In this chapter, we go to the Beat Sheet and plan what goes where. The hard part is that only so much can go into these slots. We all know that movies cut away lots of a book; I knew this would happen, but I think it turned out okay. Of course, the more I cut as I went along, the harder it was to keep major elements in.
Let me take you through it:
The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet contains 15 slots. The numbers in parentheses is the page numbers where each event occurs, or the page range where details can be covered. My book is roughly 400 pages long and I have to cut it down to 110 pages. That's going to be painful. But one good thing, once on screen I'm hoping the most important thread makes it through.
- Opening Image (1)
- Theme Stated (5)
- Set-up (1-10)
- Catalyst (12)
- Debate (12-25)
- Break into Two (25)
- B Story (30)
- Fun and Games (30-55)
- Midpoint (55)
- Bad Guys Close In (55-75)
- All is Lost (75)
- Dark Night of the Soul (75-85)
- Break into Three (85)
- Finale (85-110)
- Final Image (110)
The theme stated is where the premise of the book is actually stated out loud. This was simple too. In the book, Harris asks his father outright, "What does it mean to be a king? What does a king do?" This happens on page 5.
The set-up all together gets the first 10 pages. Over these ten pages I need to show how Harris's world is going stagnant - dying. But of course it's all Harris has ever known so he sees nothing wrong with it.
The catalyst occurs on page 12. This is where the beginning of the end of 'normal' happens. In the book, this happened when Jonathan, the youngest son of King Carolinas came to play the part of an exchange student (after a fashion). Harris was to go south and take up Jonathan's duties, and in so doing learn how to be a king.
The debate is from page 12 to page 25 and here I figure is where Harris shows Jonathan around. Here also is where the two sixteen-year-olds compare their two very different worlds. This will be where Harris's first suspicions that things aren't quite right begin to tickle at the back of his mind.
Break into two happens on page 25. This is the beginning of the second act. This is where the main character must decide to head out boldly into his future. Well, in the book, that decision has never been offered to him. His father sends him so he goes, but he can decide how he will go. He can either go kicking and screaming every inch of the way, or he can do his level best to make his father proud of him, and try to represent him and his country honorably. I'm not sure if that's good enough, so we'll have to see.
The B story is where we introduce the rest of our characters, or some of them anyway. Here I figure we could introduce a little humor. Jonathan's family, unlike Harris's family, is quite large. At some point I'll try to work in somehow, Harris's father proposed a betrothal with King Carolinas' youngest daughter, Princess Kandace, but since she was only 12, this exchange of fosters was proposed instead. At this point, we watching the movie will meet the girl along with the rest of her family, and I figure she might find an opportunity to stick her tongue out at him when no one but he can see. This isn't in the book, but I think I'll put it in there. This happens on page 30.
Fun and games is given from page 30 to page 55. This is where Harris learns how true Jonathan's words are. Harris is sent around the country to visit all the different districts to learn something about what each one produces and how they are run. I'm thinking I can find scenes showing how grueling this task is. Things like being hardly able to walk after a three-day ride or falling asleep in the saddle, and I can't forget that here is where Harris is gifted a warhorse colt, though I might have to make it a grown horse. I'm sure I can think up some more things to fill these pages.
When I reach page 55, I have reached the midpoint. In writing fiction, this is the big climax, and my climax is the battle that nearly kills Harris. In the book there are two battles, but I am fairly certain I can combine them easily enough.
From pages 55 to 75 I need to work my way up to the bad guys closing in again. Harris has twenty pages to cover until the bad guys regroup and attack him again, and they do in the book, but twenty pages isn't very long considering the what happens in the book between these two attacks. Here's where the chopping begins and where it starts to get difficult. In the book, there's a chapter or two covering his recovery, and another covering where he sends his beloved horse back home (to Princess Kandace) with a message - you see, everyone thinks he's dead. Jonathan has also returned home with another message from Harris's mother, only it ends up not being for Harris, but Jonathan didn't know that. These two messages are very important, so I'll need to get this in there somehow, but also during this time, Harris goes south, into the desert to try to figure out who is after him and manages to come back with an army, or at least part of one. Here is where we are let in on the greatest secret of the desert people - some of them are shape-shifters. Here also Kandace is sent east to try to find another secret society, rumored to only exist in fairytales. She returns with an entire race, or what's left of them. To complete the army Harris will return with, King Carolinas also calls for an assembly of troops. Once these three peoples are assembled, Harris can then head home. It is on this march, after he crosses into his home country, that he gets attacked again. The enemy has regrouped. This stretch is going to be a toughie.
From pages 75 to 85 is called the dark night of the soul for a reason. This is where the main character pretty much reaches the end of his rope, and he questions his purpose. Now, during this last attack, the mind-altering abilities of the peoples from the sea (those found by Kandace) are used against Harris. Because of those who'd assigned themselves to protect him from just this sort of attack, die protecting him, he does live, but he's in a coma of sorts. I figure I can use this state. He has another choice to make: fight to live, or die. But what does he have to live for? Here, I can lace his nightmares with visions of his people being beaten down, caged up, and turned into slaves.
Break into three, or the third act, occurs on page 85. This is the final straw - in this case, the vision that tells him what to do. This is not in the book, but I figure he could have a vision of Princess Kandace dancing around the May Pole. This vision gives him the realization that there is strength in unity, and he does have a unified army, intent on ridding his country of the evil that has touched them all.
That brings us to the finale starting on page 85 and covering the next 25 pages. Here, I figure we could have the final climax. This is where Harris and his army have to retake his home castle. Now in the book, another chunk of goings on has been skipped, but really, as far as the movie is concerned, it's just window dressing, and can be skipped and not be missed much. The trouble is, in the book, he has already been through here. That is when he learns of his father's death by his mother's hand, and he learns that she has gone quite off her rocker. He has also left behind the non-combatants for their safety. They do play a small part, but I think I can work around that and have this be the first homecoming. We'll see how it develops when I actually get into the writing. To finish this up, we of course need a formal coronation and wedding.
That brings us to the final image on page 110. For this final image in the book, I have Kandace and Harris standing in the entrance of the castle watching the wedding party depart. I figure the palace grounds could be teaming with busy servants, with maybe some kind of pan-out showing the town all busy too.
What do you think?