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Book Recommendation: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody insists frequently that this book is not a formula for writing a novel, but it provides a ton of information on novel structure and pacing that could be used as something like a formula, or at least a strong set of guideposts. This approach is marvelous for someone who likes to have a quantifiable, organized way to approach writing. But it also can be useful for people who prefer to write and then need to impose some structure on their drafted novel.

Throughout the course of this book, Brody looks at many novels across genres and time to show how this particular structure is repeated over and over in all sorts of books. She goes so far to say that all novels fit into one of ten “genres,” by which she means story types. With those “genres” in place, she then shows how the structure, pacing, and details for each type works, with organized “beat sheets” for authors to follow.

As I read through this book, I found myself comparing it to the ways in which I typically outline my books and realized that I do a lot of what she talks about, I just use a different set of terminology. So now I can add her terminology and some specific notes on structure and pacing to my toolbox of outlining and then writing the books from those outlines.

While I noted that there was a lot inĀ Wired for Story that was geared toward more advanced authors, I think that Save the Cat! Writes a Novel could be of use to newer writers. It’s useful for experienced writers as well, particularly if you’re trying to shift from shorter fiction to novel writing. UnlikeĀ Wired for Story, this book is solely devoted to tips for novel writing, and I didn’t find much that seemed to apply to short fiction writing. Nonetheless, it was still a useful book for me to read, especially as I write across many story types, and having the beat sheets handy to work in conjunction with my normal method of outlining will help me get the structure of my novels even better!

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