Beats Help Make Your Scene Come Alive

Dan Alatorre

img_2351-19You need small actions in a story almost as much as you need big actions.

Beats do that.

When characters move or talk in a book, they don’t just move or talk. They think, they react, they anticipate. They use body language to show how they feel about information they are receiving. Like what you’re hearing? You might lean forward and nod. Don’t like what you’re hearing? You might lean back and frown and fold your arms.

Get the idea? The little actions between things characters say are called beats.

Good beats depend on the circumstance the character is in, and how they are feeling about it, and how that particular character reacts to that circumstance. Some people play with their fingers when they are nervous; others might make a nervous laugh or stammer. These will increase or decrease depending on how stressful they get in the scene. Figure…

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