Narratives are important for language assessment at the level of discourse. To investigate the effect of preparation time narratives were collected from 19 third graders, 19 eighth graders, and 19 college students. In one condition, all subjects saw a picture and told a story; in a second one they saw a picture and were instructed to wait for 1 min. before telling a story. Students also generated a story without a picture and with no instructions to wait. Measures of narrative length and mean length of communication unit were analyzed to assess the effects of preparation time. Narratives produced under the Instructions to Wait condition were longer and their mean length of communication unit was longer than narratives produced under the No Instructions to Wait condition, for all 3 age groups. Narratives generated without picture stimuli, however, were longer than those produced under either picture condition. Clinical implications for those who work with children with language and learning disabilities are discussed.