Timeline

The timeline is the visual hub of Plottr — it’s where you add and arrange your chapters, plotlines, and scene cards to visually map out your book using our drag and drop functionality.

This article provides an overview of the timeline to help you get started:

  1. Intro to the Timeline
  2. Chapters
  3. Plotlines
  4. Scene Cards
  5. Toolbar
  6. Exporting the Timeline
  7. Common Questions

Intro to the Timeline

There are three building blocks of the Plottr timeline:

  • Chapters > Laid horizontally across the top of the timeline
  • Plotlines > Laid vertically down the side of the timeline
  • Scene Cards > Add and edit your scene details and drag & drop them across the timeline as needed
  • Toolbar > Filter, Flip, Zoom, Scroll or Export the timeline

We’ll cover each of these elements in more detail in this article.

Chapters

Chapters are the spine of the Plottr timeline, letting you organize your story’s linear progression.

Adding a Chapter

There are three ways to add a chapter to the timeline:

  1. Hover your mouse next to a chapter and click the plus (+) button that appears; OR
  2. Scroll to the end of the timeline and click the plus (+) button in the dashed blue box; OR
  3. Hover next to a scene card and click the plus (+) button to add both a new chapter and scene card

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Enter a name for the chapter
  2. Click Enter / Return to save the chapter name

Editing and Deleting a Chapter

Here’s how you edit a chapter:

  1. Click the name of the chapter you wish to edit (or hover over the chapter title and click the edit icon that appears)
  2. Make changes to the chapter name, text, and/or tags
  3. Click Enter / Return to save the change

To delete a chapter (and its scene cards), follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the name of the chapter you wish to delete
  2. Click the trash icon 
  3. When prompted, confirm you’d like to delete the chapter
  4. Note: ALL scene cards contained within the chapter will be deleted as well

Moving a Chapter

To move a chapter to a different part of the timeline, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the chapter you wish to move
  2. Left-click the chapter with your mouse and drag it to its new location
  3. All scene cards related to that chapter will move as well

Plotlines

Plotlines direct the narrative flow of the Plottr timeline, letting you organize your story across main and subplots, character arcs, story structures, beats, and more.

Adding a Plotline

To add a plotline, follow these steps:

  1. Click the plus (+) button in the box that appears
  2. Enter a name for your plotline
  3. Click Enter / Return to save the plotline

Note: If you’d like to add a plotline using a starter template, click the “Use Template” option. To learn more about using templates, click here.

Editing and Deleting a Plotline

To edit a plotline, follow these steps:

  1. Click the name of the plotline you wish to edit
  2. Change the plotline name
  3. Click Enter / Return to save the change

Moving a Plotline

To move a plotline, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the plotline you wish to move
  2. Left-click the plotline with your mouse and drag it to its new location
  3. All scene cards related to that plotline will shift as well

To delete a plotline, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the name of the plotline you wish to delete
  2. Click the trash icon 
  3. When prompted, confirm you’d like to delete the plotline

Coloring a Plotline

You can easily color coordinate your plotlines using your own custom colors to help organize your story.

Follow these steps to add or update the color of a plotline:

  1. Hover over the name of the plotline whose color you wish to change
  2. Click the paint drop icon
  3. Pick a color from the color library (continue reading below)

The Color Library

Once you click the drop icon, you will see a new interface with the color library and an input box on the top right of the screen.

There are two ways to save a color:

  1. Click the color you wish to use; OR
  2. Enter a specific color hex code / name in the input field and click the green “Choose” button

Scene Cards

Scene Cards are the building blocks of the Plottr timeline, where you add your description of the story event, along with linking characters, places, and tags that are relevant to the action.

Adding a Scene Card

To add an individual scene card, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the space on the timeline where you wish to add your card
  2. Click the dashed box that appears
  3. Enter the name of your scene card
  4. Click Enter / Return on your keyboard to save

Moving a Scene Card

You can easily move your scene cards around the timeline to associate them with different chapters and plotlines.

