5 Beat story structure

Welcome back to another blog! This time I will be giving you the ideas of how to use the 5 beat structure, which a lot of scripts will need as part of their treatment to go along with drafts of scripts. Hopefully this will help you to figure out how to use it for your own ideas.

STEP 1 – FILLING IN THE FIVE BEATS

The first step that you need to do is through your story find the FIVE most important actions that happen. This would basically be also using your outline for your story and squeezing it down to just five points of what happens. Once you’ve done that, then you can see where to go to next from there.

STEP 2- ORDERING THE ACTIONS

This may seem a little odd at first, but sometimes the order we do the action can actually be moved round. Your last point might actually go better at the start. Mix the order round and see what happens.

 

This is one from a project of mine to get what else you can do:

  1. 3 months later Hannah writes a blog of what happened to the friends and how she
    wished they hadn’t separated when she gets a message from Sammy to meet at the
    usual place, so Hannah replies she can make it and leaves hurriedly
  2.  Hannah, Sammy, Dan and Kev walk out to Cardiff Bay, their usual meeting spot for
    their last meeting
  3. Hannah asks what they want to do, so Kev suggests they make a one-off vlog to
    remember all the good times
  4. Kev records the vlog on his camera, getting them to tell him funny memories and one
    thing they will always treasure
  5. Sammy gets the call she has to go home to pack for University, so the rest of the
    group follow suit once they have a picture of them all taken

 

I hope this helps and feel free to ask any questions you may have, whether it’s about the five beat structure or if you want to know more about the term ‘Treatment’ for a project. I wish you luck with your creative endeavours.

Love,

Abbie Allen

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Script Excerpt- MOVING ON

EXT. SCHOOL PLAYGROUND – MORNING
HANNAH, (18, medium height, smart, quiet) dressed in a school
uniform, is sitting against the wall with SAMMY (18, female,
medium height, scruffy, rebel), DAN (18, tall, stubble,
scruffy, obnoxious) and KEV (18, tall, clean shaven, smart,
reserved). DAN pulls out a cigarette and lights it. SAMMY is
typing on her phone. HANNAH is reading a Shakespeare play.
KEV is reading a comic book.

DAN
You should have seen his face once
I dropped the bombshell I knew more
than that stupid teacher.

SAMMY
I can imagine, as you’ve told that
story ALL week.

DAN
Surely it’s not been ALL week,
right, Kev?

KEV
Well…

DAN
You’re not backing me up?

KEV
Sorry, Dan. It does get a little
annoying after you’ve brought it up
every day.

DAN
Hannah, will you back me up?

HANNAH
Well…

DAN
Hannah?

HANNAH
Well…this IS the first I’ve heard
of it.

DAN
You see, Hannah backs me up!

SAMMY
Only because she’s been pulled in
for exam practices by The Dragon
all week.

HANNAH
That is true.

KEV
Hannah, just let Sammy and Dan
fight this one out. I love seeing
them get into a weird love dance in
the guise of a fight.

SAMMY & DAN
There’s nothing going on!

KEV
You keep telling yourselves that,
love birds.

HANNAH attempts to hide a smile.

SAMMY
You’re worse than Kev sometimes,
Hannah, you know that?

HANNAH
I’m getting the impression, yeah.

SAMMY and HANNAH grin at each other and start laughing.

KEV
Ugh. Girls, eh?

DAN
They’re not that bad.

KEV

Oh, you would say that!

DAN
Jealous I get all the girls?

KEV throws his comic book at DAN, hitting him in the face.

EXT. SCHOOL PLAYGROUND – AFTERNOON

HANNAH stands watching the doorway, pupils pouring out. DAN
walks over.

DAN
Not going home?

HANNAH
I’m waiting for Sammy.

DAN
I think she can manage.

HANNAH
It’s Friday, Dan. She’s sleeping
over. Shouldn’t you be looking for
Kev?

