This half-pantser may be slowly being converted into a plotter. Either that, or making a time line when I’m part way through writing the third act is just another example of my half-pantsing ways. Write a bit, pause to plot. Write some more… repeat. Whatever the reason is, I’m finally getting around to making a formal time line for this story.
It starts with the Big Bang.
Ok, not really. That’s just back story stuff for my own future reference, dates I think might become important in future books. I have a time line from the Dawn of Creation to 1083 AD on the short wall, taking up as much space as June-September 2011. Looking at it now, I could probably have spent less space on that part of the back story. Well, if I need the space, I can move things over.
Of course, the fun thing is that I have to keep track of the passage of time in two different places where time passes at different rates. And, of course, the time difference between the two is not consistent. This appears to have its advantages and disadvantages. If I need a month to pass there in the space of a day here, I can do that. If I need to slow things down for a while, I can do that too. But I still need to keep track of it all, particularly when characters keep travelling between the two places.
It’s crude, I know, but I’ve taped up a bi-level time line on the wall behind me. This of course means that I have to stand up to consult it, but standing regularly is good for me. Anyway. Underneath the taped line, I have key points here posted in black ink, and above the line I have key points there in red. Cross-over points are often double posted, one for each place to reinforce the idea that this is where the two time lines interact, regardless of the time discrepancies from one point to another, in one place or the other. With all this, I’m just glad I don’t write for Doctor Who, honestly. There’s enough timey-wimey mess in my life already.
It seems like a lot of hassle when I could just be writing, but already it’s helped me to get a better idea of setting and season, what things must happen before when, and where. What will be going on with this character when that character shows up? How long does it take for this to happen before that can occur? When will this sub plot that’s been hanging around come into play? Important things, especially where I know what needs to happen, but I’m still fuzzy on the order. This way, I can line it all up and stick a pin in it where it works.
Now that everything is as under control as it can be, perhaps I can get back to writing, yes? And how about you, how do you put together the time line for your stories?