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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable for some, useless for others
The usefulness of this book is going to greatly depend on what sort of screenplay(s) you are intending to write, as the scope of Blake Snyder's guide is very narrow. If you are yearning to tell the story of how child abuse rips apart a family in a small, Scottish fishing village... then do not look here. It will be of no help. If, however, you are looking to write a...
Published on 20 May 2010 by M.J. Milne

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Template for Lazy Writers but Nothing More
First of all this is not really a book about screenwriting. This is a book about the business of writing for film and how to squeeze yourself into a very particular mould laid out by Snyder in his 15 point beat sheet. For anyone hoping to have some creative freedom when it comes to writing, this book is not for you. This book is more for the 'get rich quick' crowd that...
Published 8 months ago by Andy Graves


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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable for some, useless for others, 20 May 2010
This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
The usefulness of this book is going to greatly depend on what sort of screenplay(s) you are intending to write, as the scope of Blake Snyder's guide is very narrow. If you are yearning to tell the story of how child abuse rips apart a family in a small, Scottish fishing village... then do not look here. It will be of no help. If, however, you are looking to write a mainstream (preferably high concept) idea then this book is, in my opinion, the best out there.

I have read 20+ Screenwriting books and for straight structural insight into the popularist Hollywood model, this is fantastic. People have questioned Synder's own track record in other reviews. That's nonsense. Great actors are not taught by screen legends but by people you've never heard of. It's the same with screenwriting. Syd Field, Robert Mckee, Chris Vogler - when's the last time you saw their names before a film? In fact Synder has more credentials than most out there.

Yes, he picks out some less than briliant examples of cinema (Legally Blonde?!) but the content here is sound and evident in much, much better films than the ones mentioned. This is just good, clear advice on how to plan and fix a particular type of script. It is absolutely not for everyone, nor should every film adhere to this model, but in the narrow (but MASSIVELY successful) market that this is aimed at, it's simply essential.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Craft, not the Art, 9 Aug 2009
This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
Some of the reviews are missing the point; this is not a book intended to make anyone an artist. Sadly I don't think such a book could exist; art is within you or it isn't, it cannot be taught.

Blake Snyder was teaching the craft, the nuts and bolts construction of a screenplay. His rules are no more cynical than Joseph Campbell's work on mythic archetypes, they're just presented in a much more accessible way. This is populist writing about populist writing.

So if you want solid guidelines on building the emotional machinery of a screenplay then this book will help. If you want to try to reinvent the cinematic artform, if your gods are Charlie Kaufman and Harmony Korine, then your journey begins elsewhere and probably inside yourself.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and enlightening!, 9 Jun 2008
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This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
If you're serious about becoming a screenwriter, I can't recomment this book enough!

The notes on 'True Genre' alone are worth the asking price, but the 'Immutable Laws of Screenplay Physics' are also a real eye-opener.

'Save the Cat!' is funny, incisive and enlightening - it is easily up there with the works of Bill Martell, Elliott Grove and Chris Vogler.

I certainly wasn't disappointed and I don't think you will be, either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Template for Lazy Writers but Nothing More, 17 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
First of all this is not really a book about screenwriting. This is a book about the business of writing for film and how to squeeze yourself into a very particular mould laid out by Snyder in his 15 point beat sheet. For anyone hoping to have some creative freedom when it comes to writing, this book is not for you. This book is more for the 'get rich quick' crowd that fancy dabbling at a screenplay that doesn't require too much thought. As much as Snyder claims that cliche is a bad thing to be avoided, if you follow his instructions you will end up churning out nothing but cliched drivel.

As for the writing style, for a professional writer, it really is quite poor. You can't accuse Snyder of not being clear and concise, but I found him at times to be very condescending and he repeats himself an awful lot. It's almost as though he struggled to fill the book.

This will prove helpful for some, but I would personally recommend people look elsewhere for screenwriting tips. Robert McKee for example.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but Irritating, 26 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
A clear, well-written guide to presenting your story to other people. It's aimed at screenwriters, but it's also a well-known tool for fiction and non-fiction writers. A lot of the information (such as know your genre, have a one line pitch) will be familiar to anyone who's been following writing blogs or lurking in the query trenches, but if not then it's a great place to start.

It covers lots of essential information, including genres, character archetypes, and my personal favourite the 'beat sheet', which breaks down most plots into a simple structure and can be very helpful for working out pacing problems and structural issues.

Blake can come across as irritating with his every-other-page self-promotion. I loved when he pulled out popular movies for examples of genres and styles, but I got sick of him reference his own ever-so-successful films and TV ideas. I'd never heard of any of them. This would have been fine in a smaller dose, but there was just too much of it.

