January 06, 2009

Writing Tip 10: Make a Timeline, says LJ Sellers

Every author has their own way of working.

Some outline; some don't.

Some prefer note or index cards. I like to make a grid on a sheet with 5 boxes across and 4 down, where I can see major points per chapter at a glance.

LJ Sellers, author of the Detective Jackson mystery series, THE SEX CLUB (Spellbinder Press) and the upcoming SECRETS TO DIE FOR, says she likes to create a timeline to keep her work in progress in order

Writing Tip 10: Make a Timeline

Sellers says, "for every mystery/suspense story, I create a timeline of significant events, including day and hour.

"I draft it when I write the outline, then update it and fill it in as I write the novel.

"The timeline:

* helps me pace the story;

* helps me coordinate simultaneous events;

* keeps me from writing too many events into one day;

* saves me the embarrassment of having characters refer to events that
haven't happened yet."

--- THE SEX CLUB by LJ Sellers: When a bomb explodes at a birth control clinic and a young client turns up dead, Detective Jackson is assigned both cases. Could they be connected?

Kera, the nurse who discovers the girl’s Bible group is really a sexual free-for-all, thinks they are. But can Jackson uncover the killer’s identity in time to stop the slaughter?

8 comments:

  1. Great tip LJ. And it's easy to do. Something that's both easy and effective works best for me. Thanks!

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  2. For some reason, Christine, it is difficult to find where to add a comment. I had to put my screen smaller so that the comment section would show up.

    I like your tip. I personally use 4x6 cards and put them on a story board, one card for each chapter.

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  3. HI Katie, yes it seems confusing until you click the main headline and it gives the entry on a full page, with comments at the bottom. I haven't figured out how to make the comment section more prominent on the other view. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. I tried but can't get the handle of index cards. Instead I have a file open while I write marking relevant things pertaining to my characters and plot.

    Nice post.

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  5. Especially useful if you have a lot of irons in the fire. I find it helps propel me forward too. I use an Excel spreadsheet to lay everything out.

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  6. Great writing tip. I still need the physical presence of cards, or notes, rather than a computer file. I also found it a little confusing where to leave a comment. Thanks, Lucia

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  7. LJ, I like your concept of the time line with the boxes. I think I'll try it with my next book.

    I've used conventional time lines and that helps, but the boxes would help even more. thanks for the tip.

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  8. Thanks for the tips -- I didn't outline for the chapter book I've got but I probably will outline (or try!) next time.

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