Writing Raven


Time to Turn the Screw – the 10th beat of Blake Snyder’s fiction writing outline

This year, Writing Raven Author Solutions is breaking down the 15 beats of writing a bestselling novel based on the three-act structure for you.

The more you understand the power of the three-act structure and each story beat inside the acts, the better you get at writing a tight and engrossing story.

The 10th beat, Bad Guys Close In (BGCI) marks the second half of Act II—the Fun and Games are over!

In this beat, it’s time to cue the manic laughter and start turning the screws on your protagonist. Thrust them into escalating challenges, make their plans fall apart, and have friends and allies betray them.

Create an obstacle course and push them through it.

At this stage, the opposing force, whether it be a villainous character, societal norms, or internal conflicts, hasn’t been dormant. They’ve been engaging, potentially even winning, as the protagonist achieved a “false victory” at the Midpoint. However, now the gloves are off. This escalation propels the narrative into a heightened state of conflict.

Back your protagonist into a corner, force them to face mounting pressure from external forces, and keep raising the stakes and/or imminent danger.

Each time you feel sorry for them, turn the screw again.

While it’s crucial for the hero to face challenges, they must also make impactful decisions that lead to temporary successes. These triumphs are often short-lived as the “bad guys” strike back, keeping the protagonist on their toes and the audience engaged in the ebb and flow of the narrative tension

Don’t forget your B-story. Internal conflict among allies, including the B-story “love interest,” highlights the protagonist’s flaws and struggle to evolve. It reminds the protagonist that growth is necessary for overcoming obstacles and achieving their goals.

Each difficulty faced by the protagonist must organically lead to the next, and deliver a captivating journey of challenges and growth.


To incorporate the “Bad Guys Close In” beat into your own writing, try this exercise:



1. Create a list of Antagonistic Forces: Determine who or what opposes your protagonist’s goals. These could be physical adversaries, societal norms, internal conflicts, or even the passage of time.

2. Escalate the Threat: Increase the stakes and the sense of urgency with each challenge they face.

3. Highlight Internal Conflict: Explore the protagonist’s internal struggles and conflicts with allies, emphasizing the need for personal growth and overcoming flaws.

Time to turn the screws, intensifying the thrill and suspense, and pushing your protagonist to their limits!


Laughing manically with you all the way,


The Writing Ravens

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Grab your copy of Writing Raven’s Breaking Down the Beats Worksheet here: http://writing-raven.com/product/breaking-down-the-beats-writing-exercise