Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Do you know how to 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 site 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:



Last 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?

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

10 comments:

Margaret West said...

Come to think about it, I've read quite a few books with 'save the cat' moments. Loved your youtube examples!

Cate Masters said...

Thanks Margaret! Though one was technically a "save the calf" moment, ha ha. I never noticed these before reading about the book, but now they tend to jump out at me.

Ilona Fridl said...

I had never really noticed that before. I never heard that phrase before, either. Interesting.

Cate Masters said...

Save the Cat is Blake Snyder's trademark, I think. You'll be noticing them now, I bet. :)

Mary Ricksen said...

I think unconsciously, I do that!!! Yeah!!!
I just like my hero with a heart.

Cate Masters said...

Hey Mary! I even like a villain with a heart, like Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma (but Russell's pretty hard to resist in mostly any role!)

Jon Sprunk said...

Thank you, Cate. I had a cat in need of saving in my WIP, but didn't realize it until I read this post.

Cate Masters said...

Very cool Jon! Glad to have helped. :)

Susan Kelley said...

Great post, Cate. I have to think of Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring when he came back to his senses and sacrificed himself defending the two hobbits. Great cat save.

Cate Masters said...

Yes, I love Tolkien's complex characters too.