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Urgency of Time
The reason why this is happening now


(permanent link) added: 2013-05-09 00:36:17 sponsor: KJMackley (last reply: 2013-05-10 02:51:07)

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Kevin: Perhaps I could help. Marshall, ask yourself this question, 'Why today?' He hasn't said a thing about that tie for weeks and now, today, he can't wear it another second?

Stories do not exist in a vacuum, there is always something going on before we are introduced into the narrative and after the story wraps up. Thus if we are going to be put headfirst into the life of a character there is usually something introduced that reveals why the story is happening NOW rather than later.

Sometimes this is achieved by giving a Driving Question that needs to be answered. Other times a character just went through a big milestone or traumatic event in their life (marriage, divorce, lost a job, gained a job, death in the family, birth of a child, etc) and we are along for the ride as they are experiencing new things.

The logical opposite of Slice of Life and Random Events Plot.

Examples:

  • Star Wars famously sets itself up well in the opening crawl, giving concise explanations for what is happening in the setting and within the story giving reasons for why we are joining them now. A New Hope establishes that Leia is being chased by the Star Destroyer because she has the plans to the Death Star. It is later revealed she was hoping to find the reclusive Old Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, which is why. The Empire Strikes Back mentions the Empire is searching for the rebel base and we come in as the Empire is about to find it.
  • The top quote comes from an episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Barney was antagonizing Marshall about letting go of a bet where he was forced to wear a ducky tie for a year. Recurring Character Kevin, a therapist, sheds light on the situation by asking the question of why taking the tie off was so important to Barney right this moment. It turns out Barney was meeting his girlfriends parents and didn't want to be wearing something so goofy.
    • The series itself kicks off with Lily and Marshall getting engaged, which causes Ted to rethink his life and consider it was about time for him to settle down.
  • The Big Bang Theory starts with a simple act of a pretty girl moving in next door. The four guys would have remained in a clueless bubble of their own social circle if she wasn't there to expand their horizons a little.
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