Narrative Techniques Series: #11 Ticking Time Bomb

Narrative Techniques Series: #11 Ticking Time Bomb

Ten, nine, eight… and your heart begin to accelerate.

This is the eleventh of our Narrative Techniques Series: the Ticking Time Bomb scenario. The Ticking Time Bomb scenario and the countdown coincide, and they have the same result. The reader is really involved, and it is not possible to stop the reading in this situation.

What is the Narrative Technique of the Ticking time bomb scenario?

One of the most important supporters of the flow of time was Aristotle. He was really aware of the power of time. He deeply studied the structure of narration. And he noticed that stories with a very short time were more impressive than others.

For instance, Sophocles in his play “Oedipus Rex” decided to compress the time to put some pressure on the character of the narration.

The Ticking Time Bomb scenario is that, a sort of countdown which has a profound meaning to the character and which can raise a condition of apprehension both in characters and readers.

The Narrative Technique of Ticking time bomb scenario: how to use it?

Not every Ticking Time Bomb scenario needs to involve a real clock or a bomb. There are several objects that a writer can use just to put pressure and to describe the fast passing of time.

Think about a car running out of gas. This simple situation does not represent a real countdown, but it is clear to everyone that this is a point of no return.

In the same way, the Ticking Time Bomb scenario does not always interest an object, but just a situation. When a character’s life is in danger, this could be an example of the Ticking Time Bomb scenario without any objects.

Let’s take the example of the film “Titanic“. When we see Jack and Rose in the water, we know that they are in danger and that they are risking their lives because of the frozen water of the Ocean.

Another great film using this Technique is “In Time“. In this world, people use their time as a form of barter instead of money. But when they run out of time, their life also ends.

What is the role of the Narrative Technique of Ticking Time Bomb scenario?

The main purpose of this technique is to surprise the reader. This involves a situation where the character does not know what will happen, and he has to find out a solution soon.

Readers have no certainty that everything will work out, and they follow the events of characters with interest, curiosity and some concern.

This technique has to do, in a broader way, with the feeling of the unknown and of something that we cannot immediately control. The protagonist must then find, in a few moments, the solution.

Meanwhile, the reader follows with extreme interest and involvement the logic of the character who finds himself thinking in a short time and acting.

The death clock is ticking slowly in our breast, and each drop of blood measures its time, and our life is a lingering fever.

George Buchner

bibisco and the use of the Narrative Techniques

When you create a narration, there are many techniques you can mix and use. But you have also to pay attention to overdo it, not to confuse your reader.

bibisco and its innovative novel writing and novel planning software can help you to establish how many narrative techniques you can use in your narration and also how to mix them.

Narrative Techniques Series #11: Time Ticking Bomb scenario- bibisco's Objects Analysis - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s Objects Analysis


The Ticking Time Bomb scenario is one of the most powerful narrative technique to put pressure on a character and that involve the reader the most.

It does not necessarily have to do with the ticking of a bomb, a clock, or a countdown. It can be realized in many ways and bibisco will help you in this hard task.

Did you miss the insights into other narrative techniques? Go back to our Narrative Techniques Series to catch up on your reading and enrich your writing with techniques such as theTicking Time Bomb!

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