A story is taking place in the present but then it is like "5 years later" or "5 years ago", what will be a natural way to express that:

5 years ahead:

The story has gone a few years ahead. (Or being specific: 5 yrs ahead)

The story has gone into the future. (When not being specific) [I guess this one doesn't sound natural....]

A few years ago or 5 yrs ago:

The story has gone a few years behind.

The story has gone into the past.

I don't think either of my sentences sound natural... So how will you express it?

  • It's easier to convey these changes with a different narrative, like ...we see that five years from now, our protagonist will find herself (in some situation) or ...five years ago, our protagonist found herself (in some situation). – Davo Jun 10 at 17:13
  • Five years (later / from now) . . . and five years (ago / earlier) . . . – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jun 10 at 18:22

One common verb for this is skip

And so Jim and Susan got married and moved into a nice little cottage with a white picket fence. Let's skip forward five years. The house is, perhaps, not as white as it once was, mostly from the influence of their two boisterous sons. who are passing through the "mud and magic marker" phase of their artistic development.

You can also "skip ahead", "skip back", and "skip over" some amount of time, as well as various others.

At this point, the story skips back seven years, to when Jim and Susan first met.

(Edit) "Skip" is just one of many other expressions for this. "Roll forward/back", "turn (the clock) forward/back", "jump forward/back", "spin forward/back" ... it's a long list. A clever writer may use a different verb for moving the clock forward vs. moving the clock back.

Go, as in "go back" or "go forward", isn't really wrong as such. It just sounds awkward to me. Since we're talking about a figurative movement, it's clumsy not to use a more evocative verb.

  • But what if I am telling this to someone else? – It's about English Jun 10 at 17:29
  • And what about the past? – It's about English Jun 10 at 17:29
  • @It'saboutEnglish You can use "skip" in narration to someone else. There's not much difference between narrating a story and narrating to another person in conversation. See my edit for using "skip" with past events. – Andrew Jun 10 at 17:31
  • And what about "goes back"? "The story has gone back 7 years". – It's about English Jun 10 at 17:38
  • What will sound more natural :"skip back" or "go back"? – It's about English Jun 10 at 17:39

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