Monthly Archives: January 2013

Save the Cat and other ways to ruin a good book

My post title might lead you to believe I’m against such techniques, but that is not the case. My meaning will, hopefully, become clear below.

Recently I read Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and was amazed by how much of what he suggests is already out there in the world, in the blogosphere. I knew what his title meant at least 2 years ago. I still learned plenty and I’m so glad I read it. I don’t know yet how much it will inform my writing and/or plotting, but I love learning new techniques and new ways to look at books and movies.

However, the downside to reading books on writing craft is that you never read the same way again. Books and movies aren’t mere entertainment anymore. They are learning opportunities, offering both positive and negative examples.

Then again, it’s fun, in a really dorky way, to recognize techniques in a movie and get all excited about seeing them in action. That’s how I felt when I watched Cowboys and Aliens a few years ago and saw the Save the Cat moment for the antagonist who now had to learn to work together with the hero. I think I actually grabbed RocketMan’s arm and whispered, eyes wide and bright, “He just saved the cat!”

If you’ve somehow missed all the stuff Blake Snyder has put out on the web for free, click here. But you can easily find the book at your local library, at your local indie book shop, or online. It’s definitely worth the read, even if you start watching movies (or reading books) and yelling out things like, “Pope in the Pool!” or “Laying Pipe!”

You’ll never read a book the same way again. But you’ll also never plot or write the same way again.

If you’ve read Save the Cat, what’s your favorite Blake-ism? If not, what’s your favorite plotting advice?

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Read-Through Thursday: Shifting Pride

This is a series wherein I discuss whatever book I’m reading or have just finished. Feel free to post in the comments what you’re reading or your own thoughts about the books I discuss.

I haven’t done one of these in a while (not since last January, in fact), because last year I read a lot of middle grade and so participated in MMGM instead. So, welcome back!

Shifting Pride by Laura Diamond shifting pride cvr

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Nickie Leone has proof that her missing (presumed dead) father is still alive. Receiving his watch in the mail is the first in a line of clues bringing her closer to discovering his whereabouts. But clues aren’t the only new thing in Nickie’s life. There’s the Memorial Banquet her mother insists she help prepare for, there’s the new kid/hottie, Xavian, and…well, the growth of whiskers and a tail!

Filled with secrets and a new love of tuna fish, Nickie must partner up with Xavian (don’t you know he’s a shapeshifter too?) to rescue her dad before she loses him forever. Oh, and she needs to figure out how to be a cat, too.

From Vicki: Full disclosure: Laura is one of my writing and critiquing buddies, but I did not read any part of this book before it was published.

This was my first YA about shifters and it was fun. Action-packed. Full of tension and emotion. Lots of believable conflict between the different characters. A bad guy you really want Nickie to defeat, and a goal you really want her to achieve.

And thank you, Laura, for NOT including a triangle.

What’s your favorite shifter novel? Does it have a love triangle?

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Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Undrowned Child

Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.

Today I’ll talk about The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric.

From Goodreads: Teodora has always longed to visit Venice. And at last she has her chance. But strange and sinister things are afoot in the beautiful floating city.

Teo is quickly subsumed into a secret world in which salty-tongued mermaids run subversive printing presses, ghosts good and bad patrol the streets, statues speak, rats read and librarians turn fluidly into cats. And where a book, The Key to the Secret City, leads Teo straight into the heart of the danger that threatens to destroy the city to which she feels she belongs.

An ancient proverb seems to unite Teo with a Venetian boy, Renzo, and with the Traitor who has returned from the dark past to wreak revenge…. But who is the undrowned child destined to save Venice?

From Vicki: One day at the library, I came across this book and thought it sounded perfect for A-Read. He likes fantasies, but this would also push his boundaries a bit because of the historical and foreign setting.

He loved it! He told me I HAD to read it. So I did. And while I read The Undrowned Child, A-Read read the companion novel, The Mourning Emporium.

I loved it, too. A great mix of history, Venice, fantasy, and quirky characters. The sailor-mouthed mermaids who loved curry were a hoot.

What’s your favorite book set in Venice? Or with mermaids? Or set in the late 1800s?

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