Friday, July 13, 2007

Notes From the Front

A full day of workshops and spotlights (opportunities for publishers to describe the type of manuscripts they are seeking) at the 2007 RWA National.

I attended excellent workshops by Robin Perini (Crafting Your Story's Backbone Using Turning Points); a panel by Young Adult writers and an agent (It's Not Cheating If You Do It With a Younger Guy); the Spotlight by Ellora's Cave publisher Raelene Gorlinsky; the Spotlight on Harlequin's paranormal lines by Mary Theresa Hussey; and Chilling Villains by Karen Rose and Madeline Hunter. Each was an hour long.

I also attended the Passionate Ink luncheon where I won a Kama Sutra basket in a raffle--can't wait to try out all the goodies in there :)

I've probably been given $500 in free books by RWA, publishers and authors. My roommate, Maria Tuhart, has already spent nearly $50 mailing her books home to San Francisco.

One of my FAVORITE things has been the discovery of a book called Save The Cat by Blake Snyder. Its blurb says it is "The Last Book On Screenwriting You'll Ever Need."

I have lots of writer reference books, but LOVE this one. I purchased it in the book fair($19.95) and have nearly finished it. It's terrific. The title comes from this excerpt in the Introduction:

Which brings us to the title of this book: Save the Cat!

Save the what?

I call it the "Save the Cat" scene . . . It's the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something--like saving a cat--that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him.

In the thriller, Sea of Love, Al Pacino is a cop. Scene One finds him in the middle of a sting operation. Parole violators have been lured by the promise of meeting the N.Y. Yankees, but when they arrive it's Al and his cop buddies waiting to bust them. So Al's "cool" . . . But on his way out he also does something nice. Al spots another lawbreaker, who's brought his son, coming late to the sting. Seeing the dad with his kid, Al flashes his badge at the man who nods in understanding and exits quick. Al lets this guy off the hook because he has his young son with him. And just so you know Al hasn't gone totally soft, he also gets to say a cool line to the crook: "Catch you later . . ." Well, I don't know about you, but I like Al. I'll go anywhere he takes me now and you know what else? I'll be rooting to see him win. All based on a two-second interaction between Al and a dad with his baseball-fan kid.

That film was released in 1989--18 years ago. I saw it in the theatre and haven't watched it since. I don't remember a lot about the film, but I clearly remember that scene. I loved it.

This small book is filled with little gems like that. It includes chapters on writing your pitch, defining the ten genres, and a 15-step plot analysis that is very similar to the "W" plotting arc or Chris Vogler's "The Writer's Journey." I can highly recommend it.

One more day of the 2007 RWA National Convention. While I'm thoroughly enjoying myself, I'll be glad when it's over.


David Roth said...

"It's Not Cheating If You Do It With a Younger Guy"

So let me see if I got this right (write? )
You ladies have these national conventions where you get together in a fancy hotel and talk about sex?

And just exactly what would you all be saying if WE (guys) did that, huh?



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the "Save the Cat" reference. I"m going to try to get by B&N today and see if it's in. McKee is great but "Story" is soooo very very long.

Maya Reynolds said...

David: ;)

Maya Reynolds said...

Tamsin: I know exactly what you mean. "Save the Cat" is less than 200 pages, but it's packed with info.

When I bought my copy, the saleslady said they were going like wildfire. There were about 50 copies when I was there on Tuesday.

I went back today to get two more copies for my critique partners, and the book was sold out. I couldn't believe it.