Maybe you’re there with your beat sheet at this point. You’re just about ready to write your novel come Tuesday.
Maybe you’re struggling. Tempted to resort to old tapes that whisper sweet poison into your ear as comfort: just wing this, it doesn’t matter.
But you know it does matter.
Either way, you should be obsessed with your beat sheet, in whatever form you’ve chosen for it, during these last few days. You should be either filling in the blanks with scene ideas and missions, or — better — expanding your bullets into full-grown outlines for specific scenes you know you’ll be writing.
Here are a few tools to help you get there.
To review a 1o1 on the magic pill that is the beat sheet, including a GENERIC, MISSION-SPECIFIC SEQUENCE FOR PART ONE OF A STORY, something you can actually apply to your story right now, or tweak to suit… CLICK HERE.
To read a tutorial — just posted from an online workshop I did elsewhere — including WHERE THE MAJOR MILESTONE SCENES FIT INTO A BEAT SHEET… CLICK HERE.
To view (and print) a generic, BLANK beat sheet template, CLICK HERE.
To view Rachel Savage’s tent graphic with spaces inserted to scribble in your milestone story points, and a list of scenes under each of the respective parts (in other words, a blank graphic beat sheet template, CLICK HERE.
To see an actual working beat sheet (partial, up through 40 percent of the entire novel’s length… I switch beat sheets from what you’ll see to a more formal outline format)… CLICK HERE.
To read the actual Prologue from that finished book to see how the final product relates to how it was covered in the beat sheet — I highly recommend you do this, you’ll see how quick and clean your beat sheet can be — CLICK HERE.
The goal is to fill in as many of these blanks as you can, BOTH as generic mission statements (what the scene needs to accomplish), and as creative treatments (how you’ll fulfill the mission).
As an essential story planning minimum (which, if you’re still gonna try to pants your story, this will at least give you a running start and a real shot at success), try to complete at least five of the scenes on your blank beat sheet: the opening scene… the first plot point scene… the mid-point scene… and the ending scene(s).
If you can nail these five, you’ll want to jot down more. I promise. Before long you’ll have more scenes in your head than you don’t… and if you don’t, you’ll at least know, a) the context of the scene, depending on where it goes, and b) the mission of the scene, or what it needs to accomplish.
From those two inputs you can now more easily, probably, optimize your scenes… which is the key to success.