Conveying a "hidden thing" Story Limit

In the revision I’m working through now, I’m pretty sure the Story Limit (OptionLock) has to do with finding a powerful starfighter that this one pilot stole and hid, then went into hiding himself. From the beginning of the story, everyone (“good guys” and “bad guys”) is looking for him and trying to find that hidden starfighter. As they try various options and close in on it, it brings the story to a climax. In that sense it’s like the rebel base in Star Wars – once someone finds it, the showdown must occur.

My question is, how does one illustrate this type of Limit and convey it to the audience early in the story? Is it good enough to just show that it’s important and everyone is looking for it (and the guy who hid it) in Act 1?

It’s important to note this is not an Obtaining story (OS Concern is actually Becoming), and there is a lot of other stuff going on. You wouldn’t summarize the story as a “hunt” or anything like that.

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Hmmm. So to answer your question with a question (not rhetorical – serious question):

Is the way one illustrates a Story Limit connected directly with the story goal? For example, in Star Wars: “The rebels exhaust every option as they look for a way to fight back against the Empire”.

Assuming this is right (it might not be) is it possible that [failing to] “find a powerful starfighter” is actually part of the Consequence? If so, could the optionlock be more related to all to the options they exhaust in the process of trying to become what they must become in order to avoid the consequence of failing to find the starfighter?

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Hmm. It’s a very cool idea! Now, I don’t think that’s the Consequence, as what I see as the Consequence is a lot bigger – if they fail to become what they must, the badguys will establish a firm foothold on Earth / they will lose Earth to the badguys.

But tying the Story Limit to the Goal may be something I’m missing. i.e. to be able to phrase it like “as they work to achieve (Goal), they are limited by (Limit).” It would seem like a stretch to phrase mine like that if the hidden starfighter is the true Limit. “In order to save Earth, they try to become what they must, limited by how long the starfighter can remain hidden.” Yeah, it sort of works, but feels like a stretch.

Meanwhile, for Star Wars it does work. They are limited by the Empire running out space/options to search for the rebel base; you better hope that by the time that happens, they’re ready to fight back.

Looking at it that way, maybe my Limit isn’t so much that one hidden starfighter, but more to do with the badguys plan coming to fruition and the options they exhaust to figure it out and stop it? I may have to think about this more…

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Is it as simple as tying stakes to the starfighter?

If finding it triggers something, the way getting the plans and Leia to the rebel base triggers an attack on the Death Star (though, the climax feels like it’s the attack on the rebel base, which isn’t triggered by the plans directly, but rather by following the Millennium Falcon…)…

Anyway, if stakes are attached to finding it, then we’ll all be waiting and the growth can happen in parallel.


Yes, it may be that simple! In fact that was what my intuition was telling me – I already have huge stakes attached to it, but was thinking I need to do a better job in the early part of the story to convey that importance.

(But I don’t always seem to have good intuition when it comes to Limit, so I was questioning things. )

Finding it definitely triggers something (sorry for the spoilers @Lakis). In fact, it’s actually figuring out where it’s hidden that triggers a sequence of “race to the starfighter” scenes in Act 4, which then brings on the big climax. I kind of like that it’s the figuring out that triggers things, more than the actually getting to it – because of how that fits the Story Requirements of Conceptualizing.

I like how you say “if stakes are attached to finding it, then we’ll all be waiting” – that’s a really nice way of simplifying it, and rings true with how I experience a story. So thanks!


Not that this is relevant, but I find it helpful to tie things together for my own edification.

An OS Concern of Becoming works with something like this in (at least this one) way:

• Now that I know the treasure is located behind the wall of fire, will I become to become the kind of person who can reach it.

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I, always, enjoy stories that have a beginning scene setup. When you were describing about the Starfighter, I visualized someone placing the Starfighter somewhere interesting (or doing it by itself, etc.), then departing, as a type of prologue scene. I remember reading the beginning pages of Ben Hur while in high school, huddled in a backroom shanty, reading every single word out loud … because it was such a boring scene with a guy walking in the desert … but for some reason, I was so determined to not be defeated by boredom, I said each word loudly to get through it. Then the story just took off with a non-stop exciting clip until the end of the book. I always remember that payoff, after the slow start. I’ve always liked films or short stories that included me in the off stage setup.