A few years ago, I decided I wanted to write a novel. So, I poured over quite a few novel-writing guides, trying to find one that really spoke to me. I’ve still not completed that novel, but I did find a writing guide that I really loved: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. And today, I’d like to tell you all about it (and some of the other titles in its series!) Save the Cat gets its name from a concept proposed by screenwriter Blake Snyder: if you want your audience to like your protagonist, give them something redeemable. That could be that they do something admirable (such as helping an old woman across the street or saving a cat) or they have a quality that makes us want to sympathize with them (they recently lost their job, they had an abusive childhood, etc.) After all, we want to write characters that will resonate with readers. Even if the character is a total scoundrel, you don’t want to make them completely irredeemable or your readers won’t be invested in what happens to them. “Saving the cat” makes us care.
But, Save the Cat goes a little further than that. Starting with a screenwriting guide by Blake Snyder and followed up by two novel-writing guides by Jessica Brody, the Save the Cat brand has become a formula-based writing guide that asserts that many well-known and beloved stories follow a certain series of events or “beats,” that create a well-paced story and strong character arcs.
While Snyder’s original designs were for screenwriting, author Jessica Brody argues that this method of writing can be useful in writing novels as well. Whether you’re looking to write the latest blockbuster script or a New York Times bestseller, there’s a guide for you!
If you’re looking for screenwriting help, then try Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need or Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies: The Screenwriter’s Guide to Every Story Ever Told (both by Blake Snyder).
If you’re looking for novel-writing help, then try: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need or Save the Cat! Writes a Young Adult Novel: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a YA Bestseller (both by Jessica Brody).