Where and When (and why it matters)

This blog post wraps up my four-part series on what my steps are to write a novel. If you’d like to refresh or take a look at the others in this series you can do so below:

How I Write Books

Character Sheets


The last tab in my story journal (besides a Notes tab) is what I call Time and Space. It’s a place where I keep track of, well, the time and space of this world I am creating. For years, I relied on my memory to keep these details in check. After awhile I learned two things. 1. I am not that smart, 2. I needed to write things down. Enter the time and space pages.

Now, this is not perfect by any means, because I still struggle with timeline issues because in order for it to work you have to write it down, and sometimes, the muse forgets to think about what day of the week is and you end up with six Tuesdays in a month. Ask me how I know that. Ha.

An example of how I log locations

The above section is just one example of how you can log your locations. I have here the house my character in What Moons Do lives in, her besties room where they hang out, and the halls of the school they attend in the ‘red wing.’ You can add as many pictures as you want or even drawings if you are so inclined. Some people make a Pinterest board for this. Anything works but you have to take the time to do it. It seems tedious but it will save your sanity in the long run.

The other major (and probably obvious) tool I use to help keep the timeline in order is to print a calendar of the year/months my book takes place. I never used to do this and boy did it show in my editing process. I would have huge timeline issues because I wasn’t paying attention to it when writing. Now, I force myself to log what day and sometimes time each chapter takes place. I do this within my outline but also on this overview of a calendar.

For What Moons Do, I also had to pay attention to the lunar cycle hence a lunar calendar.

As you can see in the above photo, I put the chapter(s) each day lives in. This helps me see the larger picture, helps remind me what season I’m in, and what YEAR the book happens in so I’m putting in the right references for the timeframe. All things my poor brain can’t hang onto without a little help from my story journal.

And there you have it. My four-step process of how I write novels. Next week, I’ll talk to you about how I plan my writing year. Won’t that be fun?

Danielle Bannister, writer and maker of all the story journals


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