It’s very important to make sure your readers have a clear idea when something is happening, whether or not you jumped forward or backward in time, and how those events are connected time-wise. A big mistake that a lot of beginning writers make is not establishing time correctly, which could lead to a confusing story.
It can be a bit jarring when you’re reading a book and you come across a sentence like this— Two years had passed. The author is stating when something has happened and making it clear, but you still feel like you were robbed of two years of your character’s life. However, if it’s done well, the author will be able to cut out unnecessary information and get right to the action. Don’t skip ahead in the narrative unless you have a good reason to do it. Is there nothing happening during those two years that you need to explain? Is there a reason why you skipped ahead (something happened during those two years that you want to reveal later)? A huge jump in time needs some sort of explanation. It’s fine if you want to do it and many authors have made it work, but make sure you do it correctly.
Decide what timeline you want your story to exist in. This doesn’t mean you have to write out 10,000 years before and after your story takes place, but you need to decide how many years you generally want to cover. Does your story take place over the protagonist’s entire life? Does the story take place in one year? One day? Really anything is acceptable. Take the time to read stories that cover these timelines. Read a story that takes place in a day, a month, a year, etc. This will help you get an idea on how to pace your story and what can be done in a short or long amount of time. Experiment with your timelines.
The best place to skip ahead in time is often during chapter breaks. Use chapter breaks to your advantage and to show that time has passed. For example, you can end one chapter where your character is finishing up some sort of space training (I don’t know why I picked this example, but let’s go for it!) and then have the next chapter start out with your character IN SPACE and on a SPACE MISSION. If it’s not necessary for your readers to know what happened in between and there are clear transitions/explanations for time passing, then you’re good to go. This is also a great way to put action into your story without any boring, unnecessary details.
Using terms like “A few days later…” and “By the next morning” will help you show short amounts of time passing within certain chapters. You will not be writing about every single action your character takes, so these will be necessary. It’s up to you to decide when you should use them and when you should cut out certain actions. Whatever is dragging your story down, cut it out.