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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (4/13/09) 1:11pm - ... wherein Peter revises the beat sheet.

Okay, just sent off a second draft of the beat sheet for the spec script.  (The first draft is here.)  Lots of hours of effort have led to slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

Here’s a quick rundown of what I changed since my last beat sheet:

A-story: An industrial spy steals a valuable automotive prototype from an eccentric inventor, and Michael has to track it down and get it back.

B-story: Michael helps a freelance surveillance expert break free from gun runners who have taken him captive.

C-story: Michael’s mother gets him to attend the wedding of a family friend, and tries to convince him to put down roots in Miami.

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Mood: [mood icon] exhausted · Music: none
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Date:Sunday (5/24/09) 12:21am

Your Beat Sheet

I was randomly searching for something on the internet and came across your beat sheet for Burn Notice. Just thought I'd give you a tip about how the writers of the show break these episodes. Might be useful.

Every episode of Burn Notice turns on a relationship that Michael establishes with an adversary. He has a goal that has to be achieved with that adversary that involves some form of espionage-related deception technique. In your episode, Michael has no relationship with Bob. He has no task to achieve with him.

The fact that your bad guy has no relationship with Michael is part of the reason your episode is so light on action. There's no conflict possible other than avoiding and running away.

Also, when breaking the episodes, MUCH more attention is paid to the ending. In a Burn Notice ending, the bad guy is usually delivering what he believes is his killing blow, which turns out to be his undoing. That scene (known as the rat-f*** scene) is often what the episode idea begins with, and the writers work backwards from there. In any case, that scene almost always involves a measure of poetic justice, in which a version of the bad guy's plan is his own undoing.

These things are also true in the season three episodes, FYI. ;)
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Date:Sunday (5/24/09) 1:29pm

Re: Your Beat Sheet

Wow.  I have no idea who you are, and I'm fairly certain you'll never read this, but THANK YOU.  These might be the most perspicacious notes anybody's ever given me on something I've written.

So if I come back to writing this spec (I eventually gave up just because I could never suss out its deep structural problems), I think I know where to start:  with the rat-f***.


~ looking forward to S3 ~
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