Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Beat Sheet

I am not a professionally trained writer. (I know, I know, stating the obvious.) While I did take a few fiction writing classes, I sucked at mastering the format and storytelling necessary for being a writer. I feel bad for my writing professor who was and is a published author. He probably cringed every time I fought for how incredible my stories were. They were good ideas, but I hashed them out horribly. Also, at 18, I was not going to listen to some teacher about what I needed to do to improve my work. I was awful and I hate that most teenagers believe themselves as so self-important. An awful right of passage, we lose out on critical guidance by being arrogant. At least I sure did.

Now, I soldier on, weeding through what I hope are two very good novels worthy of publication. One of them has been rejected a few times, but I can live with that. I finished it and sent it out. That alone makes me feel oh so special. haha Anyway, a friend from college, who was also in my writing class, and is now a cinematographer in Hollywood, good for him!, is giving writing another go. He offered to read my work, brave man, and I mentioned that I sometimes wished I had learned to write a screenplay because I am a lover of dialogue. Writing descriptions? I fail miserably. You read a book by most talented authors today and they can describe swimming in a pool as if it was a religious experience. I on the other hand state it for what it is, swimming in a pool. I may add the color of the water or what it feels like to the character, but that is about the extent of my reeling you in to feel immersed in the water. This is a dilemma and may be what prevents me from ever being published. Alas, I try to get better at that, but I cannot make you a promise.
Anyway, he asked me if I knew about the 70 beat outline and I said I did not, but would look it up. This proves I am an amateur and maybe should think about just being a script reader instead of a writer.

The format is helpful and it is basically an outline. Which I hate doing, but get why it is necessary. Seriously, what did Jane Austen and Edith Wharton do? Did the have little strips of paper hanging on their vanities marked "Newland Archer" and "Mr. Darcy"? Did Jane struggle with scenery descriptions like I do? I need to know this stuff to make me feel a little better. Okay, back to outlines. I do have outlines everywhere in a notebook, but they get edited and rewritten so much I sort of lose track. This is my own fault for not being better organized so I blame no one but myself. Of course, there is a writing program for the Mac that has a bulletin board where you pin notes about every character and certain scenes that you just pull up when necessary  I could so use that program right now. Note to self: Again, you are an idiot for not mortgaging your home and purchasing a MacBook Air. Now go flog your butt in the corner. I digress way too much here. Back to the Beat Sheet. This helpful tool is everywhere on script writing sites and fiction writing blogs so here are a few links.

WTF is a Beat Sheet?

The Beat Sheet

Kick-Ass vs. The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet

I am still loving the series House of Cards and for me, the best thing about the show is the dialogue. Snarky, witty, sassy and just downright brilliant. That's the type of stuff that gets noticed and which I want to master. One day my friends, one day.


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