How do you format your timelines? Do you plan before you begin writing or let the writing dictate important events in your story?
This week we have been focusing on working with the future, present and past of a character. This ultimately helps move the story along and fills in gaps that may raise questions.
For one of my assignments, I am working on a biography, in which my 'character' is a real person and someone I know personally. This means I have a strong advantage in being able to create a timeline and already know the significance that certain events have played in the current personality of this character.
However, unless you are basing a fictional character on a real person, it may be difficult to explain why a character might be reacting in a certain way. This is where a timeline comes in handy. Filling in a backstory helps develop a characters reason for their motivations, their personality or their their relationship with other characters. It also helps thicken the plot and gives the reader a deeper involvement in the story.
While creating a future storyline to the end of one of my stories, I actually changed the ending to be more effective. When before I felt that the ending may have been a little too sudden and complicated, I found that adding an epilogue actually gave a little more closure.
So not only does a timeline help make sense of your story, but it might also add insight to the way your characters behave. And, as I have found out, it might even add another aspect or develop an already existing part of your plot.
From now on, I might follow the sensible road of drawing up a timeline before writing a story. It helps a lot.
Another thing that we did this week that I feel obliged to post about is work on one another's writing. The task was to take a prompt and write the beginning of a piece of writing. We then had to send this to another student and they would have to continue with it while you continued theirs. We then swapped back to see how (without knowing what the other person intended to do) different the writing changed.
I've got to admit, mine definitely took a turn I was not expecting, but it was fun to see what direction it took.
Here is the final result. The first sentence was the prompt. -
She turned the corner and there it was. A moving human-shaped shadow that had no owner. It stood swaying. The arms and legs were thin. The fingers on the hands long and bizarrely even. There seemed to be no neck and the hair fell past the shoulders in spikes – much like a child’s drawing.
The shadow dipped from the wall to the floor, and it grew elongated. She looked behind her but there was no sun to cast such a shadow. She looked back and now the shadow seemed to be spinning – as if there was an invisible person dancing in the alleyway. It raised its arms above its head and the fingertips lightly formed an arc. Suddenly, its wrists jerked to form the shape of a butterfly. She watched in wonder as the shape of the hands grew larger and the humanoid body grew smaller until nothing was left but the silhouette of the butterfly.
The shadow began to flutter and with a sweep, it flew up away into roof of the building.
After a few moments had passed the small butterfly that fluttered away had floated back with a flock of flying creatures. All matter of being had manifested into one giant flying animal. A humanoid creature with wings, illuminated by the cacophony of colours blinded me. Within a matter of seconds the fuzzy outline of flying animals had transformed into one. The shape of a human, but with a difference. Huge feathery wings sprouting from behind its back. Skin as dark as the night sky, eyes piercing with blades of steel. But she felt calm in its presence. A sense of holiness and a stronger connection to her faith. She was not in danger, but experiencing something miraculous. The tall, built figure standing before her stretched out its arm and placed its hand on her shoulder staring deeply into her soul. His eyes bloodshot and his skin sweating, an inhuman force surged through his body into his hand and into her.
And so they became one. And she suddenly understood why it was that she had never felt truly real in the ordinary world. She had never been ordinary. This creature had been waiting for her, and she had been waiting for it. Perhaps that’s why she hadn’t run away.
One mind and one body had restricted her. But now she was able to occupy multiple different forms. Or she could link herself to many other minds and share what others were doing and feeling. The human world became a blur, a distant memory.