And old-fashioned. I think that's the best way to describe his approach to the Hollywood movie. Neat structure and following a formula is smart, but movie-making--and story-telling-- has changed so drastically since the 80s and 90s. Most of the movies Snyder references as good, including his own, have either been completely forgotten, never got made in the case of his own and two of the "recent sales" he heralded as great.
Don't get me started on his praise of 4 Christmases , or are obvious classics but are the rare exception ie: Chinatown; Die Hard. I enjoyed Blank Check as a kid and all, but Stop I mean, seriously. Who cares if the screenplay made a million dollars. Bad movie! I'm 29, born in , and I am of the generation who likes their movies fresh, innovative and non-formulaic. I don't have a short attention span -- I can handle long exposition, smart complicated plots, and complex characters. Snyder doesn't specifically say why Memento fails, but he makes it clear that he hates that movie. And I say: eff off.
And The Prestige.
It's effing good. Then there's Signs. Now, M. He probably could have used more structure in his screenwriting and more oversight at the studio level. Apparently, it violates the rules of having two "mumbo jumbo magic" things. Signs should have stuck with just aliens, and also apparently shouldn't have featured that section where we see what's happening in the outside world via the news.
Nope, nope, nope. Totally disagree. Signs is NOT about an alien invasion. It's about a crisis of faith in God, and framing a big emergency around one average family. The scene where they watch the news is that vital glimpse of what's happening outside, to give the viewer context. I would have disliked Signs if it was just an alien movie though honestly I get the sense that Snyder basically writes just for Dudes, all of his advice is about Dudes and Heroes and Primal shit, so yeah.
But as a movie about family and faith, framed around alien invasion? Elevates the movie to quite good. The "can't have two forms of magic in one movie" is also the reason Snyder says Spiderman fails. But that doesn't mean the core structure isn't useful. View 1 comment. Nov 20, K. Weiland rated it it was amazing. As a novelist, the more I read screenwriting books, the more I love them. Straightforward, no-nonsense, and endlessly applicable, they cut through the fluff and offer practical tips for writing better stories.
Snyder's beloved Save the Cat! He entertains even as he shares tips on structure and character and little, memorable bits such as his "Save the Cat" and "Keep the Press Out" slogans. Is there a bit of formulaism here? But even for authors who completely balk As a novelist, the more I read screenwriting books, the more I love them. But even for authors who completely balk at the notion that stories fit into certain time-worn formulas, the practicality of what's mentioned throughout this book is still something that can be adapted by just about any screenwriter, novelist, or short story writer.
Highly recommended. View all 6 comments. Dec 02, Stephen Worman rated it did not like it. Hack advice given by a hack writer. While it's nice to see the business side of writing examined, it would have been better i. If your only two credits for screenwriting are "Blank Check" and the so-bad-Sylvester-Stallone-apologized-for-his-role-in-its-creation "Stop Or My Mother Will Shoot", you have no place writing a book on the subject.
Even the non-creative side is uninspired rehashes of common sense advice F Hack advice given by a hack writer. Even the non-creative side is uninspired rehashes of common sense advice Find decent criticism! Work on your sales pitch! That I should even have to point this out is insulting to me as a reader and cinephile. The only good thing one can say about this book is that the title actually goes over something interesting. The idea of "saving the cat" or introducing a character with a scene that highlights his virtues in a cool, identifiable way, is not only sound, but a damned impressive insight for a book of this quality.
But, since it's detailed in the first ten pages, you can save yourself the time and just read the excerpt on Amazon. View all 4 comments. Jun 23, Jeffrey Johnson rated it did not like it. A lot of people swear by this book, but I think it's just terrible. If you want to write movies, there is a great deal to be gained by learning about the three-act structure.
