Timelines ??

I like to use visual timelines when planning novels, and that seems to be the only thing I can’t figure out how to do in Scrivener, though the software is absolutley fabulous in every other aspect. :smiley:

I can’t include timeline info on the cards, because I need it somewhere it won’t change if I reorder my scenes and things. Has anyone figured out how to do it successfully, or is there timeline software somewhere I could use? Even something online where I could create a timeline and copy as a picture in the research folder would be cool.

I’m neck deep in NaNo planning, so any and all suggestions will be appreciated. 8)

I was about to reply and direct you to Aeon Timeline, the application I am developing.

But I just realised this is the Windows forum, and it is currently Mac only, so you’ll have to wait another 6 months or so until the Mac one is complete and I can think about writing a Windows beta.


I could also REALLY use timeline software for my story. It’s a rather complicated epic fantasy with multiple point of views. Scrivener doesn’t have a way to do a timeline (that I know of), but if anybody can suggest some timeline software I’d also appreciate it!

You could create a top level folder and within that create new pages whose titles are the time and the character. I did exactly that when I brought my alternate history timeline into Scrivener for my current project. It’s not ideal (there are some navigation enhancements that would help), but it worked quite well as it’s basically a reference for myself. It probably would be too cumbersome for something really large (like a complicated epic fantasy novel), but maybe not.

Another Scrivener only solution would be to create the timeline as above, but as a separate Scrivener project. I’m doing exactly that with a large project. I’m using one project for world building/characters/research/reference and another project that is for the actual writing. It started off as a productivity experiment and it’s working. At least for that story.

Here’s my inelegant but workable solution. My timeline is now 100+ events, so I uploaded an early version to provide the gist of it. It works pretty well, actually! My historical events are dated (see below), but my fictional events (which are not included in the image) aren’t. This allows me to use the corkboard to move fictional events around within the real historical timeline, in order to get fact and fiction all sorted out chronologically as I continue to develop ideas. As can be seen, this is a separate folder in the binder, which is quite useful for timelining – it doesn’t affect chapters or scenes; it’s just a separate planning tool. This is a primitive approach, I admit, but I’ve fooled around with a lot of timeline software and generally found the whole SW genre to be too tedious and demanding.

Very nice! But I’m wondering if it might work to simply make the historical/dated cards a clearly different color, and then include them in the main folder? That way you could instantly see the meshing of history and fiction.

A book I wrote last year had the events taking place over a six day period. I had bright red cards to mark the start of each day as a quick visual reminder.

The kind of timeline you’re describing sounds very much like a Gantt diagram.
Maybe this could be a feature in a future release? Could be very handy to have.



Timelines aren’t something likely to be included in Scrivener itself, though efforts (as seen above) are being made by 3rd party developers.

Keith has a post on this here: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/blog/?p=104

it is in relation to Scrivener 2.0 for Mac, but is probably relevant for the Windows variant.

Relevant portion:

There is a bit more on this, Keith spends quite a while covering it since it comes up rather frequently, but hopefully that helps cover why there isn’t one already included in Scrivener.

Two suggestions:

  1. I use a PIM (EssentialPIM) to layout my overall story with resolution at an hour or so (my stories take place over a few weeks). Works kind of like Outlook or any other scheduler. Has issues when multiple events are taking place simultaneously.
  2. I use jxProject when I want a Gantt view. It is free and quite good. I use it to orchestrate the timelines when things are happening simultaneously, or I need extremely fine time resolution. Say I am orchestrating a fight scene with five or six principals involved.


I use Dia: live.gnome.org/Dia
use the UML stick figures to name each character and then yse the line tool to connect them to a location. give each character a different colour and off you go. Personally I use the class stereotype icon for locations and change it to a control, boundary or entity depending on if a scene’s going to happen there or not.

Gives me a nice, colourful, visual, timeline of events and I can see who’s interacting with who and where.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Get a program that can do Gantt diagrams. We even use this sort of thing at work when planning out our scheduling for the next few months/years.

  2. If you already have a copy of Microsoft Office, use Excel to create something like this for your timeline. (Haha, I know that’s terribly empty, but trying to take a large shot of the whole timeline was horrible. Hopefully you get the idea.)
    Excel can also do gantt charts, in a way, but I think Microsoft Project would be better for that if you have it.

I’m not sure if I understand exactly what you are looking for, but you might want to check out a program called StoryBook. I use it to track timelines, character appearances, etc., especially across different POVs. It is a bit of a pain to enter all the data into it that you need, but once you’ve done that, I find it to be very useful when used in concert with Scrivener.

Good luck.

Couldn’t this be sorted out with some improved metadata functionality?

1 - add some user-defined metadata fields
2 - among whose format options are ‘yes/no’ and ‘date/time’
3 - the capacity to filter (search) on, and order the search results on, the metadata fields
4 - and (as we can already do) save the search results as a dynamic collection.

and hey presto, there’s a timeline, of sorts!

Maybe this isn’t what others are asking for, but I’d find this kind of thing very useful.

I’m not a programmer, and maybe there are all kinds of reasons why this won’t work / has horrendous implications / etc. (And don’t feel you need to waste your time if it’ll take hours to explain… :slight_smile:)