The Beat Sheet

In my post about my second draft journey, I mentioned Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. Well, I’ve decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo during April and have chosen to do something I’ve never done. Plan.

Blake Snyder has a beat sheet that pretty much every big movie hit follows. He says a good screenplay is 110 pages long and he’s divided those 110 pages into different beats.

Opening Image (1)
Theme Stated (5)
Setup (1-10)
Catalyst (12)
Debate (12-25)
Break into Two (25)
B Story (30)
Fun and Games (30 – 55)
Midpoint (55)
Bad Guys Close In (55 – 75)
All is Lost (75)
Dark Night of the Soul (75 – 85)
Break into Three (85)
Finale (85 – 110)
Final Image (110)

I did my beat sheet for Thanmir War after it was written (since I didn’t discover the book until after my first draft), just to see if it fit a good structure model. It does, kinda, with the midpoint high landing at chapter 18/19 (out of 35 chapters). But then, I don’t know if my All is Lost moment occurs in Chapter 28 or 33. And is my Dark Night of the Soul in Chapter 30 or 33? I’m not sure. *sigh*

I’d written a large chunk of book 2 in the Ninier series during last November NaNoWriMo’s challenge, all of which was Cameron’s POV. I reread it late last month, and I admit it wanders and…well…sucks. Not all of it. Just the later portions where I started throwing in stuff that wasn’t in my head before I started to write. For April, I’ll be writing Derhan and MaTisha’s POVs. And I’m planning it with the beat sheet beforehand.

I’ve heard of people who plan their books with little summaries for each chapter. That’s something that’s beyond me. Thanmir War was 68 chapters in its first draft. In the second draft, it became 35. Sure some scenes were cut, but mostly it’s organization. I can’t divide up my story before it’s written except denoting when a new scene starts. Cameron’s NaNoWriMo POV is 62k of straight scenes, no chapter dividers.

After much consideration, I’ve decided to change the name of my second book. It was called Rise of the Teymir. But as I’ve wound more intricacies into Thanmir War and stumbled through Cameron’s POV, I’ve decided the book will be less about the Teymir aspects than it will be about the monsters. Both are important, but the monsters affect more of the characters. So the new working title: Isto. As my character Cera once said, it’s not paranoia when the monsters are real.

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

2 thoughts on “The Beat Sheet

  1. Michael

    The Blake Snyder Save The Cat! series is a great way to START plotting, but i’ve found it a little too ‘minimum’. You should take a look at “A Stranger Comes To Town” by Adron J. Smitley (you might still be able to find it for free on the ‘net). It helped my plotting tremendously =-)

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