Posted by: steveonfilm | September 14, 2008

Glimpse Into A Beat Sheet

I’m not sure how other writers use beat sheets, but I’ve used them from time to time to sketch out complex scene structures. I used to try note cards but I’ve found that using TextEdit on my Mac, or NotePad on a PC, works much better for me. It’s faster, more nimble, and I can put down a bit more detail than if I were to write it by hand.

I’ve been going over and over the final sequence for Bystander and finally got it all sorted out. This has taken me a lot longer than I expected, but what are you gonna do. Sometimes things aren’t done until they’re done. And until now I wasn’t satisfied.

I thought it might be useful for other writers out there to see what my beat sheet looks like. Maybe someone can use my technique to help themselves. So, for anyone curious, here is what my final sequence looks like in beat sheet format. Keep in mind that the final product will differ from this a bit, and there will likely be a few more scenes to wrap up Duane’s story, Kyle and Rachel’s reunion, and maybe one more thing about The Commodore.

EXT. Rachel’s Lake House – Night
– Kyle and Duane arrive, guns in hand. Kyle takes point.
– The front door is open. They enter the house.
– They find Rachel and Stephanie tied up.The Commodore stands behind them guns to their head.
-This is how it’s going to work. You’re going to put the guns down. I take you. Duane can take the girls.
-Duane and Kyle argue. Kyle says that he wanted to help. This is what he needs him to do. Take the girls back home.
-Kyle agrees.
-The Commodore has Rachel tie up Kyle.
-They have a moment.
-The Commodore tells them to take the white Audi out front. He tosses Duane the keys. Duane leaves with the girls.
-The Commodore takes Kyle and says they’re going on a trip.

EXT. Warehouse – Night
-The Commodore on the phone. “We’re here. Just keep up your end of the deal.” He hangs up.
-The Commodore and Kyle walk up a path toward a dark warehouse. Kyle in front. Hands tied behind his back. The Commodore a few steps back, gun drawn.
-Two thugs out front. The Commodore stops and gives them a once over. They wave them in.

INT. Warehouse – Cont.
-Patricia and two thugs stand in front of a some large rusting boilers.
-The Commodore tosses Kyle down in front of her feet. She said she’d be alone.
-Plans change. Leave Kyle. He can pick up his money outside. She and Kyle have some catching up to do.
-Tie him up. The thugs tie up Kyle.
-The Commodore leaves.

EXT. Monte Carlo – Cont.
-The Commodore opens the trunk of his car. He puts a metal briefcase inside. Pauses to look over at the warehouse. He can hear Kyle scream. Shuts the trunk.

INT. Warehouse – Cont.
– Kyle getting laid into by Thug 1, he’s scraping a grill brush against his leg wound.
– Thug 2 takes his turn. Punches Kyle in the face and chest.
– Patricia lights a cigarette. Don’t take this personally kid. But I gotta send a message to anyone else who tries to step.
– You know that airstrip ambush was a hell of an idea.

EXT. Warehouse – Cont.
– Guard One strikes up a cigarette.
– Guard Two walks away to take a piss.

INT. Warehouse – Cont
– Not to rub it in or anything, but you’re little girlfriend and best pal aren’t going to see morning. I’ve sent some of my men after them.
-Kyle strains.
-Gonna have to kill the kid too.
– Kyle screams in anger.

-Four men.
-Loading weapons.
-How many are there?
-A guy. A chick. And some kid. Patricia wants them all dead.

INT. Warehouse – Night
– Consider it a favor. You wouldn’t want Escobedo’s men to get to them first.

EXT. Warehouse – NIGHT.
– Guard Two taking a leak.
– He’s killed. Three silenced bullets to the chest.

INT. Warehouse – Cont.
– Thug 1 lays into Kyle again.
– He always was their best marksman. You’ll be hard to replace. But there’s always another stupid kid looking for all the answers around the corner, isn’t there?

EXT. Warehouse – Cont.
– Guard One still smoking.
– A dark figure comes walking toward him in the shadows.
– Bout time you got back here.
– Two silenced shots to the chest. One in the head.

INT. Warehouse – Cont.
– Get the Willy Pete.
– The Thugs head out.
– Familiar with white phosphorous? The Marines used it in Fallujah. One particle touches your skin, burns for hours.
– Patricia putting on some thick rubber gloves.
– Know what the burned flesh smells like? Garlic and bacon. Marines said it themselves. Can you believe that shit?
-She puts out her cigarette.

EXT. Highway – Night
– A black SUV on the side of the highway on fire. The same one we just guys loading their guns in.
– A dark hispanic male with sunglasses on a cell phone.
– He says, “Its done.”

INT. Warehouse – Cont.
– Let’s go!
– She walks over to the door.

– Patricia finds Thug 1 and Thug 2 dead.
– The Commodore walks out from around the corner.
– What are you still doing here?
– Finishing the job.
– …You son of a bitch.

– The Commodore enters.
– He takes out a knife. Kyle’s eyes widen.
– He cuts him loose.
– Lets get you out of here.
– We’ve got to warn–
– Relax, you’re friends are safe.

EXT. Warehouse – Cont.
– The Commodore helps the beaten Kyle back to the Monte Carlo.
– Never thought I’d meet The Commodore and live.
– Please, call me Leo.
– Kyle looks surprised.
– Martin said you were dead.
– Smirks. Rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated.
– Who are you working for?
– No one. Just playing sides against each other. Making some money. And cleaning up a mess I made a long time ago.



  1. I like this. It doesn’t explain the why but after you know why this is what it’s suppose to look like. Good job.

  2. I have been so impressed with writers helping other writers. Anyone who shares like this should be commended for doing so.

    • Everyone’s gotta do their part.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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