Planning the plot, Part 1

The beginnings of a plot outline

So I’m stuck with the problem of planning out my plot. I know how I want it to start and to end, but as for what happens in between, I’m still working that out. In the end, I decided that I would need a timeline of sorts, but I wasn’t quite sure where to begin.

One of the first things I tried was using Microsoft Project for my timeline. You enter the action, a start date and an end date (or a start date and a duration). You can also link events that are dependent, so if the time of one event is moved back, all dependent events are moved back as well. Also, events can be grouped together under headings. Here’s what mine looked like – with the important plot points hidden, of course!

The beginnings of a plot outline

I found it had limitations pretty quickly. I can’t have linked events that happen on the same day. I can’t specify if something happens during the day or during the night – the smallest block of time is one day. I have to put each against a date, and that date has to be a standard date (an Earth date, to be precise!) In the end, it was also just a bit too complex for me. I’m usually the kind of person who prefers scribbling on a blank piece of paper.

Of course, that’s not to say that it wouldn’t work for everyone. If you had a plot stretched out over a longer period of time, if it was set in this world, if you like seeing pretty timelines and it helps you with your plot, then by all means give it a go. It doesn’t have to be Microsoft Project – that’s just what I had on my computer. Any project management software should do something similar.

In part 2 I’ll explain what I used in the end, so stay tuned!

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