I think I'll dip into this book occasionally when I need a refresher on cliches, tropes, and plot structures - but it's a difficult book to read from start to finish without Snyder's comments getting on your nerves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Formulaic but effective screenwriting, 9 Dec 2011
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Mr. M. Gunston (Bristol) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
The book delivers what you expect.
It is an easy read and the 12 step beat sheet will be incredibly useful to budding screenwriters.
However, there was one aspect of the book that really made me question the integrity of the author and that is his use of examples of what works as a screenplay and what does not.
He often references his own spec scripts and movies, none of which I have heard off and none of which impressed me.
He uses forgettable films (Miss Congeniality being the best of a sorry bunch) as examples of what is a successful film (yes in terms gross) and then critises films such as Minority Report and Open Range (2 of the most perfectly realised films of the noughties) because they break his rules of structure.
At this point in the book Blake Snyder lost all credibility for me.
It is fine to create a system to simplify the structuring of a screenplay but I did not like the way he dismissed films that are far superior in every department to anything he has been involved in because they did not follow his own set of rules.
The conclusion I came to is this guy knows how to write something that will sell and if that is why you are reading the book then I would have to recommend it despite my dissapointment in the way he references other peoples work.
Souless but effective.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best as an introduction, 18 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
Snyder is not trying to tell you how to create a classic all time masterpiece. That can probably not be taught. He is however giving you the rules to get a film made by the cynical risk averse "you have 2 minutes to sell me your film" hollywood execs.
The book is NOT perfect. Snyder does get a little too specific (page 11 and only page 11 or the catalyst?). Snyder does lift from other books. But taken with a pinch of salt, and saving you have to read entire other books for the couple of nuggets they contain, this book is a fantastic reference. And the classics you want to write will be even better if they keep somewhere near these structural points.

1) remember the maxim: Know the rules before you break the rules.
2) For a beginner, staring at 90-130 minutes of blank paper, the structure really helps.

Note that the sequel: "Save the cat goes to the movies" is also worth a read - even for people who don't want to write a script.
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76 of 93 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth the Price Paid, 28 Sep 2007
This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
There are a couple of nuggets of advice that might be construed as semi-useful, but most of this is recycled from existing literature on the craft of screenwriting. It's really just a quick fix piece written with the assumption that its readership has the attention span of an aging goldfish.

You know that friend you have who is so in love with the sound of their own voice that they'll just riff on for ages and ages until you're on the verge of telling them to shut the heck up? Well, Blake is sort of like the literary equivalent of that. While it starts off all loud and sassy, it quickly deteriorates into a non-stop barrage of written noise. Just try counting the exclamation marks if you don't believe me. They start with the title.

As opposed to truly cogent and coherent form for constructing screenplays (with the exception of an oversimplified rewrite of the structural outlines that can be found in any screenwriting literature from Syd Field's 'Screenplay' onwards), Blake seems to be providing more arbitrary pieces of 'advice' that seem to be matters of personal taste as opposed to truly insightful information about the workings of drama. Ironically, his most valuable piece of information - the part about shifting between positive and negative values within a dramatic unit - is lifted straight out of Robert McKee's 'Story'.

The final straw in determining the author's mental frame of reference occurs when he begins to lampoon solidly crafted films like Steven Spielberg's 'Minority Report' or Christopher Nolan's 'Memento' whilst simultaneously praising vacuous pop hits like 'Miss. Congeniality' and 'Legally Blond'. What's more, he goes on to dedicate an entire portion of the book to dissecting 'Miss. Congeniality' as a case study in how to make a worthy film in a section called "$100 million in 15 Beats".

It suddenly becomes painfully obvious precisely what types of films Snyder seems to be wanting to will into existence. And they're certainly not the types of films I'd term 'classics' in any sense of the word.

His only notable screenplay successes are the 'Home Alone' rip-off 'Blank Check' and an expensive script sale to Steven Spielberg of an unmade screenplay called 'Nuclear Family' (it's just another version of 'The Incredibles').

If you're really looking to seriously invest in mastering the form, 'Save the Cat' is little more than a library rental on a weekend when you have absolutely nothing else better to do. The book is obviously geared towards readers looking for 'quick fix' methods to writing screenplays. Unfortunately for them, if there is a quick fix out there, this book is not it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like all good stories!, 6 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
Like all good stories all the elements in this book have been heard before. the structure is not unique, but it is delivered in a different way. The different way that Blake is trying to get across is the essence of good writing!

This is not a quick fix! For those who have read other screenwriting theory books in the past the honest truth is that this book isn't going to tell you anything ground breaking. If you are looking for an easy way to make, write and sell a billion dollar film this isn't going to magically make one appear on the table.

However, it is a great read and it will take you through a very logical approach to screenwriting, It emphasises certain areas you may have overlooked as minor detail and tells you that these are the key to getting it all right a. It is also all written in a very readable way. This isn't a book of theory that will beat you over the head until you are sick of hearing terms like 'three act structure.' It is a book of good advice from someone who has been there and lets face it Blake Snyder is a legend!!!

The Blake Snyder beat sheet looks like a very useful resource, though I can't say I have tried it yet. Overall this has been an incredibly useful read to me if only to bring me back to basics and get me fired up again for a new batch of writing.

This book would be invaluable for new writers and is still well worth a read for those who have been doing it for years. If nothing else Blake seems like a friend who is here to help you through and in the world of writing that is a precious thing to have!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The "fast food" version, 25 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Paperback)
This is rather like eating fast food instead of a restaurant meal. It is likeable, tasty and briefly satisfying but ultimately leaves you needing a bit more. (It's possible that the sequel - which I haven't read - fills that need, of course.) I was a little sceptical about some of the advice, but overall, it seemed to me this book tried to condense the best lessons from other tomes into something more easily digested. The result is a book which I felt was a good starting point for understanding the principles of screenwriting. I found its most useful element to be the advice on "beat", which was explained with great clarity.
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