That being said, though, Blake Snyder will teach you a micro-managed form of it that forces you to meet a very specific and frankly obnoxious rubric. Snyder says specifically in his book that if he turns to one of the pages where he says X should happen and X doesn't happen, he immediately dismisses the script. Though he pro A lot of people swear by this book, but I think it's just terrible. Though he provides dozens of examples to back up his claims, let's keep in mind that there are hundreds of movies released each year. He actually singles out 'Memento' as a bad movie, and backs up his belief that it is both bad and an unsuccessful script because it didn't make a lot of money immediately upon release.
Forgive me if I chose to dismiss most of a book by the man who hasn't had a script produced since 'Blank Check' and which also trashes one of the most innovative movies in recent years by one of the most successful and popular filmmakers working today as sour grapes. If you want to get a feel for structure, go for Syd Field or Lew Hunter and don't waste your time with the micromanaged, bitter, and pathetic ideas of Mr.
That's one chapter near the front Jan 06, Nicholas Karpuk rated it liked it. Some people who can't really should teach. Blake Snyder mentions on several occasions that he sold a screenplay to Steven Spielberg for a million dollars at one point. Impressive right?
Then he ruins it by describing his story. It was called "Nuclear Family" and involved a family who camped by a nucleur test site, gaining super powers. I'm rather glad that failed, and then "The Incredibles" happened instead. Blake Snyder's ideas are consistently awful. He's the scribe responsible for "Blank Check" Some people who can't really should teach. I'm familiar enough with bad movies to groan at both those titles.
All his ideas are about that caliber, and his comedies are especially heinous in description. His talents very obviously relate more to selling screenplays and knowing what sells. There's a lot of good explanations on how formulas work, how to structure the three acts, what all needs to be included, etc. It's well laid out and really did get me fired up to create a good story.
The first thing that cracked me up were some of his homebrewed labels. What he considers memorable is sometimes so specific that it's basically useless for anyone else. One pitfall is called Black Vet, based on an argument with a cowriter about a show where the man was both a veteran and a vetrinarian. There had to have been a more accessible title for some of these. The most hilarious point is his rant about Momento, which breaks a lot of the formulas.
His zinger is that Momento didn't actually make all that much money. I always find it tiresome when people discuss popularity and quality like they're different words for the same thing hi, Avatar fans. At times the two are points on two seperate axis that comes close once in a while. It's so easy to make a list of things most artists would find repugnant that would be bulletproof if measured in popularity.
My favorites would be Larry the Cable Guy and the Insane Clown Posse who've actually made the popularity argument themselves. For me, the corny perspective of its narrator is an odd enhancement. If you're not the type who watches bad movies just to snicker them, your mileage with Snyder may vary. Feb 27, Joe rated it liked it. If you didn't like a novelist's stories, would you follow their advice in crafting your own? Would you take cooking instruction from a chef if their meals didn't please your taste buds? What about a painter whose portfolio only inspired shrugs? That's the dilemma for almost everyone who reads Save the Cat , a how-to guide for aspiring Hollywood screenwriters.
The author, Blake Snyder, has written numerous scripts, sold many, had a couple made into movies and earned a small fortune along the way, b If you didn't like a novelist's stories, would you follow their advice in crafting your own? The author, Blake Snyder, has written numerous scripts, sold many, had a couple made into movies and earned a small fortune along the way, but the results of his work haven't earned a place on many 'favorites' lists.
His most successful screenplay was for Blank Check , a comedy for children that is poorly regarded: He also penned the script for the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Stop or My Mom Will Shoot , one of the legendary misfires in cinematic history: But what about the scripts he sold that never made it into production?
Maybe there's a gem or two hiding in Blake's portfolio. But no of course not. He wrote Nuclear Family , which sounds like The Incredibles without the wit. But the piece de resistance is Big, Ugly Baby. If the title alone doesn't force you to recoil in horror, here's how Blake describes the story during a section on writing distinctive characters; '… an alien-switched-at-birth comedy. I gave every character a verbal tic.
I don't agree with all of Blake's storytelling suggestions, but his prose proves lively and his arguments organized. He admits that his rules are designed for broad entertainment and hints that he didn't so much invent the system as piece it together by studying classics and listening to the advice of movie-making masters.
