2016-07-10

Timeline software

Updates
Words written in Peacekeeper Pathogen = 0. Not the greatest update is it? But, that's not to say that I haven't been busy! I'm on vacation (again) and hope to restart work on PK3 very soon. But first, I need to finish a project I recently started -- creating a full and complete timeline for the entire Galactic Alliance universe. More on this in a moment.

Dragonverse Origins is finally getting very close to being done. I have a possible complete cover and after showing it around at the writers meeting yesterday, I will be making some small adjustments. The feedback was very positive.

Sale!
The first book of my two series (Dragonverse and Galactic Alliance) are both on sale right now for $0.99 each. This sale ends on the 14th. Please help get the word out concerning this sale as I don't do things like this very often. My thanks to those who do so. I don't heavily promote my books and rely mostly on word of mouth to get sales. I hate advertisements, especially ones that continually intrude on my life. I do understand that they are useful -- I've discovered Scrivener and other usefull applications through ads. What I don't like are the people who send out tweet after tweet or bombard their Facebook page with the same post every 30 minutes pushing their book. I did post the sale on my social networking sites twice but you won't see any more.

Timeline Software
I believe I've mentioned this in a couple past posts -- building a useful timeline is not an easy thing to do! In the past, I've resorted to using Microsoft Excel and just laying it out from left to right with dates and events all on separate lines and each cell representing a single day. The length of each event is indicated by changing the color of the cells. I make the cells as small as possible to fit as much as possible on the screen. This works, but it's a bit of a pain. If I needed to track events associated with a single person or place, this would be nearly impossible.

Recently, I ran across a blog post (forgive me if I can't remember who's it was) that talked about a program called Aeon Timeline. What made me take an interest and research further was the fact that the program was written with writers in mind. I did some research, read the reviews, and then downloaded a copy. You can try it out for 20 days before purchasing a copy. I'm about half-way through my trial period and I can tell you I will be buying it before my time runs out. I gave a short demo of the program at my writers group and several people expressed interest. One said it will solve her problem of keeping things straight in her complex fantasy world -- especially when she learned she can create her own calandar!

A concern of mine is that the Peacekeeper series, which takes place between books 2 and 3 of the main Galactic Alliance series, will eventually run into the last book of the GA series. The problem is that I don't have a complete GA universe timeline. I've spent the last week building one. It's going to be a few more days but I will eventually have the entire timeline for the series laid out.

The program was apparently developed for use on the Mac first and then transported over to Windows. I believe it was written by a single person. As a programmer, I can tell you that it takes a lot off work to produce a program of this quality and complexity. Paying the $50.00 to own a legal copy is worth it especially since the developer had to hire another person to move the program over to Windows (or so I read).

The program is also able to interface smoothly with Scrivener so you have access to the timeline from within Scrivener. I have not yet tested this feature but once I become familiar with Aeon I'm sure I will be making the link between the two.

The user's manual is on-line only and for me, this is a problem. I did find a PDF user manual for version 1 and it is helpful. The developer did say he was working on a PDF version of the manual and it will be released soon. I can tell that the manual was written by the developer because it lacks the sort of information a user might be looking for. It does a great job of covering the user interface, what each button does, how to add entities and characters, and generally how to get around the program. What it lacks are the examples of how to apply this program to the real world problems. I'm guilty of making the same mistake in my own manuals and that's why I call them Technical Reference Manuals. A user's manual should contain examples of how to apply and use the program to solve everyday solutions. There are a few, but not many. All that aside, the user's manual is a good place to start to get to know the program.

I've looked into several ways of building a timeline and Aeon Timeline is by far the best one for writers. If you need a timeline program, download it and take some time to play around with it. I suggest you read the user's manual first so you're not eating away at your 20-day free trial period. Play with it. Get to know it. See if it solves your timeline problem.

The below is a partial list of the program's features:

  • Ability to create a user-specified calendar with full control over days, months, years, etc. Timelines can have only a single calendar. (Too bad a multiple calendar feature is not available - I could use it for my Dragonverse series).
  • Assignments of characters, places, and story arcs to each event. You can add more of these assignment items such as adding an entity called "Book" to show where each event takes place in a series.
  • The ability to display the events along with the intersection of characters and other assigned links. This allows the author to identify where a character is throughout the story.
  • Events can use a calendar date or just start at zero and move forward in time.
  • Interfaces smoothly with Scrivener.