Tag Archives: writing process

Getting all your ducks in a row – Focusing on timelines


I have recently had quite a lot of questions about my process. How do I write? What advice can I give? Can I recommend editors/beta readers? etc.

I’m always happy to answer the questions of budding authors, and I thought that perhaps I should answer some of the questions publicly as well – especially for those of you who are like I was in the beginning of my writing journey and feel a little funny asking an author for advice (I used to stalk blogs for info)

Today, I thought I’d talk about focusing on timelines. It’s an easy thing to mess up and one that you really don’t want to (lest you get flamed in a very public way).

I only have my own experience to go on, so here is what I do  –

I write my entire first draft and simply let the events unfold in front of me. I have my timeline in mind, but I try to simple write instead of worry (that’s kept for later).

Once I’m finished, I grab a piece of paper or I use the writing tool on my phone, and go back to the beginning of my manuscript. There, I work out exactly what time of year it should be and what season it is. I want to make sure my characters are dressed appropriately for the season they’re in. I want to make sure they’re ageing correctly. On top of that, I need to make sure that I’m giving everyone enough time between events and I need to also make sure that when I’m referring to past events, that I reflect the correct about of time passed. 

I then systematically work through my m/s, writing down each event, as well as when and where it occurred, checking that I have ‘all my ducks in a row’.

It all seems very simple, but when you’re writing a book that spans a year, or even a decade – you can very easily get your facts mixed up and leave your reader feeling confused, and very few people enjoy confusion.

Key Points –

Think about exactly when your book starts.

What season is it?

How old is your character at each point?

How much time does your book cover? 

Have you addressed the change in seasons? (this may seem really silly, but as a reader, I’ve often questioned why characters are wearing next to nothing in the middle of winter)

Have you made sure the appropriate amount of time has passed between ‘events’? (Don’t have something life changing happen one day and then have everyone acting ‘normally’ the next day)

I had a quick search on the internet and came across this interactive timeline – perhaps someone will find it helpful  http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/timeline/

I’ll pick another question to answer next week. Although, if you have a specific question you’d like to ask – feel free to leave a comment or contact me via www.lillianaanderson.com

Hope this has helped on some level! I’m possible really crappy at this advice giving jive.

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