Worth the trouble?

ch
chronopunk
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:10 pm
Platform: Mac

Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:32 pm Post

I'm in the planning stages of a historical fantasy novel, and seeing another writer complain about how he messed up his timeline and had to go back and do a bunch of work over reminded me that I could use a timeline to keep everything straight. I thought at first that Aeon Timeline would be just the thing, but I've run into some peculiar limitations.

First, 'entities' are eternal. They begin at the beginning of time and go to the end of time. This is a significant limitation when one of my main goals in using a timeline is to see who is alive when certain events take place. (This is a historical, remember.) Creating a historical figure as an entity is useless for this purpose. (Though if the character timeline were presented properly on the entity view--beginning with the character's birth, ending with his or her death--it would be perfect.)

There does seem to be a work around, though. Either rename the Global story arc, or create a new 'Background' arc. Instead of creating historical figures as 'entities', create them as events. In event view, they thus have duration and can be compared to other events. Put all the 'background' characters and events as events in the 'Background' arc. Ignore the (for this purpose) useless 'Entity' view and use Story Arc view. Zoom out to the right scale and you can then see whose livespans overlap, who is alive when certain events take place, etc. This gives you a 'world' timeline that you can compare to your story timeline. Then, if you care to do so, you can hide the 'Background' story arc to concentrate on the timeline of the actual narrative, only turning it back on when you need to refer to something.

At least I think this may work, and be moderately more useful than drawing something out on paper.

pe
perryw
Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:31 am
Platform: Windows

Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:47 pm Post

I run into this problem all the time - it was particularly difficult in my serial killer story, Closing the Circle, by P A Wilson, when I had multiple bodies killed found and identified in different scenes. I found the easiest and most flexible tool was excel. I could keep track of everyone with different columns, with filter and sort and colors I could get a quick snapshot - I'm sure I could figure out a way to use pivot tables if my mind worked that logically.

ch
chronopunk
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:10 pm
Platform: Mac

Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:02 pm Post

I thought about a spreadsheet (or graph paper), but I like the finer control over the scale that dedicated timeline software gives. I'm not completely sold, but I'm going to give it a try.