Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Beat Sheet

Most of you probably follow Elana. Several weeks ago she blogged about a book called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. It's a book about screenwriting, but it helped Elana figure out the problem with the first chapter of her novel.

Eureka! I ordered the book immediately, because I LOATHE my first chapter. My opening scene just feels wrong. It feels hokey, like I'm trying to jump in the middle of a BIG scene and falling flat.

The book tells us there are 15 beats in a screenplay, and describes each one. I think my opening scene better fits Beat 4, The Catalyst. I never let the reader get a glimpse of my MC's normal life, showing what she wants. (Rather, what she thinks she wants.) I also didn't introduce any of the other characters, which the book says should happen in Beat 3, The Set Up. I think I need to go back and write a new first chapter, hopefully one that hooks the reader AND helps the reader to care about the MC.

So, now I've been wondering about the rest of my novel. How alike are the beats of a movie and a novel? I've been debating whether or not my novel should fit into Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet. Or am I completely overthinking it?

Are you familiar with the Beat Sheet? If so, how closely aligned with it do you think a novel should be?

Also, Elle Strauss blogged about this book yesterday! She filled us in on how the book teaches you to write a logline. I loved this part of the book. It's a great resource for creating your logline, and Elle has it broken down for us. Check her out if you haven't already!


  1. Oh, my gosh. I have been debating about buying the book ever since Elana's post. I added it to my Amazon wish list and re-visit it periodically but haven't been able to decide. You just convinced me! Thanks, Jennifer! :-)

  2. I got this book a few weeks ago but I haven't had time to read it yet. Since I've been struggling with my first chapter, sounds like I should make the time;) Glad to have you back!

  3. Hey, it's good to see both of you again! I'm realizing more and more how much I've missed the blogosphere. I would love to hear what you ladies think about applying the beat sheet when you write.

  4. I haven't heard about this book yet, so thanks for bringing it to my attention :) I'll have to look into it, I feel like my first chapter is a little wonky. Thanks for the review and the links!

  5. I'm not familiar with the Beat Sheet. Thanks for the info. :O)