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Susan Says®

Action, Beats and Storytelling Clarity

It took me about two seconds to accept the invitation to enroll in a new online screenwriting course based on Blake Snyder‘s Save the Cat!® methodology and blog about my experience. I had attended the first day of an in-person workshop in New York City last year and learned a lot about beats, story structure and dialogue. (A bad cold kept me away from Day Two.) Fortunately, this web-based training is now available to satisfy the growing demand of novice and seasoned writers alike who acknowledge the power of a well-constructed 15 beat sheet. As writer-producer Erik Bork explains, this popular tool “for analyzing and developing three-act story structure in screenplays” has been used by screenwriters for many years. Mr. Snyder’s 2005 book about the “STC!” technique is listed as a #1 bestseller in “Screenplays” by Amazon.

For novelists, pay attention. This straightforward approach to storytelling can help you add spice to your characters’ dialogue and accelerate the pace of your book. In my case, I had written many chapters of a mystery when I decided to put the pages aside last fall, concentrate instead on crafting an excellent script first and then return to completing my novel. It wasn’t a random decision. I had attended dozens of writing courses and kept hearing instructors credit their commercial success to knowing how to create snappy patter, develop interesting characters and keep the plot moving, much as talented screenwriters do for film or television. During a recent conversation with a literary agent, her reaction to my script, then book sequence was highly positive. Based on her experience, it’s easier to get a book deal if a good script exists.

If you’re not quite ready to feel the beats, check out The website boasts plenty of downloadable files, including beat sheets for movies that made money by entertaining audiences. Also visit to see if the online workshop makes sense for you.

Whatever happens, keep moving forward and don’t give up your dream to make a difference with your pen.
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