Ed here, and today I’m going to talk to you about three ways that a planned timeline of events can make your work seem especially awesome.
1: It helps you figure out how the story will progress
This is a really important part of writing; knowing where your story is going to go allows you to ensure that it follows a direction that you intend right from the start.
I’ve written previously about character-driven stories, but I also mentioned that sometimes you need an event to push that character forwards. If you’re planning out a character-driven story, you can very easily come up with a timeline of events that lead that character through the story that you want to tell.
2: It lets you hide your intention until the moment you’re ready to reveal it
This is one of the best things about timelines because it allows you to plan what’s happening, outside of what is seen in the story.
If you know a timeline for each of the characters that are involved within the story, you can have events that happen before shape them. The evidence of them, or even a flashback showing their entirety, can revealed later.
This really helps to remove a feeling of details just being “shoehorned” into the plot – create a timeline of the events that led to the story, those that happen within the story, and then perhaps even a few events afterwards. That gives you a much more solid grounding in where the right place is to begin your story, as well as a choice on which elements to reveal and what you want to hide until the right moment.
Having the plan in your head will allow you to build the tiniest hints into earlier parts while you’re writing. That way, when the big reveal happens, it won’t feel like you’ve shoehorned in these facts.
3: It helps you plan for the next story
I know, I know it sounds like a really weird thing to worry about what you’re trying to write your first story.
However, if you’re trying to tell a story and trying to understand what that universe looks like, it’s quite likely that when you complete it, you’ll want to move on to tell more stories.
Having a timeline that takes you through the story that you’ve written can often lead you forward to the next story that you want to tell. It can also highlight the areas that you need to include if you want to make that story feel like part of the same universe.
Not only that, if you want to lay any hints without it being clearly spoiler bait, you can do so by leaving tiny breadcrumbs about what’s building in the background.
On a side note, these are the best kinds of hints because people will pick up on them, and they’ll have to wonder about how important they are. It’ll lead to asking about them and being drawn further in the story because they can see that there’s something that’s going on beyond what they are seeing now.
Those were my three primary reasons for using a timeline can make your work feel awesome. Have I missed anything you think I ought to have included? If so, let me know in the comments!
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Thanks very much for reading, and I’ll see you next time.