Friday, November 03, 2006

The Importance of Time

Last night, in between loads of laundry, I dug out my hardcopy of my novel and tried to figure out my timeline. Not quite ten minutes into it, I realized I had a major problem. I started my story too late. I needed to go about a month back in time.

Since my novel is a historical and takes place during World War II, I need to make sure my dates correspond with what's going on in the world. In fact, lots of my story revolves around those important dates. So even though I would write, "Two weeks later..." in my story, I discovered last night that I really need to know exactly what date two weeks later would bring me to.

Thankfully, the wonders of the Internet supplied me with a calendar from 1945. Now I can plot each and every date I need and know that it is historically accurate.

Do you use a timeline to plot your characters' lives?

8 comments:

  1. Yes, actually, I do. But the events I have to concern myself with have more to do with what stage the moon will be in on a certain date, what time the sun rises and sets, when the leaves will change color, and what the average temperature in a certain location will be during a certain season.

    But even once I figure that out, I typically have a point-by-point timeline with events "scheduled" down to the hour. And it's color-cooridinated by character, so I know who's doing what at any particular time.

    More than you wanted to know, huh? ;-)

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  2. Since my mains are children, I don't timeline much. Their lives are very nether-y...you know the mindset....like they always have, and always will be children.

    And my stories (so far) have been very linear with respect to time.

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  3. You are a brave woman to tackle this kind of subject! :D That's why I chose science fiction in the very near future -- nobody can call me on things that haven't happened yet.

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  4. Oh yes! I must have a time line. In my time travel the heroine's buddy was pregnant, so I needed to make sure it progressed correctly. I didn't want anyone shaking their head at me.

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  5. I love the Internet cos look at that, in minutes you had a calendar from 1945. How cool is that?

    I sometimes use a timeline - it depends on how long the story is.

    :)

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  6. Well, I recently read that, when writing a mystery novel, you must have timelines for ALL of your characters. You have to know what each of them was doing minute-by-minute at the time of the crime, before and after. Where was each suspect? Does he/she have an alibi? Yikes, the logistics of keeping track boggles the mind. I'm imagining a HUGE wall-chart.

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  7. Oh, yeah. I use calendars and even check phases of the moon (they have that info for the past out there on the net), so when my characters walk at night I know how much moonlight they'd have had. I also use TimelineMaker Basic to draft a timeline I can print out. Plus keep my hard copy, month by month calendar handy.

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  8. Yes, although a more detailed one for the vintages than the paranormals.

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