Helping to track the timeline of a story

scheduleWriting the first book of my Roma Nova stories, I found I needed to develop a tracking system not only of the action but also of its timing.  It’s so easy when engrossed in producing any story, let alone a thriller, to inadvertently get events in the wrong sequence or introduce a character to another you killed off three chapters before.

So I developed a grid in MS Word which tracks timeline, summarises the scenes in each chapter and where I can note down the word count for each chapter. I expect it could also be developed equally well as an Excel spreadsheet. Entering the details after each day’s writing not only kept the grid up to date, but also made me re-examine the coherence of the plot.

If you’re a planner, then perhaps you’ve planned out every scene in a logical order, and written a detailed synopsis, and you know everything that’s going to happen, and when. But if you write by the seat of your pants or are a ‘pantser’ as Katie Fforde from the RNA calls it, then this grid may help you keep track as your story develops. I found it invaluable when I was reviewing, editing and revising my first draft.

I’ve put an empty grid and a sample, part-filled grid on my files area. Please fee free to download and use them.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIO and AURELIA

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