Multiple Point of View (POV) novels—i.e. novels where multiple characters take on the role of the narrator—are pretty popular, especially in the epic fantasy and sci-fi genres. But if plotting a simple novel is already difficult, plotting a multi-POV story can feel like a daunting task. In this post I’ll give you some tips to plot your novel in Chronicles, which makes it easy no matter how many POVs you have!
Learn about one of the most popular plot structures to inform your writing!
1. Create one timeline per character or faction
Characters are persistent, darn them! Even when we’re not reading about them, they’re doing things! So what does that mean when you’re writing a novel?
When the POV (point of view) changes, and we start reading about the story through another character’s eyes, that first character will still be living, breathing and—you guessed it—affecting the story. For example, Annie Adams is the POV in chapter 1, then in chapter 2, Johnny Johnson gets the POV. However, when Johnny gets the POV, Annie won’t suddenly go into hibernation (unless she’s a polar bear)—she’ll still be influencing the plot in one way or another. This is why it’s so important to plot their character arc and events in parallel.
In Chronicles, you can keep track of this by creating one timeline for each major character. That will usually be the POV characters if you have multiple. Or, if factions are more important than characters, you can have a timeline per faction and use a lane per character (keep in mind that each timeline has four lanes). To do this, go to the timelines manager (second button from the top in the right menu bar) and create a timeline from there.
If you’re not sure if a certain character should get their own timeline, ask yourself this: Will their arc be a major influence on the plot? At this stage, we’re just putting the plot together, so if the answer is no, I recommend not including them here. The whole process will be simpler!
2. Add the events for all characters to plot your novel
Now that you have the timelines and the map, it’s time to start adding events! At this stage, you don’t need to add absolutely everything that the character is doing, just create events for things that will be relevant to plot your novel. I suggest color-coding the events too! You can assign different colors to different events so that locating them on the timeline becomes easier. For example, red could mean “action scene”, and purple could mean “mystery scene”. You can also use different lanes to your advantage: one lane could be about character relationships, another could be about actions that relate to major plot points, and so on.
To add an event, just right-click anywhere on the timeline to get started! You can also link events to map pins, which you can create by right-clicking the map. Linking an event to a pin is useful because when you select an event, the map will focus on that pin—and when you click a pin, you’ll see everything that happened there!
After you’re done, take a step back and look at your work. Now that you have all of the important events laid out in front of you, it will be easier to tell if there are any inconsistencies or plot holes. So you can start editing the outline so it works even better—or just play with the interactive map and timeline for a while!
3. Showcase it to readers!
This will highly depend on your style and how you interact with your audience, but I highly recommend it! Chronicles are great for your readers to understand the complexity of your plot and the history of your world. It’s an amazing way to engage with them and get them thinking about the world, which means they’ll be more excited about your future books!
Of course, spoilers can be an issue, but fortunately Chronicles has visibility options! Since events are public by default, start by picking the events that you want to make private. Click on the event on the timeline and then click the edit button (it has a pencil icon). Find the “Privacy” tab and switch the toggle to private. Once you’ve done that with all the events that you want private, make the Chronicle as a whole public: click the gears icon at the bottom of the right menu bar, and in the “Privacy” tab, switch the toggle to public.
Ready to start plotting your novel? Get started with World Anvil today!
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Thanks, Roc. Reading this post made me go find the ‘Chronicles’ guide in the Codex. Wow. Can’t wait to make that happen over here in my little niche. Reading this post, I can see how plotting out character arcs via timelines, tying that into scenes AND using the maps to showcase the action can add a visual dimension to the novel I had never considered before coming over to World Anvil.
It is important in keeping track of your story to remember what else is going on ‘off the page’ so to speak. This tool can really help in a multiple POV story, where lots of things are happening at once, the different events are acting upon the story and moving it forward, throughout a wide geographic area, and among various groups, all of that. It will also help to keep the story from getting bogged down through inaction.
It makes me think that this could be a brand new method to plot a story, especially for pantsers who write their stories spontaneously without a lot of planning. I can absolutely see how some writers will use this to conceptualize and write their first and subsequent drafts.