The Writing Rulebook 2

Media, The Arts

Blake Snyder wrote terrific books on screenplay construction that I feel apply equally well to novels. His attitude was far less pretentious that most, and supersedes those volumes by Syd Field that now only seem to apply to 1980s action flicks. His book ‘Save The Cat!’ and its sequels sum up a lifetime of work – sadly, he recently died, but this, in summary, was his ‘beats’ storyline page, and may prove useful.

Snyder’s Beats

Opening image – sets the tone – the ‘Before’ image.

Stated Theme – told to the main character, it will be vital to his survival.

Set-Up – introduces lead and main characters.

Catalyst – first whammy to shake the hero.

Debate – should the hero take the journey?

Break In Two – Leaving ‘Normal’ for ‘Abnormal’.

B Story – The theme, often love.

Fun & Games – Enjoyable set pieces that deliver the premise.

Midpoint – Raised the stakes, set the time clock, squeeze the hero.

Bad Guys Close In – Real pressure – grip tightened.

All Is Lost – Seemingly defeated, something or someone dies.

Dark Night of the Soul – Hero loses all hope.

Break in Three – New solution, hero decides to fight back.

Finale – Joining two worlds to form a third way.

Closing Image – Opposite of opening image.

And here are the Coen Brothers’ three rules for noir.

The 3 Coens’ Noir Rules

The Innocent Must Suffer

The Guilty Must Be Punished

You Must Taste Blood To Be A Man

4 comments on “The Writing Rulebook 2”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    All good.

  2. Rick says:

    So glad to see you include Blake’s writing rules. I love his books and through them we became close friends – I even have a blurb on his last book, which he gave to me at the galley stage. His books are indeed fun and informative. Unlike many so-call screenwriting gurus, Blake sold a number of scripts. His pricipals hold firm and the teaching and consulting company that he built around is pricipals is still a thiving business. He’d be thrilled at your recognition of his contributions to writing form.

  3. Lynn says:

    I love Blake Snyder’s analysis of story. Fresh, insightful, funny.

  4. Tony says:

    Hi Christopher
    Do you know of any books that teach how to structure a novel?
    I don’t have a problem with characterisation, dialogue, etc, but the actual structuring of a novel chapter by chapter, I find difficult.

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