The Zen of Story Structure: Option Lock

If not for the story being forced to a climax, it might continue forever. When a story is brought to a conclusion because the characters run out of options, it is said to contain an Optionlock.

As an analogy, one might think of a story as the process of examining rooms in a mansion to find a solution to the story’s problem. Each room in the mansion will contain a clue to the actual location of the solution.

In an optionlock, a character might be told it could examine any five rooms it wanted, but only five. It must pick the five rooms ahead of time. It can take as long as it likes to search each one, and go thoroughly examine four of the rooms.

After the fourth it is given a choice: based on the clues it has found so far, does it wish to stick with its original fifth choice or pick another room instead out of all that remain.

Either choice may lead to success or failure, but because running out of options forced the choice it is an Optionlock story. The choice is the Optionlock leap of faith that determines Change or Steadfast.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software