Story Timeline

A while ago, I wrote a post about the Halion Calendar, highlighting the lunar-cycle calendar that I’ve been using to make sure my details sync up with the reality of the world.  As I’m a few chapters into Book 4 now, that calendar has become even more important, so I extended it from the span of books 1-3 to a book 4+ version.  But that’s not terribly helpful to you, my readers, if I don’t give you an actual timeline for it.

Books 1-3

Books 1-3

lunar cycle2

Books 4+

Book 1 started at a kind of arbitrary location in the year, but as I was figuring out the storyline, I knew Book 3 had to end on a certain day.  Fortunately, the characters realized that too; it’s one of the main drivers of Book 3, the need to be in a certain place at a certain time.

Those three books cover about 66 days between them — fewer days than there are chapters!  Since Halion months are 36 days and don’t count holidays, that’s slightly less than two months, starting on Sebryn 12th and ending on Darkness Day.  It was already late autumn at the start of the first book, and at the end of the third it’s midwinter, so there’s a lot more cold and darkness left for the second half of the series.

I tend to organize my chapters by the timeline rather than by a more arbitrary cycle; usually one group is traveling while the other is ‘on-camera’, and the on-camera group can be there for several chapters in sequence before I switch back to a different group reaching a destination.  This works better for me than if I’d swapped back and forth between groups every chapter.  I don’t really like when that happens in other people’s books, especially if it creates unnecessary cliffhangers, because I don’t read very quickly these days.  If I have to wait two or three chapters to get back to a group’s story after a cliffhanger, I’ll probably forget that I’d been cliffhung in the first place, so it wastes the tension.

Anyway, I’ve made a Series Timeline page with a little bit of the following information, but mostly with dates of relevant events in the past, like the Sealing and the Long Darkness.

Below is a bo0k-by-book breakdown for anyone interested in the daily chronology; I don’t note days too often in the text, but I keep an eye on it, and a lot of events happen concurrently.  As you’ll see.

Book 1: 19 days (Seb. 12th-Seb. 30th)
12 days interim (Seb. 31st-Cyl. 4th)
Book 2: 14 days (Cyl. 5th-Cyl. 18th)
1 day interim (Cyl. 19)
Book 3: 20 days (Cyl. 20-Darkness Day)

Book 1 Timeline:
Chapter 1: Seb 12 – Crimson camp
Chapter 2: Seb 13-20 – Varaku and the Mist Forest
Chapter 3: Seb 20 – Ammala’s house (earlier stuff earlier)
Chapter 4: Seb 21 – Ammala’s house
Chapter 5: Seb 21 – Jasper’s cart/Ammala’s house
Chapter 6: Seb 21 – Bahlaer
Chapter 7: Seb 21 – Shadowland
Chapter 8: Seb 21 – Shadowland and underground
Chapter 9: Seb 21 – Shadowland and underground
Chapter 10: Seb 21 – Shadowland and barracks, Morshoc’s cart
Chapter 11: Seb 22 – Barracks
Chapter 12: Seb 22 – Morshoc’s cart
Chapter 13: Seb 22 – Morshoc’s cart, Riftward
Chapter 14: Seb 22 – Rift Climb
Chapter 15: Seb 23 – Rift Towers
Chapter 16: Seb 23-27 – Imperial Road
Chapter 17: Seb 27-28 – Crimson camp, Forest of Night/Kanrath-Neirai
Chapter 18: Seb 28 – Cob’s mind
Chapter 19: Seb 28 – Cob’s mind, Thynbell
Chapter 20: Seb 29 – Thynbell
Chapter 21: Seb 29 – Thynbell
Chapter 22: Seb 29 – Crimson camp/Forest of Night
Chapter 23: Seb 30 – Thynbell
Chapter 24: Seb 30 – Thynbell
Chapter 25: Seb 30 – Imperial Road
Chapter 26: Seb 30 – Forest of Mists
Epilogue: Seb 30 – Crimson camp