To move an individual scene card on the timeline, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the scene card you wish to move
  2. Left-click the scene card with your mouse and drag it to a new location

Editing and Deleting a Scene Card

To edit a scene card, follow these steps:

  1. Click the scene card on the timeline you wish to edit
  2. Update the elements you wish to change (e.g. text, characters, places, tags)
  3. Click Save

Here’s how to delete a scene card:

  1. Click the scene card on the timeline you wish to delete
  2. Click “Delete”
  3. When prompted, confirm you’d like to delete the scene card

Updating Plotlines and Chapters

You can easily change the plotline and chapter location of a scene card from within the card editor (in addition to dragging it on the timeline itself).

To change a scene card’s plotline from within the editor, follow these steps:

  1. Click the dropdown menu next to Line
  2. Select the plotline where you’d like to move the card
  3. Click the “Save” button

To change a scene card’s chapter from within the editor, follow these steps:

  1. Click the dropdown menu next to Chapter
  2. Select the chapter where you’d like to move the card
  3. Click the “Save” button

Adding Characters, Places, and Tags to Scene Cards

Scene cards can easily be linked with characters, places, and tags to help you organize your narrative. By linking your scene cards, you can then filter the timeline to see precisely where those characters, places, and tags appear in your narrative. 

To link a character, place, or tag, follow these steps:

  1. Hover your mouse to the right of the element you wish to add
  2. Click the plus (+) button that appears
  3. Select the name of the character, place, or tag you wish to link with the scene card

Removing Characters, Places, and Tags from Scene Cards

To delete a character, place, or tag from a scene card, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the character, place, or tag you wish to delete in the sidebar
  2. Click the X button that appears

Toolbar

The toolbar (or timeline submenu) contains a number of options for changing the view or orientation of the timeline.

We’ll go over each of these functionalities below:

  • Filter
  • Flip
  • Zoom
  • Scroll

Filter 

The filter button lets you easily view only those scene cards on your timeline related to specific characters, places, and/or tags. All other scene cards will be blurred out until you reset the filter.

To filter the timeline, follow these steps:

  1. Click the filter button
  2. Select the characters, places, and tags you want to filter by
  3. Now you will see only those scene cards matching the criteria you have selected

You can also click the Characters, Places, or Tags title at the top of the filter menu to easily check off all elements and display cards with ANY characters, places, and/or tags.

To reset the filter, click the X button by the “Timeline is filtered” alert or uncheck the individual elements selected.

Note: Filtering in Plottr currently uses OR logic, meaning it will display scene cards with ANY of the criteria you have chosen, not ALL of them. (For example, if you select two tags, scene cards will display that have any one of them — regardless of whether they have both.)

Flip 

By default, Plottr’s visual timeline is in Horizontal view mode, with your plotlines / chapters listed from left to right across the top of the screen. The “Flip” button changes the orientation of the timeline from horizontal to vertical (and back again).

  • To view the timeline in Vertical mode, with your plotlines / chapters listed from top to bottom, click the “Flip” button in the menu bar.
  • To return to Horizontal mode, toggle the “Flip” button once again.

Zoom

The “Zoom” menu bar provides options to help you view your timeline in different ways:

  • Zoom In > to zoom in on your timeline, click the plus (+) button.
  • Zoom Out > to zoom out on your timeline, click the minus (-) button.
  • Fit > to see your entire timeline at once, click the “Fit” button.
  • Reset > to return your timeline to it’s original orientation, click the “Reset” button

Scroll

The scroll menu bar provides options to help you navigate the length of your timeline.

  • Directional Arrows > Scroll the timeline in either direction, depending on whether the timeline is flipped
  • Beginning > View the opening panel of your timeline.
  • Middle > View the central panel of your timeline.
  • End > View the final panel of your timeline.

Exporting the Timeline

With Plottr, you can easily export your timeline to a Microsoft Word document to see a full outline of your story, including sections for your notes, characters, and places at the end of the file.

To learn more about exporting the timeline as an outline, click here.

Common Questions

Is there a limit on creating chapters, plotlines, or scene cards?

Nope! You can create as many as you like 🙂

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