Celebrating Blake Snyder on the 10th Anniversary of His Death
Blake Snyder passed away on August 4, 2009. Here are thoughts from some of the people who loved him, along with never-before-published photos from Blake’s visit to the Beijing Film Academy. We welcome your tributes in the Comments.
I thought over time I might miss Blake less, but the odd thing is the older I get I miss him more.
He would be 62 on October 3 of this year. I am 61. I really thought we would grow old together.
The thing that happens as you age is the people you have known the longest somehow become the most important. Since there is no one in my life I have known as long as I have Blake, ten years after his death he remains the closest friend I have ever had. I so wish he were here to get old with. I have so many questions each week I want to ask him. Texting, he would be a texting fool, we would be talking all day.
I do talk to him when no one is looking. And you know what? He answers. Blake4ever.
– Tracey Jackson, writer
We sometimes fail to see someone’s presence in our lives as a gift, and come to that realization only after he is gone. I hope to think I knew upon meeting Blake in 2006 that he was such a boon. He could not help but invigorate you with his love of storytelling, his passion for the craft, and his excitement to engage with writers. Ten years after he left, his gift remains with me, a voice in my thoughts, encouraging and cheerleading, always pushing to be better, to meet the challenge of the page. Thanks, Blake. See you at the picture show. – Alvaro Rodriguez, writer
A wonderful mentor for screenwriters, Blake’s *joie de cinema* shines from every page of his Save the Cat! books. Even their title – which references a charming Hollywood trope – shows wit, compassion, and affection for the craft of writing. The ten-year anniversary of Blake’s death is bittersweet. Sweet because his inspirational legacy is still going strong, bitter that he was taken from us too soon… and because I never got to tell him how much I love him. – Caroline Lawrence, writer
Wish I’d gotten to meet Blake in person. His kindness, generosity and whimsical sense of humor came through in his books & webinars and still inspires me and my writing. I miss him every time I begin a new 15 Beat story outline. Today, storytellers take for granted that Blake’s SAVE THE CAT revolutionized the Film and TV industry. Blake created a fun & simple storytelling language which enabled everyone at every level in the business to communicate clearly with one another. – Bradford Richardson, writer
It’s natural for those of us who’ve always loved and utilized Blake’s story structure tools to praise his genius and to be grateful for the work he left behind. But, as much as I appreciate the intelligence and accessibility of the beat sheet and the many storytelling techniques he’d shared with screenwriters and novelists, Blake possessed an even greater gift. I only had the pleasure of hearing him speak in person once, but to me and to the lucky romance writers in the room, he managed to convey his infectious energy, his warm sense of humor, and — perhaps most memorably — his confidence in us. Whether through his books, his blog posts, or his presentations, Blake was always inclusive and encouraging. He assured us all that we were writers and that we were capable of being better storytellers.This remains part of his legacy — one I treasure and still carry with me. – Marilyn Brant, writer
Thanks to Blake and his cat crew, I’ve had a road map for writing books that make kids want to keep on reading – Chris Grabenstein, writer
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since Blake passed. Because I always keep a copy of Save the Cat! in my backpack, it’s almost like he never left. He still gives me advice every day. – Matt Allen, writer
While I never had the opportunity to meet Blake, his writing has a way of making you feel like he was was an old friend, sharing his wisdom over a cup of coffee. I am forever grateful for the Save The Cat series as it helped jump-start my career and is something I continue to use every day. – Jordan Gershowitz, writer
For all his intelligence and creativity, what I appreciated the most about him was his great warmth and generosity. His books made me a better writer, his friendship made me a better person. – Rich Kaplan, writer
In 2005, I was a walking cliché: a struggling writer attempting to sell my first novel, living in a studio apartment wallpapered with rejection letters. That same year, Blake published a plotting guide called SAVE THE CAT! which was later handed to me during my own Dark Night of the Soul when I thought I would never see my author dreams realized. Now, fourteen years later, I have sold over 17 novels to major publishers that have been translated and published in over 23 countries. I’d like to take all the credit for my success, but that would simply be dishonest. I am where I am today because of Blake and his wisdom. He was my Break into 3, the answer to a question that I never thought to ask, and the transformation I never knew I needed to make. – Jessica Brody, writer
My favorite teaching by Blake is that “all stories are about transformation”. I wonder if he ever realized that he would be transforming the lives of thousands of people by empowering us with the ability to tell those stories. Thanks forever, Blake. – Salva Rubio, writer
Every project has its own dark night of the soul. Don’t give up. Don’t despair. You will prevail.” Miss him so much! – Ben Frahm, writer
The world is a sadder place without Blake, a truly lovely human being. But he left a legacy that continues to grow with every writer who finds their voice thanks to Blake’s work. – Naomi Beaty, writer
Though I never got to meet Blake in person, his work has had an enormous positive impact for writers throughout the world. I am constantly using his tools and recommending the to writers I work with and teach. He lives on brilliantly in all the lives he has touched! – Erik Bork, writer
Blake was both a client and a friend for many years. While I miss him greatly, I could not be prouder of the legacy he left behind and the impact he’s made on the thousands of writers who have been guided by his life’s work. – Andy Cohen, producer
I am flooded with cherished memories. The months Blake lived with my wife, Donna, our newborn daughter, and me. Our spec scripts and rookie pitches. Our first sale. Our joining the WGA together. So many milestones, too many to single out.
