I take some pretty detailed setting notes when writing books, and I’m glad I have those, but something I hadn’t done in my book ones of series, is set up a detailed timeline of my universes. As I’m getting into sequels, I find this increasingly important to have as I’m referencing past events in the world and honing the universe. In terms of The Stars Entwined, my forthcoming space opera novel, I actually am writing several overlapping stories, so it becomes essential rather quickly.
I worked this weekend putting together a basic timeline for my steampunk universe, and I’ll be doing The Stars Entwined next, just as a reference sheet. Any odd locations, events, past matters, I’m putting into the timeline, so that I can have a clear picture of where I’m going as this goes forward.
In my steampunk universe, I’m not jumping around in the timeline so much, but I do open up each chapter with a “Baron Von Monocle’s Log” which helps frame the chapter as well as tell a story from Zaira’s father’s time. Getting all this straight and accurate is important and becomes more so as multiple books reference multiple past adventures.
If you’re writing a series, timelines are very important, and I suggest doing the work as you write that first book to prevent going back and having to read through and find the various points, especially if you’re telling some epic tales where there are numerous side events the characters don’t interact with that may become important to the story later. This kind of prep will save you time and also help you build a more detailed, realistic world for those future books to keep the readers engaged.
My readers will find a LOT of easter eggs from seeming throwaway stories from For Steam And Country that the characters told, as they become important in future books. A lot of these I’ve intended from the start, but it becomes increasingly important to get the details straight as the books go on.
If you enjoy my worldbuilding and timelines, you’ll probably like the short stories from my Patreon. Some of them tie into my novels and I just posted the For Steam And Country world timeline for subscribers. Check it out!