Significant events in a story are known as “beats.” Identifying your story’s beats is like building a table of contents.
In our commercial-writing exercise, the beats might be:
- Margie scrubs the floor.
- Hank introduces a new mop.
- Margie introduces Hank and hisÂ mop to the floor; while he mops, she pours him a cold beer.
- Margie happily hugs Hank, who happily guzzles beer, admiringÂ the shiny clean floor.
I understand that a good story hasÂ a main plot and subplots, each with a unique table of contents. That would meanÂ a good story needs, say, three separate tables of contents; butÂ how to merge themÂ into a single table without creating crazy spaghetti that’ll drive you nuts? Suggestions?