A writing question – do you need a timeline?

Question for all you writers and readers out there:

I have a number of short stories that fit into the same universe, but…

A) The universe is very large and spread out (huge time line.)

B) The stories can really kind of stand on their own without the rest of the universe though there are common things in each story.

I was thinking of including a picture with a timeline of the universe in each story. Each story that came out would be marked on the timeline and the current story you were reading would be marked with a big red arrow.

Would something like this be helpful or useful? Or would it be distracting.

I would like to note that the fact that that I am asking this question means two things.
First, that I have more new stories coming out. Second, that I have actually thought about these stories enough that I have a whole universe with a timeline. That is completely unusual for me. Normally my writing is very much fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, but for once this seems to make some sense.

For those of you that care I am calling this my “Humanities Cradle” universe, because it has to do with well people leaving Earth and what happens after that. And yes, there will be a new story coming out in this universe hopefully in the next week.

6 thoughts on “A writing question – do you need a timeline?

  1. Time lines can be a great help or a blinking, hindering, out-of-date nuisance. As long as your major events are static, it _should_ be a boon. (Translation: I will like it!)

  2. First off. Darn it Jeff… the basic concept of your “Humanities Cradle” is similar to the works that have come out of my work in the 2011 NaNo… sigh… I guess we think alike. I am nowhere near ready for release, so good for you!

    I personally think a timeline as a reference would be nice, I know some authors include a written appendix with a timeline to help place their stories and I tend to like having it available.

    1. Well not to worry, there is enough there for both of us. Besides I doubt there is any way even if we are both writing about the same broad subject, that we will even be close in our details plots. I am going to very weird places. After this next story comes out, I think I am going to post a short synopsis of the over arching story here.

      1. Probably. Just really funny that someone I follow would be going with a similar area. I’m planning on starting in close history and having stories way out in the future as well. Also spanning ‘genre’ a bit, one of the story arcs is sort of YA (my 9yo likes the draft) but others are pure SF.

        Not sure how much over arching story there will be, more just common universe and later stories will clearly build on stuff that happened before.

      2. Funny. I wrote one of the “Chapters” in this for and about my oldest son.

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