A little life, a little writing…. and timelines

Winter has never been my most productive time. I’m actually doing quite well this year, though. I don’t feel like I need to hibernate, although staying in my pajamas all day is very tempting. We started a big project in our house (well, started it for real–it has been partially started for some time now)–ripping up the multi-layered kitchen floor to unearth the 100 year old original floor. Talk about archaeology! We gained an inch of headroom in there.

ROW 80: Still on track. I have a decent “loose” outline going of my story. This week I will be working a bit more on it, concentrating on the first act of the story and trying to get as detailed as I can with that. I feel like I need to do a bit more with my antagonists, too, so I will be free-writing a bit, some things from their POVs (in this story, there are two antagonists, one greater, the other lesser). The difficult thing is that both of these antagonists are people who mean a great deal to my protagonist. But they get in the way of what she wants. They are her entire life; and that is part of the problem. So I really need to know them well, to make sure I get all the emotional stuff in there correctly. On Friday, the 21st, I am planning on “starting” my first draft (I have a lot written for this story so far, but it is rough stuff that I wrote getting to know the story and characters. Now that that work is drawing to a close, I need to redo all of this stuff and make it work for the real story).

A couple weeks ago someone had asked me about timelines, and I had planned on answering them on here, but didn’t get a chance to. So I’m going to try now:

I’m writing a historical novel set in Ancient Rome, at a time when lots of things were happening. How do I keep everything straight?

There are a few ways of doing this, and the only thing that makes one better than another is that it works for you. This is what seems to work for me right now, but I might find something better in the future and change it, who knows.

What I do is, take either a notebook or a binder with looseleaf paper in it. For this story, a 1 subject notebook had the perfect number of pages in it, so that is what I used. I take the number of years my story takes place over, and use two pages per year. Then, for every year, I take a post-it note, write the year on the edge of it and stick it on the page so the year is visible when the notebook is closed. On the rest of the note, the part in the book, I write down the initials of my major characters, and their ages for that year next to them. On the actual pages, I write what was happening in history in that year, any significant events that would have shaped the behavior of my characters. Then I write what my characters were doing that year. This way, I can keep track of things easily, and I won’t accidentally plan on one of my characters having a dinner party when they would have historically been in exile or something. At the beginning of the book, I also leave two pages blank for writing backstory notes, and two pages at the end for general notes. I’ve been considering making a pocket in the back to hold copies of maps and diagrams of houses, etc., so perhaps the binder would be a better idea in the end. This all helps with organization, and it can be done on the computer just as easily. So I have heard. Just don’t ask me to show you how….

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