1. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Beat Sheet for 50k Novel (For Plotting and Planning!)

    Discussion in 'NaNoWriMo' started by JJ_Maxx, Oct 28, 2013.

    This is a really good guide if you are looking for the basics of where your events should fall.

    This is for a 50,000 word, 200 page novel, so it's tuned appropriately. Remember this is a guide, not a rule.

    Act I
    • Opening Image - Sets the tone, mood, type, and scope of the project. A "before" snapshot.
      • 500 Words
      • Pages 1-2
    • Theme Stated - Secondary character poses question or statement to MC that is theme of the novel.
      • 2,275 Words
      • Page 9
    • Set-up - Introduce or hint at every character in A story; plant character tics to be addressed later on.
      • 4,550 Words
      • Page 1-18
    • Catalyst - Life-changing event that knocks down house of cards.
      • 5,460 Words
      • Page 22
    • Debate - Point of no return; character makes a choice.
      • 11,375 Words
      • Page 22-46
    Act II - A strong, definite change of playing field. Do not ease into Act II.
    • B-Story - Often the "love" story; gives us a break from the tension of the A story; carries theme of novel; often uses new "funhouse" version of characters.
      • 13,650 Words
      • Page 55
    • Fun & Games - "The promise of the premise" / the heart of the novel / all about having fun.
      • 25,025 Words
      • Page 55-100
    • Midpoint - Threshold between 1st half and 2nd half; can be false peak or false collapse; stakes are raised; fun and games over.
      • 25,025 Words
      • Page 100
    • Bad Guys Close In - Bad guys regroup and send heavy artillery ; hero's team begins to unravel.
      • 34,125 Words
      • 100-137
    • All is Lost - Opposite of midpoint (peak/collapse); whiff of death - old way of thinking dies/give up moment/runaway moment; false defeat; no hope.
      • 34,125 Words
      • Page 137
    • Black Moment - Darkest point; MC has lost everything.
      • 38,675 Words
      • Page 137-155
    Act III - A story and B story combine and reveal solution.
    • Finale - Wrap-up; dispatch all bad guys in ascending order, working way up to the boss.
      • 49,550 Words
      • Page 155-198
    • Final Image - Opposite of opening image; show how much change has occurred.
      • 50,000 Words
      • Page 198-200
     
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  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Is it bad that I find this depressing? lol
     
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  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that's pure crap. If anyone, well me anyway, tried to use that guide for real I wouldn't get past paragraph 1
     
  4. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I don't think it's crap... exactly. Just depressing. I know a lot of people write like this, and it's the reason I don't read a lot of popular authors. I KNOW what's coming, even if I don't know what form it will take, and I KNOW it's going to be some form of HEA (99% of the time) when I start seeing the formula. And then it's not fun, or mysterious, or even mildly enjoyable to me anymore. It's far too formulaic for me to write OR read. I just can't do it.
     
  5. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I find it refreshing! Like I am going to print this out and add the peices of my story to each individual beat. Then at least I have an idea of how long each section should take.

    It's not for everyone. Some people can place events in order they wish and it comes out perfectly. However, I've had friends that have let me beta-read stories for them and the pacing is all wrong. Some spots are two fast, other parts drag.

    As I said in the beginning, it's a guide, deviate as necessary. ;)
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    it's a bit exact :(
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Sort of a paint-by-numbers for writing. Like the character development spreadsheet nearby, thanks but no thanks.
     
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  8. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I have to agree. It's very exact, lol.
     
  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can see tomorrow's thread-

    "My life changing event happens after only 4,000 words! Is that OK???????"
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
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  10. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    If it helps, great. If not, then don't use it. If you've never written a novel before, sometimes you need a little assistance in knowing what things to put in your story.
     
  11. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Personally, I'm not downing it. I know it sounds like I am, but if this is what is helpful to some people I'm all for it. Whatever gets you writing. It's just not for me, and I don't personally like reading books with such a formula. There are TONS of people who do though. TONS. So more power to you. I think whatever gets a writer writing is what's important.
     
