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MMORPG.com columnist Justin Webb writes this latest article on how the appropriate use of "beats" makes for a good story, and how MMOG developers just don't seem to get that, or care!
You see, I’ve always been interested in scriptwriting and how a movie narrative is constructed. Luckily, there are many many books on the subject, many geared at teaching the basics to budding screenwriters. The most famous is probably Syd Fields’ Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, which is a superb stylish exploration of the three-act format, but which focuses (to me) a bit too much on the “art” of writing a script. I’m more interested in understanding the nuts ‘n’ bolts of the process, and at looking at screenwriting mechanically from the outside.
My favorite book on the subject is Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder. If you have any interest at all in story design, I urge you to check it out. Despite the attention-catching title, the basic premise of the book is that all movies essentially share the same three-act structure and that they all have the same fifteen story “beats”. (Blake’s “Beat Sheet” can be found here.) This isn’t a unique concept – many screenwriting books have trod this ground before. The book then gives a lot of really good advice about understanding what beats mean in the context of putting a script together.
Michael "MikeB" Bitton