Scott Marshall Smith on Blake Snyder and Save the Cat!
We were saddened to read about the death of writer Scott Marshall Smith on December 15. As the obituary states, along with his credits for the Robert De Niro films Men of Honor and The Score and other produced films, Smith was a major “script doctor” who worked on more than 40 screenplays at the major studios during his career.
I wanted to share this email from Scott dated March 4, 2014:
I would absolutely be pleased to do a blog piece for you.
I am a highly ADHD being, therefore all things structural and logical utterly evade my consciousness, while the sudden movements of a sparrow can provide instant visceral fascination.
So, what’s a mentally impaired scribe to do? Write character and dialogue all day? The latest scene to strike one’s fancy? By all means, yes. But then – THE CHORE…
Assembling from those random riffs a logical, flowing, compelling story that hits all the basso beats a good script needs to.
For years, I waded through every structure program there was for salvation.
Each seemed more mindboggling than the last.
Some even seemed to spring from a far away shire where only Elven was spoken.
I was putting my head in the oven one day when I discovered Blake’s structure sheet which led me to “Save the Cat!”
The program was whimsical and fun but most importantly – simple. Yet! It delivered, in all the right places, a cohesive story template.
I believe all of us know the story we want to tell – it hides in the vine-choked jungle of our conscious/unconscious minds – but revealing the beast in the the blaze of day requires a sharp effective tool to raze the cloaking brush. That’s what Blake left us – may we all swing it mightily.