by Jessica Brody
Published on October 9, 2018 by Ten Speed Press
The first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, which reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.
Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing. Revealing the 15 "beats" (plot points) that comprise a successful story--from the opening image to the finale--this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate--and a novel that will sell.
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As a writer with publishing aspirations, I’m always seeking out new craft books to learn from and so far I think Save the Cat! Writes a Novel has been my favorite!
In short, this book takes the popular screenwriting methodology from the original Save the Cat! book and breaks it down for authors, using examples of best-selling novels to provide concrete examples of different story genres.
It’s rare that I love a craft book as much as I did this one. The writing style of the actual book is very conversational (but also very informative) and the book really breaks down what goes into a story. I found the example beat sheets really helpful to better understand each component, and I’m looking forward to trying the writing exercises out!
I also like that Brody is upfront that this book isn’t designed to take over your writing style, simply enhance it. Like any piece of advice, I recommend taking everything with a grain of salt and only using what works for you. As someone who is a “plantser” (a combination of a plotter and pantser depending on what the story needs), I found this method useful in outlining without nailing down every single detail so there’s still room to free write within a structure.
I’m not a published author or anything. My only claim to writing knowledge is an English minor in college composed of writing classes. But I thought this was a fantastic craft book for all types of writers. As I was reading, those points that I was stuck on in my current work-in-progress story started unraveling a bit. I saw where certain scene ideas might fit better and which ones might better represent big points in the story. And I feel energized to start working on it again!
I’d recommend checking out Save the Cat! Writes a Novel if you’re a writer and want to add another tool to your belt. I’m not claiming this book is the end-all of writing resources but I do think it’s a good one!