Blake Snyder Beat sheet for Roxanne

August 10, 2011

Beat Sheet index.

Okay, I’ll try to make this a good one. I’ve also decided that I’m not going to push myself into theme analysis the Blake Snyder way unless something clear occurs to me.

Opening image: Charlie heading over to his friend’s house, singing to himself, but he’s alone – and for a few minutes we don’t really get a good look at his nose.

Setup: The sports gear fencing scene with the two jerks, drops in on Dixie at the Cafe, and goes to the fire hall.

Catalyst: Roxanne gets locked out of her house, Charlie goes to help her, and he is drawn to her when she starts talking about the stars. The next day, Chris moves to town and starts working with the firefighters.

Debate: Roxanne meets Chris, and likes him, Chris thinks that she’s pretty and gets too worked up to talk to her. Roxanne comes to Charlie to talk about the guy that she likes, and he misunderstands at first. Roxanne asks him to talk to Chris for her.

Break into two: Charlie decides to help Chris and Roxanne.

B story: I’m not sure what this is, unless it’s the plot arc with Charlie and the incompetent firemen.

Fun and games: Fireman scenes, some of the bit with Charlie playing Cyrano – and the scene in the bar when he’s coming up with 20 good nose jokes.

Midpoint: Chris asks Charlie to help him write a letter to Roxanne, but he’s hopeless at romance, and Charlie gets inspired and writes it himself.

Bad guys close in: Roxanne is falling for Chris, but keeps quoting the letter from Charlie. Chris screws up the first date with Roxanne.

All is lost: Charlie seduces Roxanne from the darkness, she still thinks it’s Chris and invites him up.

Dark night of the soul: Roxanne finds out the truth and fights with Charlie, both of them saying bad things about the other and about his nose.

Break into three: Charlie smells the fire and leads the fire truck to it.

Finale: The firefighters competently save the town, Charlie’s a hero. He becomes less sensitive about his nose, and Roxanne tells him that she loves him for it, not in spite of it.

Final image: Roxanne manages to figure out a way to kiss Charlie without getting poked in the face, they go to her house but are locked out again. Charlie has the key this time, though – and a comet streaks by overhead.

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Shaun of the Dead: a Blake Snyder beat sheet.

August 5, 2011

Opening image: Liz confronting Shaun in the Winchester, about how he always brings Ed around when she wants to be spending time alone, and that he never takes her anyplace new.

Theme stated: Does “It’s not the end of the world” count as a theme?

Setup: Shaun spends the day at work, bumps into Yvonne, realizes that he forgot to book the table for his fancy dinner out with Liz.

Catalyst: Liz dumps Shaun.

Debate: Shaun and Ed go out drinking, come back, Shaun resolves to sort his life out, goes around to the store next morning, Ed spots the ‘drunk girl’ in their garden, and they realize that she’s a zombie. Shaun calls around, and realizes that Liz and his mum are both in danger.

Break into Two: Shaun comes up with a plan – and then makes a few revisions in it as Ed points out problems.

B story: Is this Shaun’s friendship with Ed?

Fun and games: Fighting zombies, duh.

Midpoint: Philip dies and becomes a zombie in the car – everybody else escapes, but they now have no blunt objects and no transportation, and they’re far from safety.

Bad guys close in: The zombies are crowding thick around the Winchester, and Shaun volunteers to lead them astray to get everybody else in.

All is lost: Ed gives them away to the vampires, Shaun has to shoot his mother, the zombies get David and Di, Pete bites Ed and the Winchester goes up in flames.

Dark night of the soul: Sitting in the cellar, Shaun and Liz really talk as they wait for the zombies to come in and get them. Shaun volunteers to shoot Liz and then himself, when it comes to it, rather than see her be eaten alive.

Break into three: Shaun realizes that they’re on a lift, and he and Liz decide to go back up to street level to take their chances.

Finale: Yvonne arrives with the army, rescuing them.

Final image: Liz has moved in, she and Shaun both seem happy – and Shaun slips out back to play video games with zombie Ed.


