Timing and Time

So, that was a weird title. This is mostly going to be my random thoughts on time and timing withing works. It’s not just on writing, but also on television shows and maybe even movies. This will most be random musings that might amount to nothing, or it might not

What am I referring to when I say timing and time? I am not talking about comedic timing, which is important. I am talking about the difference in story time and real time and writing time.

For instance, say you want to leave a cliffhanger for one chapter in a book. You might leave a character presumed dead. Now, you take a break from writing to work on other projects, or maybe something else comes up. When you return to the story, it feels like it had been a long time since you last seen the character, so you might just bring him/her back. To the reader, it will feel like a wasted cliffhanger since the character immediately comes back because they can just zip along reading.

Of course, you should consider story time when dealing with these kinds of situations because you can’t account for how fast the reader reads, or even if they decide to take a break. Story time won’t work if you end the book/episode on a cliffhanger though, since then the reader being able to read the next part is in the author’s hands again. Right up until you actually publish your work, at least because new readers will be able to just go from one book/episode to the next.

With movies, a director can have a much better sense of timing because it can be reasonably assumed that the audience will stay there watching it all in one shot.

What’s the point I’m trying to make here? I have no idea. Maybe just preserving tension through time isn’t really effective. With on-demand and new binge-watching series that’s released all at once, the only effective cliffhanger is the end of the season one, and that’s just until the next season.

It makes it sound like I’m saying cliffhangers are bad, which I’m not. I think they can be more effective with a clever or emotional, “Wow, so that’s how he escaped/caught/did cool thing,” rather than going for pure shock. As such, always plan out a cliffhanger when you write it. If you don’t have a good answer, don’t trust that one will come to you in the time between writing episodes/movies/etc. Maybe that’s the point of the whole thing, something completely different than the opening sentence.

I guess it’s important to consider that now, people have ready access to content and can consume them at their leisure, barring the time it takes to produce the content, of course. So real time is how much time actually passes from when the audience watches from point A to point B. Story time is how much time in the story passes between point A and point B. Writing time is how much time it takes the author to get betwen point A and point B. And all three are different, sometimes wildly.

Is there any lesson to be learned here? Probably not. See you next time!


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