Monday, October 28, 2013

Last week I picked up my copy of Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder, and read it again in preparation for my next revision. This book is so amazing! I feel like I need to read it monthly until his process becomes habitual.  As I was going through the beat sheet steps, I came to step 11, the All is Lost moment. It's the place in the story where the protagonist experiences their false defeat. They've lost everything, their life seems hopeless, and achieving their initial goal seems impossible. It is here that Mr. Snyder suggests we add his trade secret... the whiff of death; a point where something physical or emotional in their old life dies to make way for something new to be born.

In mulling this over I was amazed how many great stories have the whiff of death moment: Rue's death in The Hunger Games. Obi Wan's death in Star Wars and Up where Carl finally reaches Paradise Falls only to discover he's still alone and will seemingly die that way.

Since all good stories appear to have this point I would like to know if you have a whiff of death moment in your story. Does someone actually die, like in The Hunger Games or do you only have an emotional death like Up. Do you agree with Mr. Snyder? Does death, or the hint of it, make the story better?

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

14 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

What makes Save The Cat such a great read is that it shows every ingredient necessary to make a brilliant story. I don't have any whiff of death moments in my published books, but there might be some in my future releases ;)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is my favorite writing book. Dig the fifteen beats.
I have both a whiff of death and an actual death. (Sorry, you've been warned...)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

None of my main characters die, but two secondary characters don't make it. The first one has a huge impact on the main character.

Cherie Reich said...

I do often have that whiff of death (sometimes several) in my stories. Then again, people just end up dying a lot in my work or almost dying.

YVONNE LEWIS: said...

I have read Save The Cat and enjoyed it very much,
Great post.

Yvonne.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think I've included a whiff of death, most actual deaths, in all most of my novels.

Beth said...

I bought this book but have never looked at it. I do love the three act structure though.

Angela Verges said...

It's funny that you mentioned that book-Save The Cat. I just got back from a revision workshop and someone in my critique group mentioned the book.

I know I have to get it now (-:

Thanks.

Angela Verges said...

It's funny that you mentioned that book-Save The Cat. I just got back from a revision workshop and someone in my critique group mentioned the book.

I know I have to get it now (-:

Thanks.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I can't seem to write without death - real and metaphorical. Although because my stories are rarely chronological (just a couple are) it can sometimes happen in the first page! I've never read Save The Cat. and I really want to - mostly so I can disobey the rules :-)

Julie Flanders said...

I haven't read this book yet but have heard so many great things about it! I need to get it and read it, sounds awesome.

Sherry Ellis said...

I think a whiff of death adds to the suspense.

shelly said...

I need to get that book. As for death, it's imminent for any fab story.

S.P. Bowers said...

I keep hearing about this book. Maybe I'll ask for it for christmas.

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