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The Beat Sheet

How to Format Your Story Before you Write

SAMPLE BEAT SHEET is taken from various sources on the Internet.  We do not claim to have created this alone.  Hopefully it is of some use for you.

Opening Images & Setup (Pages 1-10): Sets the tone, mood, and establishes the world we are entering.  You need to grab the audience right away. A script reader will tell you that the first ten pages are where they make the determination about whether or not they want to recommend a script. So make your opening image stand out and try to link it to the theme of the story.

Theme Stated (Pages 15-20): This could be a question that is raised or an observation or declaration, but something that starts to get us thinking about theme.

Big Event (by page 20):  This is the inciting incident, first act turning point, whichever you prefer to call it.  It sets the story in motion and our hero his/her quest.

Break into Act II (Page 25): In Act II we leave the old world (the thesis) and journey into the upside down new world (antithesis).

B-storyline (by page 30):  Often times this is the love interest of the story, but can be any backstory that helps to add depth and emotion to the story.  

Fun and Games (Pages 30-55): The Fun and Games beat is the promise of the premise: where most of the trailer’s moments are found and the focal point of the poster. Here we take a break from the high stakes and are more concerned with having some fun.

Midpoint (Page 55): At the midpoint you'll want to create an obvious “up” tick (hero seemingly peaks…but not really ) or a “down” turn (world begins to collapse around the hero…but not really).

Bad Guys Close In (Pages 55-75): It is during this beat that the hero appears to have nowhere to go for help, headed for a huge fall, which leads us to…

All is Lost (Page 75): This is the point of the script where the hero experiences a false defeat: hero is in shambles, wreckage everywhere, no hope: where mentors die and best friends betray.

Dark Night of the Soul (Pages 75-85): This section can last five seconds or 10 minutes. This is where the hero reacts and processes the defeat and when the hero reaches down deeper than ever before to find the strength/wisdom needed to overcome the conflict.

Break into Act III (Page 85): In Act III our hero discovers the solution. Both the external A-story and internal B-story meet and intertwine. The hero gets the clue from the girl that makes him realize how to beat the bad guys and eventually win the girl’s heart (“whew”).

Finale (Pages 85-110): This sequence completes the journey for out hero and is climatic and intense.  The payoff moment where hero shines; problem is solved, bad guys are killed/defeated, and of course the hero wins the girl. This beat has lots of action and important dialogue. Remember to tie up any loose ends in this beat as most of puzzle’s solutions are now revealed to the audience.  Finally, how the emotional and physical journey is completed helps to embed your Theme into the story.

Final Image (Page 110): This is the opposite image of the opening image; proof that change has occurred and that it’s real.

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