DAN
Nah. He’s not my type.

HANNAH
You know what I mean. Sammy and I
do a sleep over and you and Kev do
a sleep over and see who can be
awake the latest.

DAN
(flirty)
Maybe we should try and switch it
up, see if you and I could beat
Sammy and Kev.

HANNAH
Uh…

SAMMY and KEV walk over. SAMMY stops as she sees HANNAH.

SAMMY
Hannah? Shall we go?

HANNAH
Yes please.

DAN
You gonna just leave it like that?

KEV
What you on about, bruv?

SAMMY
Dan, don’t tell me you were winding
Hannah up again.

DAN
I wasn’t doing anything of the
sort!

SAMMY
Really, because Hannah looks pretty
petrified to me.

DAN
I may have just said the wrong
thing.

KEV
Hannah?

HANNAH
Can we just go?

SAMMY
Dan, what did you do?

DAN
Just leave it, will ya?!

HANNAH takes SAMMY’s hand and leads her away from DAN and
KEV. The two boys watch the girls go.

KEV
You’d better explain on the way,
bruv.

DAN
Forget it. It was nothing.

INT. SCHOOL TOILETS – MORNING

HANNAH splashes water from the sink over her face. SAMMY
walks into the toilets and checks her makeup in the mirror.

SAMMY
You alright?

HANNAH
Dan tried it on last night.

SAMMY
What?!

SAMMY stares at HANNAH.

HANNAH
I thought it would be OK to go to
the cinema with him. He invited me
back to his house and then he tried
to…you know.

SAMMY
Oh. My. GOD!

HANNAH
Now he’s ignoring me.

SAMMY
I’ll talk to Kev, try and see what
we can do.

HANNAH
Will Kev listen to that?

SAMMY
He will if he wants any of this.

SAMMY flicks her school blazer away from her figure.

HANNAH
Wait. Are you and Kev…

SAMMY
Yup. Did it last night. You should
try it sometime.

HANNAH
Sammy! I don’t wanna know!

SAMMY
Have you not…?

HANNAH
You have to ask that?

SAMMY
I’m surprised you’re not into that
kind of action. Nothing matches it.

HANNAH
No. Just, no. I’m not ready for
that, no way.

SAMMY
Are you…jealous?

HANNAH
You think I’m jealous of you and
Kev?

SAMMY
You do look at him funny.

HANNAH
I just don’t want you getting hurt.
I’ve seen him with the rugby lads.
He can get rough.

SAMMY
Hannah, I can manage.

HANNAH
Like you did last time?

SAMMY
Look, I’ll speak to Kev and get him
to have a word with Dan to sort
things out.

HANNAH
You can try.

EXT. SCHOOL PLAYGROUND – NOON

HANNAH sits on the wall, her bag at her feet. SAMMY storms
over and slumps down onto the wall.

SAMMY
Kev is a dick.

HANNAH
What?

SAMMY
Just caught him with a Year 11 in
the history department. All I can
say is that they weren’t studying.

HANNAH
I’m sorry, Sammy.

SAMMY
I thought he could have been the
one, you know?

HANNAH
You can do better than Kev.

SAMMY
What if I don’t want to? I love the
dickhead. I just wanted to have
something that I didn’t ruin. Was
that too much to ask for?

HANNAH
Guys need to pull their heads out
their arses, don’t they?

SAMMY
He wasn’t like that, not with me.
He was really sweet, you know? I
just wish he’d given us a chance
before blowing it.

HANNAH
Why don’t I see if you can stay
over tonight? I think Dad got some
Haagen-Dazs ice-cream we can share.

SAMMY
Thanks, Hannah. I’d really
appreciate that.

HANNAH
It’s what friends are for, isn’t
it?

SAMMY hugs HANNAH.

INT. SCHOOL TOILETS – NOON

HANNAH is dressed in her own clothes, smartening herself up
and checking her reflection. SAMMY walks into the toilets and
stands right next to HANNAH.

