Last weekend Alicia Dean, Amanda McCabe, Kathy Wheeler and I met for a retreat weekend to work on our next installment for the Martini Club series. It was a very productive meeting as we nailed down the personalities of our characters, researched what was going on right after World War II and plotted our stories. While we were all sitting around the table bouncing ideas off each other, it got me thinking about the writing process. There are some writers out there comfortable diving into a story perfectly fine with allowing the story to unfold as they write. They are called pansters. I am not one of those. I am a plotter and need to know every event that will take place before I set pen to paper.
With my first two novels, I developed an outline for every scene that would be in my novel all the way to the end. But even with the outline, the stories meander and lose focus. They didn’t have enough structure. There are a lot of books out there on story structure. But I had yet to find one that worked for me. Then I walked into to a seminar by Blake Snyder called Save the Cat. After his lecture I voraciously devoured all of his books. When I plotted Runaway, I used his beat sheet. Runaway was my first story using this method. Below is my beat sheet for Runaway.
Opening Image: Felix Noble investigates a murder and locks eyes with a woman he wants to reassure. The woman is Charli.
Theme stated: In order to get ahead you need to stick up for yourself.
Setup: Charli waiting on customers, clearing tables, passing out drinks with patrons slapping her on the butt and getting too friendly. This is not the life Charli wanted when she ran away. Introduce bartender, Slick, Meggie, Jess, Eliza, Mrs. Carter, Geoff and Felix.
Catalyst: Geoff finds her. Slick kills him. Charli is convinced she needs to keep quiet.
Debate: Will she bow to Slick’s demands or stick up for herself.
Break into Two: Charli hands slick bloody clothes. Slick disposes of the body.
B-Story: Felix investigates the murder.
Fun and Games: Felix questions Charli. Slick harasses Charli. Felix wonders about Slick’s involvement and can’t believe Charli is truly a murderer.
Midpoint: (False Victory) Charli get an offer to be a baker for Mrs. Carter. Charli dances with Felix and learns the he has secrets of his own.
Bad Guys Close In: Slick is more threatening. Charli wants to reach out to Felix but not sure she can. Slick carries out threat and plants bloody clothes in Charli’s cupboard at Club 501.
All is Lost: Felix confronts Charli about her bloody clothes.
Dark Night of the Soul: Charli confesses. Felix and Charli devise a plan.
Break into Three: Charli should have trusted Felix all along. They carry out their plan.
Finale: 1. Gather the team: Felix hides as Charli waits for Slick.
- Executing plan: Charli tries to get Slick to confess. He is obstinate.
- High Tower Surprise: Slick turns his back on her and walks away.
- Dig Deep Down: Charli risks Slick’s anger by attacking his Achilles heel.
- Execute New Plan: Charli hones in on Slick’s belief he’s a gentleman. In his rage he finally confesses.
Final Image: Felix and Charli at Meggie’s wedding. Charli wears her engagement ring given to her by Felix.
So there it is. I’m not going to claim that the beat sheet was perfectly executed. But it helped me keep my story in line. That’s all I have for now. Thank you for reading my post.