Author Tip Tuesday – Tip #9 The Beat Sheet

July 19, 2016

I love the beat sheet! Seriously, this simple outline changed the way I plotted books and made the whole process so much quicker. I've already discussed the main points, but I wanted to show you the beet sheet in full. This is from SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder.


This beat sheet is used for planning screenplays, but it's helpful for any type of fiction writing. Now that you've worked out your structure points, the beat sheet will give you an idea of what you need to do to fill in the empty spaces your three acts.


1. Opening Image

2. Theme stated

3. Set-up

4. Catalyst (aka Inciting Incident)

5. Debate (your character has to make an important decision)

6. Break into act two (aka Plot Point 1)

7. B story (sub-plots)

8. Fun and Games (more stuff happens)

9. Midpoint (aka Midpoint Reversal)

10. Bad Guys Close In (doesn't have to be actual bad guys- situation gets worse)

11. All is lost (protagonist is in a bad way)

12. Dark night of the soul (more anguish)

13. Break into act three (aka Plot Point 2)

14. Finale

15. Final Image (a reverse of the opening image)

You have to read SAVE THE CAT to get the breakdown from Blake Snyder on all these points, but I think they are pretty self-explanatory. Keep in mind the sheet is just a guide. Whenever I'm about to start a new project, I always start with the beat sheet. It's important to note, that at least for me, what the beat sheet looks like at the beginning stages and what it ends up looking like is usually very different. Like I've said before, you can move scenes around, scratch scenes, imagine new scenes and plug them in where they fit. Nothing is set in stone until you press “publish.”  Writing a book is like creating a big puzzle. It takes a while to get all the pieces in just the right places.

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder on Amazon

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