Fantasy Timelines are sometimes overlooked when it comes to worldbuilding. Not every story needs one. With epic fantasy, however, timelines are invaluable.
After attending a Realm Makers Conference lecture on fantasy timelines, I’ve some notes to share on the matter. Thanks to Jill Williamson for her information.
What Are Fantasy Timelines?
A fantasy timeline is a tool that maps out events throughout the world’s plot and history. Fantasy timelines organize the story and character arcs, and provide worldbuilding lore. In historical fiction, timelines correlate plot events with historical ones.
The benefits of a fantasy timeline include:
- Keeping the storyline tight
- Spotting plot holes
- Deepening character arcs and where these intersect with other characters
- Keeps things organized for the author, who can plan and outline future chapters better
- Preventing inconsistencies
With the amount of worldbuilding I have in Blade of Dragons, a timeline became inevitable. Albeit, I use a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track of information. It has helped me prevent inconsistencies and a few plot holes.
The Types of Fantasy Timelines
As I said above, a spreadsheet works fine for fantasy timelines. Other examples include graphs, photos, listings, Word documents, sticky notes, and hyperlinks within other documents.
The Elements of a Timeline
When designing a timeline, include things like:
- Plot events
- Historical celebrations
- Family bloodlines
- Political happenings
- Economic downturns
- Epoch and Age intervals
- Character ages, births, deaths
Don’t limit plot events solely to the protagonist, as many authors are wont to do. Include villains and their events. Minor details like character birthdays are fine in moderation, if they serve the worldbuilding, plot, or character arcs.
Events in Blade of Dragons
On average, an Atläsian lives around 200 years, or planet cycles. I included Pepper Slyhart’s birth cycle in the first chapter of Blade of Dragons, providing a reference for her age.
The story has various wars and important plot events. There’s a Golden Age, Silver Age, and Bronze Age, and each plays a vital role in the story and lore.
Timelines are certainly enjoyable for me, and after Jill’s talk, I’ve invested more in my own within Atläs. What are your thoughts on timelines? Do you enjoy them, or are they a waste of time/nuisance to make?
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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White