Being a fictional hero is a pretty dangerous occupation. You could get shot at, chased, imprisoned, stranded in the wilderness — and that might be just in the first chapter. When heroes die in a story, it affects us. (Or should, anyway, if the writing is well done.) It reminds us of our own mortality, of the fragility of life, and puts into sharp perspective the accomplishments and mistakes in our own lives.
But when real-life heroes die, it can affect us in profound ways.
I don’t have any words, really, to describe the loss of Blake Snyder, the wonderfully talented “Save the Cat!” guy. After years of enthusiastically demystifying the writing process and encouraging writers all over the world, he passed away unexpectedly a few days ago.
His work had such an influence on me, I had fixed in my mind the idea that I would contact him after signing my first book contract and say, “Thanks for all the inspiration!” Of course, I felt kind of silly saying that before I’d actually sold a book, so I never emailed him. I now wish, selfishly, that I had. I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone and made contact with the man who irreverently redefined every genre under the sun with titles like “Dude with a Problem” and “Golden Fleece” and made writing (for me and a lot of people) fun again.
Maybe what I can take from this is that it’s okay to reach out to our real-life heroes, even when we feel we’re not ready. Make that connection. Seize the day.
Save the cat.