Do you use a beat sheet?

Back in 2020, I was cruising YouTube and found a video titled, How to Outline – 3 Act, 9 Block, 27 Chapter Example by Katytastic. Like many of the comments, this outline changed my life. I am not a pantser by any means. I need structure and a plan. Her method, which was based on the Save the Cat method, was geared towards fiction writers and novelists.  (No need to save my fat ginger cat soaking up the sun).

How to Outline – 3 Act, 9 Block, 27 Chapter Example by Katytastic

Although I haven’t published any fiction work, I used the method to outline my 2021 NaNoWriMo month. I am happy to say, I have 50,000 words in a format that I can work with to create what I hope will be a great novel. After putting Katytastic’s process to use, I saw how important it was for me to be able to see my story before I dove in to write. This is especially true for Memoir writers. 

I have three memoirs that I would love to write. (I know, seriously.) But I will get them written. Non-Fiction writing has just come easy to me after spending 20 years in Marketing writing and then another 10 years in academic and training writing. But I eventually want to try to write in a number of genres, so I love to learn and try new things. This is why, in early April, I took one of Jane Friedman’s classes called Memoir Beat Sheet. 

The class was great. At an hour and a half, the session covered everything from defining beat sheet sections, using real life examples, and explaining how each beat has a reason for being. For me, it was a more in-depth look at using beat sheets for memoir. Beat sheets are used in the screenwriting world, so it was great to see this class adapt it for writing a memoir. I definitely took away some new information to help me outline, but for outlining purposes I will definitely use Katytastics method.

Not everyone is a planner, an outliner or a structured author. I have a couple of friends who are pantsers and they would be horrified to see a story broken down into such minute pieces. So I wondered what do they do to get their stories out? If a beat sheet doesn’t work for them, what does work? I spoke with my friend Jennifer Upton who is also a Memoir Ghostwriter

There isn’t really one structure that works for everyone. Sometimes I go chronologically, other times I start in the present and then flash back to childhood. Other times, I focus on one major event or period of time.”

I found this so interesting because in my over-organised mind, I asked myself, then what do you do? But that’s the point! For Jenn, she needs to find the story first and then the structure comes second. 

Check out Jenn’s Work on her website:

It doesn’t matter if you’re a pantser or a plotter, us writers need to just write. That said, as I get ready to publish my first book, I’m striving for my own version of perfection. So, by the time I am ready to pull together my Memoir, I’m glad I have a structure to use, which is Katytastic’s outline structure, so that I can focus more on the emotional element of the characters and the story scenes. It all comes back to the psychology for me. 🙂 



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