Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Since I cannot have a wall of sticky notes for a visual timeline

Keeping time under control
Keeping track of a timeline in my novels has been a constant frustration for me.  I have tried numerous approaches which were only partially satisfactory.  I am trying a new one out for my second novel in my Students of Jump series.  Time is important because I have my characters moving through large chunks of time on occasion, and it gets tiresome rolling back pages to see what the date was the last time my character was in that place or determining progression of several events that are occurring at the same time. This can't be a problem I alone am having.

My dream timeline app will give me a horizontal line on which I can assign dates (and create dates that don't yet exist) and attach key points to them.  I want to be able to add little bubbles or boxes that connect to those points for summary or notes and be able to close them up as I move along the timeline or open them all up and see how it lays out.  I want to be able to click on them and move them if I wish.  But enough about what I want because that is not what I found.  If you find my holy grail, please let me know.

I need to keep track of time as it relates to growing a clone.  This simply cannot be found in mainstream iPhone apps.  I have this new laptop, and it has software new to me.  Some of their names are familiar, but I have not had any experience with them. 

I looked up the description of OneNote and checked out the video on it.  Okay, worth a try, I thought.  I was willing to accept a vertical row of boxes.  It did not quite supply the series of little boxes I was hoping for. (Though it may yet. I'll keep looking. BINGO - I can make little text boxes that can be moved about.)   After some playing around, I worked out a system of using the time markers from my book plus a short synopsis of the related event.  It seems to be working.  And I won't have to search though my desk for that paper I last scribbled a timeline on for book 1.  I was also able to set tabs in the same notebook for character lists, publication info and notes.  So it might prove useful for other reasons.  Not my dream timeline, but it's workable.

What do you do to keep track of your novel timeline? By the way, my husband will not let me take over a large wall and put sticky notes on it.  That is my other dream timeline, but alas, it cannot exist.

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