1. anitaex100

    anitaex100 Member

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    The difference between Emotional beats and Action beats

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by anitaex100, Sep 11, 2017.

    Is there a real difference between the two? Don't both perform some type of action? I know emotional beats may be about the state of the character emotion, but it can also be shown through the character action?
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure. A beat is a dramatic (stage) term that basically means "stop talking and do something," I think. It's something that happens between characters speaking. Usually that's an action, or in the case of stage actor it's a predetermined pause to make some kind of facial expression or gesture, which I guess could be considered an "emotional" beat. But in prose, the beat would need some kind of action like "Bob frowned" to indicate the emotion. Unless you just wrote "Bob was unhappy," which is kind of a lame-sauce tell-y thing to do, but it has its usages, I suppose.
     
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  3. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    I'm not %100 sure what you're talking about. When I think of emotional beats, I'm thinking of remarkable emotional moments - think Luke Skywalker finding out that Darth Vader is his father. That's not an action, it's a conversation. An action beat, to me, is a type of dialogue attribution. I'm not really sure what the crossover could be here. Maybe I'm being dense / blanking on terminology?
     
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  4. anitaex100

    anitaex100 Member

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    Thanks, guys! I'm probably not explaining myself correctly. I'm going by Katharine Cowley's blog. She states that there are 10 types of action beats. Here is a small excerpt. The Close-Up or Extreme Close-Up Action Beat: a very close shot of a character’s action, such as a tear rolling down a cheek.
    “Kalak frowned as he stepped up to the base of the spire.”
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Do you have a link?

    But my cynical mind is thinking that this kind of sounds like a list for the sake of a list.
     
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  6. anitaex100

    anitaex100 Member

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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Ah--she's not saying ten types of action beats, she's saying "ten keys to using..." Slightly different. I would be highly suspicious of someone trying to decree exactly ten types.

    I'm still iffy about her definition of "beats", though. They still look like, well, sentences.
     
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  8. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    She seems to define a beat as anything that isn't dialogue; I'd always understood it to be any attribution to dialogue that isn't "he/she said".

    She also seems to have this thing about grouping things into 10 Keys to ...

    Like the discussion about MRUs, it seems to be an example of overthinking things and creating "rules" to enable the teaching of Writing by Numbers Creative Writing.
     
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  9. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Never trust someone imposing their writing success knowledge on you,
    they are only saying that you should write as they do so you can be successful.
    It is just a gimmick to get those who don't understand that is what they are
    doing. The best piece of advice is to write it and get critiques on it, and ask
    for them to examine a specific part that you feel you have trouble with.
    It is your work, not anyone elses, so write it the way you believe it works
    for you. :)

    These people who have 'better writing tips' are a dime a dozen, but they
    are just a gimmick like the rest that tell you how to do things 'their way'.
    You have a brain use it.
     
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  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Along with everyone else, I don't know what 'beat' means in this context, but it sounds like it's more geared to film than the written word.
     
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  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Wait a minute. All writing books are gimmicks? That is a very big generalization. It sounds to my that you just haven't come across the right books on writing because there are some good ones. And sometimes you can find great articles on writing. Of course, there's a lot of crap out there, but to dismiss it all is foolish.
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I always defined 'beats' in this context as something used as an alternative to a dialogue tag.

    Beats are there not only to add visual, mental or emotional content to the dialogue, but also to break up he said, she said repetition. It's important the reader knows who is saying what, so beats are a good tool in the writer's toolbox to keep the scene on track.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
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  13. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    It is just in my opinion. Never said it was a fact.
    I have read a few decent articles, but I also try
    to er on the side of caution because their have
    been many good books written before there were
    such things as writing help books. They work for
    some, and for others they don't. It is up to the
    individual as to what they choose to do. :)
     
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  14. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I think the best books are the ones that don't attempt to tell you what you must or mustn't do. The best books are the ones that explain the effect of certain writing issues, and what can happen if you use them or ignore them. In other words, not so much 'what' as 'why.'

    I love books that show me a few tricks of the trade that I didn't know about before. But the ones that tell you that you MUST write a certain way or you'll never get published, etc? No. I'm not keen on those.

    A good writing book can really inspire you, in fact. I have several that I re-read, whenever I need a creative boost.
     
  15. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
    "Empire of the Sun" by J.G. Ballard
    Anything that isn't a cousin of "he said/she said" is a beat. It's just a borrowed term from screenplays.

    The list of ten is a little silly, but it does make you think. She's presenting everything spatially, which is . . . okay. I don't mind seeing it, just to get ideas going. I wouldn't consider this as the voice of authority though, just another approach.

    I've always thought of beats as action/setting/inner-dialog. It just needs a little attribution for our purposes. Basically, anything that's not dialog can interrupt dialog, and it's a beat. If you interrupt with dialog, well, then that's just more dialog. ;)
     
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