Time Warp – recognizing flaws in the timeline

First, I want to thank Sherri Ann DeLost for inspiring me, by actually doing a storyboard. I hadn’t worried that my story timelines wouldn’t be securely matched in my mind as I wrote, until recently. One of my characters was lingering in his thoughts and being told he may have to spend some time in different behaviors than originally expected. That, in turn, would change the timeline from the perspective of the third character. Sherrie’s announcement of success with poster board reminded me that I needed to physically draw out my story’s timeline. My current work is telling a story from three perspectives and though I could wait to fix incongruities in a rewrite, it will be easier if the timeline meshes during my draft. I started my storyboard by cutting a couple pieces of butcher paper, and tacking the double layer (no marks or bleeds)to a well-lit wall. Then, I quickly reread my draft looking for the timeline, and took notes charting the story by weeks. I quickly found a flaw. The early part of my story was keeping to real events which no longer make sense in my fictional story. After reviewing the events week by week, it made a better story to reduce from fifteen weeks to thirteen weeks and change an event from week two to week six. The quick fix on the timeline, however, leads to a complete rewrite of the first point of view of the story. Luckily, with my new timeline poster on my wall, I can easily change  ‘two weeks passed’ to ‘one week and one day later’ and ‘the next week’ to ‘that weekend’ while I get my timeline to mesh. With my chart, I can now feel secure as I delve into each character’s point of view. Now, I have a tool to make notes where my new scenes fit and chart how they could interact for my next rewrite. The plot of a story exists within time. Physically plotting out a timeline early in the planning, or first draft process, can create an anchor for a writer to hold a story together as s/he reaches for larger risks. I had a roll of butcher paper, but you can use what you have ; broken down boxes;taped together scrap paper; recycle; just make it big.

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One thought on “Time Warp – recognizing flaws in the timeline

  1. Maria, I’m so glad you had use for that idea. Thanks for the nod. Your article on timelines is spot on when you talk about the fact that your story takes place within a specific time frame, and knowing that frame to begin with will make writing your book so much easier. I can’t wait for writer’s group this week! I’m anxious to hear all about your discoveries!

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