THE TICKING CLOCK
by Michael Chasin
There is something very important that must be done.
The consequences of not completing it will be horrific—but there isn’t enough time.
So you feel pressure, urgency, fear—as time starts to run out.
That element of rapidly diminishing time is a standard dramatic device known as—the ticking clock.
The ticking clock traces to the beginning of film itself—with the damsel tied to the tracks as the train steams towards her—to the countless countdown clocks connected to bombs—to the premise of entire movies and series:
- Knocked Up—nine months till birth.
- Taken—get her back in seventy-two hours or she’s gone forever.
- Breaking Bad—terminal cancer closing in.
- High Noon—played in almost real time—leading to the showdown at noon.
Reality shows blatantly incorporate the drama of the ticking clock—almost defining logic.
Why must the re-launch be completed in only three days—when pre-production of the episode has been ongoing for months…?
Why? Because if there were months to complete the re-launch—there would be no urgency—and therefore so much less drama.
That other entertainment industry understands the ticking clock very well—and has incorporated it into its very structure.
The excitement only really begins when time is running out—so your football team is not only competing against the other team—but also that ticking clock.
Be sure to give yourself enough time to properly craft your story—that will include not giving your hero enough time—so that clock really ticks.