Timeline Feature

In writing fiction – especially novels – I’m always grappling with the problem of time. I would like to see a timeline feature that somehow keys text items so that they can be mapped along a multilevel timeline, such that you can see where things are occurring in relation to one another even though they are on different narrative levels.

For example:
Narrative or POV 1: The murder occurs / The detectives investigate / they visit a suspect
Narrative or POV 2: Murder pov event 1 / Second murder from murderer pov / etc.

In this way you’d be able to see if things line up properly. Although now I look at it, you would have to create a “time/date” stamp on each item so Scrivener could line things up properly. And Scrivener would have to have a way to determine which item became to each Narrative thread or point of view. Complicated! But that’s still what we are doing anyway.

How have others dealt with this?

Immediate answer: take a look at Aeon Timeline

scribblecode.com/

It’ll probably do all you want and more, and it interfaces with Scrivener. And if you move quickly it’s 20% off at the “Summerfest”.

Disclaimer: I’m nothing to do with the company, and don’t normally need it myself, honest guv!

Mr X

Mark beat me to it. Aeon Timeline is good.

If you carry out a search for ‘Timeline’ in the L&L forum, you will almost certainly find at least one post in which the Scrivener developer Keith explains why he thinks a timeline feature would be inappropriate for Scrivener.

Thanks for the link to Aeon Timeline. I did discover it shortly after posting and was at first delighted to find it. But then, I started to review the features and while it is exactly what I was asking for, it falls into the category of “be careful what you wish for.” It’s a little bit complicated! I’m wondering if others have used it, and what their experiences were. Also, I’ve got a large novel that is already in Scrivener, and am wondering about the level of difficulty of integrating this – at this stage – with Timeline. Thoughts?

There’s a “Syncronizing with Scrivener” video, and the manual for Aeon Timeline is pretty good too (found on the support page).

scribblecode.com/videos.html

I’d suggest viewing that video, installing the trial, and using it with a copy of your project file until you’re comfortable with the process.

Hi,
For full disclosure, I am the developer of Aeon Timeline, so obviously I am a little biased in my opinion. But… Aeon Timeline is a bit like Scrivener in that it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.

At its simplest, you can just add events to a timeline and not worry about anything else. All of the other stuff can be introduced as you decide you need it, and if you never need it, that is fine too. It is designed for all the complicated stuff to get out of your way when you don’t want it there.

So turn relationship mode (effectively character tracking) off. Don’t add any extra arcs until you have too many events to comfortably view without them. You won’t even need to begin to think about filters and the like for a while.

Likewise, don’t worry about synchronizing with Scrivener too early on until you get used to how the application works. When you are comfortable with Aeon Timeline, it can be a good way to be able to keep all of your work in sync, but initially, just create events manually for the parts you really feel the need to model, and go from there.

Most importantly, like Scrivener, there is a free fully-featured trial that lasts for 20 days of actual use. So you can download the application and play around with it to see if it suits you.

I will try to remember to check back on this thread to see if you have any follow up questions, but otherwise you will definitely get a response if you post any questions on our support forums (or send me an email).

Regards,
Matt

Matt, could you make/show a video about what you’re talking about? Right now, the videos you have showcasing your software are a little “too much” for what I’d use it for. What about a video for us simple folks?

Yes, good point. I’ll add it to my list for a Sunday afternoon.

Matt