Stuff The Cat: an email conversation between Dennis Drayton and Harry Brooks

Usually we don’t do writing articles, but Dennis is on fire at the moment due to reading what he considers to be bad books and wants to warn off other writers. He has recruited his friend and fellow author Harry Brooks to be the straight man. So without further ado we present:

“Stuff the Cat: an email conversation between Dennis Drayton and Harry Brooks”

Dennis: I say stuff the cat.
Harry: Excuse me?
Dennis: You’ve heard of the book “Save the Cat”?
Harry: Yes its an introductory book for screenwriters, isn’t it?
Dennis: Yes, I recommend people look up “Never mind the cat, save yourself” for one temperate approach. There’s lots of fun to be had with click-bait type blogs with titles like “Why All This Year’s Movies Are the same” which usually totally over-state the problem, like “OMG this summers block busters all have a beginning, middle and end — they are *all* the freaking same!!!”
Harry: But that’s not what you mean, right.
<cricket sounds>

Harry:  Dennis, Right?
Dennis: Er, Right. I confess to being provocative but wanting to make a more serious point. Movies are not novels. (see next blog posting!) It’s a different aesthetic and idiom, and I just worry that the good parts of books will be lost in the process of over-studying movies and television. I admire what Blake Snyder – the author of “Save The Cat”  — has done — the web site and book have established a fun and relatively simple vocabulary for talking about stories. That’s the good bit.

Harry: Can I say something?
Dennis: S’what you’re here for. Go on.
Harry: It’s called Forget The Cat, Save Yourself. Considering the topic, I would suggest calling it Beat the Cat, but that might upset the animal lovers in our audience. Anyway, I’m rambling somewhat. I agree, writing to a template can stifle creativity and lull the reader into a breakfast cereal experience; everything will taste the same. Each book should be a new experience for the reader, not just the story, but the actual reading of it. If everything sits where you expect it to be, it’s like driving the same route every day; you miss the fifty foot Ronald McDonald on the overpass and wonder why your car is covered in Egg McMuffin.
Dennis: I see…I think. Anyway, we are starting to ramble. I think the take-away is this: rules are good, and training wheels are excellent, and we do all owe a debt to Blake Snyder for giving writers a new set of tools for thinking about writing, but it is not a substitute for thinking.

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