Daily Challenge Check-in: October 6, 2015

Words/Time: 2121 words, most of which was revising “Pithea” with two of my sisters over Skype. Also known as the 57th meeting of the Tri-County Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. We got through 5 pages of double-spaced text. There was less off-topic discussion tonight than we’ve had for a while now. But we came across more areas than usual that hung us up because we couldn’t come to agreements on how to fix them. More than one of them ended in the, “I’m the author so I’m just going to pull rank,” line. I don’t like doing that, because I’m sure it makes them feel like I’m dismissing their concerns. But when the concern isn’t a mistake but more of a difference of opinion, sometimes “pulling rank” is the only way to move on.

The rest of the words were from some writing practice I did. I’ve been trying to do a prompt every few days, partly because I’m still generating ideas to fill out the plot for my NaNoNovel, and partly to be in the groove of actual writing (instead of revising) before November comes. The prompt I pulled wasn’t one that I connected with, but I refused to let myself pass on it. I’ve been trying to stretch topics and themes that I can or will write about, so I’ve done some writing practice that was awkward or fell flat lately. This one, though, turned out rather interesting to me. So I’m going to do something I rarely do, and share what I wrote.

Keep in mind that this is raw (unedited) and I wrote it quickly without any forethought or pausing to think through where I wanted to go. The prompt came from 1000 Awesome Writing Prompts.

Prompt: Staging a fake kidnapping to get money out of your rich parents

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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?