Between books: Seb 31-Yearfrost 1+2-Cyl 4

Book 2 Timeline:
Chapter 1: Cyl 5 – various starting points
Chapter 2: Cyl 5 – Cantorin
Chapter 3: Cyl 5-6 – on the road
Chapter 4: Cyl 6-7 – on the road/rescue
Chapter 5: Cyl 7 – wraith woods
Chapter 6: Cyl 7 – Sarovy in camp
Chapter 7: Cyl 7 – afternoon, exiting the woods
Chapter 8: Cyl 7 – late afternoon, Erestoia
Chapter 9: Cyl 7 – late afternoon, Erestoia, Shadow Realm, Turo
Chapter 10: Cyl 7 – early evening, Crimson
Chapter 11: Cyl 7-8 – Valent
Chapter 12: Cyl 7-9 – Turo
Chapter 13: Cyl 9 – Turo
Chapter 14: Cyl 10 – Haaraka
Chapter 15: Cyl 11 – Crimson
Chapter 16: Cyl 11 – Haaraka
Chapter 17: Cyl 11 – Haaraka
Chapter 18: Cyl 11 – Akarridi
Chapter 19: Cyl 11 – Shelter, Valent
Chapter 20: Cyl 12 – Palace
Chapter 21: Cyl 17-18 – Sarovy and the Crays
Chapter 22: Cyl 18 – Shai’s Manor
Chapter 23: Cyl 18 – Shai’s Manor
Chapter 24: Cyl 18 – Shai’s Manor
Chapter 25: Cyl 18 – Shai’s Manor
Chapter 26: Cyl 18 – Bahlaer
Epilogue: Cyl 18 – Valent Depths

Between books: Cyl 19

Book 3 Timeline:
Chapter 1: Cyl 20 – Wolf Cave
Chapter 2: Cyl 20 – Wolf meeting
Chapter 3: Cyl 20-21 – Sarovy and Linciard overnight and morning
Chapter 4: Cyl 21 – Geraad and Shai in the Palace
Chapter 5: Cyl 21 – Cob and co. out from wolf den
Chapter 6: Cyl 23 – Sarovy and co
Chapter 7: Cyl 23 – Geraad in the volcano
Chapter 8: Cyl 23-27 – Blaze Company
Chapter 9: Cyl 27 – Cob and co. at Riddish border
Chapter 10: Cyl 27-29 – Salt Wastes
Chapter 11: Cyl 29 – Grey
Chapter 12: Cyl 29 (noon/afternoonish to night) – Grey/Hlacaasteia
Chapter 13: Cyl 30 – Hlacaasteia
Chapter 14: Cyl 30 – Hlacaasteia
Chapter 15: Cyl 30 – Shai/Geraad/Ilshenrir
Chapter 16: Cyl 30-31 – Bahlaer
Chapter 17: Cyl 31 – Bahlaer
Chapter 18: Cyl 33 – Approaching Finrarden
Chapter 19: Cyl 33 – Bahlaer
Chapter 20: Cyl 33 – Bahlaer – Sarovy’s anamnesis
Chapter 21: Cyl 34 – In Finrarden
Chapter 22: Cyl 34 – Valent
Chapter 23: Cyl 34 – Valent
Chapter 24: Cyl 34 – Palace, Crimson etc
Chapter 25: 34-36 – two days overland from Finrar to Keceir
Chapter 26: 36 – Cob and co. in the swamp 1
Chapter 27: 36 – Sarovy and co
Chapter 28: Midwinter 1-2 – Wes, Lark, etc
Chapter 29: Midwinter 2 – Das, Shai, Geraad
Chapter 30: Midwinter 2
Chapter 31: Midwinter 2
Chapter 32: Midwinter 2
Chapter 33: Midwinter 2
Chapter 34: Midwinter 2
Chapter 35: Midwinter 2
Chapter 36: Darkness Day

Book 4 continues on from here.  The latter half of the series doesn’t have a date it needs to hit; in fact, that’s a plot point.  So Books 4-6 could take place over the span of a month, or three months, or three years…  It all depends on what the characters do.

You’d think I’d be clearer on it, being the author and all, but right now there is a looseness to books 5 and 6 that makes it hard to judge.  Once I see what condition everyone is in at the end of book 4, I’ll have a better idea of what they can accomplish in the next — though I can say that the protagonists’ goal is to create the shortest timeline.  Enemies and infighting will extend it, potentially to the point of disaster, and as the writer it’s sort of my job to stretch it juuuuuuust far enough that there’s a 50/50 chance everything will break.

Insert maniacal laughter here.

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About H. Anthe Davis

Worldbuilder. Self-published writer.
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2 Responses to Story Timeline

  1. Seth says:

    If you track your timeline digitally, what computer program do you use?

    • For the book-by-book timeline, I just keep it in a standard document, and the moon-phase timeline is a bitmap I edit with Paint, heh. I don’t split the book timeline down finer than day-by-day, so there isn’t much need for a fancy program. But I have a much larger world-timeline that I work on as a spreadsheet, so I can track things by the current year as well as how-many-years-ago, with separate entries for character events and for world events.

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