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KalPL

Emotional Beats Question

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Emotional Beats?? I‘m a virtual student of Brandon Sanderson :) and his process before every scene/chapter is to build a sequence of plot events and emotional beats. I copied below my notes on the topic. I’m not sure I fully understand his view on what are emotional beats and would like your opinions. My view is it can be something as basic as at first the characters are nervous and scared, but at the end of the scene they are triumphant and realize they were being foolish and there was nothing to worry about. Or it can be more deeper like in Stormlight Kaladin decides not to give up and kill himself, but fight—so this beat has a sequence from giving up to not to fighting.  Perhaps there are simpler beats like this scene I want humor, this I want mystery.   
Any advice would be appreciated!
before sitting down to write a scene warm up: (i) bullet sequence of events (emotional beats and plot events); (ii) character goals [maybe character fails to act and then feels like a loser]; and (iii) senses—what do i hear, feel, temperature,, smells, taste
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Hi, @KalPL,

Good question. No harm in posting it here in a writing group :) 

I must admit, I am not good at this. I tend to be more on the discovery end of the spectrum, so, while I have plots beats, I do not necessarily have emotional beats attached top them, preferring to let my characters reaction organically. That's not to say this is right. Often, my first drafts can lack something in character emotion, or, at least in character internal reaction to the events.

Ergo, maybe I'm not the best person to answer this!!

Sensory reaction too, often not always, is something I find myself embellishing in the next editing pass.

I've got this idea about my writing, and I think it applies to some others that I read here in the writing group, that we plunge into the next scene without thinking sufficiently about what we are trying to achieve with it. Again, there are degrees of this: we always have some idea, but I would like to train myself to think a bit longer before starting on the next chapter, section, maybe even paragraph, rather than just plunging in, but that is not always easy to do, especially as momentum builds up and I just want to keep going and going.

Thanks for the question. Interesting to think about these things.

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I am very much on the amateur side of things but also a big fan of Brandon Sanderson's lectures on youtube :-)

I took the description of emotional beats to be something like stepping stones along a path. In the podcast they discussed (I think season 13) about progressions of character change, something like; denial, considering, accepting, acting on change. Here the moment where each step occurs would be an emotional beat if its internal and a plot beat if it's mainly external. Or both if you do it right.

That's how I've been using that piece of advice anyways :-)

I don't tend to write very emotive characters so most of my emotional beats are burried in POV thought stream and decision making. 

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I tend to map out the romantic arc of any book first, then build the world and the A/B plot around it. So for me, the emotional beat is critical in each chapter. I want to see the character's growth (or regression!) clearly in each chapter. In a more romance focused book this will look like a very standard meet-dislike-like-love arc, where each chapter brings the characters forward in this larger arc.

In a spec fic book where romance is a B or C plot, the emotions usually have to do with the action involved. So how is the character coming to terms with events, are they showing progress, even if the plot itself isn't? Often times the A plot may not move in a chapter (like say, a walking talking chapter) but the emotional arc will, getting the characters to the mental place they need to be for the events in the next chapter to happen.

Anyway, that's my process!

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I can't plan for character/emotional beats beforehand. Plot, I can do. The character stuff either comes out as I'm writing... or it gets figured out later and dropped in where needed on the second draft.

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