Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Buy the Book

So, a while back, I took this class at a conference. It was talking about using beat sheets for outlining.  The speaker talked about Blake Snyder's Save the Cat, which I'd seen referenced all over the internet for a while. But, the lesson seemed really straightforward, so I did what any money-conscious idiot would do. I plowed ahead...without reading the book.

Now, I don't know about you, but I always read the directions when putting stuff together. In fact, I tend to have the directions sitting right next to me for reference the entire time. I'm completely anal that way.

I was also the student who read every word in my textbooks. I'm talking every class from elementary school through college. If it was assigned, I read it. Period. No questions asked. Because I always believed there was more in the book than just what the teacher/professor presented. (I was not always correct about that, but I digress.)

Anyway, I'm not sure where I lost that habit, but I did. It never occurred to me to read, much less buy Blake Snyder's book. After all, it's just about filling in these blanks on this worksheet. Come on, a monkey could do that.

Then I got a new editor. We were talking about outlines/synopses and how I really hated the way my previous editor made me do my outlines. I detested it. She brought up the beat sheet thing. And I was all, "Oooooo...hey, monkeys can do those! Perfect!"

I will say one thing for the synopsis style I hated. It made it very obvious to me that what I was filling in monkey-style wasn't going to cut it. I'd missed some key piece somewhere along the line. After wrinkling up my forehead and staring at my computer screen, hoping the answers would just reveal themselves like some well-timed pop-up ad, I decided there were better uses for my time.

So I messaged an author friend who is all about the non-fiction. I asked if she did beat sheets. "All the time." Then I asked if she used the book or just the sheets. The pause was ridiculously long, as if she was sitting at her laptop, waiting on the punchline. Then she said something to the effect of, "That book has saved my life more than once. Get it."

Of course, being of a very frugal nature, I looked up the price and laughed (used copies are as pricey as new ones!) then I hit up my local library and borrowed a copy. I've never kicked myself so hard for not just buying a book. I wanted to highlight it--in multiple colors. I wanted to take notes in the margins. And I sure as hell didn't want to give it back.


As Sean Connery said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "There is more in the book than just the map." I had the map all along. The book...is the key to reading it. I really wish I would have figured that out a year ago.

Seriously though, probably the best book on story structure I've ever read. I have to return this copy to the library soon. I've already ordered one of my own.

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