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Letter B ... Just Beat it "Beat Sheet" & What's the difference between Bribery & Blackmail

Letter B: 

Sorry folks, I'm already playing catch up. I was thrown off with day 1 beginning on Sunday, but add to that Easter Sunday ... my daughter in town from college ... plus family members in town who I only see once a year, plus the kids grandparents (this being their first Easter without their son) and I really needed to dedicate my time all weekend and yesterday and even today to family. So, I'm basically a day behind. I'll make it up in a day or two.

Can I Bribe or Blackmail Larry Brooks into Creating a BeatSheet for my Story?

Key Difference – Bribery vs Blackmail


Bribery and blackmail are two legal offenses that involve an exchange of money.

]Bribery involves exchanging money or other valuables in order to get one’s work done. Blackmail involves extortion of money or something of value by the threat of exposing discreditable information.
How many of you use a beat sheet. There are numerous beat sheets and they all help in the pre-drafting stage, by my favorite was created by Larry Brooks @ 

Brooks uses his Beat Sheet to sequence his story with bullets instead of whole sentences. It's equally helpful for plotters and pantsers. If you don't plot or if you write by the seat of your pants, a beat sheet is a kick ass way to kick off your revisions.

Open a document in word,  pen and paper or Scrivener. 

Title your 1st Beat: Opening 

2nd Beat: Hook

Scene 12 - First Plot Point (PP1)

Scene 20, 21, or 22 First Pinch Point

Scene 30 MidPoint

Scene 36 or 36 Second Pinch Point

Scene 44 Lull

Scene 45 Plot Point 2 (PP2)

Larry Brooks Beat Sheet Examples


1.         Prologue – preview of forthcoming problem.
2.         Intro character and his life prior to facing problem.
3.         Show character’s life, what his stakes are.
4.         Off-stage flash of approaching antagonism.
5.         Hero’s first hint of darkness.
6.         Hero timidly enters the darkness.
7.         Hero is warned to stay away.
8.         Hero confronts the jeopardy.
9.         Hero falsely reassured.
10.       Hero doesn’t buy in, goes stealth to see for himself.
11.       Major darkness thrust upon him, everything changes.
12.       He finds himself unjustly accused (this is Plot Point One).
It’s interesting to note that this generic Part 1 beat sheet could be applied to any number of stories.


1.         Man and woman in hotel room, wildly making love; we see her wedding ring on the counter next to the man’s wallet.  This is a prologue, we aren’t sure who is who.
2.         We meet our hero, who runs a successful retail boutique founded and owned by his wife.  She’s the face of the business, he does all the hard work.
3.         We see that she gets all the glory and money, while he gets little credit or appreciation.  But the employees know.  There’s trouble afoot.
4.         Wife says she’s got a meeting downtown.  Kisses him, leaves, but goes to hotel rendezvous with lover.  One of the other employees sees her there.
5.         That employee tries to tell hero what’s up, but without betraying the wife, who is the Big Boss.  She has a crush on hero herself.  (Foreshadowing here).
6.         Hero now follows his wife a few days later, but finds nothing wrong.
7.         Hero confronts his wife with his suspicions, she denies.  They argue.
8.         Hero goes to hotel, shows bellman his wife’s picture, he recognizes.
9.         Confronts wife, she says this was where her meeting was.  More anger.
10.       Employee assures him she’s lying.  She saw her with a lover.  There are seeds of an attraction between them.
11.       Days later, he follows wife to different hotel on a tip from the employee, breaks into room… finds his dead wife inside.  Touches things, incriminates himself carelessly.  Calls the police, then…
12.       Employee finds him waiting in lobby, whisks him away… says police are already looking for him, they think he did it,  he’s been framed by his wife’s lover, and she’ll help him until he can prove his innocence.  She’ll explain how she knows all this later

Think of the Beat Sheet as your Story Skeleton and think of Larry Brooks as your Story Guru. I kid you not. I was lost until I read his books and signed up for his Story Concept Analysis and later his Professional Story Coaching.  What an eye opener! I realized how much I did not know. He didn't make me feel stupid, but he banged it into my head and let me know that I didn't even have a grasp of some of the simple concepts ... like the difference between the story concept, premise and theme. Once he broke through or forced me to look at story in a different way so that I had that magical breakthrough, I never read a book or watched a movie the same way again. The man's a genius, a master storyteller and a brilliant teacher. If you only read one writing craft book, I highly recommend Larry Brooks Story Engineering

Another author/blogger I hold in awe, has a Writer's Worksheet page on her website where she shares a plethora of valuable worksheets. Among those worksheets,  The Magnificent Author and Blogger Jami Gold has prepared story and emotional arc beat sheets which include a Save the Cat and a Larry Brooks Beat Sheet that you can download. She even has a Scrivener Template. I'm telling you this girl has super powers. If you're old enough to be from my era, I think she's the Bionic woman ... gone into hiding, except she's too young, so I'm still trying to figure out who she is.

Are you new to Beat Sheets? Never Fear Jami's got ya covered with this intro post showing you how to use a beat sheet and explaining all the benefits. Jami Gold's Beat Sheet 101 Post

So, I'm fairly certain we can't bribe or blackmail our way into writing the next creepy, bestselling thriller fully equipped with multi dimensional characters that you love or love to hate and numerous plot twist that you never saw coming which keep you guessing until the very end. Nope. We're going to need help.  I strongly recommend a writing coach like Larry Brooks and reading books he authored such as Story Engineering, Story Physics or my favorite Story Fix.

If we want to write a disturbing psychological thriller, like B.A. Paris's Behinds Closed Doors, I suggest using Beat Sheets during the pre-draft stage and doing revisions. And wow, Behind Closed Doors was her debut novel

If you haven't read this book, you'll want to grab a copy now and read it. I couldn't put it down, but occasionally I forced myself to set it aside to catch my breath. I ordered the book without knowing much about the plot and I''m glad I did. The surprise made it all the more terrifying. I don't want to give anything away, but on the outside Jack, a lawyer and champion for women's rights and his lovely bride Jane appear to have the perfect marriage. Jane has a sister with down syndrome and Jack even takes special care of Jane's sister. I had to go back and read several parts of the book a second time (so I gave in a just re-read the entire book) to see what I had missed ... why had I not suspected this or that sooner? If you are a fan of domestic noir, domestic suspense, psychological thrillers, this is one of the best ones I've ever read.

I'm trying to decide on a weapon for the killer to use in my book. What do you think about a female using a bow and arrow? Too masculine?

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Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Melissa - family time is essential and I'm so glad the grandparents came down to be with you ... all so difficult for you all. This was an amazing blog post - lots of info and links here ... I'm not sure what I'd do ... but couldn't keep it from others knowing! Cheers Hilary

Zulu Delta 45 said...

How about "To Kill a Mocking Bird?" ........and your're an NRBQ fan. Nice. Keep writing! Zulu Delta

Melissa Sugar said...

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorites. I'm trying to incorporate some of my newer favorites. How did you know I was an "NRBQ" fan. I know i'm not very computer savvy, my kids keep reminding me, but I feel certain I didn't mention it or put my favorite songs on any of these post -- Riding in my Car. But yes, you're right. I've been a long time fan. They bring back some really fond memories.

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