into fabulous territory, so rest assured that the celebration was complete. Since then, I have been editing, and got Chapter One done last week. (Which Montana got to read last night, but don’t even try—he’s sworn to secrecy. If he leaks anything, no more pancakes is the least of his problems.) The only thing I’ll say is that I’m really excited about this book. Much different than anything I’ve done before. (And speaking of Montana, he finished a huge task with his most recent book, so give him a hooray.)


On to the post: Last year at RWA Nationals, I attended the second of two seminars given by Michael Hauge. (Yes, Michael’s specialty is screenplays, but as he says, how many of you wouldn’t want to see your book made into a movie?) Oh. My. God. That man is wonderful. His discussion alone on essence vs. identity was worth the price of the conference.


So at this year’s conference, I hear that Blake Snyder of Save the Cat fame will be presenting. Yeah, sure, okay, but he’s up against Writing the Hot Historical and I’m a Hauge Fan, so Blake (also a screenwriter) is probably is going to get bumped off my schedule. Saturday morning rolls around and the Hot Historical room has gone past standing room only to sardine room only. Not worth it. So we (Montana and I, also a Hauge fan) toddle down to the Blake Snyder seminar.


Let me sum up Blake’s seminar for you:  















Blake (I can call him Blake because we’re such close and personal friends…) breaks movies down into groupings like Golden Fleece, Monster in the House and Dude with a Problem. And from these groupings, he breaks them down even further using his amazing Beat Sheet. (Even I, a dedicated panster, am finding this tool deliciously valuable, especially now that I’m editing!) When you see how he illustrates Wedding Crashers or When Harry Met Sally, you’ll be a believer, too.


And his loglines? A thing of beauty truly is a joy forever. For those of you looking to pitch, you need to read how the man does loglines. You’ll never miss a pitch again.


Why am I gushing about Blake now? About two weeks ago I finally picked up his book, Save the Cat, along with its companion book, Save the Cat Goes to the Movies. When you read Blake’s lessons on Stasis=Death using Romancing the Stone, or Elle Woods’ False Defeat in Legally Blonde, you’ll know why I’m gushing. He tells you not only the what, but the why and when. Fabulous!


Now, I’m not saying that by following his Beat Sheet you’ll rocket to the New York Times bestseller list, but you’ll absolutely understand why top producing movies are successful and apply that structure to your book. I can’t count the number of gems I’ve found, the kind that make you slap your head and scream either in frustration because the answer was there the whole time and you missed it or in joy because there’s the answer!!!


(Now, I’m still a Hauge fan, but he gets his own post. My The Hero’s Two Journeys and Screenwriting for Hollywood order haven’t arrived yet, so I can’t gush quite as adequately. Be patient, my friends. These are not the droids you’re looking for.)


I’m going to stop my infomercial now, but I had to share Blake’s amazing tools with you. If you don’t run right out and buy his book, at least go to his website and check out his blog, peek into the community forums, download his beat sheet. I promise each and every one of you will learn something.


Including Pope in the Pool. How’s that for a cliffhanger?



  1. Robin said,

    Hi Pam! Congrats again on finishing Book # 5! And hooray, Montana! Congrats to you too! You two are the writing dynamic duo! And I too loved Blake Snyder’s workshop! He was terrific! I don’t have his book, but now that you’ve endorsed it, I’m going to go get it. Thanks!

  2. Alyson Noel said,

    I LOVE Blake Snyder! That was a great talk he gave, and my copy of SAVE THE CAT sits beside me while I write!
    Congrats on all the good writing you’ve done!

