Charts and Timeline

Is it possible to implement some way to create actuel timelines in scrivener. I am an author of criminal novels, and I find it very helpfull to know where each of my characters is when. Being a Mac user I have setteled for Bee Docs Timeline to create timelines, however it is not ideal for fiction writing. Only the other timeline tools are worse.

Even better then a single timeline tool would be the possibilitie to create multiple timelines or gant charts. Currently I have taken refuge to pencil and paper to visualize whi is where and doing what.

I have found Bee Docs Timeline software to be very easy to use, and it has the capability to handle multiple timelines (although not quite as easily as the creation of a single timeline). I, too, pen mystery and crime and the ability to lay plot points and character entrances and exits onto a timeline is of great help. You might want to check Timeline out. I have been using it in conjunction with Scrivener and haven’t encountered any earthshaking issues. You can import the timeline into Scrivener as a pdf quite easily for reference purposes. Good luck with the writing.

I’ve been using Writer’s Cafe’s ‘Storyline’ as suggested by garygibsonsfwriter elsewhere in this forum. For me it’s ideal. It’s free for the mac. Not sure if it’s what you’re looking for exactly, might be worth a look. :slight_smile:

Bee Docs is coming out with a completely new version of Timeline soon. The screen shots Adam has posted on his blog are really impressive and I’m hoping it will make it much easier for fiction writers to use. (Though, to be honest, I’m wanting it for a historical AND fiction timeline for my historical novel.)

Adam Behringer’s Blog

There’s also TimeFlyer from Single Pixel.


TimeFlyer was updated as well and made some progress.



I wouldn’t rule something like this ever appearing in Scrivener, but I can’t see it making it into any 1.x release, I’m afraid. I did make notes some time ago about how I might implement the sort of time line set-up that StoryLines uses (by which I mean I made notes on how I might code such a view in Cocoa). However, it’s less the coding of the actual view than how it would be integrated into Scrivener that is the problem. Getting such a view to act as an alternative to the corkboard or outliner (which is the only way I can see such a view fitting in) would be very difficult. Labels would have to double as lines; moving something on the timeline would then need to be reflected in its position in the outliner or corkboard, and yet a timeline - with multiple threads - would be less linear as certain events may happen at the same time. More difficult would be representing changes in the outline view or corkboard view on the timeline…

All in all it would be a major project and thus it’s something that I will consider (though not guarantee :slight_smile: ) for 2.0.


copy of power structure. I did not realize it would work on the Mac as well. So both machines have it loaded… and it does have a timeline

So I guess I will be working on the deep structure using that, in combination with Scrivener.

I have the tools, so why not?

As is my search only led to less than satisfactory results, which is never a good thing.

The best I could find I still contend is storymind… which is free.

Hi there

Maybe this can be of some help.


Hello folks. Wow. Thanks for the response. I was not aware that a new version of Bee Doc was so soon afoot. True enough, the schots look promising. Also thanks for the hint about StoryLines. I have teied that now for an afternoon, and it fits snug in my workflow. Combined with the strength of scriv to collect and organize data into knowledge it makes for easy writing.

:smiley: :bulb: :smiley: and Theousand Thanks

But of course this is the wish list, and so yet another wish.
Presumably easier to implement in scriv:

It is about charcter dossiers. There are certain characteristics Id like to know about my figures no matter if it is an appear once bellhop in tehnhotel lobby, or if it is my beloved main hero. The usual. Color of eyes, hairs, age, all that. I have crafted a dossier database in DEVON think. DEVON Think supports these things rather easy. Writing in DT is another matter. So always I have to export the character dossiers as pdfs, and then import them into scriv. Of course if I revise its the same procedure as last year Miss Sophie. So If scriv would soon feature a feature where i can define neat fields of entry with asigned field names to them such as “age” “size” etc. that would save me work. Because, truth to tell it is rather a pain in the ass if I have to switch between apps when I am just in the flow.

Again thaks for the support to all.
Good night. (well here in Salzburg Europe it is 03;09 anyway. writers hour so to speak)

Sounds like a good idea.

I don’t think this is likely to be implemented, as I think one of the benefits of Scrivener is its flexibility. It is used by a lot of people for different purposes (fiction, non-fiction, script writing, and academic writing), and I think Keith would view the suggestion as too limited in appeal (and in fact, for many users, something they may actively dislike if it got in the way).

That being said - have you looked at the “Master Fiction” templates? I haven’t used them too closely, but I think there is an example “Character Profile” in there that lists a lot of this information. Is there any reason you couldn’t fill this out for each character (basically storing a separate text file per character)?

Given you are using PDFs at the moment anyway, you don’t get to use the database format within Scrivener anyway - having a text file with all the information would mean it was presented in a similar way to the PDF, but editable within Scrivener.

Or am I missing something in your use case that makes the database more effective than a text file template?