‘Save the cat’ Beat sheet for Die Hard.

July 31, 2011

Yet another movie I just watched because it’s homework for my Storywonk revision class.

Opening image: John’s plane lands in LA, with John gripping both the armrests, and the guy in the next seat tells him to take off his shoes and socks when he gets somewhere with a rug and make fists with his toes.

Theme stated: Again, I’m having a hard time with this – when John talks about how he didn’t come out to LA with Holly because he’s a New York Cop?

Setup: John’s trip in the limo with Argyle, arriving at the party, everything up to the bad guys showing up at the party.

Catalyst: The bad guys crash the party.

Debate: John stays out of sight as long as he can, he tries to call the LA police, he uses every trick he can think of to alert the authorities instead of being a hero himself.

Break into two: When the first bad guy comes after him, John fights back, not trying to kill him – but when the guy ends up dead he takes his gun and sends his body back down the elevator as a warning.

B story: I think this is actually the friendship that develops over the CB radio between John and Al.

Fun and games: Oh, just what in this movie isn’t fun and games? Well, any scene where nobody’s being shot at, nothing’s crashing, and nothing’s exploding I guess.

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Beat Sheets: the Forgotten Introduction.

April 2, 2011

B is for Beat Sheet (A-Z Challenge Listing)

Well, I’ve talked about Beat Sheets a lot on this blog already, but when I got a PM from somebody over at Script Frenzy, I realized that I had never really described the concept in detail, so I figured I’d do that today.

Beat sheets are a way of structuring a screenplay script that Blake Snyder described in chapter 4 of his great book “Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need.” It’s a recipe for planning a screenplay, determining which scenes are needed, which scene goes where, and what the characters will need to do at different parts of the story.

And, as a minor point, I’m not going to go into any details for this post regarding Blake’s prescriptions for WHERE in a screenplay you should place the different beats, or why. You can find some of that out different places on the web, and I want to keep myself focused on WHAT the different beats are.

There are fifteen elements to Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet:

Opening image: In the first few pages of your script, you should set the mood of your movie, and show where your hero starts out. This beat isn’t about action, it’s not the first thing that happens in the movie, it’s about where the movie is before it starts happening. But you can show style, tone, what type of story you’re telling and what scope it is, from the very start.

Theme stated: This is the part of the beat sheet that I always have the most trouble with. Basically, the theme is the answer to ‘what is this movie about?’ It should be a question that you’re exploring and giving an answer to, or a statement that you will ultimately demonstrate to be true or false, not just a general topic like ‘true love’ or ‘man versus nature.’ (It could be ‘should man conquer nature?’, though.)

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Approximately 2 and a half hours to Script Frenzy…

March 31, 2011

Script Frenzy index

And I’m feeling really ready and excited!

First – the ‘after’ shot of my bulletin cork board, since last week:

Securely mounted on my bedroom wall, with 41 scene cards indicating setting, overall beat, shift in emotional tone, and a vague notion of a conflict. I’m feeling very ready, like the plan is even more together than it was for Nanowrimo last November.

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One week until Script Frenzy starts. How’s my Board?

March 25, 2011

Well, here I am. It’s less than 7 days until the start of April starts. In one week, I’ll have started my screenplay.

The original plan was that I’d have my ‘board’ of forty scene beats nearly worked out by now. So, what does that board look like so far?

Yeah, it’s not even Read the rest of this entry »


Blog the Cat, Chapter Eight – Where do we go from here?

March 5, 2011

Blog the cat screenwriting index.

Well, I’ve read through the last chapter of Blake Snyder’s great scriptwriting book, ‘Save the Cat’, but I’m not really sure what to blog about it. There’s good stuff in there, but it’s all about promoting your script, finding an agent or closing a deal, and that’s just not really where my head is at in this moment.

Part of my head is still just catching up from the stuff I learned today at the latest Brian Henry Saturday workshop, in downtown Toronto at the World’s Biggest Bookstore. The scriptwriting part of my brain is excited about the fact that the Script Frenzy site is launching, and wanting to go back to the beginning of Save the Cat. So it wants to plot out loglines, come up with compelling characters, pick out a genre, make a beat sheet, and buy a Board somewhere.

