Chronological vs Narrative Order (2023)

Aeon Timeline supports two different approaches to ordering events within your timeline:

  • Chronological Order: represents a date-based, sequential order of events as they actually occurred (even for items that have not yet been allocated dates).
  • Narrative Order: represents the order in which events (and other items) are introduced within a narrative or presentation of the timeline data

The chronological order can be considered the default order of events. It is the order used in the majority of views (including Timeline, Spreadsheet, Subway and Relationship Views), and it is the order that is used when determining whether dependencies and constraints are correctly met.

Every item that can be included in the chronological order (as determined by its Item Type) will always be included somewhere within the chronological order.

In contrast, the narrative order takes an opt-in approach where the user must deliberately choose to use it (and in fact, some templates will turn it off entirely by default). Items must be manually added into the Narrative or Outline views (or dragged into these views from other views) to be included in the narrative.

Importantly, it is possible for items to exist in just the chronological order, just the narrative order, or to appear in both chronological and narrative orders: for fiction writers, this allows you to model more backstory in your timeline than you intend to include in your final story, or to add elements into your story narrative that do not correspond with dates or real events within a chronological view of your story.

Enabling/Disabling Narrative

Narrative-based ordering is not going to be relevant for all projects and all industries. For this reason, it is possible to disable the narrative entirely in Timeline Settings.

(Video) Text Structure - Chronological Order

When the narrative is disabled, the application does not maintain a separate narrative order and hierarchy, and the views that use the narrative order - Narrative View and Outline View - are also disabled.

The benefits of maintainingtwo distinct orders

For storytellers, there are multiple benefits to have two distinct orders for your events.

  • Stories that are non-linear, involving flashbacks or time travel will benefit from the ability to view and create both the chronological order of events and the order they occur in the story.
  • Further world building can be mapped out on the timeline, such as backstories or contextual world events, without polluting the narrative of your story.
  • Events can appear in your narrative that don’t make sense to chronologically track in the timeline (eg. Dream sequences)

Beyond storytelling, the separate narrative order can be useful in many other contexts where presentation of data is involved:

  • In a legal setting, the narrative can be used to construct the intended presentation of data to the courtroom
  • In a historical timeline, the narrative can be used to decide which events from a historical timeline should be presented during a lecture

Chronological Order

Chronological order represents the date-based sequence in which events actually occur. Events are sorted by the date of an event, where it exists, and otherwise by a manual ordering.

Which items appear in chronological order?


Generally speaking, items that are considered to be events(based on the item's type) are included in your chronological order. This includes item types such as:

  • Event, Scene, Backstory, Flashback, and Flash-forward within a fiction template
  • Epics, Stories, and Tasks within project management templates
  • Events, Facts and Testimony within legal templates

An item type must allow dates in order to be included in the chronological order, but not all item types that allow dates are necessarily included (e.g. a Person with birth and death dates is configured to allow dates, but is not usually considered to be event-like and included in the chronological order). You can modify which items are allowed in this order in Advanced Settings.

Although items must be allowed to have dates in order to appear in chronological order, they are included even if no dates are set. This allows you to determine the relative order of events prior to setting actual dates, which can be useful during the early stages of plotting a novel or planning a project.

How is the chronological order determined?

First and foremost, an item's start date is used to determine its position within the chronological order. Items within this ordering are automatically sorted whenever their dates change to ensure that this date-based ordering is always preserved. When this sorting occurs, items without dates will maintain their relative position compared to other items as much as possible.

The easiest place to view and re-order items is using the Spreadsheet View, with the columns sorted by the chronological order column (the column with the # heading). Dragging items up and down within this spreadsheet view will adjust their position within the chronological order:

(Video) Pulp Fiction In Chronological Order

  • Items without dates can be dragged to any position within the order (and they will not be given dates when this occurs).
  • Items with dates can also be dragged anywhere, but their dates will be adjusted if you drag the item past an item with a conflicting date.

Re-ordering dates in Relationship View or Subway View will affect the chronological order in the same way (including triggering date changes if required).

Dragging items in timeline view, or editing their dates directly, may also affect chronological order if the new date requires a shift in order to keep events sequential.

Which views use chronological order?

Timeline View
Timeline View provides a linear view of events across time, with events displayed chronologically from left to right to match the corresponding dates along the top. If items share the same date, their vertical order is determined by the chronological order (i.e. higher items in the Spreadsheet View will also appear higher on the Timeline View). Only events that contain dates are displayed on the timeline.
Spreadsheet View
Events are ordered chronologically from top to bottom.Events are automatically ordered by date, however events don’t have to have a date to appear in the spreadsheet view so you can manually alter the order of these events by clicking and dragging them in the list.

Item hierarchies can be used to group items underneath parents, in which items will be sorted by chronological order at each level of the hierarchy tree.

Relationship View Behaviour is the same as the Spreadsheet View, listed above.
Subway View Events are ordered chronologically from left to right wth an even spacing (unlike Timeline View, Subway View is not linear and does not represent the relative time spacing between items).

