Save The Cat! offers insights to write screenplays but also novels. Blake Snyder founds basic to put the ‘Save the Cat’ scene into movies. It’s the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something—like saving a cat—that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him.
It’s about a guy who…
The perfect hero is the one who offers the most conflict in the situation, has the longest emotional journey, and has a primal goal we can all root for. Survival, hunger, sex, protection of loved ones, and fear of death grab us.
When committing these discoveries to your logline, you must have an adjective to describe the hero, an adjective to describe the bad guy, and a definite and primal goal or setting.
The first 10 pages
The first 10 pages of the script, or first dozen pages at most, is called ‘the set-up.’ If you are like me, and like most readers in Hollywood, this is the make-or-break section where you have to grab me or risk losing my interest.
The set-up is also the place where , if you’re me, the writer, I make sure I’ve introduced or hinted at introducing every character in the A story.
The first 10 pages is also where we start to plant every character tic, exhibit every behavior that needs to be addressed later on, and show how and why the hero will need to change in order to win.
The immutable laws of screenplay physics: Risking the reader’s attention with so much backstory
In ‘Along came Polly,’ we find the same problem. In order to get to risk-averse divorcee Ben Stiller falling in love with crazy girl Jennifer Anniston, the writer has also a lot of pipe to lay. We have to see Ben marry his first wife, follow them on their honeymoon, and watch a Ben catches her in the arms of the scuba instructor.
Sure it’s funny. And we’ll put up with a lot when it comes to any movie than Ben is in. We love Mr. S! But the screenwriter and director (same guy—the funny and talented John Hamburg) risks our attention by laying a ton of story points to get to the reason we came to see this movie: Ben Stiller dating Jennifer Anniston.
Hi, how are you? I’m fine
Mike Cheda showed me this simple Bad Dialogue Test: Take a page of your script and cover up the names of the people speaking. Now read the repartee as it goes back and forth between two or more characters. Can you tell who is speaking without seeing the name above the dialogue?In a good script, every character must speak differently. Every character must have a unique way of saying even the most mundane ‘Hi, how are you? I’m fine’ kind of chat.