My whip smart, hysterically funny friend Betty Lierman and I had the privilege of studying with Blake Snyder, the dear, genius of a man who wrote “Save the Cat” – the best book on screenwriting ever written. IMHO. His main focus was on teaching us to write well structured, three act screenplays using his fifteen beats.
One day Betty realized that she could use just seven of the beats to map out a well-structured story. That’s not to say that she advocates skipping all the other beats, it’s just that you can flesh out a story more quickly with only seven of the beats. She adds the other essential beats later.
When she told Blake of her discovery he was dumbfounded. He later included Betty’s beats in his book “Save the Cat Goes to the Movies”.
He wrote about Betty’s Beats, ” Cogent, totally fulfilling, and smart, her method got the job done — and it also pointed up that the key points in any story are the biggest action beats, the ones that still show “transformation.”
(BB are also an excellent way to pitch a story, which we will cover at a later date)
Below are the Betty Beats, which you would do well to memorize!
- Opening Image
- Break into Two
- All Is Lost
- Break into Three
- Final Image