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!
for_the_travel_and_nature_writer_keeping_your_mimnd_sharp_and_your_words_insightful_caitlin_oconnell

For the Travel and Nature Writer: Keeping Your Mind Sharp and Words Insightful

Dr. Caitlin O'Connell shares some insight for travel and nature writers, including how travel helps keep your mind sharp and words insightful, whether you're writing fiction, nonfiction, sports, politics, or something else entirely.

Grushin_1:23

Olga Grushin: The No Man's Land Between Genres

Award-winning author Olga Grushin discusses what it meant to wade into a new genre and how she put her spin on the fairy tale retelling.

Poetic Forms

Rannaigecht Mor Gairit: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the rannaigecht mor gairit, a variant form of the rannaigecht.

Weinstein_1:21

The Writer, The Inner Critic, & The Slacker

Author and writing professor Alexander Weinstein explains the three parts of a writer's psyche, how they can work against the writer, and how to utilize them for success.

Stottlemyre_1:21

Todd Stottlemyre: On Mixing and Bending Genres

Author Todd Stottlemyre explains how he combined fiction and nonfiction in his latest book and what it meant as a writer to share his personal experiences.

plot_twist_story_prompts_take_a_trip_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Take a Trip

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character take a trip somewhere.

Probst_1:20

Making the Switch from Romance to Women’s Fiction

In this article, author Jennifer Probst explains the differences between romance and women's fiction, the importance of both, and how you can make the genre switch.

Wrobel_1:20

Stephanie Wrobel: On Writing an Unusual Hero

Author Stephanie Wrobel explains how she came to write about mental illness and how it affects familial relationships, as well as getting inside the head of an unusual character.

who_are_the_inaugural_poets_for_united_states_presidents_robert_lee_brewer

Who Are the Inaugural Poets for United States Presidents?

Here is a list of the inaugural poets for United States Presidential Inauguration Days from Robert Frost to Amanda Gorman. This post also touches on who an inaugural poet is and which presidents have had them at their inaugurations.