Explanation of bad guys close in?

The “Bad Guys Close In” beat is a storytelling trope commonly found in literature, film, television, and other narrative forms. It typically occurs in the middle of a story, after the protagonist has encountered initial success or made progress toward their goal. At this point, the narrative turns, and obstacles or antagonistic forces intensify, making the protagonist’s situation more difficult.

The antagonistic forces or “bad guys” become more active, aggressive, or threatening during this beat. They may directly oppose the protagonist’s efforts, sabotage their plans, or escalate their actions to hinder the protagonist’s progress. This escalation creates tension and raises the stakes, heightening the conflict and driving the narrative toward its climax.

The “Bad Guys Close In” beat aims to increase suspense, challenge the protagonist, and push them to their limits. It keeps the audience engaged and invested in the story’s outcome as they eagerly anticipate how the protagonist will overcome these obstacles and emerge victorious.

How we use it as writers

If you use the beat sheet designed by Blake Snyder and “Save The Cat.” This is the beat that comes right after the midpoint.  It’s the juicy suspense that leads up to the third act. If you want to dissect this more, don’t consider it a beat. Think of it as the part of the story or mini-movie where the bad guys close figuratively and literally. Think of it like this: four scenes alternating between the internal and external bad guys. The bad guy can be fear, apprehension, or uncertainty, in other words, some internal struggle relating to the story’s theme. The key here is that the bad guys keep closing in until all is lost, which is the following beat in the story.