Friday, July 1, 2016

Timelines--do you use them?

When watching CSI shows, they usually have a murderboard, with a timeline that gets filled in as the investigators discover more info about the victim's last days.

It's interesting to watch, but also reminds me of making timelines for my writing. When lots of things are going on at once, I find it helpful to make a timeline to keep track of what's happening, when. I even make them for pre-story events, which is useful for keeping track of birthdays, how old characters were when certain things happened, etc. I tend to be more a pantser, which makes it even more important to be able to see when things happen, so I don't cross storylines by accident. But even when plotting it's a useful way to keep dates straight.

When you're planning stories, do you ever make timelines?


  1. Always! I find a timeline an indispensable tool for writing, and for all the reasons you mention. There are always multiple strands to the story going on, both an and off stage, and a timeline is the only way to keep them in step. Even within a single linear sequence it's often important to map out durations, otherwise you end up with the feeling that characters inhabit a world with 50-hour days to get everything done.

    1. Ha, that's what originally got me into using them, when I'd written a story and then realized I had a 40-something-hour day! Haven't stopped using them since.