  3. L.A. Mitchell said,

    This is the first I’ve heard of him. How sheltered have I been? Can’t wait to check out these links. Thanks, Pam 🙂

  4. Montana said,

    Thanks for the congrats, Robin. It’s great to hear from you. Aren’t these screenwriters fun? They really know how to move a story along. I’m waiting for Pam to finish the Blake Snyder books so I can start my refresher course. Until then I’ll have to use my own groupings. Number one on the list? Pancake in a pool…

  5. pamwritesromance said,

    Robin–I really think you’re going to love it. It’s an easy read but just so packed with great information! 😀

    Alyson–So what did you like the best? (I know, it’s hard to pick just one or two…) 😉

  6. pamwritesromance said,

    L.A.– Last year was the first I was turned onto screenwriting as a writing tool and I haven’t looked back. Just fabulous information! Good luck! 🙂

    Montana–I don’t know why you need a refresher course. Every time I read a good tip I read it aloud to you! 😉 (And don’t think I missed that Pancake in a Pool comment…)

  7. Marilyn Brant said,

    Hey, congrats on finishing Book #5–yay, you!!! And Blake’s amazing (he and I are also on a first-name basis…). Sometimes I spontaneously pick up my copy of Save the Cat Goes to the Movies and just hug it. 🙂

  8. Kyle said,

    Montana writes, too?! My lord, good on you both!

    I’m a big lover of screenwriters, because the good ones just GET IT. I’d love to write a screenplay one day (as I’m sure you know!), but figure I have to finish my damn book first… 🙂

    Yay on celebrating! And pancakes ARE fabulous!

    If anyone is able to get to the NYC area in July (?) of next year, I’d highly suggest going to ThrillerFest. Even if you don’t write thrillers (I write literary fiction), I found most of the sessions really helpful!

    I think I have the Save the Cat book, but haven’t read it yet. I have read the Screenwriter’s Bible, though, which was very good. I’ll get to the Cat one sooner or later!

  9. Melina said,

    Thanks for the great advice Pam! I’m off to go see if I can find the workshop on my conference CD. I keep hearing great things about it!

    Congratulations again to you and Montana for your huge writing accomplishments!

  10. pamwritesromance said,

    Marilyn–I just love Blake’s movie breakdowns. I think you can learn something from Save the Cat Goes to the Movies even if you haven’t read Save the Cat! 😀

    Kyle–I’m dittoing what you said about Thrillerfest. I can’t remember if they had screenwriters there or not the first year. It’s all good!

    Melina–I think you’ll enjoy it. I just noticed tonight Blake also did a podcast on The Writing Show. If I think of it tomorrow, I’ll post a link. 🙂

  11. Caryn Caldwell said,

    Congratulations on your huge accomplishment, Montana! You should be very proud.

    Like you and Robin and Alyson, I was at the workshop, and it was FANTASTIC! I find myself thinking about it both when I’m writing and when I’m reading books or watching movies. I still don’t have a copy of the book since I tend to buy books on writing, read the first thirty pages, and abandon them, but maybe I’ll break my rule just this once.

    Oh, and as for feeling pressure to post something amazing, I find that the longer I wait between posts, the more that pressure builds, as if I need to make up for being silent for so long. And, of course, the more pressure there is the harder it is to write.

  12. pamwritesromance said,

    Caryn–at least check out his site. You’ll get a feel for what he’s teaching and if you feel the book is worth it or not. And I hear you on the pressure–we’re on the same page, my friend! 🙂

  13. pamwritesromance said,

    Okay, for Melina and anybody else curious about Blake, here are links to 2 podcasts he did earlier this year for The Writing Show. I just discovered them lurking in my iTunes the other day, so haven’t listened to them yet, but if they’re anything like his RWA talk, I’m IN!

    Working with “Theme” in Your Screenplay

    What Successful Screenplays Have in Common

  14. Katie Reus said,

    Yay! Congrats on finishing your book #5! I’ve never heard of him either so thanks for posting those links 🙂

  15. Melissa Blue said,

    Stopping by to let you know (before word gets out) I’m writing a YA for NaNo. You may now laugh evilly.

  16. pamwritesromance said,

    Katie–thanks for the congrats. Let me know what you think of Blake! 🙂

    Melissa–Mwah hah hah!!! 😀

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