J. Callahan Writes: Dec 25, 2017 On timelines.

fictional timelines

On Timelines

Like television shows and films, literature demands accuracy in the timeline. Whether writing chronologically, with flashbacks, or going into the future, it is important to keep the time of events straight. There are no short cuts to doing this.

First, there are programs one can buy to help. Aeon is a software that works directly with Scrivener. However, if you use this software, it is important that you start to use it at the beginning of your project. To go back and create a timeline from scratch gives little return on investment (ROI). It is difficult and tedious.

Of course, another way to approach timelines that anyone can do is create a separate file with a chronology of your story. I have done that for parts of a book to get years straight when it is important.

Here’s the best tip I can give: don’t put specific dates or times in your story or novel if it is not needed. Why make your life more complicated than necessary? If you can keep the order of events clear, actual dates don’t matter.

That is not always possible in a crime novel. Often, exact dates are important to an investigation. Thus, keep track from the beginning or go back later.  In short stories, unless the time and date have significance: Dec. 7, 1941, January 1, 2000 or a birthdate, then leave it out.

Good skill, and keep writing!


J. Callahan Writes: Dec 21, 2017

On Passive Voice


Editors and writers caution us to avoid passive voice. That is often good advice. However, it depends on the context of the sentence and the goals of the author. For example: “The scissors were dropped on top of the body with the tongue half cut off and the binder clip firmly in place.”

The focus is clearly on the scissor, for the killer is a mystery. There is nothing wrong with the passive voice in this case.

In general, use active voice for subjects when the subject’s action is preeminent. If the object is important, don’t be afraid to use the passive voice.