Timelines

Tis for
Timelines

Timelines help me keep up with important dates and events when I’m writing, especially when I’m working on a series that spans three or more books.  With my Petal Pushers Cozy Mystery series, for example, I not only have to keep up when each murder or crime happens and clues are found, I’ve also got a ghost who was born in the 1800s whose history I need to keep straight.  Even if I’m working on a book that isn’t in a series, I find timelines really help me keep up with the main events, how much time passes between scenes, etc.

I haven’t found any special software for this that I like.  For To Have and To Hold, Like it or Not, I printed off a two month calendar and filled in the important stuff.  For my Time Travel Genealogy Trilogy (which is not yet finished and still needs a better title), I did plug all the characters into a file in my genealogy software because there were so many birth and death dates, but created a few separate outline style timelines to track events that happen over a few hundred years.  With  Secrets, Snapdragons, and  a Spirit, and Poison, Perennials, and a Poltergeist,  I whipped up timelines for each book and a more detailed master line on Word. And there have been other times when I simply scribbled it all out with pen and paper.

During my brainstorming stages, when I’m sketching out characters and outlining my next story, I find that timelines are a great tool to keep myself from forgetting exactly  when certain things happen.   It goes through a few changes as I write, and it’s something I always refer back to on the final edit.

Do you use them?

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3 comments on “Timelines

  1. Marlene Moss says:

    I don’t use anything formal either, just a separate “notes” document where I keep names, descriptions, dates, and any other details specific to the ms.
    Marlene at On Writing and Riding

  2. blondeusk says:

    Really useful post, thx

  3. I’ve been using Aeon Timeline 2. Version 1 had some serious flaws, but Aeon Timeline 2 has fixed most of them so it works really well. The best part is that you can make your own calendar system, which is really useful for the sort of stories I write. It lets you plot events ranging from the thousands or even millions of years down to minutes, which means I can plot even an individual scene in the app. Then it’s a simple matter of writing the whole thing in Scrivener.

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