Save The Cat is worth a read just to understand how Hollywood movies are structured. That is, if you can trust an artist whose best work is their textbook. Edited Oct 30, Joshua Rigsby rated it liked it Shelves: for-fun-modern , professional. These criticisms are not unjustified. Snyder sets out a systematic, formulaic strategy for writing a screenplay that hits all of the same tired plot points we've seen a million times.
Take a big budget studio movie, break it down minute by minute, and almost without exception every plot point hits at the exact minute mark Snyder describes. Save the Cat 's premise essentially says, "Hey you want to make it in Hollywood? Stick to this formula! You're good to go. Movies come out bland, tepid, and unoriginal, but no one seems to object, so the stasis remains unchallenged. Snyder reinforces his premise by dogmatically attacking as garbage any movies that dare to fall outside of his formula e.
These diatribes come across as pointless and disingenuous to me. Why proclaim that your way is the only way? Why discredit all other options? Why not simply offer yours as the best among competing suggestions? There were several places where Snyder snidely snipes at movies that I felt were unwarranted.
A decent, box office-pleasing flick that challenges convention should be praised, not derided, at least in my view. That said, this book can still be useful, especially to the new screenwriter. Snyder provides a 10, foot view of the way stories are structured. He borrows from Campbell and other theorists who've put together similar systems. And, like it or not, this structure is one American movie goers have come to expect from their narrative entertainment, so it makes sense to at least be aware of what the expectations are before challenging them.
He also offers an honest assessment of what it's like to work in Hollywood, and the amount of work and rejection required to get anything made. The book is a little dated these days, as any material that references modern movies inevitably becomes. Some of the on-the-ground strategies he recommends for getting noticed are irrelevant now, his suspicion of email for instance, strikes the reader as glaringly old fashioned.
All told, though, if someone is interested in understanding how Hollywood narrative functions, this is still a good book to read. Take some of Snyder's recommendations, leave others. Feb 17, Ross Blocher rated it it was amazing. Save the Cat! It's fast, smart, irreverent, and gives you a kick in the butt to start work on your screenplay. Figure out your logline a brief description of what your film is , make sure it's sufficiently enticing, and then write to that. Block out your beats on a big board with index cards: opening image, statement of theme, catalyst, midpoint, dark night of the soul, finale, etc.
You should even know in advance exactly whi Save the Cat! You should even know in advance exactly which pages those moments appear!
31 Movies Based on Short Stories
It is formulaic, absolutely, but in the true-to-life way that all major films are formulaic. Across genre and subject, some storytelling requirements just don't change. We need a hero that is proactive and that we care about the titular "save the cat" is a mnemonic for having the hero do something early on that makes us relate to him or her. We want our stories to be about something related to our primal needs for survival. We want to be shown rather than told.
Every character needs an arc. We have short attention spans and get bored with exposition. And so on. And sure Along the way, Snyder shares his personal experience as a spec writer, examples from popular films, and practical tips to get past your own dark nights of the soul as your story comes together. It's a pithy, nutrient-rich source of inspiration if you've got a story you're trying to develop.
Mar 05, Samantha Luce rated it liked it. It was good. Not worth all the hype though. Blake Snyder made it easy to follow.
It's helpful not just for screenwriting but any sort of writing. May 10, Robert Kroese rated it liked it. Save the Cat is basically a book full of little gimmicks for improving a screenplay, as well as pitfalls to avoid. Still, Save the Cat is worth reading for the very concrete advice it gives in structuring a screenplay. I think his tips apply to screenwriting sort of the way the rules of grammar apply to dialog: you need to internalize them and then forget them. If you doggedly apply the rules to dialog, you end up with stilted dialog. If you insist on following the advice in Save the Cat to the letter, you may end up with a movie like Chill Factor.
Nov 12, Leonard Gaya rated it really liked it. This is a "how to" handbook, targeting aspiring screenwriters, composed by a man who actually has some track record in writing comedy scripts for Hollywood.
