Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Five A.M. Sunset

Today, I read blog about keeping notes and I think there's another great reason for notebooks while you write. Actually, the reasons are endless. Today, however, let's talk about one - timelines.

I write mysteries, but no matter what genre you write, you need to make sure you have the scene firmly set in your mind.

  • Is it pouring rain but your character's in a t-shirt and shorts?
  • Is it midnight when you arrive at the murder scene but you describe the sun shining through the window onto the body?
  • Is it summer and the kids are trick-or-treating?

How can you keep it all straight in you mind, especially if you don't write everyday or your editing after placing the manuscript away for three months?
Well, every writer has their own system but I use the notebook. I love going to the stationary store and picking up a really elegant notebook with which to keep notes.

What sorts of things does one write in their notes?
Here's an example I found on another site: 

Some others use Excel or Word programs, some spread paper on their offices walls, some use notecards.

What is your system?

Sources for photos: here and here


Kimberly Franklin said...

I've seen these charts before and always wondered if they're helpful. I've never used one personally, though.

Anonymous said...

Some great advice. It is really hard sometimes to keep the timeline straight. In one of my drafts I had a day with two seperate sun sets and my friend who always does the first read through nearly strained her brain trying to work out if I'd jumped back in time or what had happened.
I don't actually use a chart but I find it helpful to draw a timline or at least plot out the main events in dot point form so I can make sure things happen in order.
Thanks for sharing this post.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Kimberley, I don't actually use the charts but I kept an in depth notebook and plan to learn shorthand to keep it secure.

Cassandra, I always have difficulty keeping things straight too. Especially minor character names.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Time lines are tough for me. I usually will catch big errors when I'm doing my straight-through reading during revisions. But by then it's a pain to correct them. Spreadsheets seem like a good idea.

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I know quite a few writers who use spreadsheets, but I am not that organized. I really don't have a system, but I am hoping the more WIPs I get under my belt, the more organized I will be.

Anonymous said...

Liquid E Story Binder.

(Though I'm as yet not particularly organized in temperament.)


Ann Elle Altman said...

Elizabeth, I would like to say I'm perfect with my timelines and notes but I need to work on that also.

Sherrinda, well, I hope you have better success with it than I have. But, I constantly work at being organized.

Corra, I have never heard of that program, I will have a look into it.


Elspeth Futcher said...

I don't do charts, but I am aware of timelines. You have to be writing mysteries! Since my WiP is historical I've used meals as my anchors. It seems to be working.


Anonymous said...

It's called Liquid Story Binder XE. Sorry, my brain was off. :)

It's a great program:

~ Corra

from the desk of a writer