I read Blake Snyder’s book, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need this past week. Although written for screenwriters, this book contains some nuggets of wisdom for all writers. The most important point he makes, I believe, is the need to understand the point of your writing. Before you move into actually writing, he suggests you ask yourself, “What is it?” If you can’t easily, clearly, and in simple terms describe what your future work is all about–then you aren’t ready to write yet. He explains that you must have clarity before you can begin telling a story. I know there are many authors that just start writing and follow wherever their characters take them. This isn’t me. I definitely need clarity.
As an example, after writing several dozen short stories, I made my first stab at writing a full length novel. When I was done, I set it aside for a few weeks and then picked it up to read it with fresh eyes. By the time I was done reading, I was certain my future as a writer was doomed. It was, quite frankly, rubbish. If I would have read Save the Cat first, I would have saved hundreds of hours of work–because I would have understood the most important point–clarity of vision before I started writing.
I started doing more research on Save the Cat and came across his website. Lot’s of great information there. I also found an author named Jessica Brody who teaches Save the Cat! for book authors. Her website can be found here. She has loads of great advice. And as a bonus, she has a book to be published in Fall of 2018 called Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. I will definitely be picking up my own copy as soon as it is available. Until then, I’ll be following her blog and appreciating all her wise advice.
My advice to you–go write, but make sure you have a clear vision of where you are going before you start. It may just save you the sad story of an extraordinarily bad first draft.