And you're still reading this! Which proves that saving cats must be deeply buried somewhere in our psyche as a Decent Thing To Do, and brings me to my book recommendation for this month.
Save the Cat! is a book about screenwriting by Blake Snyder, who has written successfully for Hollywood so presumably knows what he is talking about. You won't learn the basics of how to format a script from this book, but you'll discover how stories are put together for a popcorn-popping audience, which translates equally as well to the page, particularly if you're writing genre fiction.
I have only just started my screen writing journey (I'm experimenting with a screenplay of my Pendragon Legacy series, if you're curious). But while I was reading Blake Snyder's book, I was working on the first draft of my next book for teenagers, and saw at least three areas where my story could be improved, one of which has transformed my hero from an ordinary, brave-ish young character into someone with much higher stakes to play for. When I've finished the draft, I will check how well the story works using Blake's famous 'beat sheet', hopefully without making it too formulaic and killing the soul of my book in the process.
A word of warning. I'm sure a new writer with enough determination could follow the 'Save the Cat!' formula and come up with a half-decent story - but I suspect that if you'd given me this book twenty years ago, when I was starting to think about writing for publication, I'm equally sure I'd have tripped over my debut-author feet by thinking about the process too much, and probably never finished my first book. It's like asking a cat to explain how it leaps from the roof on to a rickety fence, and from there to a fence post too small for all four paws and safely down to the ground without falling... does the cat even know? As a guide to story structure for those who already have some experience, however, it could be just what you need to refresh those creative batteries.
|Not dead yet - I'm just recharging.|
But that's enough about saving cats. Do check out this book if you haven't come across it already - if nothing else, printing out a few beat sheets will keep you entertained while you are watching all those replays of 'Game of Thrones' in preparation for the final series next year. Oh, and it doesn't have to be a cat that gets saved... you got that, right?
Katherine Roberts writes fantasy and historical fiction for young (and older) readers.
Her Pendragon Girl logline is:
"King Arthur's secret daughter battles her evil cousin Mordred for the four magical Lights that can bring her father back from the dead and save Camelot from the dark."
Find out more at www.katherineroberts.co.uk