Research and development. More research and development. Day-dreaming about the beginning and end of your story. Brainstorming. Hearing your characters chit-chat with each other in your head (Scary, isn’t it?)…
It turns out there’s an actual term for all this meandering around instead of writing. No, it’s not called ‘writer’s block’. lol
It’s called ‘composting’.
Yep, like a compost heap. Odd term for it, don’t you think? I don’t really equate brainstorming ideas with throwing biodegradable garbage in a heap of dead leaves and grass.
But ‘composting’ is what we writers do, even if some of us can be best described as ‘by the seat of your pants’ writers. It’s what I have been up to for a long time; been babbling on about here, and it’s certainly an ‘informal’ process; different for every one.
After painstakingly trying to compile a set of rules that support each other to paint the picture of a living, breathing world (world-building), I started to get an idea or two about some of the major past events it might have gone through. My focus was to create a fictional world history timeline with as few events as possible–but still manage to set the stage for the beginning of the story. And, as far as I can tell, ‘setting the stage with past events’ is really all creating a timeline is.
Looking at other fictional timelines, one thing they seemed to have in common was: the farther away (time-wise) from the beginning of the book they got, the more vague and global the described events. For instance, ‘Creation’ might be described as if it were a legend, or maybe not even mentioned. Maybe there’s a labeled period of 1,000 years that follows (maybe something like the “Bronze Age” or “Age of Violence”–Generic, I know, but I’m trying to save my better ideas for the book.). The individual wars and battles that made up the era are usually not described. It’s just an ‘age’. And the lack of details during early history is fine. It can be assumed society couldn’t quite record information back then, or even if they could, writing, even in stone, has a rough time standing the test of time. So music was passed on via rote memorization, history via word-of-mouth, etc, and were victim to the cruel rules of rumor and the ‘telephone game’. But these early events were still important; still shifted people about, seeding separate societies and cultures.
Towards the middle of timeline, continental-scale events can usually be found. Wars, maybe even individual battles in wars, great inventions, important books, or catastrophic events; things that directly effected kingdoms or countries, but some of the results can still be observed in present time (ie: A meteor impact created a massive crater in the middle of a country, wiping out most of its cities.) and the implications are still very real by the beginning of the book, rippling through society.
And finally, getting within, say, fifty years of the beginning, smaller events grow in frequency and detail, such as birth dates of important characters–or events that will concern and directly influence the characters’ decisions during the course of the story.
The timeline I’m posting here is going to be purposefully vague. I’ve omitted events and chopped out a lot of years to avoid spoilers. The one I have on my hard drive is really just a reference tool while writing the book. But I thought you might want to have an idea of what it looks like.
You don’t really have to create a timeline, but it really helped me. I’ll try to explain how it did after the timeline. That said, none of these dates or events are set in stone, and as I continue to write my book, I’m sure much of this will change.
~10,000 years ago:
Small communities build villages and migrate away from ‘where the rivers cross’.
~8,000 years ago: The Great Cities
Meccas form. One of the most prominent is Zion, the city of Enoch.
~7,000 years ago:
The entire City of Enoch and its inhabitants vanish.
~6,000 years ago: Widespread Wars, Crime, and Violence
The world’s collective knowledge is set back by 1,000 years.
~5,000 years ago:
In the wake of unknown events, peace follows.
~3,000 years ago: Day of Discord
The City of Enoch reappears unoccupied, high in the mountains and nearly inaccessible; disappears shortly after. Much of the world’s population vanishes with it. Those that survived have to contend with frequent violent catastrophic events, and electromagnetics no longer work. Most of the cities of the world are reduced to rubble.
Over the next (roughly) 300 years: The Exhaustive Reconstruction
Surge in Discordianism.
Civilization loses track of time.
A new calendar,
The Ash Winter.
Failed attempts at railroads.
YH 300-400 (Year of Harmony):
The Five Rings.
The first Panarchs:
Mellias, Corynn, Ian, Onorr, Meiallin.
Meiallin’s journals, nature of the Seven Rays.
Trist, Escallo, Kasik
Lucius, leading to war.
Joun becomes a super power under Queen Isboc.
Joun develops the gates system.
The Five Points.
Joun vs. Aydomar
Stalemate results in unemployed Aydomarian soldiers.
Many thieves’ guilds form.
Encampments and small villages start springing up in the unclaimed south, people migrated there to avoid the war.
The Shiirati Council is formed of respected commoners to help make decisions.
Because there is no monarchy, it becomes known as the Free Country.
Shiira is founded in the midst of the Free Country.
Shiira grows due to importance in trade (flax, dates, etc).
Joun attempts to seize Shiira, feels the people there should be under their rule, were traitors to the crown in the first place.
General Gaitan of Joun sympathized with Shiira and defected to help them win with brilliant tactics.
skipping a few thousand years :P
YH 2784 (Spring):
Beginning of the book.
The City of Enoch has reappeared again, this time under the ocean.
I’d say the most important events are the reappearances of the City of Enoch itself. They alone set up the beginning of the story. But everything else sets up the geography and gives me some historic figures to work with.
Especially, though, it gives my cities personality. For example, I may never refer to ‘Queen Isboc’ in the story directly, but knowing a person like her and her decendants ruled Joun with contempt for other cities thousands of years ago helps me visualize Joun and the people in it, who are today very xenophobic. Shiira has enjoyed sovreignty since their battle with Joun, leaving them with an unpracticed army and a self-contained society that has nothing better to do than gossip and party, and their own youth has started to give them trouble. They have also erected many statues over the centuries (holding swords pointing north) to illustrate their defiance against northern rule.