Big Gaps in the Timeline

I had to clean up my spare room in preparation for a visit from my parents, and in the process I found my giant Butterflies timeline on the floor.  (The tape gave up, apparently.)

I re-hung it and pondered it for a bit.  There’s a lot of work to be done, which is probably an understatement.  I mean, I’m dismantling a novel and making it into a series, so there’s going to be a lot of work!  There are also some big gaps I still need to fill.

Some of the gaps are easy – there’s a section of time on Gretchen’s line that is labeled only “training with Dad,” but there are already a couple of scenes written and it’s fun to think about different ways she can learn how to fight.  I’m also contemplating a side story for Dad, and maybe one of the brothers, which can twine through that time as well.

Some are more challenging – Andi’s story doesn’t really even get started until she’s four or five.  Gretchen has a house full of brothers, both older and younger, so there are opportunities for stories before she can remember, and Mara’s story is interesting from day one, but Andi has one older brother near in age and a significantly younger little sister.  What stories are there with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, that aren’t the usual toddler tales that most parents have?  Even the important parental conversation about her doesn’t happen until she’s a bit older.

I’ll keep thinking about it.  Really, I shouldn’t dwell on it too much – I’m supposed to be working on Mara’s story this year!


I Need an Event!

Now that I have my massive timeline on the wall, and some idea of how the five (maybe six?) books will break out, I realize that I need something.

Specifically, I need an event.  There are already two major world events that link the first four books – the lunar eclipse that starts it all, and the big celebration at four years in.  The ends of three of the books braid together as well, as the main characters’ lives intertwine.  The fourth book will go past the end of the other three, and pick up the braid and carry it.  (That’s part of the inspiration that struck last night as I blogged.)

However, between four years and 10 years, there is a huge gap with the stories not linked in any way.  I’ve decided that I need to add another big world event to tie them together again, perhaps at seven or eight years.

But what can that event be?  I’ll have to go back to the original book and see if something jumps out.


I got a big piece of paper, and started outlining the intersecting storylines of Butterflies on parallel timelines.  I thought this would help me figure out how the five new books will fit together.

At least that’s what I thought.

From here, there are spoilers so if you don’t want details of Butterflies, stop reading!

It turns out that writing down something that I already knew was going to be convoluted didn’t make it any more straightforward.  Two of the stories are pretty clear – Mara and Gretchen have lives that are isolated from other main characters, for different reasons.  This lasts until they reach Butterfly Gardens, the school where several of the characters meet.  Arrival at Butterfly Gardens is where I wanted to end each of the three girls’ books.  While they join the school at different ages, it’s easy enough to make their books different lengths.

It’s Andi’s story, as well as the royal children and the world beyond the three main characters, that are intertwined and challenging.  The first ten years of her life are also easy, like the others.  The problem is that before Andi goes to the Gardens, she spends a year as a handmaid to the queen.  This brings her into the lives of both of the royal children, and peripherally into the court (and to some extension, the world).

I also need to go back in time with book 4 to make sure we include the stories of Damien and Izzy (the royal kids) and the things leading up to the war.

OOH!  I just had a thought, about how to split these books!  This is not the first time that blogging about a problem has led to a possible solution.   With that, I’m going back to my big piece of paper…


Another Reason I Like Fantasy

I have discovered yet another reason to write fantasy: days of the week.  (Look, a colon!)

What do days of the week have to do with writing fantasy?  In Dreams I have two characters.  One lives in a fantasy world, while the other lives in a modern world not unlike our own.  I realized in the writing process that a real-world character who has a job and is making appointments to visit a variety of healthcare professionals cares about what day of the week it is.  I mean, the sleep clinic is not likely to schedule a sleep study that runs from Saturday evening to Sunday morning, right?  And if she’s going to sleep through a work day, I’d better set it up so that the day she sleeps through is a weekday.  Missing an entire day has less of an impact if it’s a Saturday.

These are somewhat irritating considerations, really.  In a novel that is strictly fantasy, these type of timeline questions are less common.  A peasant or a princess doesn’t really care if it’s Wednesday or Saturday.  Their lives are more season driven and less calendar focused.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the story of Dreams and it wouldn’t work without the modern-world character.  I just didn’t realize that I would have to keep track of her life in the same way that I keep track of my own!

Steps to a Story: Timeline Trouble

I’ve discovered the problem with injuring the main character of a story: it takes time to recover.  I’m going to pause for a warning here. There are spoilers in this post.  It’s not anything you couldn’t have predicted, but technically I’m giving some of the story away.  Consider yourself warned. 

Working on the next section of With Honor, I have run into a timeline problem.  Three things are making it difficult for me to get the next section to work.  First, even cleaned and stitched perfectly, it will take at least a month (probably more like six to eight weeks) for Matthew’s wound to heal properly.  Second, the army will want to catch Golden Wolf as soon as possible.  Third, I would like Matthew to be part of the catching of said antagonist.

Can you see the dilemma?  I need a plausible reason for the army officers to sit on their hands and simply watch Golden Wolf until Matthew is healed.  I know the role he plays in the scene, I know how to sketch out his recovery within the story, I’m just not sure how to delay the capture.

Of course, writing out the problem is making me think about it, and a few possible reasons have come into my head just in the time I have worked on this post.  🙂  You’ve just become a virtual version of my friends who let me talk out my story while they patiently listen.  Thanks!