Progressive Book Club – Save the Cat


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49464In the 2nd installment of Progressive Book Club, we read Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. It was a really great book geared towards screenplay writing, but a great pre writing process for novel writers.

In the book, he claims there are no completely original ideas and that’s a good thing. In order to have a successful story, in his world a box office hit, you need to have a story that is recognizable.

One of his other bold claims, I found fascinating, is that the movies The Matrix and Monster, Inc. are actually the same movie. The Matrix is in my top ten favorite movies. It was a Sci Fi action movie with movie tricks that hadn’t been done before.  Monster’s Inc. is a Pixar film. While Pixar was an innovation in animation at the time, Monster’s Inc. is the fourth feature out of the studio.

For my book club report, I put Mr. Snyder’s claim to the test. 

Tagline:  

The Matrix – The Fight for the future begins.

Monsters, Inc. – We scare because we care.

Hooks:

The Matrix -A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Monster, Inc. -Monsters generate their city’s power by scaring children, but they are terribly afraid themselves of being contaminated by children, so when one enters Monstropolis, top scarer Sulley finds his world disrupted.

Storylines:

imagesThe Matrix – Thomas A. Anderson is a man living two lives. By day he is an average computer programmer and by night a hacker known as Neo. Neo has always questioned his reality, but the truth is far beyond his imagination. Neo finds himself targeted by the police when he is contacted by Morpheus, a legendary computer hacker branded a terrorist by the government. Morpheus awakens Neo to the real world, a ravaged wasteland where most of humanity have been captured by a race of machines that live off of the humans’ body heat and electrochemical energy and who imprison their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. As a rebel against the machines, Neo must return to the Matrix and confront the agents: super-powerful computer programs devoted to snuffing out Neo and the entire human rebellion.

UnknownMonster, Inc. -A city of monsters with no humans called Monstropolis centers around the city’s power company, Monsters, Inc. The lovable, confident, tough, furry blue behemoth-like giant monster named James P. Sullivan (better known as Sulley) and his wisecracking best friend, short, green cyclops monster Mike Wazowski, discover what happens when the real world interacts with theirs in the form of a 2-year-old baby girl dubbed “Boo,” who accidentally sneaks into the monster world with Sulley one night. And now it’s up to Sulley and Mike to send Boo back in her door before anybody finds out, especially two evil villains such as Sulley’s main rival as a scarer, chameleon-like Randall (a monster that Boo is very afraid of), who possesses the ability to change the color of his skin, and Mike and Sulley’s boss Mr. Waternoose, the chairman and chief executive officer of Monsters, Inc.

Characters: 

  • Main Characters – Neo and Sulley – both realize the the world they were told about is not the real world.
  • Sidekicks – Trinity and Mike – both have unlimited faith in their friend.
  • Villans – Agent Smith and Randall Boggs – both slimy and scary characters who can change colors and blend into the back ground to deceive.
  • The Double Cross – Cypher turns Neo in for a steak dinner; Mr. Waternoose poses at Sulley’s mentor and turns out to be the man behind the whole evil plan.

Worlds: 

  • Industrial worlds
  • Dual realities
  • Neither world knows the real truth about the other.
  • The scene when they show the pods connecting humans to The Matrix and the doors storage room have a similar feel to them.

My conclusion: I get the comparison. It is interesting to break down a movie to its parts and realize on a basic level, they are the same movie. I agree with Blake, it’s the similarity in stores that makes them intriguing because like Blake Snyder says, to write a successful work that will sell, you need to find an idea and do it different.

What you do you think of the claim there are no original ideas left in the world? Can you think of any other movies that on the surface appear different, but are actually the same story?  

Source:  imdb.com

21 thoughts on “Progressive Book Club – Save the Cat

  1. Very interesting when you break it down like that. I’ve been meaning to read Save the Cat for a while now. I’ll have to check it out 🙂

  2. The beat sheet for Save The Cat is amazing. I was totally skeptical at first, but then I input all the information into an excel spreadsheet and my huge novel at 164,000 words, hit every beat within five pages. I was floored.

    The comparison of the two movies is quite compelling. Not sure if I’m convinced it’s the same movie, but I get where Snyder was going with it. I would like to think there are original ideas yet to surface, but if not, we’ve got enough differences among us to make the tried and true interesting in new ways. Right?

  3. What an interesting comparison! I may just have to pick that book up…and it’s got cats 😛

    I’m stopping by today from the A to Z challenge. Congrats on signing up! Good luck. This is my first year with the A to Z challenge, even though I’ve watched it grow over the last 3 years. I’m also taking part in the Reveal on the 21st. I’m trying to share some positivity with my #WriteMotivation friends on Twitter (and to help keep me positive in the process)
    Hope to see you around. 🙂

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    http://writebackwards.we3dements.com

  4. I agree that the base storylines are all basically coming from the same rehashed storylines, but I think that we each bring something unique to the stories that we write and tell.

  5. This was a creative take on the book. The comparisons were interesting. I do know if I ever attempt another work of fiction, I will apply the beats and advice in this book much more directly.

  6. I like your experiment. I tend to agree there are no original ideas, but we can approach things with an original view or method.

  7. Interesting take on the movies. It’s an old chestnut in lit crit that there are 7 archetypical stories, and all stories are versions of them.

    I’ll get my discussion up in the a.m.–not quite done tinkering and it’s time to call it a night.
    Rebecca

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