Blake Snyder Was the Master of Structure

I got word yesterday that screenwriter Blake Snyder passed away this week at the much-too-young age of 52.  To quickly explain who he is: Blake had a few of his screenplays produced, but he was more well known for selling a lot of scripts.  He had an amazing track record of selling original, uncommissioned (spec) scripts, even if few of them ever got produced. 

Blake Snyder

That’s Blake addressing the crowd
at our conference in LA, 2008.

At my suggestion, Writer’s Digest Books invited
him to be the big lunchtime speaker at our conference in LA in 2008. 
His speech was great, and afterward, we got a chance to sit down and
chat at dinner.
All this brings me to a book called Save the Cat! – something you should seriously consider buying.

Blake took all that he had learned about analyzing storytelling and structure and wrote a book called Save the Cat!, which is widely considered to one of the best books on screenwriting in the past 15 years.  Furthermore, the book broke out and was a modest hit because his advice on the 15 beats of any story transcended screenwriting.  His advice on the three-act structure and the highs and lows of each story could be used for anything – novels, narrative nonfiction, plays, screenplays, whatever.  He wrote a second book on screenwriting and that was doing well, too, and I know he had two more books in the works before he passed.

I am in the process of finishing my first middle grade novel and I can tell you that before I wrote one paragraph of prose, I sat down with Blake’s structure notes and mapped out my three acts.  The man knew what he was talking about.  Save the Cat! is probably the book I praise the most that 1) teaches about writing, and 2) wasn’t published by Writer’s Digest Books.  I highly suggest you buy it.

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