My story timeline is my most important tool and the key to any story I write, be it a romance suspense or a fantasy. Now while I’m not a plotter, I do have a general idea of where I want my story to be at when I hit a certain word count. This is nothing as ridged as the ‘3 act’ or ‘5 act’ plotter’s formula because besides the event I don’t have a clue what else will happen.
For All Things Scary, I’m using the 5 perils Maeko must face as my pivot points. The third one will be the mid-point. The final one will also include her confrontation with the witch, Eduvigos.
As I’ve said while I’m not a plotter, I do take TONS of notes while I write. My timeline starts off bare but will be packed fill of detail by the time I end the story.
I generally keep two timelines – a general overview and a detailed one. Depending on the genre of my story I use different methods is keeping my timeline. Almost always I use a calendar for my romance suspense. For fantasy, I use the plain timeline method.
Here is an example of the working one for All Things Scary ~
- Maeko receives the sword of truth – starting her on her quest – this is meant with much opposition especially from Bamely – who sees herself superior to Maeko
- The witch beheads her 3rd headless horsewoman – fulfilling that part of the prophesy of when she’ll rain darkness down on all of Crencher. Eduvigos fights with her sister revealing the strain of their relationship
- De is appointed Maeko’s companion – confirming his purpose – romantic subplot
- De and Maeko leave the Island of Purpose
1st Peril (15k)
- Maeko and De enter the forbidden caves in Brooly seeking the 1st gem stone
- they encounter trolls – fight
- they hear the furies circling above while camping at night and realize they also seek to stop them.
- Eduvigos sends her three headless horsewomen out to kidnap the queen of Lukti – another part of the prophesy
2nd Peril (25k)
3rd Peril (35k) – mid point
4th Peril (45k)
5th Peril (55k)
Conclusion – (65k)
This timeline is kept in a separate document that I have open while I write adding details as I discover them. This isn’t my only source of reference, I also mark on my map where events happen and I have character documents that I update with arc info and GMC info.
Do any of you keep timelines for your stories? I’d love to hear about your method.