Is “Save the Cat! Writes a Novel” Any Good?

If you’re in the writing world online you likely heard of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. There are many different types of writers. Some people don’t enjoy planning their novels and are referred to as “pantsers.” Did you also cringe? Other writers love planning their novels are are referred to as plotters. Then there are some in the middle. Personally, I enjoy plotting but I’m still unsure of what my exact process is.

I don’t plot every single detail but I also can’t go into writing without knowing anything. As I’m trying to improve my craft, I decided to finally purchase Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. The tagline claims it’s “the last book on novel writing you’ll ever need.”

Some people love it, others not so much. Want to hear my opinion on Save the Cat! Writes a Novel? Keep on reading.

Take a look at my writing update from September 2019.

Purpose of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

Basically, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel emphasizes the importance of planning your book. Thus, hardcore pro-pantsers probably hate everything this book stands for. However, I’d suggest that even writers who typically don’t plan should give this book a try. Why? Because more than anything it goes over the structure of good storytelling. It goes through certain plot points, or beats, your story should have.

Thus, even if the idea of writing and planning this all out beforehand stresses you out, it can help you in the long run. Even before reading Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, I noticed I naturally fit in many of the beats. I also noticed which beats I tended to either omit, gloss over or would get stuck on. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel doesn’t just talk beats. It also discusses genres (then gives examples using the beats), briefly covers pitching your novel and answers some questions at the end.

I used Save the Cat! Writes a Novel a lot the past few months. I didn’t have it for my Nanowrimo project last November, but I wish I had it.

3 Act Story Structure

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel didn’t invent the three-act story structure. However, what I believe it does well is present it in a clear way while also being detailed. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel breaks down what should be found in each “act” of your novel and also how long each section should be approximately. Of course, this is just a guide so don’t feel the need to follow everything exactly. But Save the Cat! Writes a Novel does provide a great blueprint and starting point.

What I like about Brody’s approach to the 3-Act Structure is simply the ease of use and understanding. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel presents the basics of this form of storytelling in a clear, concise manner. The book breaks it down into what each section consists of, the purpose of each part, where it should go, how long it should span across your novel and even a rough guess onto the scenes each part should have.

Story Genres

Save the Cat! claims all stories fit into 10 genres. Do you agree?

Another beneficial component of the Save the Cat! Writes a Novel book are the story genres. And no, I don’t mean fantasy, mystery, thriller, contemporary, etc. The book claims all stories can fit into one of the ten genres outlined in this book. Who knows if the claims are true, but I did find that most of my novels, ideas or novels I’ve read, do fall into one of the ten categories.

In another easy-to-understand manner, the book goes over each genre, being sure to include all the components of each and giving examples of books that fit each genre. Then, Brody chooses one of those novels and goes through the 3-Act structure using said novel to break each act down.

Final Thoughts: is it worth it?

Final thoughts on Save the Cat!

In my opinion, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel is an excellent resource for writers. Whether you like to plan/outline or not, this book can give you a great understanding on storytelling in general. Since reading it, I’ve definitely felt myself approach my writing in a more confident manner.

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