Book Review: Save the Cat

Book Cover from Amazon

Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Even Need by Blake Snyder


This ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a show biz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat!



My writing group assigned this as reading and I borrowed the book from the library when I saw what the kindle price was. (Over $11 – really? with the paperback less than $2 more?)

The price is indicative of the self-absorbed importance Mr. Snyder shows throughout the how-to book, even if the price is likely assigned by the publication company. I’m not paying $11.57 for a 12-year old book. And I am glad I made this decision.

While the book is filled with excellent writing advice – specifically aimed at writing a FORMULAIC BLOCKBUSTER for maximum money – the limited scope of the end-product and the underlying sexism pulls this back from wide-spread use. (Additional Note: Towards the very end the author mentions the bidding wars on spec screenplay which made him rich no longer exist in Hollywood, so the marketing advice he provides no longer applies. The writing advice still applies for the Formulaic Blockbuster.)

Putting together the perfect logline (or ‘elevator pitch’ as the writing community calls it) is a must-read, and half of the book is devoted to this. If you haven’t figured out how to create a good pitch yet for your book (or screenplay), take advantage the tutorial.

The Board is something I am going to try with my short stories, which run about the same length as a movie script, to see how well it works. Many authors swear by their Boards, but I’ve never tried them before.

The sexism is the small, underlying, insidious things found throughout Hollywood humor. Mr. Snyder specializes in comedy, so the inherent nit-picks I experienced were not unexpected. Recommended directors, all male. Strong female movie examples – Pretty Woman, Miss Congeniality, and Legally Blonde. Male movies are stuff like Die Hard. Romances are described as buddy movies where one of the “wears a skirt” – true and an example which sticks with you, but made my teeth ache. Part of it is the material available out of Hollywood – they go for the simple sexist joke and wink at the screen saying (yeah it’s sexist, but because we and you know it’s sexist, that is part of the joke and makes it not sexist … yeah, no, this is getting tired – like having African Americans being the crazy partner in 80’s movies – see we are giving them the same screen time, happy now?) No, I’m not happy and reading this book made me have several non-happy moments.

End-result, helpful read but limited in application in part because of its aim (BLOCKBUSTERS!!!) and in part by the writer (COMEDIC BLOCKBUSTERS!!!) and in part by the atmosphere/society which shaped the writer (BLOCKBUSTERS FOR HOLLYWOOD!!!) – oh, watch out for the exclamation points.