Beat Analysis

A beat is the smallest unit of conflict.
Sequences of beats create a larger
 Four parts of a beat:
› Objective
› Obstacle
› Action
› Inner Image
An objective is what the character
› What do I want now, and from whom?
Why are objectives important?
› An objective is the reason why people act.
› An objective is the reason why a person
› If an actor doesn’t know why they are doing
or saying something, the audience won’t
know either.
to enrapture you
 to torment you
 to seduce you
 to amuse you
 to win approval
 to soften
 to stall
 to kill
eating dinner
 checking pockets
 Walking
 Talking
 to scramble
An obstacle is something (physical, mental,
time, place, etc.) that stands in the way of
action. An obstacle creates the conflict
and the tension.
› What is preventing me from attaining my
Why are obstacles important?
› An obstacle focuses action and increases
› If an actor doesn’t have an obstacle, no
suspense or interest is created for the audience.
no silverware
 empty wallet
 driver’s indifference
 poor visibility
 tiredness
 girlfriend doesn’t listen
An action is a physical activity.
Something you can do.
› What will I do to overcome my obstacle?
Why are actions important?
› Audiences remember what you do.
› The audience cannot see your emotions or
feelings. They can only see your actions.
› Actions are immediate.
Strong Actions
To whine
 To avoid
 To annoy
 To complain
 To fall
 To blame
Weak Actions
To moan
To escape
To needle
To collapse
To spotlight
To scramble
To coo
To cuddle
An inner image is a mental picture that
affects your psyche and actions.
› What image of your life is similar in emotion
to what the character is feeling?
Why are inner images important?
› Playwrights create real characters, but do
not describe their feelings. You must
connect to the character to create a
believable performance.