I love timelines; I love seeing what was going on in other parts of the world during the Spanish Armada, the War of the Roses, etc. These devices help me put historical events in perspective, to see how those events and the people involved in them connect to one another.
But for some strange reason beyond my comprehension or understanding, I did not make a timeline for my first novel, The Princess and the Pirate. I just sat down at my computer every day and wrote. I had a general idea in my head what I wanted to happen when and I just went with it.
Now that I have finished the book, I can tell that editing is going to be a nightmare, because the events do not line up at all.
So before I started writing Ashes Like Frost, I began making a timeline, which over Thanksgiving I cleaned up and tightened. Let me just say, it’s been a lifesaver.
Timelines don’t have to be horizontal lines. They can be charts, an actual calendar page, a list, or single pages for whole days. Or just use what works for you. There are many reasons why you should make a timeline, but these stood out to me.
- It can help you keep your facts straight
Having the timeline of your story in one place lets you see the bigger picture (literally). I ended up filling out a calendar, writing down what I wanted to happen on each day.
I can’t claim the inspiration for this. J. K. Rowling did it herself (pictured below), making a chart with her days, and what she wanted to happen on that day.
I look at my timeline every time I sit down to write, refreshing my memory for what comes next.
2. It can help you see plot holes
I have a lot of plot holes in The Princess and the Pirate, which makes me really wish I had made a timeline at the start.
Lining out your events before you begin can help you see any holes that exist and clean them up. This will save you lots of pain when editing rolls around.
3. It keeps your plot happening in a realistic manner
When I began filling in my timeline for Ashes Like Frost, I realized that the inciting incident happened two weeks before my story actually started. Whoops. So I moved things around, bringing the competition that starts my story closer to the incident. Now things move faster, and the first domino is knocked over and the rest start falling. Fast.
Writing is hard work, and also fulfilling. Take the time to make your timeline (ha! see what I did there?) awesome.
Do you make a timeline?
How do you timeline?
Do you love it or hate it?
Let’s chat in the comments!