Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

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  • nativeson
    replied
    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.).

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  • rkeller
    replied
    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.

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  • diego80
    replied
    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)

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  • Laura Reyna
    replied
    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.

    Also...

    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.

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  • nycscreenwriter
    replied
    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?

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  • fridahayek1
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    I agree, screenwriting in not about math!

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  • ScriptGal
    replied
    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.
    LOVE THIS

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  • jariax
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    All these formulas and beats are really done for people who are unable to grasp the simple concept that **** has to happen in your screenplay. The protagonist(s) must move forward and backward. It can not be a linear journey.

    Strictly by-the-numbers writing is quicly falling out of fashion.

    I just got a recommend on a script that had a 15-page-scene in it. So, it really just depends on the script.

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  • Pooh Bear
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    I like to do the following...

    Every 10 pages or so turn the story in a different direction. Could be a small, medium or large turn.

    Does the turn have to fall exactly every 10 pages? No.

    Leave a comment:


  • JoeNYC
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    Originally posted by gpolin View Post
    The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet calls for 15 beats. From that, 40 scenes are derived. And it is here I'm getting confused. For the typical 110-page screenplay, that means almost 3 pages per scene on average. I don't think I've ever written anything where my scene length averages 2.75 pages.

    Or does he really mean 40 plot points, where any single plot point could be a scene or a sequence or a collection of scenes
    -- 40 beats is an expanded version on Blake Synder's Beat Sheet (15 beats). It doesn't mean 40 scenes. It's just a more detailed structural outline.

    The way it works is you have 40 index cards posted on a board: 4 lines across of ten each representing an act with Act Two split in half. On each card you lay out the beats/plot points. They can contain one scene or multiple scenes.

    For example, a robbery will be one beat, but have 5 scenes.

    This is meant, as any other method, as a guideline to get your structure, also character development, ideas, etc. in order before you write.

    Keep in mind, Blake Synder says 40 beats to structure a story. I don't like this type of teaching at all, but if you look at this as just a guideline and not an ABSOLUTE MUST BE, then it won't hurt you creatively.

    It's whatever works for your story. It could be more than 40 beats, or it could be less. Same goes with the number of scenes in a story and the number of pages in a scene.

    Decades ago, the average number of pages in a scene was 2 to 4 pages, 40 to 60 scenes. Now it's like 1.5 to 3 pages.

    To a screenwriter actually writing knowing this fact of averages means nothing. He's gonna use as many pages in a scene and as many scenes that he needs to emotionally excite and entertain an audience.

    A comedy, on average, is gonna have less scenes than a character drama. As other factors are gonna affect the number of pages in a scene, such as a writer's style, etc.

    I suppose a green writer, or any writer, could use these averages as a tool/guideline to tell him for example if he's going way past these averages he might be overwriting and needs to go back and analyze the scene.

    By the way, Blake Snyder's "Stop, Or My Mom Will Shoot" was in a high stakes bidding war. How many out of the hundreds of members here can say that about one of their scripts?

    Let's not disrespect a fellow writer's achievement. Even if it's a story you personally didn't like.
    Last edited by JoeNYC; 04-29-2014, 07:03 PM.

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  • gpolin
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    Originally posted by Filmmagician View Post
    Ugh... really? "Ever will?" You can predict the future but you don't know how long your scenes should be?
    How many times have you seen 'Stop or my Mom will shoot', and 'Blank Check'? I'm skeptical that these are his scripts that made him a ro screenwriter - but I'm a little relieved because people who can't do, teach. And he was a very good teacher.
    If you want to have a civil conversation, I'm here. Otherwise, get lost.

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  • Filmmagician
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    Originally posted by gpolin View Post
    Blake Snyder achieved a level of success virtually nobody on the board ever will, so his assertions cannot be igorned.
    Ugh... really? "Ever will?" You can predict the future but you don't know how long your scenes should be?
    How many times have you seen 'Stop or my Mom will shoot', and 'Blank Check'? I'm skeptical that these are his scripts that made him a ro screenwriter - but I'm a little relieved because people who can't do, teach. And he was a very good teacher.

    Leave a comment:


  • Filmmagician
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    A scene should be as long as it needs to be, and no longer. I've found that good pacing usually trucks along at 3 pages a scene. It feels like the same rule that your screenplays (early on) shouldn't be over 120 pages - all relative.
    Blake laid it out so that in 120 page script you don't want a 30 page act I. So, no, it's not 1 card per scene, per se. Just major points that move the story forward.

    I like that his beat sheet makes structure very accessible to everyone. But when it comes down to it Aristotle had it right with 3 act structure - and that's really all you need to know. There was some great adivce in previous posts. Watch/study/learn from movies you love. I use my iPhone's stop watch (what a time to be alive) and hit the "lap" button at the end of every scene and you can really see how things plug along and the pace of scenes.

    I love the 1st and 2nd STC! books. If nothing else, it sets things up for you then if you get creative you can bend/break the rules and make it your own.

    G'luck

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  • odocoileus
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    Originally posted by wcmartell View Post
    Someone read my screenplay and said I was a beat off...

    Bill
    They were just jerking your around.

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  • wcmartell
    replied
    Re: Understanding Blake Snyder 40 beats?

    Someone read my screenplay and said I was a beat off...

    Bill

    Leave a comment:

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