Outline Your Ulysses Novel With Aeon Timeline

Aeon Timeline helps authors oversee the events in their novels by visualizing them in a timeline. With its latest release, the app even syncs with Ulysses.

In this post, we’re recommending a tool for authors who strive to write thick books with complex stories – family sagas, murder mysteries, fantasy novels… If there’s a lot going on in a story, and, additionally, the events – directly or indirectly – depend on each other, writers face the challenge to keep an overview and to avoid plot inconsistencies. Aeon Timeline can help here. The app visualizes the succession of events in a timeline and makes chronological outlining a breeze.

In Aeon, every event is associated with a starting time and a duration. You can connect events, so if you change the time for one event, the time for the dependent event changes accordingly. For example, a birth usually takes place 9 months after conception. So if you move the conception date forward, the birth date should also move forward. You can then assign persons, story lines or locations to events, so you can easily filter or group events in your timeline based to these criteria. You can, for example, filter for a certain person and thus survey all events where that person is present throughout your story.

That’s Aeon’s basic principle. On top of this, the app comes with a number of features to make outlining even more flexible and powerful. You can mark events with a color, add a note (for example a synopsis) as well as tags, links or images. You can view your events arranged as a graphical timeline, or as a nested list based on their chronological order. Also, you can display events as titles only, or complete with all details including notes and images. And you can zoom the granularity of time: Is it hours or rather years that matter for your purpose?

All those (and many more) details make for a sophisticated tool that may help you model all events from start to finish – be it from “perfect murder” to final conviction, or from an empire’s heroic rise to its inevitable fall. Besides its use for fiction writing, Aeon Timeline is also a capable project management tool.

Sync Aeon Timeline With Ulysses

With its latest version, Aeon Timeline has become even more useful for Ulysses writers – the two now sync back and forth. This works as follows: Each event in Aeon Timeline represents one Ulysses sheet (and the other way around). The title of an event is added as a comment block at the beginning of a sheet (and therefore stripped out by Ulysses’ export). The metadata of the event (time, notes, persons, and so on) are added as note attachments to this sheet.

Details of an event in Aeon Timeline
Details of an event in Aeon Timeline
The same event, represented in a Ulysses sheet
The same event, represented in a Ulysses sheet

To establish synchronization between both apps, you will need to have a timeline open in Aeon. This can either be an existing timeline, or a totally new one. Choose “Ulysses” from the “Sync” menu, then switch over to Ulysses and grant Aeon access to your library. You will then need to setup a couple of synchronization options within Aeon – and off you go. Just drag’n’drop Ulysses sheets onto the timeline or vice versa. When working in Ulysses, you must make sure to keep Aeon’s note markers intact (such as Participant: in the screenshot above), or else it won’t work properly. For detailed information about syncing Aeon and Ulysses, consult the support tutorial on Aeon Timeline’s homepage.

Get Aeon Timeline

You can download a fully-functional 20-day trial of Aeon Timeline on their website. Right there, you can also purchase a license for the regular price of $50.00 (discount for students is available). As a Ulysses user, if you’re fast, you can save money by entering ULYSSESAPP in the code field during checkout. This will get you a 25% discount (limited time offer, expires July 23, 2017).

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Rebekka Honeit

Blog-curating writing maniac and public relations person. Loves coffee, chocolate cookies and literature. Finds peace in tweaking press copy.