How to Construct a Time Line in Literature

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    • 1). Draw a horizontal line on large poster paper or on the board. Cap each end with a mark. The left end of the line marks the beginning of the story and the right end of the line marks the end. If students are drawing time lines on lined paper, have them draw a vertical line at the left hand margin of their paper. The top end of the line will mark the beginning of the story. This format will give students space to write down key events in the plot on the lines of the paper.

    • 2). Identify the number of events to include on the time line. Ten to 15 events is a reasonable amount for the average novel, though you can include more or less according to how detailed you want your time line to be.

    • 3). Determine the important events that impact the central characters or significantly influence the plot. The process of pinpointing a story's most important events helps improve students' reading comprehension. For more advanced students, have them also include events or text selections that portray the book's themes. Alternatively, have them make multiple time lines that highlight different literary features, such as symbolism, figurative language, motifs and themes.

    • 4). Outline the time line before creating the final product, as you are likely to change your mind a few times before deciding on the most important events.

    • 5). Use your outline to create a finished version of your time line. Try to make it more aesthetically pleasing and clear than your first version. You might even include illustrations either hand-drawn, printed out or cut out from magazines, as well as relevant selections from the piece of literature.

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