On Structure and Beat Sheets

It took me about a week to work out the beat sheet for “Whisper” to the point that I was happy with the story line that had developed, and another two weeks to write out the 40 scenes that will make up the screenplay.Tom-Gowen-STC-onesheetBy using the scene cards and the beat sheet, I was able to write the first 15 pages of the script in an hour.

This is quite a dramatic change for me and I like it. Instead of letting the story and characters develop as I write the first draft, I have a plan in place. I like it. I believe that my stories will have better structure, more conflict, and less meandering in the story line, because of it.

2 thoughts on “On Structure and Beat Sheets

  1. Hi Laura
    Thanks for posting this. I am curious if you could help explain Tom’s sheet more. Especially the colour coding? what exactly are the relationships of the same colour in different spots. I thought (for sure) the colours would be coded so that

    catalyst debate break into 2 would match with (respectively)
    all is lost dark night break into 3.

    thanks for your time


    • The color coding is to break out the Acts and the last 10 pages of the script, Peter. It is also a reminder about which Act you need to ‘seed’ so that you aren’t suddenly throwing a sub-plot at a viewer that makes no sense. It may be easier to use this simple form which I use myself inside of a Word Document and I work out the plot line and trigger points. The Save the Cat method is still used as a Guideline to write all main stream scripts – but it is just that – a guideline. The numbers below are for page numbers where this should be happening. I also use this method to help flesh out my novels. Hope this helps.



      1. Opening Image (1):

      2. Theme Stated (5):

      3. Set-Up (1-10):

      4. Catalyst (12):

      5. Debate (12-25):

      6. Break into Two (25):

      7. B Story (30):

      8. Fun and Games (30-55):

      9. Midpoint (55):

      10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75):

      11. All Is Lost (75):

      12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85):

      13. Break into Three (85):

      14. Finale (85-110):

      15. Final Image (110):


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