He was my friend. My writing partner.
In many ways I owe him for the longevity of my career.
And so, it made the most sense to turn to Blake: “Because liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into the story.” – Blake Snyder
Following his wisdom: liking the person we go on our career journey with is the single most important decision we can make.
Dear, sweet Blake,
Thank you for including me in your work, and your life. I miss you. I love you. – Howard Burkons, writer
Whenever Blake and I talked about how Save the Cat! was connecting with writers, he was like a giddy kid talking about a new toy. It wasn’t about money or career or ego, he was just ecstatic to be helping people, making new friends, and paying it forward. As much as Blake taught me about screenwriting, he taught me something more about how the passion for the craft could spill over into an overall passion for life. – Jamie Nash, writer
There’s a quote I love from the show Doctor Who that says, “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.” I think Blake would have liked that quote. Although he passed away 10 years ago, his impact on writers and filmmakers, and even movies themselves, continues on. It’s amazing how one person can affect so many and can have such a powerful influence on an industry, but that’s because Blake gave us a gift with his ideas. He provided a foundation, a structure, and fundamentals upon which to build stories. Because of this, the stories we tell will stand the test of time. Thank you, Blake, for all you gave us. Your legacy endures. – Cory Milles, writer
The decade that has passed since the untimely loss of our friend, Blake, has not diminished the shock of his passing. For those of us who had the gift of knowing him, it’s impossible not to remember him smiling. Not a Hollywood smile, mind you – the smile of a man who loved his work and his fellow writers. Blake’s giving and funloving spirit live on in his books and the ongoing Save the Cat! legacy. I’m sure that it would thrill him to know that 10 years later, his ideas and supportive spirit continue to inspire so many screenwriters around the globe. He will always be missed. He will never be forgotten. – Rick Drew, writer
Around 2000, I was researching for an article about gimmicks screenwriters had used to get attention for their spec scripts when I came across a personal website with a delightfully funny story that fit the bill perfectly. I wish I could tell you now what the exact gimmick was, but it was something that made me think, “I can’t believe this guy did that! And I can’t believe it worked!” Like having a delivery guy smuggle a script into a producer’s house inside a pizza box, or something along those lines. Vaguely intrusive and over the top. I sent an email to this screenwriter to ask if I could interview him about it, and heard back from Blake Snyder – who had the task of letting me know (extremely gently) that it was satire.
He was so kind about it, and although I felt pretty silly for falling for his story, he was delighted that I had read it. Apparently the site had been up for a while, just for his own amusement, and no one had commented before. He let me in on the fact that he actually was a working screenwriter, and he asked all kinds of questions about the kind of work I did. At the time, I was still trying to launch a screenwriting career (I had optioned three of my scripts and won a contest, but nothing was produced), but in the meantime, I was also writing articles for magazines and running a popular website for writers (Absolute Write). I interviewed him for the website, and he offered to write a column for it. For free.
It was a ridiculous offer. He had nothing to sell, no business incentive to do it. He was just completely genuinely interested in helping newbie writers. He had all these great ideas about writing and kept thanking me for giving him a place to share those ideas. For the next several years, we were in contact regularly to chat about writing and life and screwed-up relationships and whatnot. We emailed often and spoke on the phone every now and then. The first time we spoke, I thought, “He’s just as enthusiastic as he ‘sounds’ in email.” It was like talking to an exclamation point. (Which, by the way, he used recklessly and in multiples.) He was the brightest light. Boundlessly optimistic, even when things weren’t so great. He had good reason to look down on me – he was already a success and I was a neophyte – but he had a knack for making me feel like I was someone impressive, too. Somehow he had gotten through life and Hollywood without developing any cynicism. He always acted as if he had all the time in the world for me (and I suspect for lots of other people, too).
Blake had told me that his ex called him “the king of lumpy income,” which we agreed was stressful but exciting – many months could go by with nothing, and then, BLAM, six-figure check all at once. Problem was that I’d never seen one of those big checks, and I couldn’t keep waiting. So I switched my focus to books, where I had much more success. I write nonfiction books almost exclusively, and I must have told Blake at some point that he should, too, because somehow I got credit for inspiring him to write Save the Cat! The book was just as awesome as I knew it would be; he had a sharp, creative, analytical mind and was able to see patterns in successful storytelling. It was a hit, and I remember him calling to tell me that he was so excited that he was going to start speaking and teaching seminars about it. I thought that sounded perfect for him; you can’t let a personality like that go to waste.
Shortly after my daughter was born in 2007, I became a single mom. I gave up my website and drifted from some of my writer friends, including Blake. I still followed his career with delight, but it had been some time since we had last talked when I read the shocking news that he had died. It flattened me. You just don’t get to meet a lot of Blake Snyders in this world, and I hate that he’s gone. He was such a great source of joy, support, and love, and I will miss him for the rest of my life. It’s heartening to know that his legacy lives on. Cat or no cat, he was the most likeable hero of all. – Jenna Glatzer, writer