How does time work in a story? It isn’t as straightforward as once upon a time, or saying when something happened. It also has to do with how you deliver the story.

Line length is a vital tool that can speed a reader through a section of your story like they are caught in a breathless chase scene, or slowed down to meander through the tour of a whole city for instance, like Dickens does inĀ Bleak House.

In dialogue clipped sentences can communicate a business-like tone or anger. Long sentences could be a Southern drawl or someone involved in deep thought.

How does it work in a comic book? The time elapsed between panels that is just a result of normal flows between panels, but also results from the choice of what point in time is show in the panel. It can also be affected by the interplay between the words and the image, which means words in a narration box or a speech bubble.

You can play through images and text in a comic in ways very similar to films or very differently. I love how Tom King uses time for a tight focus shot on a character and then will have the slickest action scenes. You can play with box size, page count if you are dealing with singles versus a graphic novel. A webcomic can also play with time as well.

Look at how cliffhangers roll into your perception of a story, and even release schedule.

All of these are things to play with. Is it a novel, a short story, or a piece of flash fiction. Where can you take someone in the short period of time you have?

Time is super-malleable. It is fun to play with.

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