HANNAH
Everything OK?

SAMMY
You cow.

HANNAH
What?

SAMMY
You posted that video.

HANNAH
I have no idea what you’re talking
about.

SAMMY
That sexual video we made a few
months ago as a JOKE, the one we
got YOU to film!

HANNAH
I haven’t posted any videos
recently. I swear it’s not me.

SAMMY
That video is round the entire
school, just on the day we’re meant
to graduate!

HANNAH
Are you sure Dan or Kev didn’t post
it?

SAMMY
You think I believe that? I checked
the account it came from. It’s from
yours!

HANNAH stares at SAMMY.

SAMMY (CONT’D)
There’s no point looking at me like
you didn’t know about this. It’s
too late. Thanks for nothing.

SAMMY storms out the toilets, slamming the door behind her.

HANNAH
Sammy!

HANNAH runs out the toilets.

INT. HANNAH’S ROOM – AFTERNOON

HANNAH stands at the foot of her bed, dressed in a T-shirt
and jeans. HANNAH holds her phone to her ear.

HANNAH
Hey, Sammy. Sorry I’m calling
again, but I wanted to check you
alright. I’m sorry about all this.
Would you just call me back? I’m
worried about you.

HANNAH hangs up her phone.

INT. HANNAH’S ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

HANNAH’s phone is pinging with each message as it is lying on
her bed.

SAMMY (V.O.)
Everyone needs to get their bloody
noses out my life! I wanna live it
my way.

DAN (V.O.)
Some people are such drama queens.

SAMMY (V.O.)
Get out my life, you hypocrite!

KEV (V.O.)
Get back in your cage.

SAMMY (V.O.)
Who asked you?! Get out of this
conversation!

DAN (V.O.)
Don’t be a bitch, Sammy!

KEV (V.O.)
Such a cow! Just get off Facebook!

HANNAH
ENOUGH!

HANNAH’s phone stops beeping. HANNAH sits on her bed and
turns off her phone. HANNAH curls up on her bed.

INT. HANNAH’S ROOM – NEXT DAY

HANNAH sits on her bed, staring at the wall. A knock echoes
against the door. SAMMY enters the room, a little sheepish.

HANNAH
Sammy?

SAMMY
I was…uh…in the area. I thought
we could talk? I didn’t really know
where else to go.

HANNAH
Yeah. Of course.

SAMMY and HANNAH sit on the bed.

SAMMY
I’ve had some time to think after
yesterday’s Facebook pandemonium.

HANNAH
I’m sorry about Dan and Kev. They
went too far.

SAMMY
It’s not your fault. I’ve also been
thinking about the other day. That
video coming out, it rattled me,
you know? Now I’ve had time to
think, I know now I shouldn’t have
blamed you for that coming out.

HANNAH
Not exactly been easy for any of
us, has it? Ignoring each other
hasn’t helped.

SAMMY
Which is why I’m here.

HANNAH
Look, I’ve got the rest of the
holiday off. Why don’t we catch up,
do a sleep over again?

SAMMY
I’d like that.

HANNAH
Besides, I think Dad might let you
finish the Haagen-Dazs this time.

SAMMY
Sounds like a plan.

Both girls hold each other close.

INT. HANNAH’S ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

HANNAH sits at her desk and opens a photo album. The various
pictures are of HANNAH, SAMMY, KEV and DAN graduating from
school.

HANNAH (V.O.)
Friends are described in many
poetic ways. There are some that
shine like stars you don’t always
see but you know they’re there.
They’re described as flowers to
brighten the day. I had one friend
in particular that seemed to stick
around, no matter how hard the path
got.

HANNAH turns the page to a picture of SAMMY and HANNAH.

HANNAH (V.O.)
My favourite friend quote is
friends come and go like waves of
the ocean, but the true ones stay
like an octopus on your face.

FADE TO BLACK.