Now, where were we? Oh, right. You’re still George Lucas and you’re still moving your story from your 5 spitballed beats into your 15 beats of pitch notes for an idea you’re calling Star Wars. By the way, if you’re not constantly finding yourself way ahead of me, it’s because you’re not all that familiar with Star Wars in which case you need to have your head examined.
Okay. Beat 6. You’re in “The New World”. The New World isn’t always a world, per se. It’s more like a new situation. Your character has just put on a dress to get access to his kids in Act One and now he’s been hired as a nanny or scored a job on a soap opera as a woman. The world has changed and now he’s into what I call “The Movie Part of the Movie”. Blake Snyder uses the term “The Promise of the Premise”. Both equally cute ways of saying that these are your poster moments. It’s a good time for an action sequence to show the danger of the world. In THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, Paul Briggs (the brilliant story artist) and I built a fun action sequence where Tiana and the Prince are frogs thrown into the Bayou where everything tries to eat them. It’s in every trailer you’ll ever see.
All the “fun and games” has to come to an end somehow. There have to be consequences of your hero’s actions, right? So, Beat 7 is all about the antagonist. The Promise of the Premise in your story, George, is “Farm boy goes to war in space”. He shoots down aliens, meets strange people and the bad guy puts it all to an end somehow. Beats 6 and 7. Done and done.
What’s left? In Beat 12 you’re going to set up the plan of action of Act Three. This is what I like to call “The Last Talking Scene”. Act Threes should play on a visceral level. Emotions, thrills and chills. If your audience is doing math in their heads while you’re trying to engage them emotionally you’ve lost the battle. I use Beat 12 to do all of the explaining. So, for you, it’s a chance to set the stage for your final battle and explain how your “sword” works and just how foolish it would be to use your “elixir” at a time like this. Maybe a weird creature with a big head could explain how the bad guy’s doomsday machine has a relatively unguarded Achilles heel. Okay, now I’m just being mean.
Now you haven’t got all of your beats filled in yet, but you’ve got enough to go to the next step. Remember this Beat Sheet is going to live so you’ll revise it every time you pitch the story and find new details. You’ll solve problems in the shower, move things around. You’ll add a 4A, 4B and 4C to it after your friends give you a few ideas to make your story more exciting. Movies are told stories so tell them. When you see your friends’ eyes light up, you’ll know you’ve got gold.
When you’ve got your story to the point where it all makes sense, you’re going to break it all down again in the next step. Next week you’ll turn your 15 Beats into a 31 sequence masterpiece.
Until then, I’m sure you’ve started working on your own stories while you’ve been channeling George Lucas. This process is pretty sure-footed but let me know what holes you’ve got and we’ll discuss them below. I have a 3 inch binder full to the brim with breakdowns of my favorite movies. It wouldn’t kill you to have 1 or 2 by now. Share them!