The In-Your-Face Calendar

There are so many story facts to juggle when writing a novel, it’s mind boggling! And they have a tendency to change a lot, so keeping track of them all is key. One way I avoid inconsistencies in my timeline is to keep an active CALENDAR indicating which chapters fall on which days and the major events that take place. I plaster it onto the door right next to my desk for quick reference and create separate little sheets for each day so that when facts change, I can simply replace one little sheet of paper instead of having to make a whole new calendar. This saves a lot of grief during the revision process, believe me! Lines like “Remember our fishing trip last Tuesday?” or “I can’t believe school starts in three days” or “The wedding is this Sunday, the ninth,” though accurate in your first draft, might get completely changed and rearranged by, say, version number five. Somehow in the writing process (for a thousand different reasons) the fishing trip was switched to a Wednesday, school starts in five days, not three, and the wedding was moved to the 12th. Keeping a calendar on your computer is also a good idea, especially if you do a lot of laptop-writing-on-the-go, but when writing at home, opt for a giant, handy-dandy calendar a glance away to prevent fits of hair-pulling frustration.

Calendars are also great holiday reminders, of course. Everyone remembers the biggies like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but what about the forgettables like Groundhog Day, say, or Flag Day? I managed to work in Friday, the 13th and Father’s Day into the storyline of the novel I’m currently working on, which might’ve been completely overlooked had it not been for the almighty calendar. Now, don’t get me started on moon phases…

Here’s a link to a great website where you can print out calendars and size them to your liking. http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar. A whiteboard calendar would probably work well, too, but it could get messy—or accidentally erased—and it’s not free.

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