More accurately, how can one write a story that spans across a good deal of time, but is not so much lengthy in its contents to match that time?

  • 3
    You simply say (by telling) something like 'After a few weeks, the tasks had become routine' instead of describing days and days of tasks. Making time pass quickly is one of the best uses of telling, not showing. Other than that, Mark Baker's answer is very good.
    – SFWriter
    Nov 11, 2017 at 21:09
  • Time markers are all you need: "After some time...." "X days later..." "In year 20XX..." they all work because they all lead the reader's attention by conveying some content. You don't have to "represent" time, but just shaping your story with your words. You can even twist time and make it go backwards, if you write a sci-fi or fantasy story :)
    – FraEnrico
    Nov 13, 2017 at 14:05
  • I believe in Treasure Island, and maybe Count of Monte Cristo if memory serves, and surely countless others, the appearance of triple asterisks * * * after a paragraph just kinda meant, "some time has passed without noteworthy events". And as a reader I never questioned it.
    – elrobis
    Nov 15, 2017 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Stories are asynchronous. There is no particular connection between story time and calendar time. The length of a story is determined by the complexity of its action and the depth of its detail, not by the elapsed time between its inciting incident and its denouement.

You will sometimes have to make it clear to the reader that time has passed between one incident and another, and there are various ways to do that. I think you will find more than one existing question here that deals with ways to do that.

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    Although I generally agree, the transition needs to suit the theme and mood and structure of the overall narrative. At times, I have written one or two paragraph transitions as a way to indicate a substantial time break. At other times I have used a simple one sentence transition; It needs to feel that you are not glossing over too much. Sometimes it helps to step back from the action or use an omniscient narrator or plunge into a character's mind. Nov 12, 2017 at 2:40

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