A recent experiment for making characters come alive: creating timelines of their lives. After interviewing characters, I had a lot of specific details about who these people were and what were some of the important events in their lives. I needed some way of making sure that the chronological events of their lives made sense, and a timeline seemed like a natural choice.
There are many free timeline websites available. My previous favourite, Timeline JS appears to be broken. Currently, I am using Timeglider with my students. Using a digital timeline, keeps all my ideas organized automatically, plus, it updates as I revise my character’s lives. Will this help my students write narratives? I don’t know. Similarly to the interview questions, timelining my characters’ lives has helped me think of them as people who have had experiences outside of the piece of time that is the narrative of the story. In this way, I expect this exercise will help my students create more developed characters too.
Click here to see the timeline I created for a fictional character, Javier DeVoe.