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?
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.
1Although 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
* * *after a paragraph just kinda meant, "some time has passed without noteworthy events". And as a reader I never questioned it.