The Time Lock

The more desperately your main character has to reach a specific goal the more exciting your story. Characters are revealed under stress or pressure. If your character isn't in a conflict or under pressure his real personality isn't revealed. You need to put your characters in a pressure cooker and watch how they act and react. One of the best ways of getting your main character under pressure is to use a "time lock." Put a time limit on the action your character takes and you'll have more suspense in your story.

If a character must discover a bomb that is about to go off in thirty minutes, you are putting a time lock on the situation. This is certainly more exciting than if the character had a week, or a month, to detonate the bomb. Put your main character into a situation with a time limit to reach her goal and you'll create the necessary pressure and tension to keep your audience interested.

The less time involved for your main character to reach his goal, the more compressed is the pressure and tension. Think of a kettle of water on the highest heat of a gas stove. You can't see inside the kettle to the exact moment the water turns to steam, but it surely will happen faster than when the kettle is on the lowest heat.

In another example, let's say your main character's goal is to get a job immediately, because she has to pay the rent. If she only has one week to find work, you'll create must more pressure on her than if she had a month. So a time limit is a wonderful devise to create more tension, conflict and suspense in your screenplay. In fact, the closer you set the opening of your screenplay to the ending or climax the more tension you have due to the shorter amount of time. It's always better to start your screenplay as close to the end as you possibly can.

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