Timeline Outline Technique

Timeline Outline:

Use this method if:

  • You have a lot of POV characters or a lot of main characters.
  • You have to cover a specific span of time, or specific moments.
  • You have a complex plot that relies on characters being in the right (or wrong!) place at the right (or wrong!) time.

You can put the characters on one axis, and time periods on the other axis, and fill in events in the corresponding points at their intersections (This is just one example. There are many ways to categorize each axis.) photo Example of Timeline Outline_zpsrww8n6na.jpg

This outline usually grows in a horizontal manner rather than a vertical one. Good for spatial thinkers.

Not the best method if:

  • You like to have a LOT of details. (Try the Formal Outline method)
  • You want something fast but complete with the main points. (Try the Query-Start method)
  • You don’t need to commit to a timeline, but you have a lot of other points you want to connect/keep track of. (Try mindmaps)

Writing tools I highly recommend if you want to do this on actual paper.

This larger-than-average legal-sized graphing paper.

Erasable Ink Colored Pens. These are more advanced than the gritty-eraser type from the 80s and 90s. Use the different colors to color-code categories like Characters, Themes, etc.