The order of events in a story adds to the appeal or purpose of the tale. To understand the tempo of a story a reader must pay attention to the discourse time and story time addressed. According to Manfred Jahn in “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative,” he explains discourse time as being the length of time it takes someone to read a section of the book or the entire text as it relates to real time. Story time relates to the fictional time in the story for distinct situations the characters and time line go through. Jahn further explains, “To determine story time, one usually relies on aspects of textual pace, intuition, and text-internal clues” (N5.2.2). What I found to be interesting with the narrative tactics of these two terms is when the discourse time and story time occur at the same time in the book, in synch. In The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra writes:
And when he saw this poor knight coming close, he set off with without
directing a single word at him, and charged at him at Rocinante’s fastest
pace, his pike couched low, with the intention of passing him through and
through; and as he came close […](Cervantes 167)
For discourse now and story time now to occur simultaneously, the time it takes for you to read the passage must be the same time the characters’ story unfolds in the book itself. Simply stated, if the passage takes a few minutes to read, and a few minutes have elapsed in the story line then the narrator has achieved discourse now and story time now. As I read this passage, I could envision the knight approaching Don Quixote closer and closer and they don’t get closer until I read the next word. When Don Quixote charges at the knight, I know as long as it takes me to say Rocinante’s name is as fast as the poor horse can go and I see Don Quixote holding his weapon low in fictional time as I read the story in real time. When the story is told through this technique, you feel that you are involved in the same action as the characters are and you can relate to the story in a newer light, especially when the story lasts over 900 pages.