Timelines are highly versatile and can be used in a multitude of ways. For example, if you are more of a pantser than a plotter, you could create a timeline to plan as much or as little of your novel as you like, choosing dates, times, or events to keep you on track. Or maybe you’d like to plot a chain of significant events affecting your story, such as a royal family’s rise to power, critical battles during the course of a war, or even the order of clues to be shared with the readers of your murder mystery. The uses are endless, so brainstorm away. In fact, here are a few additional ideas:
- Use the timeline as a Beat Sheet for Save The Cat, The Hero’s Journey, or another structure model
- Track your hero’s movements as he journeys from city to city, place to place
- Plot the storylines of dual protagonists, or a protagonist/antagonist combo
- Store data on the lineage of a ruling family to access as you write your story
- Create a calendar of events (special holidays, rituals, etc.) that are part of your unique world
- Identify scenes where important backstory is introduced, keeping track of what readers know
- Follow your protagonist’s growth as he progresses through his character arc
- For your own information, record historical events that are critical to the development of your world or a specific culture
- Track the major points for the various subplots in your story, to make sure you’ve got the right balance and proportion for each
You can also reorder the points on your timeline by using your mouse to drag the boxes, giving you an excellent way to play around with how a story might unfold. So give your timeline a title, add a point, and see where the story takes you.
An example timeline of Lord of the Rings is shown in the following image. To create your own timeline go to My Workspace, click the New button and select Timeline.