Writing Story Beats

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When writing a screenplay, by writing story beats first, it helps you organize your thoughts into a more coherent form. Once you complete writing the story beats, you can then begin writing each scene for your screenplay. By following this approach, you will find that you have a road map to follow with respect to your story beats. So, much of your grunt work goes into the story beats, while most of your creative work goes into the writing of each scene.

Story beats should show each scene in brief form. They do not have to be written in perfect grammar. They simply need to be written down in order. Story beats can be looked upon as idea beats. You have an idea for a scene. What should take place in that scene.? “Oh, yeah, this, this, and this.” Bang! You’ve written your story beats for the first scene. A word of caution, always enter your scene at the last moment and get out of the scene as soon as you can.

For example, on page 1/minute 1 of my screenplay/movie, “The Caller”, I introduce the setting. I introduce the main character. I show what she does as a professional. I show how she acts and reacts around other people. Bang! I move to the next page/scene. The story beats are: Introduce the setting. Introduce the main character. Show what she does as a professional. Show how she acts and reacts around other people. Get out, move to the next page/scene.

Once you get some story beats down, you will find that ideas come up where you want to write more in story beats you’ve already written. So, do that. If you want to expound on the setting, e.g., then add to introduce the setting, behind the stage of a fashion show. Then, get back to your story beats for the scene on which you are presently working.

Writing story beats are refreshing and very helpful to writing a multi-dimensional screenplay, something for which every screenwriter should strive.

Story beats 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...

How to Write Compelling Fiction

To write compelling fiction, the writer must think in terms of a beginning, a middle, and an end with a defining theme. A main character (protagonist) with a goal must drive the story/plot. Each other character should be a subplot which crisscrosses the plot. They must reflect the theme, and in some way, interact with the main character. The character who opposes the main character can be a antagonist or a villain (represents pure evil with no redeeming characteristics). This character must be seeking the same goal as the main character, but for a different outcome. The stronger the antagonist or villain is, the more powerful the main character becomes and the more compelling the story becomes. In the interaction between the main character and the antagonist, the main character must show a transformation arc, which terminates at the end of the story where he/she has an epiphany that completes their transformation.

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“How To Destroy Writer’s Block”

What I learned several years ago was
to push myself to write.  By writing
at the same time each day, even if
it is for 15 minutes, I write.  If it is
not writing an article, screenplay,
book, etc., but just writing, I write,
at the same time each day.  This
approach to writing is vital to
the professional writer.  It is like
professional athletes do before
a practice or a game, they loosen
up to reduce the danger to injuries.
A writer must loosen up before they
write, or they will experience an
injury, some refer to as “writer’s
block.”

I select something about which to
write.  A pen setting on the table
in front of me, for example.  I
study the pen.  I think about the
pen.  I ask myself, “What can I
write about this pen for 5 minutes?
I define the shape, the color, and
the angle to the table the pen is
laying.  I define the metal clip
on it.  I define the steel tip on it
I define the color of the ink in
the pen.  I note the name of the
pen.  I write about the pen in a
Zen-like story form.  I take all
of these elements and put them
together in a fashion that tells a story
about the pen.  The theme of
the story, is the pen.  The theme
is what holds every story together,
like the roots of a tree.

One can always write.  The question
is, how much brilliance does one
have to write, when the mind
refuses to give one anything to
write?  This is when the writer
must take charge and write.

When one desires to write their article,
screenplay, book, personal letter,
business letter, etc., and has
difficulty in getting started for the
day, or night, or what have you,
do a writing exercise such as I have
described above.  This warms up the
mind to turn to what one sets down
to write in the first place.  Write only
long enough to get the mind to
working again, before you return to
what you want to write.

And remember, anything anyone
writes is brilliant.  It’s just a matter
of how the writer puts what they
write together, that defines brilliant.

I hope this has been of help to you.

Best Regards,

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net