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Book Review — Save the Cat! Writes for TV August 27, 2021

I very much enjoyed the original Save the Cat![1] Book by Blake Snyder.  Although it focused on screenwriting, and I am not a screenwriter, there is something universal about story that made it fascinating to see the concept broken down into its elements. So I was super excited when the good folks at WOW! Women on Writing offered me a copy of Save the Cat! Writes for TV in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour of the book.

Blake Snyder died in 2009[2], but his protégé, Jamie Nash, has taken up the torch and written a sequel called “Save the Cat! Writes for TV – The Last Book on Creating Binge-Worthy Content You’ll Ever Need.”  It uses the same 10 genres and 15 story beats, and shows how you can use them for television, which is a different kind of story arc. 

Jamie Nash — doesn’t he look like a serious writer?

I have no interest in writing for television.  I’m an old dog, and learning that complicated new trick seems like it would be too much for me.  But I am fascinated by the way Nash breaks down story elements in short terms (episodes) medium terms (seasons) and long term (whole series).  These present different writing challenges, and keeping the viewer engaged in those terms is no small task. 

It’s easy, as a novelist or fiction writer, to brush this off as too formulaic.  But you’d be foolish to do so.  Story is story, whether you are talking about a sitcom, a drama, a beach read, or the classics.  In my head, just for my own entertainment’s sake, I tried to fit some of my favorite novels into Nash’s breakdowns, and they all slid in pretty well, maybe not 100%, but pretty darn close.

The truth is that no matter how clever or creative we think we are, there is nothing new under the sun.  That’s been true so long they’ve been saying it since biblical times.[3]   So it’s interesting to me what makes some variations on these old stories sticky and some variations boring.  If you’re a writer or storyteller of any kind, Save the Cat! does a great job of trying to explain what makes story work.

Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their webpage at https://savethecat.com/

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Or save it to your GoodReads reading list.


[1] The title, “Save the Cat!” comes from the concept that a bad guy can’t be entirely bad or he won’t be engaging to the audience.  While he’s off doing bad guy things, he has to do at least one redeeming thing, such as save a cat along the way. 

[2] R.I.P.

[3] For realsies.  Did you know that old saw was from Ecclesiasties 1:9? “What has been will be again, what has been done wll be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Book Review — Save the Cat! Writes for TV

3 Comments

  1. Sandy Lingo

    I enjoyed your analysis.

    Reply

  2. Lynn Hesse

    I discovered the Cat Beat plan this year and love the concept. Coming from a panser that says something. I watch Netflix series and note the way they keep viewers hooked. My husband and I are watching”ClickBait” and the writers are masters at pointing a finger at a different suspect in separate episodes for the same original murder.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      Isn’t it brilliant? I’m a pantser, too, but it’s great to keep in the back of your head. Ok, oh yeah, THIS is where this fits in…and when you’re editing, you can see exactly what’s missing.

      Reply

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Book Review — Save the Cat! Writes for TV

3 Comments

  1. Sandy Lingo

    I enjoyed your analysis.

    Reply

  2. Lynn Hesse

    I discovered the Cat Beat plan this year and love the concept. Coming from a panser that says something. I watch Netflix series and note the way they keep viewers hooked. My husband and I are watching”ClickBait” and the writers are masters at pointing a finger at a different suspect in separate episodes for the same original murder.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      Isn’t it brilliant? I’m a pantser, too, but it’s great to keep in the back of your head. Ok, oh yeah, THIS is where this fits in…and when you’re editing, you can see exactly what’s missing.

      Reply

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Lori Duff

Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side.  Her latest book, "If You Did What I Asked in the First Place" was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.

Book Review — Save the Cat! Writes for TV August 27, 2021

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