blake snyder beat sheet
This blog was originally posted on April 16, 2009.

If we can tell a story well, we can communicate on every level in a quicker, more effective way!

One thing I hear from audiences I get to speak to, from writers in class or in emails from readers who are having a light-bulb moment from reading my books, is how learning story structure has changed their lives.

And I couldn’t be happier—or more grateful—than to share in these eyes-wide-open hazzahs!

When you work out the “beats” of a story via the Beat Sheet (download a blank Beat Sheet template) or in our software, this method leads to clear thinking.

Being able to “see” a story as we write it is why we use these templates.

All stories are about “transformation,” so our job is to tell the tale that has the biggest possible change.

When we look at the Opening Image that starts a story and hold it up against the Final Image, we must make sure those two points are… opposite. And the “Transformation Machine” that all good stories measure tracks this change.

I say it all the time in class: It’s easy.

And powerful.

Yet the structure method we use is more than that: it’s fresh air for the mind. So often our imaginations get cluttered. Some of the pictures in our head are total 100% right-on. But some are just clutter. And having a story clothesline to hang our thoughts on, look at them, and have others be able to look too, empowers every storyteller with a method to not only communicate what’s in our minds, but test to see if what we’re communicating makes sense to someone who isn’t inside our heads—and that’s invaluable!

Story is puzzle solving. And having not only the perspective but the cool aplomb to know our idea doesn’t have to be perfect the first time leads to even greater exercise of our gray matter.

Whether you wind up as a professional storyteller, or as someone creating a 30-second TV commercial, or giving a speech to the PTA, or any of a thousand ways “story” is used to communicate, you are better empowered to tell your story if you think of the Transformation Machine our story templates help you create. From uninformed to informed, from apathetic to involved, from feeling superior to feeling humbled (and thus ready to be called to a higher purpose), transformation is our business.

And there is no better way to look at every article we write, speech we give, or message we articulate, than by the clear thinking it takes to deliver on the 15 beats—these little turnstiles of change—of every story we tell!

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