Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Maybe the cat should die?

As part of this whole graphic novel writing mission I recently read a book on screen writing structure [Yeah it's party time round here 24/7] called Save The Cat! The Last Book On Screenwriting You'll Ever Need. I'd written comics and short films before but always ignored learning basic writing disciplines in favour of shock endings, intentionally daft plot expositions or good old fashioned laziness.

I thought if I was going to write a graphic novel - even one which is a trashy sci-fi / horror affair - I should get a bit of an idea of how a story of this length should be setup structure and flow-wise. In my mind I'm writing a script and drawing a storyboard for a feature film. I don't want to let Mr Corman down.

Save The Cat... was the shortest and cheapest book I saw on the shelf [off to a good start] so it got the gig. The book was really useful and filled in many of the numerous blanks I needed filling. The authors tone was a bit bossy and pompous but hey - I suspected that would be the case going in. I thought if the writer was a successful screenwriter himself he knew what he was talking about and had earned the right to be picky and critical of those that ignored the rules.

The writers name is Blake Snyder and as I discovered part way through the book wrote the script for Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot. Yeah - that. And yes - I my first thought was "I'm taking pointers from the guy who wrote that pile of dogs eggs?" It put me in a bit of a pickle. Should I stop reading now, go down to the bookshop and get the thicker more expensive screenwriting book? Or will I just then discover Robert McKee wrote Norbit?

Eventually I decided the book was about the act of writing itself not the actual story so much and it really was teaching me what I wanted to know. So the guy is shamelessly boasting how commercially successful Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot was. Who cares if he sold a spec script that became the as yet unseen by me Tone Loc vehicle Blank Check. I now know when the 2nd act should start and end and what a catalyst is. And the next most expensive screen writing book was actually quite pricey.