On November 1, I (along with my friend Sylvia) started a personal Zero Draft 30. I’m rewriting a pilot but I’m going back to basics. This week I have to bash out a beat sheet. Can someone give me a beat?
What is a beat sheet? For me, it’s a bullet point list of scenes and sequences. How many beats do I need? I was taught that I should aim for roughly half the number of pages in my script. If I were writing a feature, I’d be aiming for 60 beats (which is half of 120 pages). If it were a sitcom, then 15 beats (half of 30 pages). As I’m writing an hour-long drama, the goal is 30 beats.
Normally I would just find 30 “things” that I want to happen, make sure it roughly resembles a story (beginning, middle, ending), spilt the beats into acts (I usually write a teaser and five acts), and then I’d move onto a treatment.
This time around, I’m being a bit more methodical. After every 5 beats I go back and figure out…
-What’s at stake for each major characters (there are two major characters).
-What is each character’s goal in the scene.
-What is the goal of the scene (for me).
I also ask “is this the laziest version of this scene or can I think of something better?”
So far I’m at 21 beats and it’s already better than the draft I pounded out last November.
Next week: the treatment.