The importance of constructing timelines #WritersBlock


It’s often been said that the difference between fact and fiction, a line that can get increasingly blurred the more you read various accounts of events, is that fiction has to make sense. It has to have structure, logical consistency, whereas reality so often doesn’t. As I’m building up a body of futuristic work, it’s dawning on me that I need more than my usual conical collation of scribbled notes as a reference. I need a formal timeline to refer to, to ensure that logical sequences are adhered to.

To this end, I’ve been building up a series of linked spreadsheets as a reference database. These contain a series of seminal events for each of the Cerberus and Stars series. The premise being if you know where a story is going to, it makes the writing easier. Forming a reference to go back to for each novel in a series. In effect creating my own fictional galaxy. Mainly as a tool for me to refer to, like the compilation of space combat tactics I’ve been putting together, called the ‘Windsor Doctrine’. It’s only a few pages long at present, and I’ve had no time to do any artwork, but there’s potential there as a companion volume.

As I’ve been turning out ‘product’ over the past ten years or so, it occurs to me that the more modern reader needs much more than just a simple narrative. There is a faction that want detail, the more visual element. Not just the book, but the movie, the Manga comic, Anime, and more western animated series, not to mention action figurines. In the fullness of time, my rough timelines may just become that, forming part of a larger, themed body of work. However, for the moment they will remain a tool to circumvent any writers block.

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Martyn K Jones

A writer who first trained as an Electrical Engineer, then fulfilled various roles within the computing industry. First published in 'SuperBike' magazine, 1978 under the pseudonym Harry Matthews. Since then has written and had published a wide variety of work; from PR copy in trade magazines to supernatural short stories and the occasional satirical article. Emigrated to Canada in 2007. Became a Canadian Citizen December 2014. Now branching out as a serious science fiction novelist.

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