Story Limit

In each of the stories below, the characters run out of time. Dramatica refers to this concept of story structure as the Story Limit. Dysfunctional stories run on and on with no end in sight. Functional stories present a scope -- or framework -- that the characters work within.

Story Limit    Timelock

Blade Runner

The replicants only live four years from their incept date and their end is rapidly approaching—which is why they escaped from Offworld and came to Earth. Batty, the last of the renegade replicants, ages and dies, allowing the physically inferior Deckard to triumph and the story to end.

Charlotte’s Web

Mr. Zuckerman must decide that Wilbur is too valuable to live before he is to be butchered next winter, “‘almost all young pigs get murdered by the farmer as soon as the real cold weather sets in. There’s a regular conspiracy around here to kill you at Christmastime’” (White, 1952, p. 49).

The Philadelphia Story

The wedding is to be held at noon on Saturday, and all of the action plays out within that time frame.  In virtually every scene, some reference is made to the impending wedding.

X-Files: Beyond the Sea

Scully and Mulder have only five days to find the two teens before they’re murdered—Lucas Henry, the kidnapper, is preparing to re-enact a grisly anniversary.  In one week Boggs, who claims to have powers to help find the victims, will be executed.  As the story progresses each deadline moves the story closer to its climax.

Additional Stories

Dramatica Story Expert

the next chapter in story development

Buy Now