Gw Temp


Article - 'A Guide to Perfect Timing' by Xanqui

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Jan 18, 2004


How to time big events in a storyline, and how to prepare them.


Key moments in story lines can be a very wonderful thing if used properly. Whether they deal with romance or suspense, the factors that lead up the key moment are just as important as the key moment itself.

First of all, decide what your key moment is. This could be the death of a character, the kiss that expresses the love of your characters, or the final words of character’s story that reveals whatever. The possibilities are endless. Anyway, when you have decided the key moment of this scene, begin considering everything else.

Where does this key moment take place? If your story is an epic fantasy story, you’re obviously going to want the scene to take place in a very detailed area, with perhaps beautiful or hellish scenery. But just about any key moment works in the rain. Who is going to witness this key moment? Are there any witnesses? If there are, keep their personalities in mind, because this will play an important part right after the key moment.

Preparing the Key Moment

This is where games and books differ. Games will give a clear visual that doesn’t require any explanations. Written stories, however, require a great detail of description for the scenery and whatnot, but you probably already know that. Anyway, make sure that plenty of detail is put into the scenery and everything, that way the player/reader can visualize the key moment even better when it comes.

Build up tension. Make the fires rise, the rain grow stronger, or the wind blow faster. If the characters know what’s to come, make them lean in, or close their eyes, or brace themselves. Palms will become sweaty, and people will grip whatever they are holding even tighter. During a kiss, the characters would probably close their eyes, or smile. This will cause the player/reader to be on the edge of their seat, waiting for something awful or great to happen.

Generally, no one speaks during the few seconds before the key moment. Their eyes may widen, their jaws may drop, but usually the characters are silent.

But here’s something that games have that written stories cannot: music. For information about music, check around GamingWorld to help you choose the perfect music for this key moment. Music can make or break the key moment. Cheap RTP crap will ruin the effect of the moment (preferably moment[s]) everyone played your game for.

And Finally, The Key Moment Arrives

The scenery is set, the fires have risen, the wind is stronger, and the tension is beyond comprehension. Finally, your key moment must take place before the player/reader is getting sick of waiting. If you are writing, read what you’ve written the next day to see if it’s too cheesy or long. If you’re making a game, test it to make sure the timing is right. Do your best to time the music to hit a certain note at the same time as the key moment. This always gives a great effect. Or perhaps a new song could play as soon as the key moment hits.

Often, in novels, the chapter or section ends as soon as the key moment ends. Usually this will intrigue the reader into reading the next chapter to see what happens next. No novel, however, should end on a key moment.

Following the Key Moment

Tension should die down here. The rain could slow down, and the moon could appear. Or the kiss could end. The possibilities are limited only to your imagination. The music should slow down, signifying grief or happiness. The overall mood should be slower and calmer.

Here are a few examples of some key moments, including how the tension was built, what the key moment was, and how it slowed down afterwards. I’ll make the key moments in bold.

Warning: This part contains spoilers. If you are planning on playing/seeing any of these, and haven't yet already, please don’t read. At least, don’t blame me.

Final Fantasy X (Make-out Scene):
Yuna is crying, Tidus looks into her eyes, the little lights dim a bit. Tidus puts his hand on her shoulder and leans in to kiss Yuna, and they make out for a while during a really well-done cutscene. Just before he kisses, however, the music begins to play. But as soon as their lips touch, the lyrics play. As the cutscene comes to an end, the camera view backs away, and looks up at the moon, away from the characters. The vocals of the song end, but the violins continue playing.

Osamu Tetzuka’s Metropolis (Ending Scene):
The tension here is great. Duke Red is being attacked by robots, and his adopted son, Rock, screams out “stop!”. All of the robots turn to face Rock, who is bleeding to death. All you can hear is a quiet alarm and the sounds of robots as they prepare to kill Rock. The lights are flickering, the camera angle is crooked, and Rock’s eyes show that he’s really pissed off. Rock reaches over and presses a button. The camera cuts to a generator of some sort, which sits there for a second, but then bright lights shoot out. You hear the sound of a harp, and everything goes KABLAMO! The song “I Can’t Stop Loving You” plays just as the explosion begins. For the next few minutes, you get a spectacular special-effect-filled destruction of a massive city. When the scene ends, it cuts to the next day, and a piano song plays. Everything sounds happy, but the city lies in ruins.

Ender’s Game (The Final Battle):
A great battle is taking place in what appears to be a video game. Ender, tired and sweating, prepares a move to end the stupid simulation. With his entire fleet, and a weapon known as Dr. Device or Little Doctor, Ender pushes towards the home planet of the buggers. The strange men in uniforms, Mazer Rackham, and Colonel Graff eagerly wait to see what Ender is going to do. As soon as his small fleet was close enough, Ender triggered the weapon to fire, and the planet burst into subatomic particles, along with his fleet and the what remained of the bugger ships. Ender, believing he had simply won a game, takes off his headphones and relaxes. People cheer, and Colonel Graff cries. The tension for everyone is gone now. Everyone is relieved. But I won’t go into what happens next.

I chose those three examples because they were key moments that still impress me. Everything was set up perfectly, and everything was executed perfectly. Timing is essential to your special moment (I’m getting sick of typing ‘key moment’), and unless everything is in place at the right time, the full effect of the moment will not be achieved. This is not something to be rushed. Key moments are very important, and when rushed, will not be as significant as a moment that is well-planned and programmed or written.

Everything with a storyline should have key moments. They can resolve conflicts, start conflicts, express the love between characters, kill off characters, and do much, much more.

Well, I wanted to end this article with a bang, so here you go: