Flaubert was a very diligent and precise craftsman. He spent more than five years working on Madame Bovary, in the course of which he wrote biographies of all the characters and drew maps of the towns which were his settings. The original draft of the novel was several times longer than the completed version. Extensive research was applied to all features of the story in order to guarantee a completely accurate picture of provincial life. While he was still writing the manuscript. Flaubert took great pride in learning that a phrase identical with one in the Prefect's speech actually appeared in a speech delivered by a government official in another part of the country.
Even the individual words Flaubert used were carefully selected, and he evoked additional subtleties of meaning and intensification of mood from his skilled use of varied grammatical tenses and other rhetorical devices in the narrative. The pace of the novel is intricately related to the story, and the careful reader notes that events move with a speed related to the emotional feelings of the characters. When Emma is bored, her thoughts and activities are described in minute detail, and the reader becomes bored also. During Emma's frantic search for happiness in her liaison with Leon, she and the reader move through the events of several months in a bare few moments, emphasizing the transience of her pleasure.