Just as a full-length play is usually divided into acts, those acts can be divided into scenes, but what are scenes divided into? If you said beats, then you're right!
A beat is a short exchange of dialogue (a mini-scene) about usually one topic. Beats can be divided into three basic types:
- Physical: the beat involves action and the physical need(s) of a character. This is very typical in film where a character on screen does something physical (without talking usually).
- Behavioral: This kind of beat is driven by a character's desire or motivation or goal--usually people talk to convince, persuade, explain, influence, impress, or any other action verb to get something they want. Actors and directors will pick up on this kind of beat as part of their training.
- Inner-life: the beat centers around a character's thoughts, memories, psychology, and interior monologue. If a character explains his/her motivation or describes his/her backstory, you can bet it's done in this kind of beat.