Big Time Skips Between Chapters?

6 years ago | Marn (Member)

The first arc of my serial (Antlers, Colorado) is nearing its halfway point, so I've started gearing up to buckle down and make a detailed outline for the second arc (which will be chapters 5-8, Arc One being 1-4). I'm planning on having a time skip of about three or four years between the two arcs, but I'm not sure how well big time jumps like that work in a web fiction format as opposed to on TV. I've already introduced time skips between chapters, but the biggest one so far has only been about 6 months. Opinions?

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  1. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    You have to be careful about how you do it. The most important rule: make sure nothing important happens during that time skip. It's a breakable rule- if you know what you're doing- but if you have to ask this question, you probably shouldn't try it.

    Beyond that, make sure you can do a brief recap that explains everything that happened during the skip. Something like a "training montage", perhaps?

    Author of Price.
  2. Marn (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I usually do little intermissions between chapters that are formatted as Twine games instead of normal "parts", so I was actually thinking of doing a slightly longer one to bridge the gap between arcs! I don't think anything very important is going to happen between the two arcs, but I do want the time skip to feel natural and not jarring for readers.

  3. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Well, if your readers are already accustomed to this sort of thing, then it shouldn't be too hard.

    But if you really need to see it "done right", I suggest Ender's Game. That story takes place over the course of almost a decade, and there's little if any jarring at all. Until you as a reader stop and think "wait... what the hell... wasn't this kid six when this book started...?"

    Author of Price.
  4. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Sometimes time skips work, sometimes they don't. I know they were a problem for some people in Worm, but they've also worked in plenty of other contexts. Godpunk had a huge one (I think it was like 2,000 years or something? Don't remember, tbh), but that was a very strange serial.

    Thinking of book examples, I know the timeskip in Dune was pretty cool. But then the ones in Accelerando turned me off.

    You're right that this is probably the most common in TV? So many shows do a little time skip in-between seasons, to establish a new status quo. (I'm also reminded of some comics crossovers like Secret Wars and 52, where the vast majority of titles did a time skip, leaving one series to tell about what happened during the time skip. But that's very different than what you're talking about.)

    Bottom line is that you should do the story the way you think it needs to be done. That said, if you want some examples to mull over, TV Tropes might be a good place to look:

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  5. Marn (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Thanks for the advice/examples! I'll admit that when I mentioned TV I was thinking specifically of the first season of Fargo, where they do a time skip of about a year randomly in the middle of one of the later episodes, which was kind of jarring while I was watching it. But I definitely think Antlers will benefit from the jump in the long run.

  6. Khronosabre (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I did a 5 year time skip in between part 2 and 3 of Caelum Lex. I think it worked out okay. But primarily because in that five years, what was happening was pretty much "more of the same" so readers weren't really missing anything. Which I would consider a great reason to time skip! Better to skip than be boring I'd think. And there's something interesting about the reintroduction too. When you pick up the story in this new setting and everything's different and the characters aren't quite how you know them, there's an intrigue there. The skip is a mystery that can get unraveled over time. It's a nice way to refresh the story a little which is valuable in any serialized media.

    So yay for time skips. I did get a couple 'wtf?!?'s from some readers though :p

  7. Marn (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    @Khronosabre That's my reasoning behind planning the time skip too! I don't want to bore readers with three (in-universe) years of monster-of-the-week filler type stuff, so I figured it was better to jump ahead for the next big mystery arc. Plus I do love figuring out how the characters' relationships would have changed in the interim and cluing readers in on that. :)

  8. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    As with all things, it depends on the story.

    I have time skips between every book in my serial, mostly as a way to avoid falling into "webcomic time," where the time spent in-universe is out of all proportion to the time that's passed in publication. So far it's worked pretty well; my serial is a little over a year old, and a little over a year has passed internally.

    Your story may be different, though. To answer your question, timeskips can work. The real question is: will they work for your story in particular? That's something none of us can answer for you, but the device itself is usable if you decide you need it.

    The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!


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