Narrative Order

Narrative order is a structured order for events which is independent of their dates. The events are contained in a hierarchical structure with the ability to give labels such as “Part”, “Chapter” and “Scene”.

Which items appear in narrative order?

The narrative order will contain a mixture of date-based items that can appear in both the chronology and narrative, and narrative-only items.As with narrative order, the types of items is determined by your chosen template. To use fiction templates, as an example:

(Video) The Complete Castlevania Game Series Timeline! | The Leaderboard

  • Event, Scene, Flashback, and Flash-forward items can occur within both the narrative and chronological orders, as they are events that occur at a real place and time that might be included within the
  • Folders or Narrative parts occur only within the Narrative (these are typically used to create a hierarchy within the narrative, such as dividing scenes into Chapters and Parts).
  • Backstory items can appear within the chronology but not the narrative (because by definition, they are elements of world-building that are kept out of the actual story).

Unlike chronological order, items must be explicitly added to the narrative order in order to be included. This can be helpful for people who have more events to plot then will eventually appear in the narrative of their story.

As discussed, the narrative order can be grouped into a hierarchy, allowing events and scenes to be divided into Chapters and Parts (for a novel) or Acts and Scenes (for a screen or stage play) that better reflect the overall structure of the narrative story. This is different to the general item hierarchy that is created by setting item parents: in effect, the narrative maintains its own distinct hierarchy as well as order).

How are items added to the narrative?

There are several ways to add items into the narrative.

Existing items:

  • Existing items can be dragged into Narrative View or Outline View from another view to add that item into the narrative.
  • Existing items can also be added into Narrative View by clicking on an Add button within the view (these are located at numerous points within the hierarchical tree) and selecting an existing item from the dropdown

New items:

(Video) The Full GTA 5 Online Timeline (2013-2021)

  • New items can also be created directly in the narrative by using the Add button in the Narrative View, or by typing a label into the empty row at the bottom of the Outline View
  • New items will also be directly added to the narrative if a Narrative View or Outline View is the focused view when adding items via the Sidebar or Item menu (provided the chosen item types are allowed to be included in the narrative).

When adding new items to the narrative, if that type is allowed in the chronological order, it will be added automatically to the end of the existing chronology.

Which views use narrative order?

Narrative View
Narrative view is a card layout of the narrative order. The order runs from top to bottom, left to right with cards displayed within one another to show the hierarchical structure.
Outline View
Outline View is the narrative-order equivalent of the Spreadsheet View. Items are sorted from top to bottom according to the narrative order. Where the narrative includes a hierarchy, this will be reflected in the tree structure of the Outline View.


Chronological vs Narrative Order? ›

Chronological Order: represents a date-based, sequential order of events as they actually occurred (even for items that have not yet been allocated dates). Narrative Order: represents the order in which events (and other items) are introduced within a narrative or presentation of the timeline data.

Is narrative a chronological order? ›

A chronology usually has less emotional impact than a narrative – essentially a chronology is recounting a report whereas a narrative is telling a story. In a chronology, the plot events are lined up in temporal sequence. You could say “and then” between each event.

What is chronology or narrative? ›

Using chronology as narration involves relating events in the order in which they occur. A speaker will almost certainly employ narrative chronology if he or she uses an anecdote or extended example, but as demonstrated by the sample outline below, whole speeches can be organized this way.

Is a narrative essay in chronological order? ›

Chronological order is often used in a narrative essay. When you tell a story, you start from the beginning and then tell about all the main events leading up to its ending. Don't jump from one thing to another in the past but move in sequential order.

What are the three 3 types of chronological order? ›

Chronological, Sequential, and Consecutive Order.

What is a example of chronological order? ›

Chronological order is the order in which the events occurred, from first to last. This is the easiest pattern to write and to follow. up with a broken arm. That night, she cried herself to sleep.

What is the meaning of chronological order? ›

Definition of chronological

: of, relating to, or arranged in or according to the order of time chronological tables of American history His art is arranged in chronological order.

What is a narrative example? ›

Examples of Narrative: When your friend tells a story about seeing a deer on the way to school, he or she is using characteristics of a narrative. Fairy tales are narratives. The plot typically begin with "Once upon a time ..." and end with "happily ever after."

What is another way to say chronological order? ›

What is another word for chronological?
temporalin order
order archivalin due course
29 more rows

Why is chronological order important in narrative writing? ›

Chronology is important because the exact order in which events occur helps us understand the cause and the effect of those events, and thereby allow us to step back and view the "big picture" of history - how and why events unfold in the way they do, and how they are related.

What order is used in narrative writing? ›

A narrative often (but certainly not always) is written in chronological order. A narrative essay makes its point, or thesis, by telling a story.

What type of order is usually used by a narrative essay? ›

The most common and easiest method of organization in the body of a narrative is chronological, or time order. Because telling a story typically involves talking about a series of occurrences, time order often seems most logical.

