Can Timing Really Be Everything for a Plot Line?

October 11, 2011
So, while I was completing my outline for, I know I wrote that in smaller text; and yes, I am still superstitious about even calling it that...I'm still in the baby step stages okay?), I thought about a little something I would like to call...timing. And the most pivotal point in the book...that moment that changes everything...all depends on timing.

Now, without going into too much detail (you all know my suspicions on that), I was wondering whether or not that really happens in life? Is timing really everything? How much difference does an hour make? A half hour? Ten minutes?

Would certain parts of my life really be any different had I made that 3 o'clock bus, instead of having to wait a half hour for the next one? If I had left five minutes earlier, would I really have been on time for work? Would these small moments have really impacted my life in some huge way that I don't even realize?

And does timing only make a difference after the fact? How many of us have stories about how if it wasn't for that five minute difference...this one good (or bad) thing would have happened?

Okay, so with these thoughts rolling around in my head, I thought back to my own life and tried to think of moments where timing made a big difference...

...And so it's something I'm still thinking about it. I will let you know if I think of anything.

Not to mention, I also wondered if I was cheating by letting this moment rely on timing. Well, to solve this problem, let's go through some of my favorite movie scenes to see which of them best represent our discussion topic of the day...

Alright, our first example...

Sleepless in Seattle

That final scene...that FINAL scene...the moment we were all waiting for...all depended on the timing of Tom Hanks getting to the top of the Empire State Building when Meg Ryan did. Can you believe that? Timing here...was everything.


Our next scene is when Jack and Rose first meet. The timing of this perfect...had Rose run out to that edge of the boat any sooner...well, that entire love story may not have taken place.

Can you guess where all this is going? Me too.

Okay, our last movie...

Bridges of Madison County

Don't we all remember that scene where she stares at Clint Eastwood from her car? Weren't you just urging her to run out to him? I know, me too.

But her husband comes...ah, here just watch.

I mean, had her husband waited just a few minutes before going to the car, would she have gone to him? Had that light just taken a few moments long, would she have run to his car?

I guess we'll never know, but now that I am done with my outline and I am getting started on actually writing the book, I couldn't help but wonder if timing really is everything. If you based your answer on the movies I showed you, I would say...yes, it can be.

Or maybe I should stop watching romance movies and get to writing.

What do you think? Is timing really everything? Have you ever written (or read) a short story or book where a major point in the story depended upon the right timing?


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  2. Very interesting question and my opinion is that timing is everything. I believe we are where we are supposed to be at all times. I believe God puts us where we need to be for whatever reason He wants us to be there.
    As a writer, however, I get to put my characters wherever I want them to be at any given time to receive whatever I want them to have. Hummmm writing is like make believe God role playing, isn't it?

  3. You've made some great comments here. I think timing is certainly an important factor, but the impact needs to match the buildup. It's the difference between an okay read and a satisfying one.

    Great post! :)

  4. Timing isn't everything, but it contributes to a lot of diversions! :)

  5. I think I'm a romantic. Much (if not everything) in life is cause and effect, and the structure of a story is cause and effect (according to Jack Bickham). Therefore, if not for the timing of things (the cause) the effect wouldn't happen. So, I don't think you're cheating with having the end of your story depend on timing. It is just the natural outcome of all the cause and effects that came before it! Of course, I could be wrong :)

  6. @J L Murphey - Thank you!!!

    @Blog Hops Everyday - I will check it out! Thank you for the info!

    @Jo - I'm so glad you agree! We, writers, are acting like "God's" aren't we? So fun! :) THank you for reading!

    @David Powers King - Thank you!! Very true, it does need to match the build up otherwise there is a HUGE disappointment!!

    @Diane Carlisle - It does!! Stupid movies!!

    @Lara Schiffbauer - Ah, I love how you are thinking about this! I think so too! Good, I'm so glad someone thinks I'm not cheating!! I so agree!

  7. Hi - another new follower from The Catacombs Society -

    I so believe in timing! God has a plan for our lives and I believe that if we follow through with His Word and listen to what he has to say - we will have the perfect timing... in His time, not ours.

  8. Nicole, I do believe timing is important and I wish you all the luck in the world with your BOOK. Large letters for confidence. You are doing it! As far as the romance movies well it's funny I used to try to live my life as if it I was in the middle of one and I was sad and tired of seeing the beautiful sets but not being part of the action. I was like out of sync with reality. Until something wonderful happened that changed my life. That wonderful thing that changed my life is different for everyone--and it definitely had to do with timing.


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