How To Track Your Non-Linear Story

If you are writing a non-linear story (for example, your story involves time travel, or flashbacks), then you may find that you have two different timelines that you wish to track. Not only will you want to track the chronological order of events on a traditional timeline, but also the narrative order of events as they occur in your story. Aeon Timeline allows you to do this in two separate views: Timeline View and Narrative View. The following steps will give you a guide to how to step up these two views.

1. Create a new timeline using the Fiction template

On the welcome screen click “Create New” to open the template wizard. This allows you to choose the type of project you are working on, tailoring the settings for each file to your specific needs. Choose Fiction->Novel and click “Use Default” to use the default settings, which includes having an independent narrative.

2. Add your events to your narrative

Narrative View is where you layout your events in the order they occur in your story. They can be divided into a hierarchical structure, so you can label them into Parts, Chapters and Scenes.

Add events to your narrative by clicking the “+Add a Scene” dropdown and choosing to create a new event, or add an existing one. Continue to add new events in the order you wish, and rearrange them by clicking and dragging. Label events as Part, Chapters or Scenes via the Narrative Position in the inspector.

3. Add your events to the timeline

Once you have added your events to the narrative, you have created the Narrative Order: the order they appear in your story. Now you can start to add dates to your events to create their chronological order - the order they appear in real time.

To add your events to the timeline you need to give them dates. You can do this via the inspector, or by clicking and dragging the events from the Narrative View to the Timeline View. Once an event has a date, it will appear on the Timeline View and you can review and edit its chronological order.

4. View the different orders side by side

If you currently only have one view open, split the screen into two views by clicking on the split screen icon in the top right corner of the view: 

Click on one view to bring it into focus, and then click the Timeline tab to open Timeline View and view your events chronologically. Click on the other view and the Narrative tab to open Narrative view and view your events in story order. This lets you view each order side by side to give you a better understanding of how your non-linear story fits together with the real world.