Review: Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need

Image for post
Image for post

I bought ‘Save The Cat’ hoping to get a basic overview of the screenwriting process — something which I’ve always been interested in but which I never knew where to start.

If you’re looking for an informative how-to with lots of script examples, then Save The Cat is likely to disappoint.

Instead, Save The Cat is written more in the form of an elongated (and textual) fireside chat from a Hollywood insider with lots of screenwriting acumen under his belt to share with the reader.

On the positive side, and in light of that, this was an entertaining read and the information conveyed was delivered in a witty and informal style.

Snyder, however, advocates for a rather uncompromising template-based approach to screenwriting in which key elements need to appear on specific pages of the script. And elaborating upon this formula constituted the bulk of the text.

Besides the various template formulae, the text consists of a lot of insider-style information about how to pitch scripts to executives and anecdotes from the author’s experience. Although there is undoubtedly much useful information about how to navigate the business of working as a screenwriter — the author devotes a few pages to paying tribute to this late agent — I felt that there was key basic information that should have been covered first. Such as …. what font is most acceptable for pitching.

For that reason, while there was lots of lively information provided, I would contest the veracity of the subtitle “the last book on screenwriting you’ll ever need.” As a script-writing novice, there were no examples provided or concrete guidance on how to format scripts.

To supplement the information I gleaned in this book, I read a recent script to learn layout and formatting conventions. And I’ve picked up information about industry typesetting conventions from the internet. But it was a pity that for all the trips down memory lane none of this information was provided in the text itself.

Finally, this edition could really use an update if the author hopes for it to remain as an evergreen guide for newbie screenwriters.

The references to the Internet (with a capital I) really show the book’s age. And I suspect that the advent of the internet as a daily staple of our lives has brought with it many other innovations that were not covered.

As entertaining an account of the author’s experience and views about screenwriting as this was, it could have used, I felt, more practical information.

Without having attempted to write a script, the formula, which is essentially the core of the book, sounded extremely constricting to me.

Finally, I think this text could use an update to bring it up to date with the advances that the internet has brought to the movie business.

Written by

Nonfiction ghostwriter. Thought leadership for B2B technology & public affairs clients. Site: DSRGhostwriting.com. Book: amzn.to/2C3jkZS

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store