Preparing an existing writing project for syncing

Before syncing an existing Scrivener or Ulysses writing project with your timeline, there are some steps you can take to prepare your project.

Preparing your writing project

Identify your narrative folder

In addition to storing events in a chronological order, Aeon Timeline also tracks an independent narrative, which represents events in the order and structure they are introduced in your story. This allows you to model your project's written contents directly inside Aeon Timeline.

When syncing, the narrative in your timeline will be synced directly with the contents of a folder inside your writing project:

  • In Scrivener, this is most likely to be your Draft or Manuscript folder
  • In Ulysses, this should be the lowest level folder that contains all of your narrative content (that is, all content intended to be included as part of your completed written work, and excluding any research or planning material outside of that)

Minimise extraneous documents in the narrative folder

By default, every folder and document underneath your chosen narrative folder will be imported into your timeline project. 

While you can mark particular documents and folders to be ignored, it will be easier if you move any research, notes, or planning documents outside of your narrative folder (you can store them in another top-level folder inside your Scrivener or Ulysses project).

Take note of any remaining documents (such as title pages and other front matter) that must remain in your project, so that you can manually ignore those files when configuring your syncing.

Ensure documents and folders have recognisable display titles

Documents in your writing project will become independent items in your timeline file, and may be shown in a variety of locations (Narrative View, Timeline View, Subway View) where they are removed from some of their surrounding content.

It is therefore important that your documents and folders are easily recognisable from their display titles:

  • In Scrivener, the title visible in the Scrivener binder will be used when syncing: titles can be entered directly for a document or folder; otherwise, they will be automatically derived from the synopsis or document content;
  • In Ulysses, titles can be added to a document by adding a Heading or comment block as the first line of the Ulysses document.
    • Comment blocks begin with two percent symbols (%%) at the beginning of a line; they annotate the document with a title which will not be included in your published/exported work
    • Heading blocks begin with one or more hash signs (#) depending on the intended heading level, and are used for heading text that will be included in the published/exported work

Organise your tree into a consistent structure

There is no set prescription in how your writing project needs to be organised, but ideally, you should try to use a consistent structure throughout your Narrative folder.

Remember that each item in your timeline will be matched with a single document or folder in your writing project, so breaking your project down into smaller documents will provide more scope to plan and organise your project at a timeline level.

One typical novel structure might be as follows:

  • Each individual scene in your story will be represented as an individual document
  • Multiple scenes may be organised into folders representing each Chapter
  • Optionally, chapters may be organised into folders for different Parts

Once you settle on a folder structure, take note of the structure, as it will be used to ensure your timeline project is configured to match.

Preparing your timeline

Once you have prepared your writing project, there is one further step you can take inside your timeline file before you begin syncing.

Configure Narrative Section Types in Timeline Settings

Aeon Timeline automatically labels your narrative with section types such as Part, Chapter, and Scene, based on the type of item and its position within the narrative.

You can configure how these automatic settings are applied as follows:

  1. Open Timeline Settings and click onto the Narrative tab
  2. Under Section Labels, remove any labels you are certain you will not use, add any that are missing, and ensure the rest are in order from largest to smallest
    • Using the example above, the section labels should be listed in the order Part, Chapter and finally Scene;
    • Other labels such as Prologue and Epilogue should be inserted above Scene also, since they represent a larger unit than an individual scene
  3. Make sure the checkboxes for automatic labelling are applied correctly to match how you are using folders and documents
    • Using the example above: folders are used for Parts and Chapters, so the folder checkbox should be ticked for those two labels (and the Other Types folder should be unticked); documents are used for scenes, so the other types checkbox should be ticked for Scene

By configuring your narrative section types before syncing, Aeon Timeline will automatically apply the correct labels from the outset.

You can of course edit these settings after syncing to correct any errors you have made.