One of the main reasons we read is to make sense of the world. A timeline suggests a past, present, and future. Using one for plotting allows us to see a beginning, middle, and ending.
A timeline helps us choose what to include in our story. It also gives us a map to follow. It is the big picture of a novel – a place where we get the chance to see the overarching storylines and how they intersect.
Seven questions that will help create a timeline
- How old are your characters when the story begins?
- Where are the characters in the story?
- Why does the story start?
- What are your main characters’ story goals?
- Who are their co-stars?
- How old are your characters when the story ends?
- Where will it end?
Beginnings and endings
- Try not to bore the reader with a factual re-telling of their first years. We are not writing our characters’ biographies.
- A timeline can help us remove unnecessary backstory. It can be used as a tool to help us work through where we should start our stories.
- Start when the reason for writing the story begins. The reader will immediately want to know what happened before and after that point.
- Stop when the main character reaches his or her story goal.
Thanks, Amanda Patterson, for good pieces of advice.