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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beat Sheet or Scene List

No matter what you call it, beat sheet or scene list, it's  a wonderful tool to structure a manuscript. I've read three books on writing in the last two weeks. All three suggest the writer create a list of scenes or 'beats' for everything that drives the story forward. I finished a 68 scene list for my woman's fiction, Layla Bunch. It's very visual and colorful and it fits on one page (the print is a size 8 font, and it's just large enough to read without a magnifying glass). The colors come in because I made each plot line in the book a different color.There's room for time/date, the mood of the scene, and a separate color column designating acts 1,2, or 3.

You might think it's confining and cramps creative flow, but it does the opposite. I can see the scenes in my mind, and if I need to switch them around, it's an easy cut and paste of a single line. The book is so clear in my mind, I know that the draft I am writing will be much the better for this bit of planning. It won't prevent me from going off on a left field creative jaunt, but I'll be able to assess the damage/value of that deviation pretty handily.

Don't be afraid to mess around a bit with your creative paradigm. Every writer must find that creative sweet spot somewhere between total creative anarchy and anal obsessive planning.

If you write, how do you manage the process?

Sharon

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