Story Beats

Story Beats

There is much talk about hitting the “beats” in a work of creative writing. The term “beats” comes from music. It refers to the necessary pulse that gives a systematic motion, flow, or sequence to music. Without it, the sound of music is chaos and the listener has no idea where it starts or ends, or if there is any singable theme. Some composers will lose the beat to affecting a feeling of space and timelessness or atmosphere. However, in story writing, the author does not want to lose his or her readers in the book. Therefore, he or she needs to maintain necessary story beats.

In writing, the word “beats” describes the necessary sequences of plots and subplots that builds a cohesive story. Musicians use rhythm and form; writers use scenes. Putting scenes together systematically to build up to the main conflict or climax makes sense to the reader and forms the foundation for a good story.  To summarize, the beats usually flow within a three-act formula:  introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

© Suzanna Reeves
Story Arc

Act I—Setup

  • Main Character(s) Introduction
  • Normalcy of hero’s life
  • Inciting incident or Hook

Act II—Confrontation

  • Rising action
  • Midpoint – the hero’s goals are clear
  • Pivotal Main Crises
  • All seems lost

Act III—Resolution

  • Climax – Final confrontation
  • Falling Action
  • Denouement/Resolution


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