The timeline is at the heart of what Plotist can do for you. With it, you can map out all the events in the story and see where each character is and what they are doing. Facing the blank canvas can be harsh, though. Where do you start? Why is the screen split in two? What can I do with this?
Fear not! We are here to help!
Once you’ve created a timeline and you open it for the first time, you’ll see a blank page and a big green ‘Edit’ button on the top right corner. Click there to begin creating your timeline.
When you click on Edit, you’ll see the main edit view for the timeline, which looks something like this:
The white region on the left is the key area, the gray region in the middle is the track area and the side panel on the right is the drawer. Plotist’s timelines is a multi-track timeline, like the ones you would see on video or music editors, meaning that instead of having just one timeline, you can create several parallel timelines. There are several ways you can use this timeline, but we will propose a very simple way of using it that will get you started very quickly.
We are going to create a timeline that will let you track where your characters are and what is happening to them. For this, we will need at least one character, one location and one event.
With the drawer open on the right, click on the boxed plus icon on the bottom. This will reveal an element creator dialog. Add a name for a character, make sure that the selected type on the dropdown is “Character”, choose a color and upload an image if you desire and click on the “Create” button. Repeat the same process changing the type on the dropdown to Location to create a location, and again changing the type to Event to create an event. For events, instead of selecting an image you will be selecting an icon.
Your drawer should look something like this:
We have one character (Nick), one location (San Francisco) and one event (finding a strange shop). Let’s add them now to the timeline. First, click on the character (Nick) on the drawer and drag it all the way to the white area on the left, what we called the key area.
Now click on the location on the drawer and drag it to the square next to the character:
And now click on the event in the drawer and drag it all the way until your cursor is over one of the circles that appeared on the location.
Congratulations! You have created your first timeline! Granted it’s a simple one, but now you have something you can start playing with. Let’s explain what you are seeing:
At the beginning we said that Plotist offers multi-track timelines and here you can see what we mean. In this case, our key will be characters, meaning that each track is a timeline for a character.
A track is a set of one or more blocks that can have different lengths. Our blocks will be locations, meaning that we can show where the character has been (San Francisco) and how long he’s been there (3 time units).
And finally, each block may contain events, indicating what’s happening to them while they were there. So this timeline above will read:
Nick was in San Francisco for three time units, and while he was there, on time 3, he found a strange corner shop.
There is not much to this simple timeline, so let’s have a look at a more complex one (you can see the full interactive timeline here: https://plt.st/RobRebel):
Now, we have 4 characters and each of them are in different places and doing different things. Lyanna Stark, the key for the first track, spends all her time at the Tower of Joy, something understandable as the first event on her track is her abduction. While she was being abducted, Brandon Stark was on the Kingsroad, and Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon are at the Eyrie. It is not until later that they learn about Lyanna being abducted, Brandon on time 2 and Eddard and Robert on time 3.
And we could just write down all the rest, but this is just enough for now. You can see that with just one timeline you can convey a lot of information about where your characters are and what’s going on with them, and see the state of all other characters in parallel.