I've recently finished a scene where I strategically implemented part of a movie that's playing in the background while the main character is going about her own business. The movie had to fit the story, not in the most obvious way, but still. But most of all the timing was of importance.
So. Let's imagine our heroine all alone in some motel room with the old Doris Day movie The Thrill Of It All playing on TV. Things she will do between scene one and scene two (of the movie) need to fit into the space of 16 minutes. Yes, I popped in the respective DVD and checked. I am like that. After all, it's all in the details.
I'd lie to you if I said I counted down the second it takes lil' ol' me to take a shower and wash a shirt, but one thing's for sure – our heroine is fast and efficient when it comes to personal hygiene and doing some laundry. And that consequently adds to her characterization too. Not as though I'd have started off with her being the kind of gal who needs two hours in the bath in the first place.
Things like that, or rather those small or sometimes not so small details, are sadly enough far too often the kind of thing a reader will skim through without really noticing. Shame on you, dear reader. You're missing out on quite a bit and will probably remain clueless of many more subtle hints and details in the woodwork that might, just might let you in on how the story will end.
So. Why are all those minutes so important?
Because it's all in the timing and the placement of words … in books.
And in life.