Organizing a Fiction Novel with a Timeline

Kate freeman
"We have more than ten different novels in the making, and Preceden is instrumental in helping us keep the hundreds of details in place. Preceden helps us hold our fictional world together across both time and space."
Kate Freeman, Novelist

The Challenge: Finding a Planning Tool for a Complicated, Long-Term Writing Project

As the author of a series of fantasy novels, Kate knew that to earn her readers’ attention, she had to create authentic journeys for her characters in a compelling setting.

Mixing up details or failing to show the causes and effects of major plot points could keep readers from buying in. To turn her vision into stories readers would love, she needed a way to organize details about the world her characters inhabit and the many interwoven events that take place there.

This is a challenge for any author, but Kate’s need to keep track of it all was even more complicated. She co-authors her series with a friend, and together they have created an entire fictional continent containing 11 countries from scratch.

“Finding a way to keep the cultures and histories our fictional countries straight was al- most impossible,” she says. “Without a timeline, it would be difficult for us to keep our facts straight."

Kate and her co-author had tried using other timeline makers to organize information, but she says “none of them were very functional.” In particular, she found that other timeline makers weren’t practical for managing a timeline with a large number of events over a long timespan. On top of that, the interfaces were “confusing and difficult to navigate.”

So to help create the richly detailed and internally consistent fantasy world that would draw readers in and turn them into loyal followers, Kate turned to Preceden.

Preceden’s Simple Input and Functional, Flexible Output Eases the Writing Process

Right away, Kate was impressed with Preceden’s super intuitive user interface. “I love how easy it is to add events,” she says. She found that the simple input process gave her access to helpful features that took the stress out of organizing information and freed her up to focus on storytelling, like:

  • The ability to create many layers on a single timeline. This lets Kate coordinate story events that take place in different geographic locations. Having a bird’s-eye view of the action lets her make progress without having to worry about continuity errors.
  • The ability to choose how much detail she sees when she views a timeline. “I appreciate the ability to add extra detail that I can access if needed without spoiling the visual flow,” she says. Kate also likes being able to narrow down her timeline and focus on one section at a time. Whether she’s writing dialogue or crafting a story arc, Kate can trigger the timeline view that will help her get the job done.
  • Color-coding. Preceden’s color-coded visual output helps Kate lay the groundwork for plot transitions by making major events immediately recognizable. “I can create my own visual keys and know at a glance the nature of the event I have recorded.”

Smoother Collaboration and Time Savings with Preceden

Now that Kate has found Preceden, she and her co-author have a strategy for organizing information that’s worthy of their best ideas. The timelines help them keep “hundreds of details” straight, so they can keep the story moving with confidence. “Without Preceden, it would be much more difficult to write collaboratively,” Kate says.

By studying the timelines she’s created, Kate can inhabit the world of her characters and let her inspiration take over. Preceden helps her get in the zone quickly and stay productive while she’s there.

“It has definitely saved me time in the writing process,” she says. “If I get stuck and take a long break from writing, having the timeline to reference and reorient myself saves me hours of rereading and planning when I get started again.”

For Kate and her co-author, Preceden has proven to be an invaluable planning tool that makes a sprawling project manageable. “Preceden helps us hold our fictional world together across both time and space,” she says.

Have you ever felt like your projects are in a world of their own? Give Preceden a try for free today—it might be just what you need to hold it all together.