We know that keeping track of time is important to planning stories. The thing about time, is that it's really really small AND it's really really big.
How should we approach implementing timelines in StoryShop? What things are most important for you to keep track of, time-wise? Character's lifelines, trans-dimensional multiverse intersections?
Thank you for all the great ideas & input so far on timelines!
We can all see from the vote tally that this is among the most popular wish list items. This makes it clear we should soon invest some time trying to better map out how the feature might fit within StoryShop as it’s taking shape.
Depending on how complex and resource-intensive the solution we come up with ends up being, it may make sense to provide a short-term bridge wherein we accommodate basic importing and display of timelines from third-party apps like Aeon Timeline.
Great ideas, everyone! Keep ‘em coming, and watch out for timelines to appear on the horizon. Because of the way we’re building StoryShop “in the cloud”, all these great features in the works will just start magically appearing in the app as they become ready.
Where are we with this? I’d love to see even a simple timeline implemented. I use Aeon now, so even having a simple integration with them would be fantastic!
Patrick McLaughlin commented
Already mentioned by others but a four layered timeline would work well. So you start with a birds-eye view in centuries. This can list all the big milestones in the history of the world, wars, technological advancements, first contacts, etc.
Centuries > Years > Weeks > Days
You click on a century that has data in it and you get a 100 year view with certain years tagged where important events take place.
You click on one of the events and the that year appears. Then you can drill down further. This would take Storyshop to a whole new level. Though can I say that I'm in the process of moving my current WIP over and this tool is awesome guys. Thank you!
I have a world with multiple series. I absolutely NEED timelines.
I've played around with a 'simple' web app for timelines. I'm working with large timelines and large casts of characters. The things I found useful were:
* A master timeline where all events are visible and event event is tagged with characters and locations
* A timeline per story (perhaps not applicable with the current organisation of story shop)
* A timeline for each character: this just pulls the events that character is tagged in and displays them on the character's profile (this helps prevent teleporting characters)
I'm happy to share further details if they'd be helpful.
MZ Lowe commented
A simple boxed calendar that is editable for us sci-fi/fantasy users would be great (allowing the weeks, months, years, moon cycles to be flexible is needed for those working in a secondary world). I agree with those that don't want another paid app to be required, especially if there's a way to tie a spreadsheet type program instead.
R Coots commented
I work best with images myself. I've always loved the bar graph timelines. Bar A is X units long and purple. Bar B is under Bar A, Y Units long, and green. Etc. Also, making it as granular (seconds minutes) or as big (hundreds of years) as the writer needs would be great. I'm trying to plot things that happen years apart, and then bring actions down to what characters do in separate places over a matter of days/hours/minutes.
Even with the simplest story I need some sort timeline, at the very least a calendar. :) Otherwise I step all over myself.
I vote against adding aeon , another paid service which works less well than its hype. Please make a simple timeline, in the same spirit as storyshop, which as I see it, is intended to simplify a writer's life :)
the only apps that ever got timeline right are the old venerable ywriter and writerscafe, a dragable scene card on a time axis with individual character lines. Simple and brilliant.
Examples here, scroll down to the timeline screen
ywriter timeline cards: http://www.claytonlindemuth.com/book-writing-software-review-ywriter/
writerscafe timeline cards: http://shevdon.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/2.-Storylines.png
Linda Hengerer commented
I write a brief outline of the story, print it out, and then go through it and write the days of the week in the margins, to make sure I'm moving the story along properly, and to help with pacing. It helps avoid reactions on Monday before the action happens Tuesday.
Just want to jump in and say timelines are critical. Individual character timeline and overall story timeline that can incorporate real world events. Only commenting so you know I am voting for this big time - whenever it gets added.Thanks - love the app so far.
Nicole Montgomery commented
For me a timeline is "here I've said X happens in Five Days," and now I need to track that from that point on, AND what Katje said below. I pretty much need ALL of that, sigh. Scrivener really, really sucks for that kind of multi-level tracking.
I didn't see anything about this in the other comments, but if there could be picture functionality in the timeline (like Facebook), that would be great.
Thanks for that, Roland - I can practically guarantee Timelines won't make it into beta, but this idea site will carry on even after we're open to the public, and will continue to be the best place to discuss features no matter how far down the road they are!
At this stage I think it would be far better to integrate existing third party components and use the storyshop resources developing things that are new features not found elsewhere. Do a full integration later when the app is out of beta. Just a thought
I like the idea of adding Aeon for the moment. Loving all the comments. Keeping track of time is essential.
Cathy Pelham commented
Another approach would be to integrate with Aeon Timeline in some way for now, leaving the extensive coding to them, but importing the timelines in as viewable resources.
Perhaps a generic (add timeline) feature would work for all of them, and the ability to click on the line and make notes at coloured dots, then to be able to SHIFT those dots around later... that would be a lot of coding I imagine, but then the functionality of the timeline could suit whatever peeps want. Multiple character timelines would be moving around the overall story timeline.
John Rindfleisch commented
- Tube Map layout. Designate colors to characters and have them link up for the period of time that they are together. Have nodes that indicate events, color coordinated for "off screen" and scenes in the book. (example: http://c.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/codesign/imagecache/1280/poster/2013/07/1673026-poster-1280-subwaymaps.jpg)
-Ability to zoom in to individual days, hours, or even minutes; and out to decades, centuries, and eons.
-Attach beats/outline to nodes, characters to tubes, and elements where needed.
Mixing timeline, location, and character you could possibly assign character speed and distance between two locations to determine if a character would be available for a scene. This may be extremely helpful for anyone with a large cast trying to weave together very intricate plot points.
Katje van Loon commented
Timelines are definitely important. For my stories, I need individual character timelines as well as overall story timelines (where I can tag characters into events in different capacities, such as "was there" and "is aware of/knew someone who was there/finds out later"; also tagging in settings would be useful) and a way to also deal with the fact that time isn't linear for some of my worlds/characters. Also immortality. And historical events that maybe have no *direct* bearing on my current characters but shaped the world they inhabit. Or events that are happening in the storyline that have direct impact on everyone but in vastly different ways, so different things happening to different characters at the same time.