The Beat Sheet Deep Dive: Act I

The next beat is to state the theme. This needs to be subtle. Don’t have anyone in the story say it aloud, so to speak. Show it. Don’t tell the reader. No one in life says my life is about insert theme here.

The idea is to take a imperfect person and turning them into someone a little less imperfect. Remember perfection is overrated. No is perfect and your hero shouldn’t be either.

The beginning of the story should show the hero’s life before anything, changes. This brings us to the setup. This particular beat is about ten percent of the story. It’s multi scene. The hero goes about their business. But hint that something is going to happen that will throw everything out of kilter.

The hero will want something, but it isn’t what they need. It’s the bandage the hero uses to solve the problem, not the actual solution. They should know what they need to do, but they don’t want to do it. They want to do something else.

Think of it as borrowing money from the bank to pay off a debt. It might ‘solve’ the problem of the debt but the debt remains. It’s moved to the bank. This is the type of ‘solution’ the hero should try first. Sometimes it makes the original problem worse.

This is the point where the hero’s flaws are on full display. Your story should have lots of problems for the hero to fix. It’s a case of putting out a lot of small fires before they can finally solve the original story problem.

The next beat is the stasis. This is the critical moment before the catalyst. This is the point where the reader should realize that something has to change. It can morph into the catalyst, which is what spurs the hero into the story.

If we take the example of the debt, the hero should lose their job and be unable to repay the bank. This is the point where the hero realizes something needs to change.

Looking at your plot you can ask a few questions. Is the catalyst big enough? Will it be easy for the hero to go back to the way things were? Show how resistant the hero is to making the change they should make. The hero is transitioning to the second act. They don’t have to make a concrete decision. But they need to begin the change that will solve the story problem.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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