I stumbled across this incredible beat sheet on Tim Stout’s blog on how to write your story, whether you’re a pantster or plotter. He’s using Blake Snyder’s beat sheet from . My favorite part of it is the opening scenes as when I interned this was the most problematic area for writers and I find myself in the same boat sometimes.

In Tim’s and Blake’s own words:


Opening Image – A visual that represents the struggle & tone of the story. A snapshot of the main character’s problem, before the adventure begins.

Set-up – Expand on the “before” snapshot. Present the main character’s world as it is, and what is missing in their life.

Theme Stated (happens during the Set-up) – What your story is about; the message, the truth. Usually, it is spoken to the main character or in their presence, but they don’t understand the truth…not until they have some personal experience and context to support it.

Catalyst – The moment where life as it is changes. It is the telegram, the act of catching your loved-one cheating, allowing a monster onboard the ship, meeting the true love of your life, etc. The “before” world is no more, change is underway.”

From there you move onto the middle, which is also broken down on Lindsay’s blog. So simple, right?