Hate Outlines? Timeline!

Keeping the plot of a novel-length manuscript can be a challenge for the most organized of writers. If you, like me, aren’t naturally left-brained sequential, then it can be more of a headache because your mind doesn’t organize information in a stepwise fashion. Have you ever looked at your story and realize that everything is happening in one day? or two different things are going on in the same night?

Reading a manuscript that is disorganized is no fun, for obvious reasons; but what do you do when you don’t like or can’t write to an outline?

One tool is a timeline that simply tracks each chapter and includes a simple sentence or two as to the action that takes place. I find that I have a bad habit of putting all my action on one or two days, and using a timeline helps me straighten all that out and figure out the flow of the action.

Here’s an example from Rachel and I, the timeline from our book, Burning Bright:

2017-02-12 ACN Pic 1timeline

I don’t start using a timeline until I’m about 10,000 or 30,000 words into a project.  Once I have enough material to have a clear picture of the story, then I’m able to write down what I have and see where I am trying to go.

Another tool is to build a literal calendar:

2017-02-12 calendar

This is from an earlier draft of the book, when we first worked on sorting out when things happened.  It’s important for the flow of the story that the action ebb and flow, rather than clot and spurt.  The calendar can help you sort out who does what to whom when.

I hope whatever you use works for you.  Every writer is different.  But if you need some ideas for how to play with and reorganize your plots, I hope this generates some solutions for you.

Write on!


This post originally appeared on the now defunct Samhain Publishing blog, 01/28/2012.

Home for the Holidaze

BurningBright300I’m with Neal Harrison today, the star of BURNING BRIGHT by me, A. Catherine Noon, and my partner in crime, Rachel Wilder.  We figured, since it’s the holidays, we’d find out a little more about what our favorite Dom does when the mistletoe is overhead and eggnog perfumes the air.

ACN:  Welcome to NGWN, Neal!

NH:  Glad to be here!

ACN:  So, I read that you have a mixed-religion household.  How does that affect your celebration of the holidays?

NH:  We celebrate Christmas as an American holiday, since it’s become so consumerized and is in all the stores and stuff.  My family wasn’t super religious growing up, so it didn’t loom very large for us.  Doc is Wiccan, so he celebrates the Winter Soltice, or Yule.  Steve is Christian and likes to meditate and retreat from the world.

Steve pokes his head into the room:  I heard that!

NH:  I know you did, big guy, that’s why I said it!

ACN:  Gentlemen, gentlemen, one at a time, please.

NH:  But you wrote us multiple men at a time, we figured that’s –

ACN: MOVING RIGHT ALONG NOW.  So tell me, what did you get as gifts for Doc and Steve?

NH:  I haven’t yet.

ACN:  Really?  But you seem so organized and buttoned-up in the book!

NH:  Appearances can be deceiving.  It’s only the 11th.  There’s plenty of time.

Steve hollers from the hallway:  I’ve already got presents for everyone!

NH:  Yeah, and they’re probably already wrapped and hidden.  Wait til I tell Doc where your hiding place is!

ACN:  Now, now, that’s not fair.  You’ll ruin the surprise.

NH:  Yeah, but then I can get some ideas.  ~He grins~

ACN:  Do you have any special menu plans for the holidays?

NH:  Yes.  We called the special menu “Holidaze.”  We’ll be serving Hot Buttered Rum from the 20th through New Year’s Eve.  It’s an old secret family recipe.

ACN:  Wow, that sounds really yummy!

NH:  Thank you.  If your readers would like to find out more about me and my restaurant, they can check out BURNING BRIGHT, available now from wherever fine books are sold.

ACN:  Happy holidays to you and yours!

To win a copy of BURNING BRIGHT of your very own, just in time for the holidays, tell me in the comments:
What is your favorite holiday beverage (alcoholic or not)?

Here’s the details on the rest of the hop, including the grand prize.  Visit at least five of the participating blogs and leave a comment to be entered to win.

Happy reading!

Tina Christopher Grand Prize of a $50 All Romance eBooks Gift Card and the choice of 3 of my books

Dani Wade $10 Amazon Gift Card

Nona Raines A digital copy of Nicely Naughty 2–Erotic Christmas Anthology & $10 Gift Card

Harlowe Wild A Surprise Prize

Leela Lou Dahlin A copy of Rumor Has It or A Haught Date and a $10 Amazon gift card

Angel Payne A $15 Amazon Gift Card

Taige Crenshaw A $10 All Romance Ebooks eGift Card

Jianne Carlo One copy of Prymal Lust and one copy of That Pearly Drop

A. Catherine Noon eCopy of Burning Bright (or other backlist title)

Lara Archer A $10 Amazon Gift Card

Leela Lou Dahlin A copy of Rumor Has It and a $10 Amazon Gift Card

Cynthia Sax The choice of any eBook from my backlist

Ella Sheridan An e-copy of any backlist book

New Blog Today, and a New Job!

LGBT Fantasy Fans and Writers has launched.  From the “About Us” page: “Welcome to our little corner of the ‘net. This is going to be a blog that appreciates LGBT fantasy in all its forms and incarnations- books, movies, games, art, whatever! Dark, light, urban, epic, romantic, sword and sorcery, classic… We love it all.”

Together with Alex Beecroft, Jennifer Thorne, Kay Barisford, Melanie Tushmore, and Violetta Vane, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite subjects – the fantasy genre in all its wonderful variety, and specifically looking at the GLBT subset within it. We will offer flash fiction, essays, and excerpts from our own works. I hope you enjoy!

My first entry is up today, “Worldbuilding – M/M Style.” I talk about some of the unique challenges presented to authors of M/M romance as they venture into creating worlds of their own.  Stop on by!

Today is also my day at the Writer’s Retreat Blog, where I talk about new beginnings.

In addition, I start a new job today.  I’m very excited.  Wish me luck!