Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?



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  • #31
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    Originally posted by sc111 View Post
    I think the recipe-nature of Snyder's beat sheet irks me because it makes the writer think they don't understand movie structure to begin with and his punch-list can set them right.

    I think we've all internalized structure since the day the babysitter rolled our little walker thingy up to the TV screen so we could watch Disney films while she messed around with her boyfriend in our parents' room.

    Reinforced, when Dad dropped us off with a gang of middle school friends at movie matinees. Reinforced by countless movie dates, DVD rentals and cable movies on demand. How many films has the average newbie watched by the time they buy their first copy of Final Draft? Hundreds, at the very least. For some, a thousand, possibly.

    My fellow unsold, unrepped writers. You know structure. Yes you do. Seriously. Believe it.

    I'll get off my soapbox, now.
    Screenplay Consultation & Analysis
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    • #32
      Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

      I agree, screenwriting in not about math!
      Frida Hayek
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      Write, Live, Love


      • #33
        Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

        I was at Barnes & Noble yesterday and I looked over that ridiculous book. On page 25 this happens. On page 55 this happens. Give me a break. He's like John Truby with the 15 beats in a comedy, there should be 20 beats in a thriller crap.

        I just saw Ida and Ida was like 83 minutes long. Obvious Child is the same length. Oh no, what do I do Blake?
        I will not fall into despair! I will keep myself hearty, till freedom is opportune!


        • #34
          Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

          RE: the OPs original question... I think JoeNYC gave the best explanation of what Snyder was getting at. The 40 beats are an extension of the 15 beats & are not supposed to necessarily represent individual scenes. After you get your 40 beats down you can expand them where necessary.

          I don't blame the OP for being confused about this. I don't think Snyder does a great job of explaining all this. I've always found his method to be confusing & full of holes. Like someone else pointed out, it falls apart on closer scrutiny.


          Snyder's book is geared to writing mainstream HW comedies. If you write in this genre you'll probably get some good pointers out if it. Doesn't apply all that well to other genres, IMO.

          I agree that SWing isn't math... but you can apply math (counting) while you write IF YOU WANT TO. There's no law against it.

          You get to decide how long you want your script to be. If you decide you want your thriller to come in at around 110 pg... and you want each sequence to be around 10 pg... but you have over 100 scenes in your outline... and each scene so far is averaging 5 pg...

          Well, you know you have to go back & cut & tweak scenes.

          And if the villain isn't introduced until pg 70.... then you have a whole different pg/structure problem.

          So my point is, keeping track of your scenes & pg count -- or what pg # a major beat falls on--is not a heretical sin. I do it. Lots of other writers do it.

          The thing to keep in mind is that we, as the writers, are in control. We count pages & scenes in order to make the process manageable & the end product better, not bc some book told us THIS particular method is the way to do it.

          "Trust your stuff." -- Dave Righetti, Pitching Coach

          ( Formerly "stvnlra" )


          • #35
            Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

            An average screenwriting book won't be useful in learning how to write because, in my opinion, that simply is not their job. They are descriptive-in retrospect works which generally do not offer much more than pointing out common elements and recurring figures in successful movies, suggesting their necessity and inevitability according to some kind of general super-theory or structural pattern.

            That's not what I feel I need anymore (or, also, what I feel a beginner screenwriter should be confronted with)


            • #36
              Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

              As many of you have said, screenwriting is not math, though I'm surprised by the number of movies that have their BIG EVENT (protagonist's life is altered) very near the 17 minute mark. I just assumed it was because of television and the first commercial break, so we've been conditioned to expect something BIG before we get up for another beer.


              • #37
                Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

                Understanding how Blake's beat sheet is similar to many others, and the difference. Understanding Blake's categorization of (10) genres -- which is really a set of *universal* circumstances with his nomenclature. But the take away is they're universal, so broadening whatever your take is to that level makes it more accessible. I don't recommend getting hung up on the definitions, lest you miss the forest for the trees. Good to know a few terms, as people use them ("break into 2" is plot point one, etc.).