Blake Snyder Was the Master of Structure

Author:
Publish date:

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.

Image placeholder title

Blake Snyder

Image placeholder title

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 calledSave 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.

Image placeholder title

Want more on this subject?

  • See a profile of script agent Garrett Hicks of Will Entertainment.
  • Is there a difference between literary agents and script managers?
  • Want a great database of script agents/managers, script contests, conferences and theaters? Buy the 2010 Screenwriter's & Playwright's Market today! An interview with Blake Snyder is in the 2010 guide.
  • Check out an interview with script manager Marc Manus.
  • Confused about formatting? Check out Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript.
  • Read about What Agents Hate: Chapter 1 Pet Peeves.
  • Want the most complete database of agents and what genres they're looking for? Buy the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents today!
Writing Multiple Timelines and Points of View

Writing Multiple Timelines and Points of View

YA author Natalie Lund gives her top reasons why writers who might be afraid to play with multiple timelines and/or points of view should jump in feet first.

Alexander Weinstein: On Writing a Thematic Short Story Collection

Alexander Weinstein: On Writing a Thematic Short Story Collection

Author Alexander Weinstein discusses how he came to select the theme of his new short story collection, Universal Love, and what it was like to see those themes reflected in the real world.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 21

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a blank me poem.

4 Tips for Writing about Family Grudges

4 Tips for Writing about Family Grudges

Author Samantha Downing discusses the techniques she used when writing her literary novel He Started It, which focuses on family secrets, old grudges, and lots of scores to settle.

W.A. Winter: On the Joys of Writing Crime Fiction

W.A. Winter: On the Joys of Writing Crime Fiction

Crime and suspense author W.A. Winter discusses why he decided on fiction over true crime for his latest novel, The Secret Lives of Dentists, and how writing this book brought him joy.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 20

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a Love and/or Anti-Love poem.

Stationery vs. Stationary (Grammar Rules)

Stationary vs. Stationery (Grammar Rules)

Learn the differences of stationary and stationery on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Erik Larson Quote

Liminal Spaces: A Profile of Erik Larson

WD gives a peek at the daily routine of Erik Larson and the writing process behind his bestselling narrative nonfiction in this Nov/Dec 2020 profile by Zachary Petit.