I'm looking for techniques to write a fantasy story (A song of ice and fire style) but the problem is the duration of the story :

  • The first three years there are lot of plots, and betrayals.

  • After that a good lord rules the kingdom, in his reign nothing special happens, the plots against the king stop and everything is ok.

  • After his death the plots and betrayals resume

So the question is how can I skip the twenty years of his reign, mentioning just the important stuff without confusing readers?

  • 3
    You could use flashbacks. Start with the struggle for the throne after his death. Periodically, some of characters reflect on the past.
    – paj28
    Jan 8 '16 at 12:43
  • 3
    Read The Name of the Wind, by Pat Rothfuss, and take some notes. It's an excellent example of a story whose narrative stretches over a period of several years, while remaining interesting and engaging from beginning to end. Jan 8 '16 at 19:16
  • 4
    WRT "good lord, bad lord," it's worth noting that Vlad III of Wallachia (AKA "Vlad the Impaler", AKA "Dracula") is remembered to this day in his native Romania as a hero, a great king and a powerful ruler who made peace and greatly reduced crime. Sometimes these things do vary greatly based on perception and whose side you're on! Jan 8 '16 at 21:53
  • 2
    I don't necessarily want to hold up Frank Herbert as the pinnacle of good writing, but take a look at the Dune series: there's a fairly natural and not at all abrasive jump of no less than 3500 years in between books 3 and 4. Jan 9 '16 at 14:57
  • 2
    Another recommendable source of inspiration is the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov, which covers a timespan of several centuries. It does this by being divided into parts, where each part focuses on a relatively short period of time in which many pivotal events occur. Important events in the left-out years, if any, are typically mentioned by the characters in the following part. Each part is long enough for the reader to start caring about the characters in that part. (Note that there are a total of seven Foundation novels, but only the original trilogy follows this structure.) Jan 10 '16 at 6:48

Skip the peaceful period. If there's no conflict, there's nothing to write about. Go to "Part II" of your book.

Open with the characters having a party to celebrate two decades of peace. In the middle of the celebratory dinner, the bad guy drops a piano on the king, and the war is back on.

  • @Mike.C.Ford look, in a story the size of ASOIAF, ya gotta put in the laffs where you can. :) Jan 8 '16 at 12:17
  • I will consider the piano method in the story haha! But how can i introduce the changes that happens in this period (new buildings, new laws, new territories ...) Jan 8 '16 at 14:10
  • 2
    Just mention them as needed. This is actually more true-to-life that it seems. When you look back at your own life, I'm sure there are wide spaces of uneventful time that seem to have passed in a flash, versus short exciting periods that take up a disproportionate amount of space in your mind. Jan 8 '16 at 14:25
  • 1
    @AimanVargas If you're having a celebratory dinner, there will be a big speech where everyone is looking back on what's been accomplished. "In the last XX years, we've built hospitals, cleaned up the parks, legalized marriage equality, outlawed derivatives, welcomed Freedonia into our empire, and granted independence to the Republic of Latveria." Jan 8 '16 at 17:11
  • @ChrisSunami is that how it should work? damn! Mine's just one big empty expanse ;)
    – Michael B
    Jan 9 '16 at 18:31

The "goto part 2" idea doesn't take much.

For example, let's use the legend of King Arthur, who as a boy pulled Excalibur from the stone, etc. and have him be maybe 10-11 years old. Hooray Arthur, "end of chapter 8"

You could have Part II-Ten Years later, etc. but you could also simply say

Chapter 9: Title...

Ten years had passed, during which time Arthur grew from a boy to a man. Merlin taught him many wise things about how to rule a kingdom, but the fact of the matter, Arthur was really king in name only, and that just in his castle with the forebearance of older and wiser men who chose not to challenge his claim.

Outside the castle walls, however.....

...and you're off and writing after the peaceful period when Arthur has to go create Camelot, conquer the rest of merry old England or whatever.


Use the first three years for Part I. Part II begins with the notation: Twenty years later...

Then use "flashback" scenes in Part II to catch the odd event of note that might have taken place between the two parts.


I second the answers that suggest skipping the peaceful years. Work with book parts or sequels.

Part I - Before King X Part II - After King X

You just have to figure out what works best with your length of story.


Start the thing in medias res, in mid-action. Then flash back. At least, that's what Aristotle advised in his Poetics. Although it is more than 2000 years old, it still has great advice for writers today.

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