What Is Tragedy?
Dick version. It was a huge hit. Let me give you a message. He violated nature. I only use water in that story because the actual location of the story is a real place I can write about. It seemed an obvious place to bury a body and dispose of a gun. I put the water there because they drove along the river there.
A good old Western with a good old ticking clock: that train to Yuma, which needs to leave with a certain outlaw on it. For what has actually occurred is that Mr. It looks. Do better by this American master, please, Hollywood.
Want to write a bestselling novel? Use an algorithm | Money | The Guardian
Minority Report , based on Philip K. He questioned everything Hollywood wanted to affirm. Certainly one of the most successful short story to film adaptations—or at least successful enough that Annie Proulx grew to resent it deeply. You know you have to have characters to hang the story on but I guess they were too real.
A lot of people have adopted them and put their names on their license plates. Sometimes the cart gets away from the horse—the characters outgrew the intent. However, we went ahead, and in the conferences that ensued the story was quietly changed, so that the subject no longer concerned a small boy who unwittingly betrayed his best friend to the police, but dealt instead with a small boy who believed that his friend was a murderer and nearly procured his arrest by telling lies in his defense. Or more disgusting, depending on your temperament.
Gibson himself wrote the screenplay for the adaptation, but the film came out a lot different from the original text, and a lot different than he had intended. Basically what happened was it was taken away and re-cut by the American distributor in the last month of its prerelease life, and it went from being a very funny, very alternative piece of work to being something that had been very unsuccessfully chopped and cut into something more mainstream. She's come too far, and learned too much for having met the love of her life. So Kate makes the only decision anyone can who's seen the error of her ways; she jumps back on the sinking ship to rejoin Leo.
Come hell or high water sorry , she's changed. Silly comedies have this moment too. One of the silliest is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. John will be Steve's guide in more than getting back to Chicago. For this journey's real lesson is how Steve has been neglecting his family; he's been too involved with his snappy fedora, lush shoes, and the client to realize he's been missing the best part of life.
And the guy who'll teach him this lesson is John, who keeps a picture of his wife by his bed every night. Steve's moment of clarity comes when, happily riding home on the train after dropping John off, he recalls the trip, and suddenly puts it all together: John has no wife; she's dead. Steve even proves he's changed by doing something he'd never do at the start of this adventure: go back to rescue his pal. It's why the meeting of John and Steve's wife on the doorstep of Steve's home has such lovely resonance: John has brought Steve home as much as Steve has brought John.
You may not realize it watching these movies once or twice or even more, but in both films we are set up for the moment of clarity by stating the theme loud and clear. The Theme Stated moment of a movie is vital; it's what your movie is about. In Titanic , the Theme Stated moment comes when Leo DiCaprio toasts the rich folk he's been invited to dine with, including the admiring Kate, with: "Make each day count. One day, even a last day, with Leo is worth a thousand days of a lifeless future.
In the John Hughes classic, the Theme Stated beat is right up front. And like many Theme Stated moments, it's spoken to the hero by someone the hero doesn't think has anything to tell him -- and seems unimportant at the time. It's in Minute 12 of this movie when, after phoning his wife about his flight delay, a dejected Steve hears a bit of wisdom from stately, plump John Candy: "I have a motto," he tells Steve.
Love your wife. He has no idea that's what this trip will be about. The Theme Stated must also tie into the B story, or what I like to call the Helper Story, because it helps the hero understand the change he needs to make. And it's amazing how Theme Stated is linked to the B Story that will link to the final revelation. In What Women Want , starring Mel Gibson, about a chauvinistic ad guy who magically hears what women are thinking, the Theme Stated moment occurs at Minute Mel's advertising agency boss, Alan Alda, calls Mel into his office and tells him: "If we don't evolve and grow beyond our natural ability, we're gonna go down.
And who will Mel be helped by? None other than the B Story - Helen Hunt.