How to Write a Timeline-a guide

Discussion in 'Help and Rules' started by maverick, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. Grey Wolf Writer, Poet, Publisher, Cat-sitter

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    Alternate History will merge into science fiction after a while, and one thing that sci-fi does well if you want to write over a long span is to do it through families. A familiar name, a known ancestor, and roughly the same setting once in a while, keeps the reader in connection with events

    You can do it through imperial dynasties, or just as easily through corporate ones - the Rockefellers in space, for example, is an analogue theme in Hamilton's recent works

    Best Regards
    Grey Wolf
     
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  2. MNP Dark Souls 3!

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    Well yes, mine is turning into that. RoS has seen the rise (and fall) of the Halconas (mercantile), two offshoot branches of the original Umayyad ruling family, the Maurez (peripheral administrators) the Esquivals (peripheral mercantile), the Pabliz (explorers/adventurers) and currently the Almag(h)re(b) on the rise. I have two, potentially three, families that could emerge if one of the current ones fall. 300 years since the PoD and it hasn't come crashing down on my head.... yet.
     
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  3. Paul B. Hartzog Paul B. Hartzog

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  4. maverick Banned

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    If you know how to do one, you'll be of great help. :)
     
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  5. theReturner Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure, but I think I've seen a few people start by making a "Planning Thread" before they write a Timeline. Is this a good idea?
     
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  6. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

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    If you want, that could be done. Otherwise, you can set up a discussion thread and invite contributions. Personally, I solicit advice via PM, but that's me. ;)
     
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  7. theReturner Well-Known Member

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    If I were to set up a discussion thread, would I start talking about my TL as a whole, or ask specific questions relating to it?
     
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  8. GreatScottMarty Stuck with Laurens-Burr

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    I take the RogueBeaver method myself and usually only solicit ideas are fact check. If you are unsure about the concept I suggest a thread. I have only written one so I dunno too much.
     
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  9. Rubberduck3y6 Pronoiar, Cyzicus & Aphrodis'n

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    Oct 19, 2007
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    I've only written one, ASB timeline [shameless promotion]in my sig[/shameless promotion], but from that the one piece of advice I'd give is to stay committed to the TL. Force yourself to post regularly, even if it's not an actual update to TL, maybe a look at the politics, religion, culture of the world, a short story, a map, whatever, even if RL's getting in the way. Otherwise you'll end up months later having lost all your readers and the track of where you going with the TL.
     
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  10. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

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    An important bit of advice: don't try to cover the whole world in a TL. Only a few get that right, like Thande's Look to the West. What I do is cover the US, Canada, UK and Philippines in detail with significant divergences, and leave other countries largely as per OTL.
     
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  11. theReturner Well-Known Member

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    Here is another question I have. When you begin to post your TL, sould you have the whole thing written out before hand, or is it okay if you write it as you post it?

    Hopefully that makes sense...:eek:
     
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  12. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

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    Try to write out as much as possible beforehand. I write everything in Word, reformat it, then add photos before posting. The length of my updates are usually between 950-1100 words, depending on where I am in the narrative.
     
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  13. Penelope Well-Known Member

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    Jul 3, 2009
    I never have a written out timelime.

    A have a list of goals I want to have happen before I finish up, and about 3 pages worth of the beginning done before I post for the first time.

    For posting updates, I use OpenOffice to format them and select fonts, and then toy around with sizes and pictures while posting it directly to the website. For me, writing the TL is all more fun if you only know vaguely where it's going. You have to fill in the story of you get to the end.
     
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  14. statichaos Liberal Hollywood Elitist

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    Jan 20, 2009
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I didn't write out my timeline at all. In fact, when I started, I planned for it to only go for a few pages. A year later....

    TWO GUIDE SUGGESTIONS:

    Get the feel for an era. This is especially important for novelization and scrapbook-style timelines. While the facts, figures, and dates you present may cause the most hardened history buff to nod his or her head in approval at your research, nothing will take a reader out of your story faster than anachronistic language and attitudes. Get a sense of the social class and subculture (if any) of your characters, and write from there. If you're writing from the perspective of an actual historical figure, make absolutely sure that you are at least passingly familiar with the person's writing style and/or speech patterns. Also, a reference to a popular song or (if modern) movie or television show of the era can work to provide a "You Are There" sense.

    Secondly, don't be afraid to kill your children. No matter how much you love an idea, no matter how fond you were of placing it in the timeline, you MUST delete it if it contradicts what has gone before, or if it will cause your story to veer off into territory that you don't care to explore.
     
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  15. Grey Wolf Writer, Poet, Publisher, Cat-sitter

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    I wouldn't necessarily agree with that, but in disagreeing I am partly agreeing - after all, what I mean is that if you cover the interplay of a series of countries (eg the European powers of the mid 19th century) you will end up covering the whole world anyway, but doing it THROUGH your major participants.

    Best Regards
    Grrey Wolf
     
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  16. Archangel Battery-powered Bureaucrat

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    Portugal
    It depends on how your story unfolds.
    If you need a strong connection between the scenes in the story, it might be good to have the story pretty much written before posting.
    A useful idea, depending on how your inspiration works, can be making successive drafts, editing what you have already wrote, and inserting new scenes between those scenes you have already written.
    If instead, you have a story with a more flexible structure (eg., you write something that starts by focusing on a character, an event of some kind, that are connected, but don't require a very detailed structure from the start, like a flow of short stories, or a piece of fiction in literary style, you can proceed in one of the following ways:
    - according to the inspiration or the way the story unfolds itself; or
    - idealising a beginning and an end, and writing the story from these.
    If you wish to cover an historical period, you should pick a time and place you feel confortable with, and if necessary you should change an idea you wanted to use in the story (one of the scenes in "Dark days over the world" had to be very re-written in earlier drafts to make it look more plausible and fitting with the overall universe in which was set).
    If you want you can also have a more free story in a magical setting or in the future.
    In the case of a future story, you can have it more or less depending on science, according with the aim of your story.
     
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  17. RogueBeaver Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Archangel and Red Wolf. For example, when I write my new TLs, it will be much more from the perspective of the main characters. That is because I know their speech patterns, behaviour, etc. But that isn't necessary in a first TL- it takes time to develop a pattern, and most TLs won't get five-star reviews at the outset. It took four tries until I did the level of research that gave me my hard-earned "Kexpertise." ;)
     
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  18. Boto von Ageduch Mostly Harmless

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    Well, I finally put together a little page; basically consisting of the first half page of this thread,
    ordered by topic/question.

    Before I go on and you join in: What do think, is this format helpful? Do you have other outline suggestions?

    wiki: HOW TO WRITE A TL
     
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  19. GreatScottMarty Stuck with Laurens-Burr

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    Boto,

    That's the best way to do that. For us TL novices, it will be quite useful. Although my TL (shameless plug) is going swimmingly. :D Thanks please continue.
     
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  20. MNP Dark Souls 3!

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    Boto should change his Custom Tag to "Master of Wikiality" for all his contributions to the wiki.

    Also I'm not sure if this has come up before in the thread but:

    You may feel like your idea is new and hot and sexy. You may assume a flood of speculation and praise will come your way the instant you post your TL. You would probably be wrong. But don't despair! You almost surely can take things in a new and interesting direction it will just take some time. Don't wait only a few hours and bump your TL saying "what? no comments?" Instead, update your TL regularly.

    Adding new content to keep it on the front page will make a better impression and tend to garner more replies than begging for comments.
     
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