m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

State of the Timelines II

A couple of days ago I blogged about timeline software, mostly griping about Aeon Timeline’s alleged fantasy calendar support. Since then, I posted to the NaNo forums about it (but why bother linking to a closed forum they’re going to delete in less than a year?) and started thinking a bit more about the subgenres of timeline software:

Historical Timelines

I linked Preceden’s list of timeline makers last time, and that list is focused on tools to make a historical style of timeline that records important dates and (apparently optionally, since some don’t support it) date ranges of history. Some of these are fairly granular, letting you drill down to months or even days, depending on how much detail you want to cover.

Plot Timelines

Preceden’s list is short on tools suitable for plotting stories, although they do list the grandfather of them all, Aeon Timeline. Dedicated plot timeline software may not even include times beyond the vague labels you assign to your plot events; Plottr is a good example of dedicated plotting software that takes this approach.

People also use project management software (GanttProject is free), spreadsheets, or mind-mapping software such as Xmind or Scapple for plotting.


A historical timeline is just another way of viewing a calendar; if you don’t need that particular view, you can use actual calendar software instead. Real calendar software has the advantage of being ubiquitous and well-developed, but unfortunately fantasy calendar software is even rarer than fantasy timeline software.

If your requirements are simple, you can enter them into donjon’s fantasy calendar generator and get the year of your choice in either month or planner form, with phases of the moon(s). Update: You can also edit your events; the only downside is that the save/restore process is pretty manual. (I would have used local storage as well.)