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For Writers-Combo Beat Sheet

Combo Beat Sheet

Plot + Romance!

Many craft books & blogs do an excellent job of breaking down story structure for an external plot and a single protagonist, but they generally treat the romance as a secondary, B plot.  

What??  Madness, I know.  

That’s just not going to work for the romance genre.  Romance must be at the center of everything, as well as weave together 2 full arcs, for both hero & heroine, plus an external plot that has to fuel and complicate the romance and the individual arcs, but not overwhelm either.

So, I put together this one page combo beat sheet/story structure in excel.

Before you ohh and ahh over me (which you’ll want to because it’s super cool) let’s be clear: I’m a thief. I stole shamelessly from Blake Synder’s SAVE THE CAT work Jami Gold’s romance beat sheets, and put them together in a one page excel file that I stole from Elizabeth Davis’s (LizWrites). She’s the one who set up all the fancy Excel-ing numbers.

It’s stripped down stuff because…one page.  So if you haven’t read Blake Synder’s books, you’ll probably want to start there. Don’t think of Blake’s stuff as screenwriting beats; they’re story beats.

The page estimates (and remember, they’re just estimates!) in the excel file are based on 100K–to change that, just double click in the page count or word count at the top, enter your desired page or word count, and it’ll repopulate w/ the new estimate.  Also, the romance-related beats are in in pinky-purple.  Awww….


Also, check out Joe Nassise’s Story Engines work, and Dan Well’s awesome youtube videos on the 7 point story structure.  (Update: I’m now linking to Dan’s podcast Writing Excuses about the 7 point structure, instead of youtube, because although even the podcast links over to the youtube series, it looks like those youtube videos are now private. :(  I’m super sad about this, so I’m putting in another sad face.  :(   


Another also…if you’re not hitting those beats dead on, but your story’s rocking & you just want to keep it on track, remember the power of bridging conflict and micro-tension (concepts Donald Maass talks about. If you don’t know his works or these concepts, check him out. I especially like his Writing the Breakout Novel workbook, companion to his book by the same name, and The Fire in Fiction.