Story Beats

Interesting article below!

I tend to use beats a little differently, based on what I've learned from classes and workshops. (Dave Farland writes about fiction beats in his writing books. Brandon Sanderson and the Writing Excuses team talk about this.)

I use beats during drafting when I get really stuck or need to anlayse plot issues at a chapter/scene level. Which plot thread or character arc could I advance here? What beat would advance my chapter goals? What chapter/scene element is missing something?

I use a beat as a paragraph or page level unit of story representing movement on any given character arc or specific plot thread. It's one puzzle piece inside a chapter.

I think of them as units of escalation/ movement/ arc progression that may be character arc beats, plot thread beats, setting beats, chapter beats (what would be in a chapter outline), storytelling promises beats (romantic beat/scary beat/action beat), moment of awesome beats (kiss scene/character rides a dragon/Spiderman jumps off a building.

So if I'm writing a romance scene/chapter and I'm stuck, I might try a series of escalating romance beats, each of which leads to a chapter climax or story change or moment of awesome.