Keystroke Medium

How Do I Use a Beat Sheet? with Jami Gold - The Writer’s Journey, Ep 1.07

February 19, 2019

Plotting out a novel can be confusing and overwhelming, but there are tools to help. Novelist and author coach Jami Gold is here to explain how to use beat sheets to help you plot out your next novel. Click below for free resources.

RESOURCES:

Jami’s Worksheets and Tools: https://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/ 

New to Beat Sheets or the Concept of Story Structure?

* What is story structure and why does it matter—to readers? https://jamigold.com/2017/03/story-structure-whats-the-purpose-for-readers/ 

* If you’re not familiar with story beats, start simple with Jami’s Basic Beat Sheet: https://jamigold.com/2013/09/are-beat-sheets-intimidating-cut-through-the-clutter/ 
* If you’re not familiar with Excel or how to use beat sheets, here’s a Beat Sheets 101: https://jamigold.com/2013/12/nano-wrap-up-beat-sheets-101/ 

* Not sure what your story’s beats are? How to recognize your story’s beats: https://jamigold.com/2014/02/what-makes-a-story-event-a-turning-point/ 
* Not sure where each of your story’s turning points should go on a beat sheet? Focus on their story function: https://jamigold.com/2015/02/how-to-place-turning-points-on-a-beat-sheet/ 

* Ready to try more in-depth plotting? How to develop a beat sheet into a scene list: https://jamigold.com/2015/10/developing-our-story-from-beat-sheet-to-scene-list/ 

Are You a Pantser?
If you write by the seat of your pants, check out the Pantser’s Guide to Beat Sheets: https://jamigold.com/2013/07/a-pantsers-guide-to-beat-sheets/ 

What Can We Do with a Beat Sheet?

If you’ve decided to try using beat sheets, you can now improve your story’s events and pacing.

Either during pre-drafting or revisions, we can:

* Ensure we have all the beats necessary for good storytelling (the four major beats and maybe the four minor beats)—look for the scenes/events that fulfill the story functions
* Verify the beats create increasing tension and stakes
* Make sure our story shows a change from the beginning to the ending
* See where beats “should” fall page-count or word-count wise and compare that to our story’s actual pacing.

By comparing the expected page numbers to the actual page number for each beat, we can analyze our story:

* Is our story too slow in places?
* Do we have unnecessary scenes?
* Or have we underdeveloped an idea or reaction?

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