And I don’t really want to stop it from doing any of those things for long enough to worry about chapter eight of ‘Save the Cat.’ So I’m just going to page through the E-book really quickly, come up with a few cool things to share, and call this a series.

And all the coolest things in this chapter were the stories about novelty pitches – the ones that worked, and the ones that didn’t:
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Blog the Cat, Chapter Seven – How to fix a broken screenplay

February 26, 2011

Blog the cat screenwriting index.

Okay, we’re drawing close to the end of Blake Snyder’s screenwriting book, ‘Save the Cat’, and chapter seven is about propping up a screenplay and fixing rough spots. Actually, more of the chapter is about diagnosing problems with screenplays, but he does offer some ‘fix-it’ tips as well.

Rather than my usual tack of going through the content of the chapter first and then tackling exercises, I think that this week I’m going to mix in my participatory content and evaluate my Script Frenzy screenplays with respect to each possible problem as I go. I’ll try to cover all three complete scripts for each point, and my one incomplete script I’ll only bring up if it seems particularly relevant.

Problem 1: The Hero is passive.

Symptoms: The hero is being dragged through the story by other characters or forces, his motivation is missing, his goal is vague. He might be lazy and get handed clues to the mysteries surrounding the plot instead of going looking for them. Other characters might always be nagging him and telling him what to do next.

Ideas for how to fix: Probably start with reviewing the goal motivation first, and then going through the plot to make sure that it’s being executed well, and that whenever there’s a possibility of the hero being proactive or just waiting on events, make him show some initiative.

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Blog the Cat, Chapter Six – Common Sense Rules

February 19, 2011

Blog the cat screenwriting index.

Well, since it’s Saturday, we’re back to my chapter-by-chapter reviews of Blake Snyder’s screenwriting book ‘Save the Cat.’

As we move on through Blake Snyder’s book, this chapter is a little bit less structured than the first five. I also found it much less hard-and-fast than its title, ‘The Immutable Laws of Screenplay Physics’ suggested. But then, I tend to side with the school of thought exemplified by the line, “The only rule of writing is: there are no rules.”

And also, as much as Blake goes on about wanting credit for his ‘snappy rules and ironclad laws’, he doesn’t even lay them out as instructions or warnings. There’s details about how to handle each one, but more than anything, this chapter is laid out as an in-depth glossary, so I’ll cover it on the same basis.

Item 1: Save the Cat

I was already familiar with this tidbit from discussions of Blake’s principles around the time of Script Frenzy last year – and it came up in the introduction as well, since it’s the origin of the title.

What is it? The thing that the hero has to do when the audience meets him, so that they like him and want him to win.

Good or bad thing? Good, in fact, required according to Blake.

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Blog the cat, Chapter Five – the Board.

February 12, 2011

Blog the cat screenwriting index.

Okay, in chapter 5 of Save the Cat, “Building the perfect Beast,” Blake Snyder waxes eloquent on The Board. I’m going to skip all of the superlatives, glowing praise, and industry anecdotes for now, and get down to describing the core idea.

You set up a big, flat, vertical working space – Blake prefers a corkboard that he can pin index cards to, and use this to arrange your story ideas on. It’s a way of working with the screenplay structure that’s visual, tactile, and ‘a great time-waster’, except that the point is that the time isn’t actually wasted, in the end. It’s just being put to a use that isn’t immediately obvious, because as you play with the board and keep rearranging things, the ideas are being arranged and correlated by your subconscious mind in a way that you could never achieve with conscious disciplined hard work staring at a blank Celtx screen.

Like a lot of Blake’s notions, the Board is fairly structured. He sets it up in four rows of approximately ten scenes each, (plus or minus one spot per row, but still to come up to a total of forty scenes per screenplay.) The timeline of the movie gets arranged on this board a little like a really huge Fan expo autograph line, going left to right across the top row for Act One, then turning the corner, going back the second row and across the third for Act Two, then back the bottom row for Act Four.

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