Blake Snyder… the best teacher of them all

By now everyone knows. Blake Snyder died day before yesterday. I can’t believe it. I keep waiting for him to send me an Email or walk around the corner…

I am at the same teaching conference where I met him, all the film teachers in the country crammed into one building. Only this time, he’s not here.

It was in Chicago a few years ago, on the last morning of the conference. I was on my way to the airport and just had time for a quick breakfast and then off to the train and gone… I carried my cafeteria tray into the lunchroom and looked over, and there was Blake.

I had just spent the night before reading Save The Cat and plopped down beside him, telling him how great his book was. He was gracious as I gushed and we proceeded to have a marvelous conversation before I rushed to the airport.

Blake was always, always gracious.

A year or so later, I told him the idea for my book. He told me it was a great idea and that I would write a great book. The first encouragement I got! When I finished my proposal, he sent it to his publisher and they agreed to publish the book.

So much of what will happen in my life is because of my book. My book is 100% because of Blake.

He always believed in me and what I could do. He was a tireless champion of my writing and never stopped telling me I would win an Academy Award for my script about the fall of Saigon. No one EVER told me I would win an Academy Award.

Blake was the most positive, helpful, affirming person I have ever known.

He made me a better teacher.
He made me a better writer.
And, rare among teachers, he made me a better person.

I can’t believe he is gone.
The void he leaves will never, ever be filled.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Blake Snyder… the best teacher of them all

  1. RichLucas

    In 11/2005, Stephanie Palmer of Good In a Room suggested I buy Blake’s book and contact him. I did. And my writing life would never be the same.

    Personally, I was fortunate to meet Blake a handful of times, heard him speak on various topics and traded a couple hundred emails with him over the years.

    We talked about our trips to China, story, the business and I even found an indie movie he hadn’t seen (Tape)!

    This is a loss, not only for the screenwriting community and film industry, but for all those whose lives Blake would touch with never-ending positive energy, patience and enthusiasm. I can see why Blake loved your book.

    Blake had a relentless desire to crack the story and learn and teach. Blake was a true conduit for passionate pursuit of screenwriting, movies and story.

    Let’s make him proud and even prouder!

    – Rich

  2. Hey Will, I just learned today that we have a mutual friend — Rob Muraskin.

    I never knew Blake Snyder or corresponded with him, and was very much looking forward to his upcoming seminar in New York.

    In all the personal stories about Blake I read, I keep seeing this constant: many of us came to know of his work thanks to a friend’s recommendation. One screenwriter helping another out of a particular story jam, saying, “Hey, check out this Save the Cat! book.”

    Something tells me Blake would have been so pleased to know that he was able to reach more screenwriters simply when one friend helped another.

    For me, that friend was Rob. He told me to get Save the Cat!. And it was through Blake’s site that I found your book, not realizing until today that you and Rob knew each other.

    What a world. While the loss of Blake is huge, it’s a comfort to know The Story goes on, as does the role of the Storyteller.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Blake earned me money in more ways than just getting my book published… I used his book to lay out a pitch that I eventually sold. Paid for way more than just beer and cigarettes. Sometime, were I good at math, I could figure out the price of the book versus how much money I earned. Way better investment than the stock market. Give my best to Rob.

  3. Everything everyone says about Blake is true and it’s not a coincidence that we have similar stories about him. Blake was one of the finest people I’ve ever known and he somehow made all of us better people.

    I got the news on Tuesday, but Wednesday was my birthday. For some reason, I still expected a call from him. He always called me on my birthday and when the call didn’t come, it finally sank in.

    The real reason Blake was excited about story is because stories are about people and he loved people. It showed. I learned a lot from him about the value of investing yourself in others.

    I just completed the Act One writing program. I have Blake and you to thank for that, and probably Stephanie Palmer too. Blake made me a better writer and you made me a better rewriter. Stephanie taught me how to sell it. And Blake reminded us the point of it all: that each of us has a story that’s truly worth telling.

    God bless Blake Snyder.

  4. Howard Burkons

    Will,

    You have it exactly right. Blake made everyone he met better for the experience. And what I learned about him, especially over the past half-dozen years, is how strongly he embraced the old fashioned, what is best about America traditional values that made this country great. This was part and parcel of his work ethic – which, in all this recognition to his genius and boundless creativity should not be overlooked. He worked hard, driven by his own pioneer spirit of can do – but work (however joyful or joyless) it was. Work. Work. Write. Write. Win.

    HB

  5. Blake was a hot commodity for learning the correct way to write screenplays. I learned everything I know from him.

    In a Seattle beats workshop I met Blake. He was peaceful, inspiring, and a genuine help to all those striving in this field. His book is on my desk and the only reference book for screenwriting I use consistently.

    He will be missed by a community that needs him so desperately.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Blake was 100% responsible for my book’s existence. I am massively in his debt, as he was so encouraging during the writing process and after, too. The instant I told him the idea for Your Screenplay Sucks!, he said I’d get it published, and he was right.

  6. Blake and I talked about many projects together I had the privilege of making an effort on producing his Horror comedy “Granny” which was later picked up for good money.
    He encouraged my current project “DEER CAMP” which is in it’s 4th season and blossomed out of nothing but a ton of work, creativity and big jolts of brilliant inspiration.
    Blake’s infusion of faith in my ability to do what it takes to bring it to life was his gift. He had a unique way of cutting through your fears and self doubts and It reached way beyond just the development of the screenplay, Blake was a lifesaver in many ways and his spark will live on as it is reborn in all of us.

  7. Colleen Hinton

    What I can’t comprehend is how he maintained such personal e-mail contact with hundreds of people. I took a week long class with him a couple of years ago and have only e-mailed him a handful of times since, but each time, same day I would send one, back would come a wonderful, encouraging message that clearly indicated he remembered me, my writing, etc. and full of encouragement. I am saving his last two e-mails to me so that I can at least hear his voice when I need that lift.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      That is something I wondered about too… how did the man do it? He had the most energy of anybody I knew. And it was all POSITIVE energy. I don’t feel lucky to have known many people, but boy howdy, Blake was one.

  8. Kimberly Lucas

    I want to have that much energy — just thinking of Blake gives me far more — more for story, for not fearing to go for the Kingly Concept and to “Swap it all out for something else and make it work.”

    Every time I fall in love with a sweater, I’ll think of Blake — it’s a sweater, but it could also be my writing — have I fallen in love with it? Do I need it really?

    Blake will always rule our world of the imagination.

    William, I have never met you, but I love your book. I can see your Blake inspiration. Like his, yours is one of the best books out there for a writer. My friend and I were fresh off a writers’ conf. here in L.A., went into B&N at The Grove, and I picked out your book off this table full of screenwriting books, just by glancing at the no-nonsense outline of No-no’s with explanations and instantly realizing it was a gem — There was only 1 copy left on table so I gave it up to my friend who had to fly back to Wisconsin — Lucky for me, we asked and they produced another copy of “Sucks”!

    Thanks Blake, for inspiring William and William, thanks for listening to Blake!

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