How do you know if a essay is narrative? ›

A narrative essay tells a story. In most cases, this is a story about a personal experience you had. This type of essay, along with the descriptive essay, allows you to get personal and creative, unlike most academic writing.

What is the opposite of chronological order? ›

random. haphazard. intermittent. irregular. out-of-order.

What are the 5 steps in chronological order? ›

When using chronological order, arrange the events in the order that they actually happened, or will happen if you are giving instructions. This method requires you to use words such as first, second, then, after that, later, and finally.

What is chronological order in paragraph? ›

In "chronological order," the information is organized in time. Here the writer states what happened first, second, third, and last. Chronological organization is typical of, although not limited to, narrative writing.

How do you find the chronological order of a story? ›

— Nancy Kress, novelist and short story writer

Then instead of simply listing a series of events in chronological order, find the narrative arc. Move the reader from the inciting incident to rising action to the resolution and, finally, the denouement.

What is a chronological report examples? ›

We can find examples of chronological reports in newspapers, as they sometimes describe events as they unfold, putting each event in the order that it happened. Sports reports are a great example of this; they often describe a game or match from start to finish in time order.

What are the two types of chronology? ›

The types of information which can be used to make chronological inferences can be divided into two broad categories: the first are the age measurements themselves and the second are the stratigraphic relationships (see Harris) between samples.

What comes first in chronological order? ›

Since chronological order is the arrangement of events in the order they have happened, the oldest event is the first event, and the newest event is the last.

What are some 3 examples of narrative? ›

Written forms of narration include most forms of writing: personal essays, fairy tales, short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, autobiographies, histories, even news stories have a narrative.

What are the 4 types of narrative? ›

Here are four common types of narrative:
  • Linear Narrative. A linear narrative presents the events of the story in the order in which they actually happened. ...
  • Non-linear Narrative. ...
  • Quest Narrative. ...
  • Viewpoint Narrative.
Sep 8, 2021

What are the 3 types of narratives? ›

There are three popular forms:
  • First Person - In this point of view, a character (typically the protagonist, but not always) is telling the story. ...
  • Second Person - In this point of view, the author uses a narrator to speak to the reader. ...
  • Third Person - In this point of view, an external narrator is telling the story.

Why do writers not write in chronological order? ›

Shifting back and forth in time creates suspense. Your readers can unravel the past and understand the ramifications in the present a little at a time. It creates a tension that makes your books hard to put down.

What are the 5 parts of narrative structure? ›

These five components are: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. These essential elements keep the story running smoothly and allow the action to develop in a logical way that the reader can follow.

How do you structure a narrative? ›

Divide your story into exposition and an inciting incident in the first act, a rising action leading to a climax in the second act, and a climax de-escalating into resolution in the final act.

How many paragraphs is a narrative? ›

🎁 How many paragraphs are in a narrative essay? A narrative essay, just like most essays, consists of three main parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It will most likely consist of five paragraphs, or more, depending on the length of your essay.

What are the 7 elements of a narrative? ›

These terms include: plot, characters, point of view, setting, theme, conflict, and style. Understanding how these elements work helps us better analyze narratives and to determine meanings.

What is narrative format? ›

The narrative format in writing is a structure good for telling stories and sharing anecdotes and messages. The narrative format doesn't necessarily need to follow a strict order or series of events to be effective, but all good narratives or stories should include five major components: Characters (at least one)

What's the difference between an essay and a narrative? ›

The main difference between narrative and descriptive essay is that a descriptive essay describes a certain person, an object or a scene while a narrative essay narrates a story.

What is an example of narrative paragraph? ›

Narrative paragraphs tell about an event or series of events, usually in chronological order. Most short stories and newspaper articles are examples of narrative writing. Example: For next five years, our company named CaPs and another company named BuXER.

How long is a narrative essay? ›

How long is a narrative essay? Well, it all depends, but generally, a good narrative essay is about five pages long and has a few standard requirements along the way. Some colleges require a narrative essay of 500 words only, so if it's your case, just modify the number of blocks to fit the required word count.

What word means not chronological? ›

Definition of nonchronological

: not of, relating to, or arranged according to the order of time : not chronological nonchronological narratives.

What is chronological and non chronological? ›

Non-chronological is the opposite of chronological and simply means not relating to - or being arranged according to - the order of time.

What order is used in narrative writing? ›

A narrative often (but certainly not always) is written in chronological order. A narrative essay makes its point, or thesis, by telling a story.

Why is chronological order important in narrative writing? ›

Chronology is important because the exact order in which events occur helps us understand the cause and the effect of those events, and thereby allow us to step back and view the "big picture" of history - how and why events unfold in the way they do, and how they are related.

How are narratives structured? ›

A story's narrative structure is a combination of plot and story elements, such as characters, settings, and events. The main purpose of narrative structure is to help readers understand what is happening, and to keep them engaged, page after page.

What is the order of a story called? ›

Sequencing refers to the identification of the components of a story — the beginning, middle, and end — and also to the ability to retell the events within a given text in the order in which they occurred.


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