The Notebook Beat Sheet: Plot Guide for Writers

The Notebook is a romance novel with a heartwarming plot written by the king of mainstream romantic fiction, Nicholas Sparks. Adapted into a movie in 2004, the story is still a fan favorite years later. With its flashbacks and heartfelt scenes, the story fits the Romancing the Beat plot structure by Gwen Hayes extremely well. In this The Notebook beat sheet, we’ll explore how the story’s plot works, but first: don’t forget to grab your tissues!

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The Notebook - Phase 1: Set Up

This section of the plot sets up the romance and lets us know what the story will be about. It is often where our main characters meet and we learn about challenges they may face.

Plot Beat 1 – Introduce H1

Noah, a young man who works at a quarry in South Carolina, spots a beautiful girl at a carnival. She is Allie Hamilton, of a very rich family and is spending the summer in town in a mansion. He falls head over heels in love.

Plot Beat 2 – Introduce H2

Allie, a bit smitten herself, refuses the advances of this rough young man. She likes him but worries they will have little in common. Noah, however, is not one to be discouraged and continues his attempts to woo her.

Plot Beat 3 – Meet Cute

Finally, Noah and Allie are brought together by their friends, including Noah’s good friend Fin. Once they give in, they start a love affair that is both intense and touching and continues all summer. The two seem destined to be together.

Plot Beat 4 – No Way 1

Noah reflects on how different the two are because her family is so wealthy. He feels that if he is going to win Allie and her family over, he needs to have something to offer her.

Plot Beat 5 – Adhesion

Just a week before Allie is supposed to leave and head back home, Noah decides to show her his dream house, an old, run-down mansion he intends to buy and restore for them. She falls in love with the place and makes him promise he will create it the way she wants: white with blue shutters and a studio where she can look at the creek through the window and paint. He promises he will.

The Notebook - Phase 2: Falling in Love

This is the point in the plot where our couple falls in love, but the challenges from Phase One become real obstacles they will have to overcome. In most romance stories, the couple is at least temporarily unable to overcome what is in their way and is forced to separate emotionally, physically, or both.

Plot Beat 6 – No Way 2

Allie’s mother, Anne, has been opposed to this romance from the start because of the wealth and status difference between the couple. As Noah and Allie look over the house and dream, Fin arrives as the couple is about to make love for the first time to tell them that Anne has called the police, who are on their way. They rush toward Allie’s family mansion.

Anne forbids them to ever see each other again, and in the confusion that follows, Noah walks out.

Plot Beat 7 – Inkling of Desire

Allie races after Noah, trying to convince him that no matter what her family thinks, they can find a way to make their relationship work. When Noah disagrees, they get into a huge fight that is one of the film’s most iconic and quoted scenes.

They break up, and Noah drives away. Allie has immediate regrets and wonders how she can fix the relationship.

Plot Beat 8 – Deepening Desire

Allie is told the next day that they are leaving right away and finds her stuff being packed by her mother. She tries to find Noah, but cannot, so she gives a message to Fin, asking him to find his friend and tell him that she loves him.

Fin finds Noah, and Noah immediately rushes to the Hamilton mansion, but the family is already gone. He is too late.

Plot Beat 9 – Maybe This Could Work

Still determined and in love, Noah begins to write apology letters to Allie. He writes one every day for an entire year and sends each one. However, he never hears back from her and assumes she must still be angry at him.

Plot Beat 10 – Midpoint of Love

The couple is now separated, each assuming the other remained angry at them. They each join the World War II effort.

Noah goes off to fight, and while he is in the war, his friend Fin is killed.

Allie tends to the wounded. A soldier named Lon, also a lawyer from a fairly well-off family, asks her out. She tells him to wait until he is better.

The Notebook - Phase 3: Retreating from Love

Plot Beat 11 – Inkling of Doubt

Allie has given up on Noah, although she still thinks about him from time to time. So when Lon asks her to marry him, she says yes. Her parents, of course, approve of the match since his family is definitely a part of their social set.

Plot Beat 12 – Deepening Doubt

Noah returns home to find that his father has sold their home so Noah can purchase the house he wants. Noah reads in a newspaper about Allie’s upcoming wedding. He is crushed but determined to restore the house anyway, just the way he promised.

Plot Beat 13 – Retreat Beat

Noah works to restore the old Windsor mansion and does such a great job he is featured in the local newspaper. Many people want to buy the house for large amounts of money but Noah refuses them all. Allie sees the article and is touched.

Plot Beat 14 – Shields Up

Allie is committed to Lon and their marriage, but she wants to see Noah once more. She asks Lon for permission, and he grants it. She heads to the house to see how it turned out and to catch up with Noah.

Plot Beat 15 – Break Up

Noah and Allie immediately connect again. She loves the house and everything he has done with it. Things are perfect! But as they chat, Allie’s mother, Anne, shows up. She tells them Lon is looking for her and on his way.

The Notebook - Phase 4: Fighting for Love

Plot Beat 16 – Dark Night

Allie now faces a choice: Lon, who she is very publicly engaged to and her family approves of, or Noah, who she knows to be the love of her life. As she debates this, her mother drives her home.

Plot Beat 17 – Wake Up

Allie’s mom Anne confesses that she too loved someone when she was young who was not approved by her parents, and she still thinks of him all the time. She gives Allie the letters from Noah and tells her she has kept them from her all these years.

Plot Beat 18 – Grand Gesture

The present-day Allie desperately wants to know who the girl chooses. She then realizes she is Allie, and Noah is reading the story to her. We discover that when she found out she had dementia, she wrote their story down so it would always help her remember.

Plot Beat 19 – What Wholehearted Looks Like

Allie and Noah share a moment as she remembers who he is and the happiness of their life together. True love won out, and the couple was able to grow old together.

Plot Beat 20 – Epilogue and Final Image

As the love story resolves, the older couple lays down in the bed in the nursing home together. The next morning the nurse finds that they have died in the night. They are holding hands.

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