So Lit Lunch: Save the Cat Fettuccine

Southern Literary Luncheon

Once a month, my published author friend Kaitlyn Sage Patterson and I go to lunch somewhere authentic to Memphis, talk about a memoir, and share stories on the road to book publication.

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder and Mare at Libro

What better place to turn over Draft 2 of my manuscript? Libro at Laurelwood is a restaurant inside a bookstore. It’s run by same the family who also owns Ecco at Overton Park. Fresh pasta is their specialty. Kaitlyn and I split a Bibb Salad and order different entrees because my body loves gluten, but hers does not.

I order the Mare (pronounced Mar, ey? instead of like the horse) which means “sea” in Italian. The shrimp, salmon, sweet peppers, and scallions tangle in a maze of house-made fettuccini. The bold Romesco sauce enhances the fish. 

Kaitlyn opts for the Lupara, a bowl of gluten-free rigatoni, house-made sausage, crimini mushrooms, tomato purée, and a touch of cream. It’s all sprinkled with pecorino Romano. Her go-to dish at Libro, she visits quite often as Novel is Memphis’ largest indie bookstore.

Save the Cat is not a memoir. It’s not even a craft book for writing memoir, but a guide to writing screenplays. There is a version for novel writing, but I get the goods from the original. Kaitlyn says it counts, because Blake Synder’s Beat Sheet is really what I need.

The beat sheet breaks down every three-act structure into the 15 beats of a plot line. It is a road map of what needs to happen where. In detail, Snyder shows how the opening image reflects the final image, why the catalyst jumps off after set-up, and when all is lost, why the hero must plunge into the dark night of the soul.

For weeks, I had been moving material around, questioning where my pieces fit. After reading Save the Cat, I started dissecting every movie I watched and found all the beats, the same identical structure. Then I set to work. With this guide, a cork board, and labeled index cards, I finally put it together.

On the way out, I stop by the information desk and loudly ask for The Exalted by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson. She smiles, blushes, and leads me straight to her shelf, promising to one day return the embarrassing favor.

“Always carry a Sharpie.”

– Sage advice by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

She signs my copy with bold directives like “Dig deep” and “Fight back.” My friend knows next month when I see her comments on my manuscript, I will once again feel defeated. But stubborn as I am, I can’t stop now.

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