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Crossing Timelines

May 27, 2013
Posted at 10:06 am
Updated: September 22, 2013 - 7:10 pm

I'm about at the point where the writing timeline and the reality timeline cross (among the chapters that are posted). I've never made a big deal about what year it is in the "Model Student" series. We know the three books cover Tony's college career from entry to graduation (at least we assume he's going to graduate eventually). But unlike many series, I haven't given date references down to the year. I'll say things like "by the second of June . . ." but I leave off the year.

Nonetheless, I use a calendar to be sure that if I say something like "Saturday the second," I don't turn around and call the next Saturday the tenth. I have a massive timeline in an Excel spreadsheet that is nearly 2,000 lines long with what the day, date, and action are. For every day of every book. I'm a little CDO about consistency. (That's the same as OCD, but the letters are in alphabetical order like they should be.)

It also works to have events take place at the right time of year. What were the dates of the National Intercollegiate Championships during Tony's freshman year? Well, I have them written down. When I started writing the book, I chose to have everything two years in the past so I could reference real events, dates, and even weather. So when Model Student started posting in February of 2012, I was writing about September 2010.

Well, it's only May of 2013 and The Prodigal has progressed to the point where the dates I write about are no longer in the past, starting in the next chapter. When it was reasonable to do so, I went back and tweaked a few things just before the story posted, but that soon became impossible, too. So, in chapter seven the writing timeline and the story timeline crossed. July first, the posting timeline (when you read the chapters) and the story timeline will cross.

What all this drivel means: From here on out, things you read may deviate increasingly from what really happened "in the world in which we live in" as Paul McCartney said ("Live and Let Die"). I no longer know who actually won a competition before I write about it. I don't know how many inches of snow were in Fremont, Nebraska at Christmas. I don't know if it rained on Valentine's Day. Usually, those details aren't that significant, but I know some people (me) try to match up dates, landmarks, events, laws, and anything else that sound like facts in fiction.

Well, just remember it's fiction, and not even historical fiction. If Tony makes a billion dollars in the stock market at exactly the time that the market crashes and we all end up living on the street, I can't help it. Tony's world--always a little different than our world--is now his own and resemblances to actual people living or dead are increasingly accidental or however they say that.

Okay. Merry Christmas. Hope you continue to enjoy the story!