Friday, March 11, 2011

A Sobering Event

I was going to tell you a funny story today about a bizarre brush with celebrity I had a few years back--I had it all ready to go--but given what's happening in Japan right now, it feels inappropriate to post something so frivolous. I'll save it for another day.

My husband and I were watching tv last night when a friend texted to let us know about the earthquake and warn us to get to high ground. We live less than a mile from the beach, but actually we are up on a bluff and behind a hill, so I'm never too worried about waves. But we in California think about earthquakes more often than folks in the rest of the country, and to see our worst nightmare play out on those poor people in Japan is horrifying. We stayed up until the middle of the night watching the news and reading reactions on Twitter. I wish everyone in Japan the best and hope that the loss of life is moderated by their excellent infrastructure.

A few of you were asking about Save the Cat after my last post. I haven't finished reading it yet, but I'm already finding it quite useful and wish I'd read it before writing my first draft. It's written for screenwriters, but it's a manual for how to craft a good, satisfying story, and reading it may help you find some areas in your manuscript that could use beefing up.

The part of the book that's been most useful for me so far is the opening section on finding your hook. Some writers may have no trouble crafting a catchy pitch, while others (like me) can't help but revert to a bland, general description of the overall plot that sounds about as exciting as the user manual for an air conditioner. Thinking about Snyder's four essential elements to a pitch (irony, visual image, audience and title), and imagining which scenes would compose a movie trailer for my book helped me to back away from the plot and examine it from different angles. It's so easy to have the original story idea get so embedded in your mind that it's hard to pull up some of the stakes and move them around, but these tricks have helped me to do just that.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book, particularly the chapter on troubleshooting your story after it's finished. I bought it for my Kindle so that I would have a searchable copy. Also because I am a digital gal who needs instant gratification. I want it now!

Best movie ever.


  1. Good post. Hope you and your family are safe!!

  2. My copy of Save the Cat is so beat up now but I love it so much. The other 2 Save The Cat books are also good, but probably not as helpful for novel writers as the main book.

  3. The whole thing in Japan just totally took me by surprise, I couldn't believe it. It's awful. I also live on the beach, but up north in Washington - so it's pretty mild up here. Still, it is definitely sobering.
    And I haven't heard of Save the Cat before, now suddenly it's everywhere. I may have to try reading it. :)

  4. my thoughts deff go out to the poor victims of the japan earthquake. last i heard, 500 (!!!!) people had died in it...damn. how horrible!

    anyway, i see you're reading the first percy jackson book. i <3 that book so much--the whole series, actually. hope you like it! :)

  5. That wall of water was so scary, we are up on a hill as well but after seeing that I am not feeling safe. Might be time to get back to Colorado. Like you I hope that their infrastructure and the plans they have in place will be protecting them as much as possible and that they will get through the aftershocks and the fires with no more loss of life.

  6. The devestation in Japan is indeed very sobering. I don't do serious but I've found myself struck dumb with seriousness the past two days.
    This is the second mention of Save the Cat I've seen today and I'd never heard of it before. I guess I should check it out! ;)