T is for… (#AtoZChallenge 2012)

T is for Timeline

(Post 20 on my WIP)

Now I wonder if you’re thinking ‘Hey, this girl’s writing a novel about time travel, surely her T post will be on Time Travel.’ Under normal circumstances you’d be right but I did that last year – so see 2011’s T is for Time Travel post here.

I am writing about something time related though – creating a Timeline. As a pantser who didn’t really do all that much planning I, and my beta readers, have already noticed some issues with the timeline in the draft so I have decided I really need to get this all much much clearer. To me this seems like a huge complicated time-twisting task so I keep putting it off. I did buy a big roll of white paper to try and do this (I may still use it) but this week I found something new that might help. I’ve not had time to do anything except set up an account but still want to share this with you.


TimeToast allows you to make timelines that you can keep private or publish and share. You can view them either in timeline or text view.

I’ve just found a link to a number of Harry Potter timelines (one for each book) and will show the series one below so you get an idea of what I’m aiming for.

Personally I think this is going to be very helpful (even for linearly plotted books) and because I’ll literally be jumping through time in the plot I think this electronic version might be easier to manage than a huge big bit of paper. I hope I don’t open up a time vortex though when I start moving my characters back through time so that there is more than one of them (*holds head and ponders why she ever though time travel was a good idea).

Who else has tried using timelines?

Do you find them helpful?

What format do they normally take?

Posted on April 23, 2012, in #am writing (and all things writing related), April A-Z Challenge, Training Time (WIP) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the link. I’ve not used timelines, but because my last book was linear, I plotted them almost like diary entries, with a date at the top of each scene.

    Sorry I assumed you were in the US when we’re practically neighbours (I live in south London)! 🙂

    • Using dates seems like a simple but effective idea. See also my reply to Jay – looks like a full software release to look out for.
      We really aren’t far away.

  2. Nifty. If I’m day draming stories I tend to think up scenes in random orders, so this is a pretty good tool. I did think there was a timeline feature in Scrivener though?

    • Oooh – have you written any of these daydreams up?
      I’m not aware of Scrivener having a timeline feature but when I googled it came up with these handy links.
      A blog on how you could use Scrivener to manage a timeline – http://www.jamierubin.net/2011/08/11/building-and-managing-story-timelines-using-scrivener/
      And timeline software in development that works with Scrivener – http://www.scribblecode.com/#info

      • ps. Thanks for making me Google the timeline software looks even niftier than the online version I’d found.

      • I haven’t tried writing anything, partly due to lack of confidence but also as they’re always heavily plaigeristic! Generally involves a plot from a TV show or film that’s caught my attention & I tweak or add scenes to it. Very tempted to get Scrivener and try writing something just for me though.

      • Ooooh do it. There are a whole load of fan fiction websites. I think it’s considered OK if you aren’t trying to sell it?! But writing just for yourself is cool too. The important thing to remember is that first drafts are generally going to be a bit rubbish and you need to edit to get to the ‘perfectionist’ stage ;o)

  3. I have used a timeline, but I think they look like they’d be very useful. Thanks for an interesting post 🙂

  4. Hello! I always wonder how time-travel writers plan their novels. This does seem really helpful! Thanks for sharing.

    Have a lovely week and happy A to Z!!

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