Remembering Blake Snyder
If you're not a screenwriter, you've probably never heard of Blake Snyder - but if you are, it's likely you've been hearing his name quite often over the past few years. His books Save The Cat! and Save The Cat! Goes to The Movies caused quite a sensation in the screenwriting world, and Blake capitalized on their success by building a worldwide series of seminars and writing groups based on the concepts he laid out in his Cat! books.
Blake passed away from cardiac arrest on Tuesday. I learned in his obituary that he was in his early fifites, but if you were to guess his age by the enthusiasm level he conveyed in his writing and teaching, you'd probably place him as an energetic teenager. Whether it was his own website updates, in audio interviews, as a guest on writing podcasts, or at one of his own seminars (which I never got to attend, regrettably), he was clearly a great encourager of other writers, and seemed to get no greater pleasure than helping a writer make a breakthrough in their screenplay.
The Save The Cat! series (a third book is scheduled for publication in October) had a unique way of looking at movies, breaking down their hidden codes and structures. Blake took a deep look at movies and created his own categories like "Monster in the House", "Golden Fleece", "Buddy Love", that defied traditional genres like Horror, Action, and Romance and gave screenwriters a fresh way of thinking about their stories. I've recommended or loaned the Cat! books out to quite a few people, many who weren't screenwriters but who just enjoyed reading Blake's breakdowns of existing movies.
Blake at an Save The Cat! book signing.
Blake also did something pretty unconventional in his first Save The Cat! book - he published his e-mail address and asked writers to send him their loglines for some critique. A bold move for any author, but especially bold considering how generous Blake was with his time. I took him up and e-mailed him (as many people did) when I was working on my last screenplay, and he got back to me within a day with lots of good thoughts on how I could improve my logline. We exchanged a few e-mails, with Blake giving me some nice insight into my idea and how it could be tweaked and improved. I was much appreciative of his help.
This is the only video I was able to find of Blake on YouTube (though I hope and assume more will turn up in the coming weeks), and though it doesn't feature Blake prominently, you can get a sense of how patient and humble he was in working with other writers. He'll be missed.