Writer’s Notebook: Character’s Timeline

The fun part of writing a script is developing my characters. I try to make sure they are complex reflections of the human experience. I write a backstory as many of you do. But, this is usually after I ha’ve the first few pages done. I write these before I so an outline for the plot. Knowing who they are dictates what they do and how they speak.

The script from which Amy stems has bugged me for months. The plot gives me trouble. At least I can say I am happy with my characters. I thought I would share some of the steps I take to create my characters. I had not done a timeline before, but it was an assignment for class. I may use it as a writing tool from now on.

Timeline of Amy St. John (1994- )

1968 Amy’s grandmother becomes an activist. Later Amy’s mother tells her the stories of her grandmother’s experiences. Amy grows up knowing the importance of community involvement. 
1973 The United States legalizes abortion. Amy’s grandmother is appalled but other members of her family celebrate.
1977 Amy’s older cousin goes to see Star Wars. She will grow up hearing about how great it is.
1979 Great Britain gets their first female Prime Minister. Amy’s feminist aunts celebrate.
1980 Ted Turner creates CNN. People have a new place to get their news.
1982 Thriller comes out. Everyone, including Amy’s mother, has Michael Jackson fever. It will later become one of the albums Amy and her grandmother dance to.
1991 South Africa repeals apartheid. Amy’s family celebrates with a healthy dose of suspicion.
1993 The World Trade Center is bombed. Amy’s family worries that some of their family was hurt.
1994 Amy is born. Her father does not attend her birth. They do not have a good relationship.
1994 O.J. Simpson is tried for murder. People discuss race, money, and crime.
1999 Amy’s great-grandfather passes away. She is sad. She spends that summer at her maternal grandparents’ house. Her grandmother plays a lot of soul music that Amy ends up loving.
2004 Amy’s father reaches out to her. She spends the summer at her father’s house. She kills his cat. She returns home with a different disposition.
2005 A new girl moves to town. Amy’s teachers ask her to be nice to her. They end up being best friends.
2005 Amy starts spending more time at her father’s house. She finds out her father is cheating on his wife. Her father asks her to keep it a secret. She does.
2006 Amy starts singing. Her mother loves her voice and encourages her to join a band. She attends voice lessons and starts working on her professional demo.
2006 Amy’s cousin Jaslyn is born. Amy helps out and realizes she loves children.
2007 Amy has her first big crush. Amy’s mother tells her she is too young to date. The boy dates her best friend.
2007 Amy shows great promise at school. The teachers encourage her to tutor so she can use it as an activity to use for her college resume.
2007 Amy is molested. She is in a funk for a whole year.
2008 Amy’s aunt finds her story and sends it to a publisher friend. Amy gets her first short story published. She is featured on the news. She loves the attention.
2008 The United States elects the first Black president. The world celebrates. They still have no female president.
2008 Amy’s aunt is diagnosed with cancer. The treatments take her hair. Amy shaves her head to show her support.
2009 Amy gets her first job working at Foot Locker. Boys surround her. There she meets someone and they become great friends.
2009 Amy starts tutoring children at the local community center. The kids she helps grades improve and Amy gets featured on the news again. She decides she is going to be famous.
2009 Amy has her first boyfriend, her best friend. He is attracted to her bald head.
2010 Amy has sex for the first time. Her mother finds her secret stash of condoms and gives her “the talk.”
2010 Amy scores a 1450 on her SATs. Her mother is so proud she buys her a car.
2011 Amy graduates high school. She has three scholarships. Her mother tells her she will support her music career if she is serious. She must get a manager, write more mature material, and perform more shows.
2011 Amy’s father has his third marriage, this professor lady. She pretends to like her so she can get a recommendation to get into a good college.
2011 Amy’s best friend’s sister is raped but no one knows but her. She gets pregnant and is kicked out. Amy wants her to come home with them but she has to tell her mother and is scared. She gives the girl money from her allowance every week to take care of herself.
2012 Amy accidently poisons her stepmom’s dog. Her father overhears her stepmother cussing her out. He signs her up to volunteer at a pet rescue shelter.

Some of the timeline have to include events before her birth. Several events have to be world event. You need at least 15 entries. If you try this assignment please tell me your results.

Connect with me  http://www.twitter.com/caramelsarjo.

Thanks,

Sara Jo

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