Planning & Plotting — Beat Sheets and the Hero’s Journey

It’s been hot here on BC’s Sunshine coast and I took full advantage of the weather for six days of rest and relaxation.  Here’s a picture of the view from my “office” over the last week.  Today we are going to look at “beat sheets”

The beach at Davis Bay, BC

The beach at Davis Bay, BC

While up there I thought about plotting, specifically plotting for the second draft of Western Watch.    I did a little research and ran across this YouTube video by Tara Maya on the use of “beat sheets” for plotting.

Unfortunately, the workbook link referenced below the video no longer works, but Tara does describe how to use the beat sheet and provides an example of it on screen.  I have reproduced it below:

Act I

1. Opening Conflict
2. Protagonist shown in daily life, before the transformation
3. Opportunity for Change
4. Resistance to the Opportunity
5. Point of no Return – Opportunity Accepted

Act II

6. Entering the new situation
7. Meeting new friends, enemies, romance, transformative experiences
8. Problem brings them together
9. Problem drives them apart
10. Crisis hits!


11. Terrible secret revealed or attack starts
12. All seems lost
13. Self-sacrifice or symbolic death
14. Final Show down
15. Conclusion – Wed or Dead

You can see it follows the traditional three act structure.  Her video briefly describes each point so you can get an idea of how to use it.

In addition to Beat Sheet video, I want to share this info-graphic — The Fiction Writer’s Cheat Sheet —  on plotting and writing put together by Emily Breeder, also known as Ripley Nox.  She’s a talented writer who assembled info-graphic as a tool that showcases her writing process.  I like it because it incorporates plotting instructions from a variety of sources.    You can find a little more information on it here.

The Fiction Writer’s Cheat Sheet is free to distribute as long as you attribute it to Emily Breeder and don’t try to sell it.

The Writing Process; Info-graphic by Ripley Nox.

The Writing Process; Info-graphic by Ripley Nox.

I’m planning using both the beat sheet and the Fiction Writer’s Cheat sheet going forward.  I hope you too find them useful.

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