Daily Writing Check-in: January 27, 2016

Words/Time:  1 hour, 15 minutes listing out the rest of the scenes in “Pursuit of Power” in Scrivener. While doing that, I realized my timeline wasn’t entirely accurate in some areas. I hadn’t referenced the timeline while writing, apparently, and I’d made the first part of the timeline many months before writing the first draft. I had to make some decisions about whether to change the dates in the timeline or to change it in the story. I could have saved that work for when I start reading soon, but it was bothering me.

Scrivener scenes PoP

This is my novel in a very boiled down, zoomed out, and color-coded sense. The different colors are different plot lines. The red is the main plot. The purple is the one I need to work on most. It may seem unimportant and worth deleting entirely, but it’s the personal life of the secondary main character. I always found it difficult to remember to include what was going on in her life throughout the story, and when I did, it seemed like a waste of time. So I need to spend some time figuring out what about her life is important enough to include, and the best way to slip that in here and there.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 20, 2016

Words/Time:  282 words of writing practice. Also 1.5 hours working on the rest of the timeline for “Pursuit of Power.” There are a lot of places in the story where I wrote vague amounts of time. Something lasted for “several months” or happened “after a few weeks.” Of course it’s much easier to do this while writing than to bother to come up with a specific amount of time. Creating a timeline off that is a little annoying though. I muddled through, and some entries can always be shortened or extended later as I fit other stories during or after this one. I use Aeon Timeline for my timelines, and it’s the most helpful writing software I’ve ever used.

I think my next step will be to plan out a sketchy idea of the events that will take place for Alexander, the main character in this story, after this book ends. From what I can tell from my timeline, the next story involving Alexander has to take place 4 years after this one ends. I think I can make that work

Daily Writing Check-in: January 19, 2016

Words/Time:  20 minutes finishing the grammar check of “Pursuit of Power.”

My next step is to finish the timeline of this story that I started back when I outlined it, but only got as far as the last point that this story connected to “Pithea.” That was all that mattered at the time, because I needed to make sure both stories lined up accurately. “Pursuit of Power” goes past the time that “Pithea” ends, so I need to finish the timeline.

Tools for NaNoWriMo: Aeon Timeline

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Years ago, when I was writing fanfiction, I struggled to create a timeline for my large group of stories that stretched across many years and contained a lot of the same characters. I started on paper, and eventually tried to make something with Excel. I did end up with a format that I have since used for other writing, but it was still a pain to use and especially to make edits.

timeline

It gets really messy when the events of the story pick up.

A few years ago, at the end of NaNoWriMo, I noticed amongst the winner goodies a discount for a program called Aeon Timeline. I downloaded the free trial and spent a few days putting several stories worth of information into it. I discovered very quickly that it was exactly what I needed.

There are many settings you can play with, including having the timeline stretch out over thousands of years, or one single day. If you choose the latter, the timeline will show much more detail than with the former. I’ve read that a user can create their own calendar system in the program too, which would be useful for fantasy writers, though I haven’t used the feature myself.

You can have individual sections for different stories, different story arcs, or whatever else you may need. You can also toggle those individual arcs on or off to your liking.

Aeon arcs

“Arcs” are shown along the left.

And one of my favorite things about the program is that you can add in all of your characters and attach them to the entries. If you set up a birth date, it will even tell you how old the character is at the time of that entry. The feature is called “Entities,” because it pertains to more than just characters too. I used it to remind myself of when a particular device (listed in the picture below as “com-disc”) was introduced into my story world, because I was having a hard time remembering when it was available to be used by characters.

Aeon entities

The lines go up to entries. The dots indicate that the character was a participant in that event (the one that’s not colored in indicates “observer” rather than “participant”).

Not every story needs a timeline. Sometimes events only happen over the course of a few days. The story I’m planning for NaNo this year will cover 9 days. I still plan to make a timeline for it as I plan this month. Even if in the end it turns out to be unnecessary, I know I’d rather have it anyway.

Though I’ve been mocked (all in fun, I assure you) for how meticulous I am with my timeline, it is crucial for keeping track of things for my group of stories that include “Pithea,” “Pursuit of Power,” “Outcast,” and other plans that will take place before, after, and during the others. There is so much to keep straight–character’s ages, how long ago a certain event happened, how long a certain event lasted, etc. So whether your writing is as complicated as mine or not, if you’ve ever felt the need for a timeline for your stories, Aeon Timeline is worth checking out.

How about you? Have you ever used Aeon Timeline before? Do you have a program you use for keeping track of a timeline?

Daily Challenge Check-in: May 16, 2015

Words: using my normal format, 2000+ (in the form of 60 minutes tracked and several hours past that untracked). The hour I kept track of was spent listening to an audio recording I made last fall and realized today I hadn’t listened to and taken notes on yet. (Sometimes when I have something to work through, plot issues, or big overhauls to plan, or even a new story idea to plot out, I’ll talk through it while washing dishes or making supper, while recording myself with Audacity.) The storyline was the one that I wrote for a couple days ago. There’s no title or anything, because it’s not really part of any planned books. It’s more of an in-between, off-time storyline that gets some characters from point A to a huge, almost out of nowhere point B five years later. I always just figured it works because I say it works. But more recently I started to consider why and how it works, and had some ideas. So I’ve been writing that out, little bits at a time, and plotting ahead before I forget it all. So for an hour, I listened to myself ramble on and took notes so it’d be more easily accessible later.

That led to hours of listening to older audio recordings, which I’ve already listened to, but some of which contained ideas or points that were kind of important but didn’t make it into my notes, so they’re good to remember again. And then I was looking at my timeline, where I’ve inserted events from four different stories so far, and noticed that there was a glaring mistake that ruins several key events. And the fix took some work, but I think I figured it out. All in all, a good day of work, even if it didn’t contain any revision of the novel I’m actually working on.

May 26

Time worked:  1:14

Work done:  Finished the timeline for both Pursuit of Power and the unnamed novel I’m actually working on. I had to fudge some events around a month here or there, and may still change them later, but for now, it’s good enough. Time to dive back into the actual proofreading.

May 24

Time worked:  :35

Work done:  Timeline for Pursuit of Power.  I’ve decided that seven months is far too long to wander a moderate-sized desert in search of something, which means my timelines aren’t meshing like I’d hoped. I haven’t decided which storyline needs altered though.

May 23

Time worked:  :25

Work done:  Timeline for Pursuit of Power. The second half has proven quite difficult, since there is an entire year’s worth of things happening for which the timing is nebulous. I’m trying to narrow things down, but there’s a lot of, “I don’t know how long that should take…three months? Seven months?” So it’s slow going. Hopefully I’ll get some extra work in this weekend.

I didn’t get much work done today, because I was too busy making the following image. Why? No real reason…I got inspired when I made a notebook for myself on Zazzle the other day, because I loved the motto I came up with to put on it. So I decided to come up with a picture to go along with it and make it a thing. I would have made it my banner on this page, but I couldn’t get it to look right. It’s on my Facebook page, though, and on this notebook: Write Every Day Notebook (To be clear, I designed that notebook, I did not steal the picture or saying. Also, that’s not the original notebook I made; that one isn’t public, because it’s more specific to me.)

 

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