One of the biggest problems a script writer has is keeping track of all the elements in the story. Think about it; there are usually multiple characters, several locations, and if that weren't enough, there needs to be a convincing arc for each character to follow as the story progresses. What should happen and where? Difficult questions to say the least. Creating these details can be quite overwhelming.
Help me Underdog! Help me!! What? No Underdog to the rescue? Then Save the Cat Strikes Back to the rescue! Save the Cat Strikes Back is one of the coolest books in the screenwriting genre! It describes, in great detail, how to take an idea and turn it into a sellable script.
The late Blake Snyder, author of the book, left a wonderful legacy in his Save the Cat! series of books. The books and software are available online at The Writers Store. Software? What software? Hang tight, I'm getting to that.
Save the Cat! is an organizational system that goes against conventional thinking. Snyder has you start with your logline before you start writing your story, not the other way around. The logline is the sentence or two that tells what the movie is about. A good logline makes people curious and want to go see the movie. For example: Shawshank Redemption - Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
Don't worry if you don't know how to write a great logline. The book explains how to do it. Once you have a logline, all you need now is a working title and a genre. Save the Cat! gives you a list that covers most any genre. That's it! Think of the logline as the seed for your movie. Everything else makes it grow into a full blown script. Snyder has what he calls his “15 beats sheet.” These are the 15 beats of just about any well-written movie. You fill in information about your story on index cards for each beat. A beat is a changing point where something happens in the movie. For example, the moment a character has a change of heart, or has reached a point where he is ready to give up, or the climactic fight scene. Now write your scenes on cards and pin them onto a cork board so you can visually see your story before you. You've done this all from just a logline! Pretty cool, but it gets cooler with Save the Cat Software. Yup... it is the software companion to the book. Instead of using a real cork board and real index cards, you use a virtual cork board and virtual index cards. It is a godsend to all us unorganized types. You don't need the book to use the software. All the information about the beats, plot points, and writing a logline are in the software's help menu. What's really nice about Save the Cat Software is that you can carry your virtual cork board wherever you go to write.
Save the Cat Software is NOT a word processor designed to format scripts, You must use screenwriting software for that. You can now export the project into Final Draft 8. “But I use Celtix, Movie Magic Screenwriter or Final Draft 6 or 7 what do I do”? Answer: You're out of luck. The software only exports into Final Draft 8 at this time. It's no big deal though because you've still developed your outline. Just continue writing in your software of choice. Save the Cat Software is compatible with Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad. You can work in the Cloud too.
As a writer who is somewhat unorganized, I found using Save the Cat Software fun enjoyable. The three Save the Cat! books in the series are quick reads, and incredibly informative. Even if you only have the slightest concept for a story, you can now easily turn that idea into a screenplay.
PROS: Well-organized system to help you create a captivating story from just an idea or logline.
CONS: The software version only exports into Final Draft 8. A little cumbersome when first learning the software.
BOTTOM-LINE: A wonderful and affordable series of books and a software program that compliment each other.
- More product reviews by Forris Day Jr.
- Software Developer Bob McFarlane on STC and the Late, Great Blake Snyder