Limit the "duration" of your novel

In case you missed my recent webinar, I shared this prompt for checking / reducing the “duration” of your novel: making the story take less fictional time (NOT reducing the page count).

My suspicion is that a too long or broad duration can be a critical problem in telling a good story: things just become baggy, spread out. What do you think?

Try the prompt here:

Let us know if it helped!


I haven’t done the exercise (yet), but I may be okay as I keep tight track of time passing in my books.
The latest one, not yet published, covers a period of less than 48 hours.

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I encounter this issue often. Not only in my own scribblings, but through other works as well. I also see too much compression, or a total lack of "Now how long is/has this taking/going on?

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I think this exercise is valuable especially for writers who start their story at the wrong point in time. Reducing the duration of the story would likely result in lopping off those beginning chapters that describe in detail events that lead up to the current story instead of beginning with the story itself.


I agree! It’s unlikely to be the climactic, dramatic parts that get edited out.

This is me. I like to start with the primordial ooze and bring the reader up to speed slo-o-o-wly. “That wasn’t a small caliber revolver cocking, that was a tectonic plate shifting and ushering in a new epoch . . .”