  12. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Well, this isn't meant to be taken as exact word-for-word, it's just a guide. Pretty much every book and movie will follow some of these points. Every good story is just a conflict and a resolution. That's it, really.

    Sure there are always stories that 'flip the script', but there are the rarity, not the norm.
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What is the source of this "beat sheet"? Where did you get it?

    I'm with those who wouldn't touch it. This is the kind of things that makes me never want to write again. I want to discover things about my characters and their stories as I go - that's my major motivation (along with wanting to write beautiful prose). This kind of formula ruins the experience of writing for me. I've tried doing this kind of thing before, and it just kills my inspiration.

    But that's just me. I'm sure those who follow plans like this have a much easier time selling their work than I do, but that's not important to me. If this works for you, and it doesn't turn writing into sheer drudgery, then more power to you!
     
  14. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I agree with the bolded part, and it saddens me, honestly.

    Yes, you need arcs, and you need things to move forward, and you need conflict, but there are so many ways to effectively get those things...
     
  15. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Yes, you can widdle this down to it's bare bones, but eventually you come to a point where you have to have certain qualities to have an engaging story.

    You can't just say that your MC is going to live a normal life throughout the whole book because you're a hipster and you don't follow mainstream trends.

    All I'm saying is there are things you need in your book. They may be miraculously hidden, but they are there.

    You will have a starting point, an inciting incident, a catalyst, a struggle, a decision, a climax and a conclusion. The question is how long you make each one of these events and how impactful they are.
     
  16. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    My novel follows nearly none of this! I'm not sure whether I should be happy or sad.....
     
  17. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Do you have a synopsis for your story? I bet you have most of these in there, even though you didn't think about it.
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, the books that have left me breathless have basically stated the major issue from page 1. Lolita. Pedophile/ murderer is in love, all gleaned from page 1. Got it.
    Yeah but the whole word count thing is just a little silly
     
  19. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I have some of them, yes, because it wouldn't be a story without some of them. But think about works like "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" (favorite book). It doesn't have most of these, but still has a coherent plot.
     
  20. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Was that to me? I didn't disagree with that. I simply said that the rigidity of this is frustrating and too formulaic for me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Fiddlesticks. Write by a formula, die by the formula.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but I really did soften it from my first reaction.
     
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  22. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    lol :D
     
  23. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Cog, I have no trouble believing that. :D
     
  24. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    It's not a formula, it's a guide. A starting point. A jump-off, if you will.

    But hey, if you want to be a hipster and write 60,000 words of stream of consciousness brain-vomit, be my guest.

    Reminds of Chevy Chase in 'Funny Farm', when he gives his novel to his wife to read:

    Andy: Okay. I’m ready. What’d you think?
    Elizabeth: [hides her face in her hands, begins to sob.]
    Andy: I guess that means you don’t like it.
    Elizabeth: [Nodding, sobbing.]
    Andy: You think it’s lousy?
    Elizabeth: [More nodding, more sobbing.]
    Andy: The whole thing?
    Elizabeth: It’s all those flashbacks. You never know when anything’s taking place. In the first 20 pages alone, I counted three flashbacks, one flash-forward, and I think a page in, you have a flash-sideways.
    Andy: What about the story?
    Elizabeth: The story?
    Andy: Yeah, four poker buddies knocking over a casino? The perfect crime?
    Elizabeth: [sobbing]
    Andy: What are you saying I should do? Take out the flashbacks, rewrite the opening? I can do that.
    Elizabeth: [Shaking head.]
    Andy: Then what?
    Elizabeth: Burn it.
    Andy: You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. You don’t know a damn thing about writing. You’re a goddamn school teacher, you’re not an editor.
    Elizabeth: [still crying] It’s obvious. I read the whole thing. An editor would have stopped reading after the first paragraph.
    Andy: Okay, you want me to burn it? That’s what you want, me to burn it? There. I hope you’re happy, Mrs. Critic. It’s burning now, okay? It’s burning! Shit!

    Yep, more or less.
     
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  25. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    Hey! I worked hard on that!

    To be fair, there are people who like to plan things, and it works for them. There should be different resources available for different methods.
     
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