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.


(Updated 2021) Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. Double Pursuit, the sequel is out on 19 October 2021.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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