Beat Sheets and a New Series
You’re finally done with NaNo, and you want to rewrite your recent creation, and then submit it for edits so you can get it published, one way or the other. Whether you choose to self-publish or go a more traditional route, understanding plot can go a long way toward making sure your story really hangs together well.
One formula that works really well is the beat sheet, a formula that breaks the story into three acts with specific milestones along the way. There are several reasons this is one of my favorites, the primary one being that it is effective. It works for books, plays, and movies. Movies.
Which is one dream many authors share: someone picking up their book, loving it, buying the option to make a movie out of it, writing a script, and then…then fame and fortune rolls in.
Frankly, I don’t give a damn about that. I want a reader to read my books cover to cover, and not be able to put it down. I want them to stay engaged from end to end.
Ever start watching a movie, and stop? Shut it off and start something else? Or start reading a book, and put it down, pick up something else, maybe never to return to the story. Why does that happen? Because the author, or director and producer lost your attention.
Believe it or not, there are plot formulas: ones that are proven to work. And if you have read a great deal, or seen a number of movies, you probably follow one or more of these unconsciously as you write, even if you have not been formally trained. It helps, though, when you are done with your draft to step back and look at what formula you followed, so when you spot a problem, you can look back and see why and how you went wrong.
The diagram below illustrates a typical beat sheet done in a Mind Map format. To create the Mind Map, I use a program called Freemind, a free program that is pretty powerful as well. I’ll be sharing tips on what tools to use as the series continues, but there are other ways to do beat sheets as well, including Scrivener, one of my favorite programs.
So over the next little while, we are going to look at the parts of a beat sheet and how it works. For each part, we’ll use different plot types and specific stories and movies to illustrate this.