My cat, Wilbur, semi-recreating the cover of Save The Cat! Writes a Novel. Photo by Kate Ota 2020
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody is a plot-focused writing craft book based on the popular screenwriting technique by the same name. The book has two major parts: the description of the Save the Cat! Plot structure, which has fifteen sections; and a description of ten major genres with required genre elements and examples of books in those genres with their own Save the Cat beat sheets. These genres are more specific than things like thriller, fantasy, etc. and in fact, cross those bookstore-shelf-genre lines. I got my paperback copy from a local indie bookstore for $17.99.
I read the book over several days. I took the time to highlight main points and flag pages I knew I’d need later. Rather than write a new story from scratch, I used the book to analyze my current WIP. The beat sheet revealed I was missing a few key scenes, which is why my WIP felt rushed and too easy at the end. I also discovered that I’d subconsciously been doing some of the beat sheet elements, like the B-Story character. Every chapter felt helpful and relevant.
Is It Worth It?
The beat sheet for Save the Cat! Writes a Novel can be found online, I’ve even read it before. With explanations. But the book was so well written and organized that it made a huge difference in my understanding of the method. Having a physical copy to mark up and come back to during my edits (which I’ve done several times) has also been helpful. I don’t think I’d have gotten as much from the ebook version, and I normally only read ebooks, so that’s not me being snobby.
Overall, was the book worth 17.99 (plus shipping because COVID)? YES!
I highly recommend it for writers needing help with plotting, whether you’re a plotter who will use it before you start, or a pantser who will use it after your first draft is done.
Have you read Save the Cat! Writes a Novel? Did you think it was worth it? Or maybe you have another writing book recommendation! Let’s discuss in the comments!
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