Blank Beat Sheet Form

The Beat Sheet – A Flexible Template for your Story

The first section allows you to create a targeted direction and narrative flow for your story.  Fill these in, and you’ll find specific scene ideas popping into your head.

That’s next.

Each blank line in the template represents a scene.  Fill them in as your story takes form with either a) a singular narrative mission for the scene (example: hero meets love interest for first time), and/or b) the narrative content of the scene (example: Bob and Shirley run into each other at the reunion).

Conceptual hook/appeal:

Theme(s):

Through-line:

The Scenes

Part 1 – Set up:

  1. (hook)______________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  4. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  5. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  6. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  7. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  8. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  9. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  10. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  11. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  12. (1st Plot Point) _____________________________________________________________________________

Part 2 – Response:

  1. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  4. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  5. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  6. _________________________________________________________________________________________
  7. (Pinch Point) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  8. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  9. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  10. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  11. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  12. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  13. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

14. (Mid-Point Shift) ____________________________________________________________________________

Part 3 – Attack:

  1. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  4. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  5. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  6. (Pinch Point) ______________________________________________________________________________________
  7. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  8. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  9. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  10. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  11. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  12. __________________________________________________________________________________________________
  13. __________________________________________________________________________________________________

14.  (Lull before SPP) _______________________________________________________________________

Part 4 – Resolution:

  1.  (2 nd PP)   ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  4. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  5. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  6. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  7. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  8. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  9. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  10. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  11. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  12. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  13. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
  14. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Miller August 7, 2010 at 7:37 am

It’s always helpful to see this concept laid out graphically, rather than wrestling with it in my head. Thanks for another clear and useful tool.

Soooz August 7, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Bravo and thank you, this is such a useful tool. I for one have taken a copy {I think} sheesh, such a newb. Dinosaur learning by making huge mistakes…operative word “Learning” thanks to you and other people that take the time to help.
Sigh!
soooz.

Diana September 11, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Thanks for the free form! A fellow writer with Sacramento Valley Rose told me about your blog/web site. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the posts today.

Happy weekend!

Steve May 25, 2011 at 4:41 am

Thanks so much for another tool for my kit!

Akiva Potok May 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm

A request to Mr. Brooks.

In your book, “Story Engineering,” you have a generic beat sheet on pg. 265 — but you only have act I!! Can you post the rest of the generic beat sheet. This would probably be the best tool I could ever use as a writer. As a suggestion, if you ever publish a book of say 40 generic beat sheets, I would pay good money for it!!

Many thanks,
Akiva Potok

Diane June 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I, too, would love to see the rest of a generic beat sheet. It would serve as a good get started outline for newbies who are stuck!

Amaranth October 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Fabulous stuff!

June January 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Hi Larry
Thank you so much for publishing your brilliant ideas and helping others. Randy Ingermanson recommended you. Smiles, June.

christine January 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Hi Thank you so much for this tool.

Rik Hunik January 22, 2012 at 12:38 am

Larry: Your breakdown of the concept of story structure is exactly what I was looking for. After reading a few of your blogs on the subject last year I immediately purchased “Story Engineering”. I have to rank it as one of the most useful writing help books I’ve ever purchased, and I’ve purchased hundreds over the past few decades. It’s already helped me not write one novel, thus saving me countless hours of wasted effort. The only downside (if it really is a downside) is that I can no longer watch a movie without keeping an eye on the time and picking out the plot points and pinch points. I’m sure I’ll be getting a lot of use out of the generic beat sheet form.
Thank you.
Rik Hunik

Lyn Alexander January 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

I was looking at your beat sheet, and thought I might tell you of a program I just bought:
WriteItNow 4: from RavensheadServices.com
I’m a convinced pantser, but recently decided to try the plotter’s way. This program is just perfect for me, allowing me to do as much or as little planning as I want, and at the same time keeping all the gritty little elusive details on record right where I can find them.
Now I’ll see how the beatsheet works for me.

Susan Kersten February 18, 2012 at 11:38 am

Thank for the template

Lorna April 21, 2012 at 4:40 am

I’m not usually a planner, but this may change my ways!

Thanks,

Lorna

Roseanne Schmidt May 4, 2012 at 6:10 am

I am a converted plotter former pantser since reading your book, Larry. I love knowing, and how freeing and creative I can be even when I know what’s going on… it’s so liberating! Thank you for this beat sheet. It will help me :)

Carolyn May 30, 2012 at 11:06 am

Pardon my newbieness, but what is a pinch point?a mid-point shift? through line, and last, but not least, 1st plot point

Thanks so much.

Oscar October 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm

What does ”Lull before SSP” mean?

Nickie Cochran January 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Awesome beat sheet! Heard about your book on a podcast and ran to the store to grab a copy. I am in the planning stages for a short story before I’ll tackle my next novel and figured that I’d write it based on the strategies in your book. I was blown away and couldn’t put it down – delaying my project – but it’ll be all worth it in the end. Only a few more small chapters and I’ll be ready to grab the bull by the horns. I’ve already worked on characters, themes, concept, etc, now I just need to put it together. I’ve already had a rough structure, but with the stuff I’ve learned from this book, I noticed that a lot of the scenes I had planned were really pointless and going nowhere. My preliminary outline is much tighter now, plus I swapped to another POV character. Things are making much more sense now. I’m going to use the beat sheet next and make sure I’ve got all my ducks in a row – then it’s off to writing!!! THANK YOU!!!!

Nickie
Author of The Heidelberg Ghost

Sara February 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm

What is a pinch point?

Larry February 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm

@Sara – go here to learn more about Pinch Points: http://storyfix.com/story-structure-series-9-%e2%80%93-pinch-points

Also, use the search function (type in Pinch Points) in the right column, midway down… there are about 40 posts that talk about them, in context to a specific story and/or as part of the structural paradigm.

Hope this helps. Larry

Phyllis Brandano May 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

Hi Larry,
I was wondering where pinch point one is on this template? In all my readings of yours it says it’s in the middle of part two, but I don’t see it!!!! Thanks for your help…Story Engineering is a great book!!!

Chris Faulkner November 26, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Thank you for the beat sheet and all the help you provide.

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