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Timeline or outline?

Is there a difference? Yes! A big one! While writing, you want to keep accurate time and dates, so you don’t mess up in your storyline. Usually, when you’re editing, that’s when you really write out your timeline. It’s not as hard as you think. One thing you must do, and I can’t stress it enough, is keep an accurate calendar of everything that’s happening in your book. I found out the hard way that if you don’t, you have a mess. It’s hard to keep track of everything like that, but it’s imperative. I usually make a timeline from the scribbles, showing dates and time. This way, you know what you’ve already put down and won’t repeat it. Keeping track of the weather, time, place, and characters is a must. Especially the time so that you don’t start the chapter in the morning and a few hours later it’s midnight. Some of your timeline may not make it in the book, but you know what it is.

Timeline Example:

Tuesday, September 2011


1. (8:00 AM) Kanis meets with the vampire council. Darius Novack (Leader of said council)

a. (8:15) Deva shows up.

b. (8:20) Bacchus shows up, stops time.

c. (8:20) Time resumes.

d. (8:25) She leaves after drinking from Kanis.

e. (8:45) Kanis leaves after being exiled from the Vamp community.

f. (9:03) The plane hits the towers.

g. (9:59) Kanis collapses the one with the council.

h. (10:00) Amelia feels them slamming through her to get to the other side.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


1. Bible reading: 8 PM – 9 PM.

a. Airport: 10 PM.

b. Paris: 7:30 AM (2:30 PM – Paris Time).

c. Flight out: 9 AM (4 PM Paris time) – 7 PM.

d. Bible reading: 8 PM – 9 PM.

2. Père Lachaise – in location folder.

a. Jim Morrison tombstone description.

b. Rainy. Chilly. Air clammy.

3. Cynthia Ellen Kramer – File in Characters

a. 18 years old.

b. Wants to be a high-paid model.

c. Groomed to be Tommy Schmidt’s wife since 12.

d. Mother died giving birth.

e. Stepmother taught her how to be a wife.

f. Sarcastic. Rude. Sweet. Loving. Bossy.

4. Karla Danielle Young – File in Characters.

a. 18 years old.

b. Scandalous hair

c. Mother died giving birth

d. Ignored, abused, replaced

e. At 14 moved between Tara and Cindi’s.

f. Crazy. Red. Fireball. Hell wrapped in a heavenly body. Bitch. Stuck up.

5. Tara Elizabeth Reynolds – File in Characters.

a. 18 years old.

b. Had 5 siblings

c. Heading home, a week after birth truck accident took out all but her and her father.

d. Quiet one. Friendly one. Gracious one.

6. (3:00 pm or 8:00 AM-Tennessee time) Cemetery.

a. Kanis scared them.

b. The girls are attracted to him.

c. He tells them Jim is not dead.

d. Cindi’s dream drove them to fortune teller.

7. Kanis – File in Characters

a. Tells them he will let them meet Jim.

b. Kanis calls pilot and has it on standby.

Very important. It stops you from starting a chapter out in the morning and then it being well after midnight a few hours later, unless you do, “hours later” somewhere but that would make another number with a time slot. Yes, it’s hard trying to figure out how long something should take, but getting a general idea is much better than finishing and then having to redo it because of a timeline issue.

An outline summarizes your chapters. Some agents and publishing companies do ask for this. It’s usually done when you’re finished with the book.

Outline example:


One day in 2001, Katarina Breen enters the eightieth-floor offices of LaDevia Enterprises in response to a message: “Emergency meeting. Come at once.” Twelve men known as “The Elders” have convened the vampire council to discuss events concerning a prophecy. One Elder, Kanis Vorteck, wants to move from the shadows and reveal the existence of vampires to humanity, but council leader Darius Novak refuses to consider Kanis’s motion: “As a friend, I’m asking you to withdraw your request.” As the men argue about a woman named Deva LaDevia, she dramatically materializes in the boardroom to question Kanis’s challenge to her domination. He argues that he has located “. . . the three mentioned in the Elder scroll,” which will enable him to empower Seth and overthrow Deva’s control of the vampire council. As time stops in the room, a hooded figure emerges from the shadows. This handsome man soothes Deva’s ruffled feelings and extracts a text from Kanis’s pocket that details the splitting of a mortal soul into three, who will enable “one worthy enough” to “assemble the Bloodstone” and fulfil the prophecy, thereby returning the dominion of Earth to vampires. If this opportunity is missed, vampires will “perish forever.” Acknowledging that the prophecy begins, Deva re-enters time and humiliates Kanis by feeding on him before disappearing. Darius bans Kanis from the council. Kanis exits the South Tower to observe smoke billowing from the upper stories of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. As he savors the chaos, he is joined by vampire archivist Amelia Vargas. As they watch, a second plane strikes the South Tower, and Kanis assures the deaths of the council by magically collapsing the burning building. After Amelia processes the twelve dead vampire Elders into hell through her body, Kanis tells her to “Inform the others I am now in charge.”

Big difference!

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