I recently was asked by a fellow critique buddy for my notes on Save the Cat.
Me, being the absent minded writer I am, scratch my head. I don't remember critiquing a story with that title. I'm not particularly fond of cats in general. Sorry Cat People. I do not like cats. I am paraphrasing here but I am with Robin Williams when he said that Cats are like Drag Queens. And I have a tweener daughter, all the Queen like drama I can stand, thank you very much.
So, back to this email. I tell this writing buddy I will check my files and get back to her. I find nothing and let her know. I check our message loop and other people chatted about my notes on this friggin' cat. Was I drunk messaging one night? 'Tis very possible I tell you. But no, I check that too. I did not jump online and post about saving some cat while intoxicated. It would more than likely read about me killing some cat while under the influence. Maybe not murder but at least spraying a bunch of water on it. Again, sorry Cat People. I do not like cats.
So, I am tripping around the blogosphere today, not tripping like I am stoned. I do not do drugs. Hugs, not drugs. Win with Gin! I digress. Save the Cat kept coming up on writer blogs and message boards. What the what? This Save the Cat business is like my own personal Keyser Söze. What is it? Who is it? Why do they think I have notes on it????? It's an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in bacon. But I have no time to decipher this nonense. I have a story to complete and this damn opening of mine is a pain in the arse. My own Verbal Kint, if you will. I ignore all this cyber purring and search the interwebs for the answer to my WIP conundrum. Feck the cat, someone else can save it.
Lovely YA author and blogger extraordinaire Elana Johnson blogs about the writing life. When I get my email about Elana's latest blog post, I swear I hear the heavenly angels sing AHHH. She is blogging about what else, How to Start Your Book. Wowsers! What are the odds?
I've been jammering about my failings in this department for months. I have SEVEN different openings to my MS. Ask AJ and she may say I have more. I lost count honestly. Elana is a rocking blogger with a book coming out in June called Possession. You may recognize her name from being a steady contributor over at Query Tracker and her fondness of Bacon. (The food, not Kevin Bacon. I do not know about her feelings on the actor from Footloose.) She loves bacon. I love bacon. Everything is better with bacon. Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. Writer's block, eat Bacon. Stuck in traffic, dig in your pocket and nibble on some bacon. Not sure what would go great with that ice cream sundae, add bacon. Had some great sex, skip the cig and chew on some bacon. Frustrated by this post, EAT BACON! Again, I digress.
Anywho. Where was I? Cats, heck no...*Charli sips some gin, licks fingers from her BLT.* Oh yes, the blog post. So, I continue reading Elana's genius and I see...an image... OF A FRIGGIN CAT! Ohh...light bulb over my head hums then illuminates. ELANA STARTS TALKING ABOUT...SAVE THE CAT! It's a flipping screenwriting book! One that boils down story structure. For DAYS I've been jammering about structure, how mine is all off. I follow Larry, the story fixer. He chats about structure and screenwriting like I do bacon and boos. Lately with all my MS opening woes I've been reading up on it. Now Elana with this mysterious Kitty? The planets have aligned for this moment. It's all been leading up to this...
A kind of lame, real-life version of The Usual Suspects, the scene where Chazz Palminteri is looking around the office and it all sets in. The events of the past few hours, chatting with Verbal Kint, it all comes full circle. Well, that was me reading Elana's post today. I didn't drop my coffee mug on the ground or chase after a man with a distinct limp. No instead I sat at my desk and yelled out "Shut the front door!" But I said the real thing. You know, like Ralphie saying fudge but really saying f*ck in a Christmas Story. Got it now? Good. (And if you've never seen The Usual Suspects or A Christmas Story you have no business in the story-telling business. They're classics for Christ's sake.)
So, back again to this diatribe. Elana's post is about her NOT nailing the opening to her next book. And I was like, OMG, no friggin' way! Another coincidence in this strange feline mystery. Elana is an agented writer, she has a book coming out, SHE LOVES BACON! How can she have the same woes as me??? I felt a kinship, a bond beyond pork products. I felt hope actually. Hope that I too can overcome this black hole that's sucked the life out of me these past few months.
The post goes on about Save the Cat. How awesome it is and how it helped her. Her, the soon to be published and agented author is using it and even making storyboards and flash cards. Dude, I love flashcards, use them! Pig Meat, Crappy Book Openings, Saving Cats, and now 4x6 lined pieces of cardboard? We are sooo cyber sisters. I will not stalk her, I will not stalk her!
Remember my Liz Lemon Post? Nerds use flash cards. And Nerds get shit done. Nerds are gazillionaires. I am an aspiring nerd and writer. This is Steve Jobs to the right, BTW. He nailed the part of bazillionaire nerd who gets shit done. If there is a book about being a nerd, like a Save the Cat for nerds, I bet you Jobs read it and possibly even wrote it. And dude, with a last name like JOBS he was destined to get shit done.
Fate has instructed me to purchase said feline sparing bible of story structure. And I will tell you this. I listened and I bought. I have my highlighter and cards, gin and bacon. Save the Cat is Keyser Söze, Keyser Söze is the opening to my book- elusive, there, and then poof, it's gone....Damn you Keyser Söze!
Oh, opening to my mushy love story along the Jersey Shore, I will conquer you once and for all! I may not be saving any literal cats with this purchase but I sure as hell will save the start of my MS. The world is gonna love my opening like Tracy loves cornbread.
Thank you Elana Johnson, YA writer. Thank you. And thanks to my fellow aspiring writers who praised me for notes I didn't write, thanks to bacon and gin, thanks Steve Jobs and Keyser Söze, and thanks to Save the Cat, not real cats. I do not like cats. Thank you all!
OMG, Brain fart....maybe Elana Johnson is Keyser Soze! What the what!?