As I described in yesterday’s entry, my first task today was to mount onto my corkboard the first act steps, each on its own card, as you see here:
I’ve represented the timeline of the story’s first act horizontally, from left to right, just as it was in the story thread deconstruction phase. The reason I pushed the step cards to the top of the board is to make room for the story thread cards, which I will place below each step card later on.
I know it’s hard to tell in a small picture, so, in case you were wondering…
What is on each step card?
Each card has essentially three parts.
- The card number and title, describing in a short phrase either where the step occurs (“Return to the Bat Cave”) or an overarching description of what happens (“Dynamic Duo Searches for Clues”). The card number indicates in what order that step occurs along the story timeline.
- The step analysis — that gray-shaded area below the step title — is a dramaturgical analysis of the step, describing why this step is important and why it should happen at this point in the story.
- The step description — the main area with no shading — is for the primary story elements or “beats” that collectively walk us through what happens in this step. It’s a highlight — just the key beats in the step — lacking the details that you will eventually see in a story’s final screenplay form.
Can you show an example?
Sure, why not? I won’t be giving away too much if I show you something from early in the first act. The card below represents Act I’s second step in the step outline. It should help clarify the value of the analysis shown in the gray-shaded area and explain by example what I mean by story beats:
If it’s too hard to read at this size, you can download that step as a PDF file here.