Thanks for the link to Juggle, MicMac. I’ve tried it out and now paid for it: I like the clear display of what needs to be done when in order to complete the final draft of a book in a given time. And its flexibility: I can shuffle dates around when I fail to deliver on my stringent deadlines.

Also, it’s pretty.


Happy you liked it.

I was actually suggesting it as a timeline tool for your crime fiction.
The idea was to have one line for each persons whereabouts.

I have revisited it now and realize that you cant have multiple entries per line and thus blocking off the posibility of a line reprecent one persons whereabouts.

Since you have bought the software now, you can maybe have a say in its development.

You could request the above feature.

EDIT: You could also simply group the whereabouts for each person with a color for each.


That’s a nice thought, MicMac, but I’ll probably continue in my usual random way, making up the story as I go along.

I have tried using various timelines in the past. Great fun for a morning when I should be working. Timelining looks like working, but it’s really not.

Juggle, on the other hand, shows me quite clearly how many words I need to write each week if I want to get the first draft completed by the end of February.


Hey crimewriter!

I haven’t seen your monicker around in a while. Are you working on a new novel?


Hi, Tim!

I emailed the latest MS to my editor last Friday and posted a copy to my agent, too, so this week I’m doing all the things I’d pushed to one side to get it completed: get hair cut, phone friends, email daughter, cook a meal, clean flat, clear desk, visit Scrivener forum, try out new software… and plan my next book.

I shall also catch up with my reading, and I’m ordering Think Better from my tiny local bookshop.

I’ve enjoyed reading about your progress as an author, by the way. My first (famous) editor pointed out that it took about sixteen years to get known – so just keep writing.

Apologies to everyone for posting off-topic. I’ll crawl back under my stone now.


The more I think about it, the more I think a timeline integrated into Scrivener couldn’t really reflect the binder structure. You have simultaneous events as you mention, flashbacks, multiple threads moving through different time periods, converging or not, just plain non-linear storytelling, and so on.

So here’s a few thoughts that have drifted through my head off and on, free for your use if you should ever decide to play around with timeline type stuff.

– timeline and binder structure are not linked directly, but items are linked via something akin to scrivener links. So, if you’re looking at a scrivening, you can click on its timeline link and it’ll take you to the right spot in the timeline, and vice versa. You get your nice overview of the timing of the events, but it’s basically not integrated and you don’t have any automatic re-ordering when you move scenes. That would take a bit of management on the part of the author. “Relatively” simple, as if a decent basic non-integrated timeline is simple, given how hard it seems to be to find a good one!

– timeline and binder structure are linked, but one doesn’t shuffle the other. Say you had a timeline view where you see scrivenings on their timeline, and you could switch to another timeline view where the scrivenings were shown in binder order with their lines connected to their timeline. It would be useful to see how much non-linearity you have, how many flashbacks, etc. It could also be confusing with criss-crossing lines every which way. This still requires management on the part of the writer, but there are visual indicators of how it’s organized - and given the reality of non-linear storytelling, even for something so simple as a flashback, it should probably be managed by the writer instead of automatically re-ordered anyway. This is (for the moment) what I see as the most understandable and useful way of integrating timeline and binder, because it doesn’t force linearity but shows how things are connected to an absolute scale. The timeline and index cards might need to scroll independently, with the lines connecting them moving around, so you could scroll the timeline to follow a line leading to a flashback. For some reason I see this as a vertical timeline instead of horizontal.

– timeline events that don’t have a corresponding scrivening - eg, background information, off-stage events, etc. I’d think they should be shown on the timeline as well, as there’s so much more to a story than just what happens on stage. They’d have to be indicated somehow, to show what has a scrivening and what doesn’t. Actually, this would be a good place for the scrivener links; where the off-stage event is referred to in the story could get the link.

– should be able to create a scrivening from the timeline view, so you can place an event and fill it in later as you do with the corkboard, only with dates attached. Not sure where to place the newly created scrivening in the binder - just before or after the scrivening it’s closest to on the timeline?

– malleable timescale - fiction is funny that way, many scenes can happen in just a few hours, or mere dozen words can summarize as many years. See simile timeline; the timescale stretches and shrinks depending on how much is going on at the same time. The interface for creating those timelines is pretty hairy though, it’s MIT computer science so they think hand-coding XML files is no problem …

– arbitrary timescale - for those fantasy or science fiction writers who aren’t using the Gregorian Calendar. Yeah, I’m dreaming :slight_smile:

Feel free to use any, all, or none of the above in whatever way you like. And yes, for 2.0 or much, much later. Get writing! :slight_smile:


Thanks for your ideas, janra - I’ve copied a link to this page in my 2.0 list so that I can ponder them more thoroughly in the future.

And don’t forget September, 1752, for those of us writing historicals. :smiley:

OS and NS is not only a major pain to track, but on many/most timelines it’s an either/or situation. The calendar is either OS or NS, but one can’t have both, which certainly screws up trying to track historical events in England and the continent (and I won’t even try to add Russia) before 1752.

Hmm… probably a little beyond the scope of Scrivener. 8)