I’ve been having my own private Structure and Plot 101 course around here lately, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on two newly purchased writing books.
Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat was published in 2005, but it’s new to me. Designed for screenwriters, it breaks plots into highly organized “beats,” and even dictates which beats should land on which pages of a 110-page script. Although I couldn’t make a full-length novel follow quite so rigid a formula, I did find the book enormously helpful. Along with the most thorough and achievable outlining strategy I’ve ever read, Snyder offers lots of silly but surprisingly helpful tips.
As a longtime fan of agent Mary Kole‘s blog, I had to buy her new book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit. This is a unique book. In scope, it’s designed for the beginner. It touches on absolutely everything you might need to produce a middle grade or young adult novel. And yet, there are plenty of pithy suggestions for more experience writers. Such as: ensure your character recommits to her goal at least three times, the stakes rising each time, culminating in a major recommitment immediately prior to the climax. (Have I mentioned that I love concrete advice? Step-by-step directions? Because I do.) This would be a great book to read with a completed first draft at your side. You could use it as a checklist, to ensure you’d fully developed your characters, included enough internal struggle, perfected your imagery, and so on.
Both books are well worth a read in the New Year, whether you’re starting a new project or struggling along with the old!