Thursday, May 6, 2010

Save the Cat!

I have long wanted this writers' how-to book, but already have so many writing books, my shelf is seriously packed full. But now YouTube and Blake Snyder's blog (you'll also find the link below the Followers graphic to the right) are there to provide instant gratification for those like me who need it.

Save the Cat is a great method of redeeming a slightly tarnished hero. I love those kind, don’t you? They may do things you don’t agree with, that aren’t necessarily considered nice, but then they’ll show themselves to be nice guys at heart. The kind you can trust -- in fact, the kind you’d trust your life to.

YouTube to the rescue! Here are Save the Cat examples:



Great example of a Save the Cat example with Clint Eastwood in Hang ‘em High:



I recently watched Strange Days for the first time, and was able to spot the Save the Cat moments in that flick. If you've never watched it, it's a great speculative fiction movie written by James Cameron and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Ralph Fiennes is at his best, and Angela Bassett's amazing too.

Here’s an interview with Blake Snyder, author of Save the Cat:



And another:



This weekend, I caught part of 3:10 to Yuma, and was again struck by the complexity of the characters, and I mean all of them, from the hero (who had reason to be bitter, but took out his bitterness on the villain at one point for no just cause) to the villain (who had endearing qualities) to the hero's wife (who loved her husband, but was frustrated because he closed her off, and was attracted to the villain), right down to the hero's son (who went through a transformation at the end to finally respect his father). Wow. But the most amazing moment of the movie came at the end - yup, the Save the Cat moment. The villain's gang rescued him, but instead of escaping with this gang of amoral men (who truly had no redeeming qualities), the villain chose not to, in a spectacular way that made me cry out, "No way!" Really. (My husband laughed.) But the plot twist was brilliant, and was not only a Save the Cat moment, but a moment of redemption for the villain. I love the theme of redemption. And best of all, he redeemed himself of his own free will, rather than waiting for forgiveness from someone else, showing great integrity.

So I'd love to hear from you -- do you have a favorite Save the Cat moment?


6 comments:

Alice Audrey said...

I love save the cat, both in my reading and in my writing, and viewing too. Remember the TV show Maverick? What I loved was how flawed he was, how predictably selfish, but he saved the cat every time.

Cate Masters said...

I love flawed characters too. Much more interesting!

Monique DeVere said...

I usually watch rom-coms or documentaries (mostly medical or about murder) so I can't think of any save-the-cat moments, but great post. You taught me something new today!!

Hugs,
Monique

Cate Masters said...

I can never think of any offhand, Monique. My life is held together with lists and Post-its! :)

Arlene said...

Characters without flaws are so boring to me, and this 'save the cat', I need to incorporate it more in my writing, not just in the heros, but in the worst of the bad guys also. Thanks for a great post encouraging me to think. Catch 22 comes to mind off the top of my head. Yossarian tries so hard not to get killed, but there is the moment when he does turn around, drops the bombs correctly and he goes back for Nately's whore if I remember right, despite knowing she's gonna try and kill him.

Cate Masters said...

I need to watch that movie. I don't think I've ever seen it!