I am writing a short story, and I have some gaps in time I have to fill. In my story, a girl wants to go to a party later in the day, but there are a few hours in between the events. What could I put into the story so that I'm not just skipping through time?
3I recently read a book which was like “he got up, they talked for half a page about something that can be explained in an hour, suddenly it was becoming late so they went to bed.“ whatever you do, don't do that– DonQuiKongAug 22, 2018 at 14:06
8Stub in placeholders for the parts of your story where you feel like you need to stall for time. Write the rest of the story until you like it. Then just delete all the placeholders. I'm being a little silly, but this trick actually works! I've heard writers talk about put placeholders for scenes they're not interested in writing, and when they come back at the end of the first draft, they realize they don't need anything in most of the placeholders to begin with. But putting in placeholders let them move on with the story without feeling guilty.– KevinAug 22, 2018 at 17:49
Skipping through time is totally legitimate, and often the best choice.
You can just leap there:
"At 7:15--her mother's advice regarding the precise definition of "fashionably late"--she knocked on the door."
You can summarize the time:
"The rest of the day was filled with preparation, from an appointment with her mother's hairdresser to a near-tantrum at Macy's when the skirt that she had been eyeing for six weeks was suddenly sold out. But finally, at 7:15--her mother's...."
Or you could take an event from elsewhere in the story and insert it in the day, if that seems to work.
4I'll also go with summarizing the time. Not only you fill the gap without looking "cheap", but it can also help the reader notice how important is this party for the girl -if it's any important at all, i.e. -"She spent the next hours combining outfits, making her hair in as many different ways she could, putting on and rermoving makeup - everything had to be perfect that night"; or straight to the other way -"She spent the next hours stumbling around her bedroom, boring. She knew she had to be ready, but was it really worth it?". Aug 22, 2018 at 23:45
If it's not developing characters, or setting up a plot via foreshadowing or simple detail establishment, if there's nothing of interest to note and you yourself, the writer, think it's filler, don't include it.
Time skipping is better than time wasting
You can use the time to point up how bored and/or nervous your protagonist is, but really you're torturing yourself writing boredom in detail and you're really torturing your readers by expecting them to read it. Skipping a large chunk of time and still showing the reader that it was torturous for the protagonist is simple:
"Something, something, not important.
'* * *'
"Six excruciatingly dull hours later [your character here] couldn't wait any longer..."
Or you can do some detail work about her preparations but again with the torturing thing.
Why would you want to fill the gap? Either you have something interesting to say or you don't. But don't write something just for the sake of writting someting, it will be boring.
If you are looking for transition, just write something like: "The time to go to the party had arrived, ..." or "Five hours later, ...".
If you want to show that the time is passing slowly for the character, you can say that and then describe the attempts that the girl make it pass faster. I would recommand something like:
3h before the party, Girl decided to empty the trash.
2h55 before the party, the trash is empty, Girl decide to clean her room.
2h30 before the party, the room is clean. Girl is bored.
2h20 before the party, Girl notice a fly is buzzing around.