Juggling Multiple Heroes and Multiple Beat Sheets + Free Beat Sheet Offer!
Today, our guest blogger, Jessica Brody (author of Save the Cat!® Writes a Novel) is sharing her advice about heroes……plural. What do you do when you have multiple points of view in your novel (or multiple heroes in your screenplay) and need to juggle multiple beat sheets (and character arcs!)?
Plus, scroll down to find out how you can nab her most in-depth, robust Beat Sheet analysis yet (with multiple heroes, multiple five-point finales, and more) for FREE! (Limited-Time Offer)
Here’s a question I get a lot from writers:
If I have multiple heroes or multiple “POV-characters,” do I need multiple beat sheets?
The short answer is: yes!
But let’s take a look at that answer in more detail.
When you’re dealing with a novel that has multiple point-of-view characters or multiple heroes, a simple rule of thumb would be:
If they’re worthy of a point of view, they’re worthy of a beat sheet.
Or, if they’re worthy of a character arc, they’re worthy of a beat sheet.
In other words, for every hero in your story, you should track that character’s transformative arc with a beat sheet. Because what the Save the Cat! Beat Sheet really is, is a road map for change. It guides us through the character’s journey toward thematic growth. And that thematic growth is why we CARE about who’s telling us the story.
So therefore, for every character you want your reader or viewer to care about or be invested in (this includes antagonists!), they should have a trackable arc toward some type of change.
So, does that mean that every character has ALL 15 beats of the beat sheet? Even beats like Theme Stated, B Story, and All Is Lost (another question I hear a lot).
And the short answer to that is also… YES!
HOWEVER, characters can (and often do) share beats. For instance, two characters can be each other’s B Story. And two characters can experience their All Is Lost at the same time (perhaps with the same whiff of death.) And I would imagine that if your heroes are interacting with each other, they will appear in a lot of each other’s beats, particularly the longer ones like Fun & Games and Bad Guys Close In.
OR… you can have multiple heroes (or POV characters) who have their own unique set of 15 beats. This is what my co-author, Joanne Rendell, and I did in our YA sci-fi/fantasy novel, Sky Without Stars (the first in the System Divine trilogy). In this sci-fi re-imagining of Les Misérables, we have three POV characters who all have their own distinct 15 beats. AND, because it’s a revolution story during which the planet of Laterre is spiraling toward civil war, we also crafted what we called the “world beat sheet,” which tracks the political transformation of the planet (as if it were its own character), complete with its very own Theme Stated beat!
Scroll down to find out how you can get a free copy of this epic four-hero beat sheet!
But it’s also important to remember that the beats of multiple heroes don’t have to come at the same time, nor be the same length. In Sky Without Stars, our third POV character, Alouette, doesn’t enter the novel until page 83, which means while she’s having her Opening Image and Set Up, the other two characters, Chatine and Marcellus, are already well into their Debate beats. And because Alouette’s story starts so late, her beats are much more compressed. For example, Alouette’s Opening Image and Set Up beat are combined and only take up 9 pages, while Chatine’s Set Up is 27 pages and Marcellus’s is 14 pages. In fact, most of Chatine’s beats are longer than the other character’s, because she’s what I like to call the “one true hero” of the book.
I always recommend, regardless of how many heroes or POVs you have, that you choose a “one true hero” for your plot. This is the character who changes the most and who will serve as the reader’s or viewer’s primary “guide” through the world of your story. For this reason, they are also usually the character we meet first, and naturally, they will get the most page-time or screen-time (and beat-time!) in your story.
For the System Divine trilogy, because we have three books and three main characters, we chose to have each character be the “one true hero” for each of the books. In Sky Without Stars, it’s Chatine. If you read the beat sheet offered below (or the book), you’ll see how she definitely has the biggest arc and the most pages devoted to that arc. She’s also the character you meet first. But for book 2, Between Burning Worlds, the “one true hero” is Marcellus. Although the other two characters continue to change and grow, this is more his story. He has the biggest reveals, the biggest decisions to make, and the biggest emotional transformation. We also start the story with his point of view. And now, as we gear up to write book 3 (title to be released!), we are focusing the majority of our beat sheet efforts on Alouette, putting her and her transformative journey front and center in the story, while still making sure that the other characters are continuing to arc as well.
So, yeah, no one said writing a multiple-POV, multiple-book series was easy!
But hopefully, in reading the beat sheet I’m offering below, you’ll see how we were able to interweave the three character arcs with the arc of the world they live in, all while setting it up for a sequel (i.e., wrapping up the conflicts and threads of this story, yet still leaving more over-arching conflicts and threads open for the future installments).
I hope this post (and the beat sheet!) help!
FREE BEAT SHEET OFFER!
Get the FULL beat sheet for Sky Without Stars!
This is not just a beat sheet though. This is an in-depth, multi-character plot analysis to help you study the techniques of crafting multiple-hero beat sheets and setting up first book in a series.
The 50+ page break-down comes with:
- An integrated beat sheet showing how the three character beat sheets and “world beat sheet” intertwine
- Individual character beat sheets (each with their own Five-Point Finale!) for isolating one character arc at a time and studying it on its own (also includes “Cat’s Eye View” overviews for each character)
- A super-cool, color-coded info-graphic to study how the characters’ beats are spaced and intertwined throughout the novel
- An analysis of how the first book sets up the rest of the series
This is, by far, the most extensive plot analysis I’ve done yet. And I can’t wait to share it with you!
This beat sheet is available exclusively as part of the Between Burning Worlds pre-order gift!
Pre-order Between Burning Worlds (the sequel to Sky Without Stars) and upload your receipt to claim your free Sky Without Stars beat sheet plus MORE!
- A set of Limited Edition System Divine Collector Cards
- An autographed bookplate (signed by both authors)
- A “behind-the-book” features pack with deleted scenes, recorded brainstorming sessions, and more!
Offer expires 3/23/20!