Plotting with the timeline

  • Hi! Hope I am in the right place. How would you use a timeline to plot out a chapter or chapters?

  • Plotist Team: Keepers of Code

    Hey Zoe!

    You can use the timeline in many different ways, we try not to force any specific way of using it. The way I use it, it involves considering there are two interpretations of time in a story: chronological and narrative.

    The chronological order is how things happen in "reality", whatever the reality is. So if we are talking about real world, chronological time is the second by second description of the events that happen in a story.

    Narrative order is how you tell the story to your audience. This can be a chronological account, but you might want to postpone exposition of certain events (e.g. how the crime was committed in a crime novel), alter the order of the events (e.g. using flashbacks or telling the story backwards), or maybe it's just that you have many different things going on in parallel that you have to tell them one after the other (e.g. in complex stories as Game of Thrones).

    The timeline for me is perfect to represent the chronological time. You can lay out all the events as they happen in "real time" and then decide the narrative order, which events you are going to show in which chapters.

    You can also do narrative order with the timelines, of course, and we will be adding a few things that will make it even easier to do the narrative order in the future. The principle is exactly the same, you have a sequence of events you want to map out, but this time you use the chapter order instead of the "real time" as a reference. What might make things a bit confusing with this approach is that if you have a flashback in some chapter (or something like that), the timeline will show the flashback event after some events that happened later.

    As an example of timelines in chronological order, have a look at this Star Wars IV and this Game of Thrones timelines.

    Hope this helps!

  • Hey @zoeandamy7 I'm new to the site also. I've actually been using my timeline to plot the major parts of my book. From what I've seen, it might get cluttered to go chapter by chapter. But it's still your preference.

    It's nowhere near done, but here's the link if you want to check it out. Hopefully that helps.
    Epoch Earth Book One

  • I would say probably making a scene called "Chapter 1" (and so forth) and then adding the events that happen in that chapter. That's how I would probably do it XD But if you have really large chapters with many events, I would create separate timelines for each chapter and then create those timelines in the styles like @jaycano or @toashajiordano shared. So

    1. Create the timeline and add all the characters. Then add "Chapter 1". Drag it onto each of the characters that are involved in Chapter 1 and add the events that happen to them. Then do the same with Chapter 2. Example:



    1. Create a timeline called Chapter 1. Add all the characters, then create the scenes & events that happen to each character at whatever scene. Do the same for Chapter 2. Example:


  • @typical_demigod That first one's a lot like Book Architecture.
    And the way Harry Potters were planned out.
    Really good idea.

  • @ typical_demigod

    I did try doing no.1 and it did become a bit of clutter.

    Going to try and do number 2 and see if that helps.


  • Plotist Team: Community Storyteller

    We may have a few things coming to help with that as well. :) And thanks @typical_demigod for the images! :D Our goal is to allow you to plan how you need to, but seeing suggestions helps! :D

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