Thursday, 29 May 2014

Beat Sheets

Handy things those beat sheets.

The awesome of clip art
Before I jump headfirst into revisions of Ondine 4, I used the 'Save The Cat' Beat Sheet created by the very talented and dearly missed Blake Snyder.

As structure is my friend (as it is yours) the structure can show a writer (i.e., ME) where I'm hitting my marks and where I'm way off.

Snyder has a sensationally useful beat sheet for film scripts.

Novels are a little different in that you aren't restricted to 110 pages, so with added waffle and whacky magic, my beat sheet looks like this:

Act One:
Opening Image
Theme Stated
Introduce the "Six things that need Fixing" (sprinkled throughout Act 1 and beginning of Act 2)
Hero/Heroine's Goals - state them up front so the reader knows where we're going.
Set up
Debate (should I do this or not? Obviously, the character has to do it, or there is no story)
Break into Act 2.

Act 2: (which is broken into two parts)
B Story
Increase in Tension
"Fun & Games" in which you deliver on the "Promise of the Premise". (ie, if you're at a wizard school, show some wizarding. Like, mebbe a game of quiddich!)
Midpoint - where it all becomes very real and there's no going back.

Act 2 Part 2:
Chase Scene
Bad Guys Close in
"The Shopping Montage" which may or may not involve shopping. Mine is a street riot, involving a chase over rooftops. Each to their own.
All is lost
"Dark Night of the Soul"
Break into Act 3

Act 3:
Finale/ resolution
Final image

This book will have an epilogue, because the emotions need an 'aaaahhhhhh' moment to make sure that all is in fact right with the world.

I love Snyder's "Six Things That Need Fixing" (I broke this rule and I'm up to seven, but hey ho.)

The things that need fixing need to be fixed by the end of the book. I like to introduce them fairly early on - but not all lumped in together. If they are introduced too late, it feels like 'and another thing, and this thing' and it makes me feel like the story is never going to take off. But that's just me.

So, introduce all your 'fixer uppers' early on and then have some payoffs along the way. Don't wait until the very end for everything to pay off, or it will feel contrived.


Dannie Morin said...

Ohh I like this one. Haven't seen it before. I love the Beat Sheet and other resources on Adding this one to my list!

Ebony McKenna. said...

That's so cool Dannie, glad it's going to work for you.

That's what I love about writing craft books, I find useful things in all of them that help me make sense of what I'm writing.

Suzi Love said...

I love the Save The Cat method.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Hi Suzy,
so glad you could share this.

The structure helps me so much, so I can't share this enough. The thing about reading loads of structure/craft books is that so many different aspects speak to me, at various stages of a book's development.

I cherry pick the bits that work and the others slide past for the moment. Then when I read the book again, new parts resonate with me.

Margaret M said...

I love the beat sheet and thanks for sharing. It's a great topic and it always astounds me how generous you and the wider writing community are.

Ebony McKenna. said...

You're absolutely welcome. :-)