I Miss Blake Snyder

Blake passed on August 4, and it’s taken me this long to settle down and gather my thoughts.

It’s been like gradually and gently working a poisoned dagger out of my kidney.

Blake Snyder
A few years ago, my dear ol’ Mom surprised me with a book about writing. I hadn’t asked for it or anything, and neither one of us knew the author. Mom had picked it up (I suspect) because it had a kitty on the cover. Mom’s a sucker for that sort of thing.

I flipped through it and realized that it was about movies, not novels.

I’m a novelist, not a screenwriter. I’ve never written a screenplay (although, since those days, I’ve read them). But I’ve noticed, at writing conferences, how often authors illustrate concepts of drama by referring to movies instead of novels.

Okay. I sat down and read Save the Cat, even though it was a “movie book” rather than a “how-to-write” book.

It blew me away — I realized that screenwriters knew a lot of things that authors didn’t. I saw that there was a science, a craft, to cinematic drama that was totally missing in written fiction. Novelists often see literature as an art to be approached viscerally, and while I have respect for this point of view, I knew that Blake Snyder and the screenwriters were on to something.

I used Blake Snyder’s “Beat Sheet” (a list of essential plot points found in any successful movie) to outline the novel I wrote for my first Nanowrimo attempt. I wrote a 77,000-word novel in 35 days and was hooked.

Blake Snyder, genius.

I would have met Blake at the Write on the Sound conference this October. I had dreams of interviewing him for this blog. Now, the staff and volunteers there are scrambling for a new keynote speaker, and the rest of us are just deeply, profoundly bummed.

Earlier this year, Blake created a Youtube profile and started to upload some wisdom. I’ll let him finish this post for me.

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