The Zen of Story Structure: Time 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 time, it is said to contain a Timelock.

As an analogy, a story might be thought of as the effort to find the solution to the story’s problem that is hidden in one of the rooms of a mansion. Each room contains a clue to the actual location of the solution. A character is told it may search as many rooms as it likes in five minutes.

At the end of five minutes it is given a choice: based on the clues it has already found, it must decide if the solution is in one of the rooms it has already searched or in one of the rooms it has not yet searched.

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

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software