In the realm of Parentheticals and screenwriting, a Beat is nothing more than a pause.

But it is one of the most often used Parentheticals in screenplay writing.

Many experts argue the Beat parenthetical shouldn't be used anymore, and should be replaced with (pause), or an even more creative Parenthetical (such as a character's action) as a means to elevate the level of writing.

Personally, I don't mind seeing (beat) within Dialogue, so long as the writer doesn't use it as a crutch.

For the most part, actors don't like being told when to pause while speaking, and most times they are correct as most pauses are obvious.

However, the occasional (beat) won't get your screenplay tossed in the trash.

Here is an example of a typical Beat:

Not the best use of (beat), but if I were editing this screenplay and (beat) was used only once or twice throughout the entire script, I wouldn't cross it out.

Beat Varieties:

Beats can also come in various lengths. Let's say you want the pause in Dialogue to last a while. Or maybe you want it to be a quick pause.

Check out these various uses of (beat) to convey pause length:

Keep in mind, of course, that, just as actor's don't like to be told when to pause, they also don't like to be told how long to pause.

A writer could imply a pause within the Dialogue with a character's action without blatantly calling out the pause.

That's your best bet every time.