Here they are again, as a reminder:
- Time Warp
- Time Stop
- Time Wrap
- Time Jump
- Time Check
If you missed the first three posts, read them here:
Today, let’s look at the fourth time tactic, Time Jump.
Time Jump is when a story takes wide leaps to a different time in the story. In contrast, Time Warp leapfrogs from “peak” story moment to “peak” moment, skipping all the boring stuff.
Probably the most common application of Time Jump is when a book (or movie or TV Show) flashes back to a character’s past.
Another common usage occurs when a book starts at a later point in the story and then reverses backward in time to set up the narrative. Eventually the story “catches up” to the point at which it started. As an example, the TV Series Alias used this version of Time Jump generously.
4 Reasons To Use Time Jump
- When you want or need to skip long period of times.
- When writing a story that involves time travel.
- When telling a story that jumps back and forth between different times, such as past and present or present and future.
- When you want to grab attention with a scene that takes place at a later time in the story (Like Alias).
To see how a current bestselling author handles Time Jump, I recommend the first novel in the Orphan X series by Gregg Hurwitz. During the high-action CIA thriller, there are occasional dips into Evan Smauk’s childhood that add characterization and depth while not distracting from the forward motion of the narrative.
The movie The Accountant also does a good job with this time tactic, shifting to Christian Wolff’s (Ben Affleck’s) childhood to highlight character and reveal plot information:
- The movie begins with the protagonist (played by Ben Affleck) as a mentally disturbed child.
- Later, the movie time jumps to show Ben’s obsession with completing tasks.
- Next, the movie time jumps to show Ben’s mother abandoning the family.
- Time Jump is used to show Ben learning to fight and stand up for himself against multiple bullies.
Read Orphan X and watch The Accountant to study how masters apply this potent literary device. When used correctly, Time Jump can significantly enhance your narrative.