Best for those outling a new work.
What’s awesome about it
- The word count for each beat
- It’s daunting, especially when your manuscript is half-written
- No capacity to outline subplots
When I first came across Blake Synder’s Beat Sheet (BS2), I was half-way through the manuscript for Hero and the word count for each beat made me to blanch. The idea of trying to shoehorn my (at that point in time) pantsed story into all of those little boxes (opening image, catalyst, black moment) with their prescribed word counts, was more than my brain could take, but when I went back to the BS2, a new story in mind, they appeared as godsends.
I don’t know about you, but I often find myself wondering how long the different stages of my plot (setup, act II, etc) should be. The BS2 solves that issue by calculating when a stage should start and end, based on your overall word count. Say you want to write a 100,000-word novel (about 400 pages), then your setup should be around 9,000 words long and the first half of your second act 27,500.
It also has the side-benefit of breaking your manuscript into manageable chunks; instead of stressing about only having 13,000 words done, you can celebrate having written Turning Point 1.
If you’ve come across a beat sheet template and haven’t read Blake Snyder’s book, Save the Cat, it can be daunting. The descriptions of the beats included in the template don’t fully adequately what’s meant to happen in each beat, and finding more information on the internet is practially impossible (or else I wasn’t looking in the right places).
In the end, I bought Save the Cat, and it was worth every one of the ten dollars I spent on it.
What I love most about the 7-point plot system, and which BS2 doesn’t do at all, is the ability to outline subplots alongside the main plot and then layer them to see how they interact.
I suppose that you could use multiple beat sheets, one for each subplot, or simply incorporate each subplot into the main outline, but that doesn’t offer the same flexibility as the 7-point system.
To get around this, I created my initial outline using the 7-point method and then expanded it with the beat sheet (the process of which I will discuss in another post), which gave me the best of both worlds, the subplot layering and the word count.
As part of my experimentation with the BS2, I updated the existing template with two additional columns.
The first, 7-Point Plot Arc, is a summary of each stage of your initial outline (completed using the 7-point plot system). The second, Words in Beat, is the number of words in each of the fifteen beats, which is handy for such things as adding targets word counts to chapters and scenes in Scrivener.