Wednesday, February 8, 2012

02/08/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello again, I hope the start of your week was a productive one. Thankfully I think "finishing" one project was good for me, since working on my prequel has become much easier. For today though we shall look at something that a friend and I did last night, and how it is incredibly important, especially if you have over-lapping plots.

The word of the day is: Timeline! This is the wonderful little thing that lets you actually keep track of all the major events in your story and how they will fall into place/when they'll be encountered resolved. Now I've used them a couple times, usually more towards the end when making sure that I've covered all my bases and tied of the loose ends that will be taken care of in that story (as I said previously, ones that shouldn't, should be address in a later book, and will be seen as delightful foreshadowing). The other time I use them is if I have a character that is particularly long lived, that way I can figure out exactly where their own timeline starts and when/where it connects with the one I'm working with. It helps show how much information they actually have.

The way we used one last night was to work with time-travel. This is something I avoid like the virulent plague it is. In my opinion, while it looks like fun, time travel has some of the most complicated rules, in that there are so many you first need to figure out which ones you're using, followed by how they are going to work in your story and still keep continuity from falling apart. I have practically vowed never to use time travel, but my friend however has taken that leap and so we had to work out a timeline last night.

What we found worked incredibly well is to use a visual representation. Don't just make imaginary gestures or try to do it all in your head. This will cause confusion and headaches, neither of which are good. Having something you can physically see in front of you will help you work out all the little details and smooth out the problems without worrying if you've messed up something else.

Also, keep whatever part of the timeline your protagonist on straight. Keep whatever little plot points, major developments, or things that will become offshoots like other stories, or parallel timelines on lines that are separate from it. Think of your timeline from the perspective of your main protagonist; they aren't going to see their world jutting away from them, or going in different directions, they're going see it as it is in front of them, which is likely going to be a straight path. It's their world, not this other world, or another world which was created by something previously, theirs and it will always be the first and primary, even if they jump around to other ones.

I hope this all made sense, like I said, I use timelines to keep track of things when I'm worried I may have overlooked/forgotten something. If you're being much braver than I am and working with time travel, they are essential to keeping everything put together and coherent, since there is a chance you'll have one tiny thing happen, then look at your story and realize that you've possibly invalidated the entire book, or an entire series. Then you get into the 'it was all a dream' scenario, and people start throwing stuff. It's not pleasant.

I look forward to seeing you all on Friday, I'll have a new book up for review. I hope your work is productive and entertaining as always. If you ever have any suggestions/questions/comments, please do put them below and I will respond accordingly! I would love for a discussion to be started. I would feel like a real blogger then! Have a good week!

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