I've piled up a lot of unread books during the pandemic, so I've learned to treat them like other projects – if it looks like I'm not going to finish it, move on, maybe hand it off to someone else (in the case of books, the public library).

Honestly, I bought Save the Cat! because it has a cat in the title and on the cover, I have a vague ambition of writing something more substantial than random tweets and blogs, and I cannot walk out of a bookstore without buying a book.

But the first few pages reminded me of an author's talk at the public library in which he explained the formulaic structure of all his books as the way to write a novel (and it wasn't even The Hero's Journey).

Which brings me to something else that was offputting – the plethora of italicized words, seemingly in every paragraph, punctuated by an exclamation! It's enough to make me miss the days we all had to use typewriters.

As with the library author's talk, I respect their professional published body of work, but I'm not buying the sometimes arbitrarily precise formula ("express your theme in the first 10% of the book"). Except maybe put a cat on the cover. That always works.