large gaps in timeline

re
rebecca
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Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:09 pm Post

This may already be possible, but I haven't seen it. I'm writing a book that has a story arc that begins far in the past and then combines with later events.

It would help me if there was a way to put those early events in the timeline, but the gap in years makes it impractical in a straight chronological fashion. Is there a way to stop a timeline at a date, then begin it again at another -- much later -- date?

rebecca

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AmberV
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Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:36 pm Post

That would be quite useful, and a rather common need. Imagine plotting Atonement on a linear chart, for example. Three widely spaced clusters of tightly compacted dots.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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rebecca
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Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:38 pm Post

amber --

what you said.

rebecca

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matt
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Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:21 pm Post

Thanks,
I will add it to the list. At the moment it should shrink that extra time, so that the gap is much smaller and easier to work with.

But there may be times where completely removing rather than shrinking gaps may be more useful. It is really just an extension of the current date folding. Maybe there just needs to be an option that says: hide all gaps longer than X years/months/whatever, where that value is user configurable.

I could see it getting confusing if it causes too many gaps though.

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rebecca
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Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:17 am Post

Matt--

Probably some of the more experienced writers need to kick this around to give you a better idea. I would be happy with a device of some sort that just let me define epochs, or periods of years and then place them in the timeline in a linear fashion without empty time between them. I'm sure others will have better ideas.

rebecca

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Thu Jul 09, 2009 2:19 am Post

Matt --

A feature which would help me enormously -- but which may be of little interest to other writers -- would be parallel time lines. My narrative is set in present time, my protagonist telling a story set twenty-five years ago. As he tells it, he reconsiders earlier conclusions/supposition and simultaneously comes upon new information, such that the twenty-five-years-ago story changes significantly from the time he starts telling it until it is done. It would be very covenient if I could put the two time lines alongside each other, to modify the old story in rational pattern as new data come into today's story.

(I apologize if this is incomprehensible. I just drove seven hours home from a high-drama family encounter; mind and soul are slightly frazzled at the moment.)

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druid
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Thu Jul 09, 2009 3:53 pm Post

Interesting suggestions. I guess we're all working on similar projects, where the past and present intermingle. I've encountered two problems: (1) structure: how to advance the story from Alpha to Omega, beginning and end, while dropping in backstory and occasional foreshadows; and (2) genre, the way one's genre (fiction or film) affects presentation. In a novel, people can gather around and listen to story-tellers recount the past. In a film, you can't linger on talking heads or voice-over narration. At least not since the film-noir days. (Chinatown being maybe the last, best example.)

Sorry; off-topic, I know. I will go play with the new version of Timeline and learn more about it.

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ptram
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Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:08 pm Post

Matt,

When large gaps are involved, I would break the timeline into chunks, and replace the large gaps with small white spaces. This should give an idea of "omitted" time, as if it was an ellipsis.

Paolo

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AmberV
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Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:58 pm Post

Another possibility is the standard "engineer" symbol for length omission, a set of wavy lines cutting across the time-line. It is recognisable (I think?) and also provides a clear target to click on for expansion if necessary.
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ptram
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Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:04 pm Post

I think Amber's suggestion may actually work. Drawing irregular borders simulating teared paper would probably work even better, but I guess it is some days of programming more :-)

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Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:55 am Post

PJS wrote:Matt --

A feature which would help me enormously -- but which may be of little interest to other writers -- would be parallel time lines. My narrative is set in present time, my protagonist telling a story set twenty-five years ago. As he tells it, he reconsiders earlier conclusions/supposition and simultaneously comes upon new information, such that the twenty-five-years-ago story changes significantly from the time he starts telling it until it is done. It would be very covenient if I could put the two time lines alongside each other, to modify the old story in rational pattern as new data come into today's story.

(I apologize if this is incomprehensible. I just drove seven hours home from a high-drama family encounter; mind and soul are slightly frazzled at the moment.)

Phil


After I ran screaming from the house, I unrolled from my fetal position, got out from under the park bench, dried my tears, and realised that what you are really asking for is the ability to split the screen and display the timeline in both splits, with the ability to scroll independently.

Much better than the huge changes to my inner data structure I first envisaged.

I can see lots of places where this would be useful, and it shouldn't be *too* difficult to implement. Obviously, the list of characters/story arcs visible would need to be changeable on a per split basis, and maybe the zoom as well, but the underlying data is the same, just displayed twice, and with the same filters applied.

In Entity View, the split would be vertical, in Story Arc View, it would be horizontal.

Does that cover what you are asking?

Matt

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Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:56 am Post

ptram wrote:I think Amber's suggestion may actually work. Drawing irregular borders simulating teared paper would probably work even better, but I guess it is some days of programming more :-)

Paolo


Let's start with the squiggly lines, and go from there!