Do you struggle with the progression of days, weeks, months or even years in your story? I knew I had to have a system for this, to keep everything in order while I’m writing my books. For this I tested Aeon TimeLine. See why I chose this program to use for the future!
We’ve got a little over 30 days to go until November 1st. There’s still a lot to do for me, but there’s one thing I can check off my list: Testing Aeon TimeLine. I needed to know if it would answer all my needs in writing projects. Here’s what I found.
As a writer I can write in many different genres. My heart has always been in Fiction. Fantasy fiction to be precise. It wasn’t until I was writing Chased that I found the need to have a tool that would display a timeline properly, instead of a rough timeline on paper. At times it simply became unreadable because I wanted to cram so much information in it. So, I made a list of what I need in a timeline tool. I need a tool that:
- displays events in chronological order
- gives me an overview of my characters in each event
- shows me if my characters can actually be in a certain event given the time they need to travel to the location
- lets me include new events in between other, already existing events without making a mess of the timeline
- will allow me to include more information than simply the event title, like location, roles of the characters in the scenes, perhaps even emotions of the characters
- keeps track of not only the timeline of book one, but also the timelines of sequels all in one document, in one handy overview
- can be included/synced with Scrivener
- has the possibility to create my own calendar
- potentially can include multiple kinds of arcs. I want to include not only the story arc, but also the character’s arc so that I know if s/he will make any personal progress, have a personal growth
Armed with this list, I started my search for a good tool.
I’ve looked around for timeline programs and systems. None of them seemed to be the solution for my needs, until I was pointed to Aeon TimeLine. I decided to give it a try, especially since it has a very nice trial period of 30 days. The site comes with good videos and support articles that will help you get started. It also has a nice overview of the programs features and that convinced me to try it out and see if it would be the answer to my needs.
A chronological order is something you’ll basically find in every program or system. It’s usually the base of a timeline, so it would be very strange if a program or system wouldn’t have this possibility.
Character overview per scene
Aeon TimeLine has a very good overview for that.
This overview even shows you what kind of role your character has in the particular scene, for example an observer or a participant, or whatever role you set up. And if there are multiple characters in one scene, you can see that easily in this overview. Ideal!
For me to see if a character can actually be at a certain location, it comes in handy to know how much time has passed in the story. Aeon TimeLine has the possibility to show you how much time has passed between scenes and thus give insight on the possibility of a character being able to make it to a certain place. In the image below I’ve set the overview to Group by person.
If you click on the image it will open a larger version in a new window. If you look there, you’ll see on the left hand side how much time has passed for the character Poirot between the scenes displayed. That gives you the possibility to check for inconsistencies.
Include new events
When I’m writing or making an outline, I find myself coming up with new scenes that might fit better in between scenes I’ve already written or perhaps even in a scene I’ve already written. On a traditional Pen & Paper timeline this would mean I’d gradually make a mess of my timeline and eventually had to start over because of this exact same mess.
With Aeon TimeLine, however, I find that I can easily add scenes where ever I want, I can move scenes around and much more all without making a mess of the timeline. Ideal for someone like me. Especially since I have the tendency to think up scenes when I’m at my job and find they fit perfectly…. in between other scenes or perhaps even before all other scenes.
On a traditional timeline you’ll often only see the “Title” and that’s about it. I’d prefer to have more information. And Aeon Timeline offers exactly that.
In the above picture you can see that participants are shown in the expanded view of the scene.
In the above picture you can see a the date, a summary and even a picture that’s included. Although I might not include a picture in my timeline, having a summary, character information and more is very helpful!
Sequel Timelines included
In the timeline settings you can not only have Arc as options to display, but you can include more. In my case I’ll be including Book I Arc, Book II arc, etc. That way I can keep everything neatly in one overview, while at the same time keeping everything separated as it’s supposed to be. And this also gives me the possibility to plan events for later books, that might play already during the timeline of the first book. I could perhaps reference to it or it might be foreshadowing or something else. Either way it’ll definitely help me to keep things running smoothly.
Syncing with Scrivener
Now, this is something I haven’t done yet, but it’s a default feature in Aeon Timeline and that’s a BIG plus. Not only will all the information be ported to Scrivener, but when you change things in Scrivener, you can update your timeline as well. Aeon Timeline will point out doubles, errors and such, so that you are aware of those and can fix them. How great is that?
My own Calendar
When you write fiction you don’t necessarily NEED to have a calendar, let alone a calendar created especially for your story. BUT…. I kinda just want it. If only to make dates like “Year of the Earth Dragon, 1st of the Moon Month” or anything else I’ll come up with during my world building.
Then again I might not come up with anything and just skip it all together, but with Aeon TimeLine I have the OPTION to make my own calendar and use that for my timeline instead of our earth calendar. And I love that I have that option.
In fact you don’t even need a calendar. Aeon Timeline only needs a starting date. If you prefer not to work with dates or anything like that, but only events, you can do that. You do need to set a first date, simply because the program needs a starting point, but from there on you can totally ignore the date thing and create something of your own.
Multiple kinds of arcs
In a story you always have a story arc. That’s the progression your story goes through. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a story, but only a bullet list of events. On top of that story arc, there is the progression of your characters. In the ideal situation your characters go through a progression as well. They grow through your story, through everything they encounter, every adventure they have. They learn, the adjust, they dreams or life goals are met or perhaps adjusted and they go through personal growth.
Perhaps they learn to work together with others, where they would never have done before they entered your story, or maybe they’ve learned to deal with certain emotions which they ignored before. There are a lot of things a character will go through. In Aeon TimeLine you can reflect that. And that’s ideal!
I’m sure there are lots of things I haven’t run into yet about making a timeline. And there are probably several things in Aeon Timeline that I haven’t seen yet, but in the end, this seems to be the tool for me. I’m also quite sure I’ll not only use it for my current story, but also for all stories to come in the future. So, even though it’s $50 it’s worth the money for me.
Mind you, it might not be the answer to YOUR needs, so you might have a different opinion 🙂
Do you use timelines for your story? If so, how do you make them? What do you use? Do you include any extra information? And how do you combine it with your word processing program? Let me know in the comments!