Multiple Narratives?

Is it possible to construct multiple and separate narratives?
I use these to compare compare competing, potential narrative structures.

Thanks in advance

There is currently no way to create multiple narrative timelines within a single Aeon Timeline document. However, it’s a feature I’d also like to see and I suggested it in the forums for the pre-release beta. Hopefully, it will be added eventually. Also, if more people express their need for multiple narrative timelines, that might speed up Aeon’s consideration for adding/allowing them.

For now, you could just make a copy of your project and arrange the narrative differently there.

Hi @Lucho,

@Skylamar is correct, multiple narratives did come up during the beta testing phase. It is currently not possible to use one timeline file to create discrete, multiple narratives, but during my beta phase discussions with @Skylamar I proposed using a system of filtering events using a Custom Type.

This is a bit of a workaround but it might suit your needs, especially as it sounds as if you are trying to do speculative planning in Aeon rather than having defined, separate timelines all coexisting in one timeline file forever.

A Custom Type and filtering system would allow you to allocate events to alternative schemas, such as Narrative Option A, B, C and then filter the views to show A or B or C. That way you could compare how each one looks.

I could show you what I mean. But only if the above sounds like what you would want to achieve.

This is something I will add to our feature voting when I get the chance, as it would be interesting to gauge the appetite for that feature.

I can appreciate the need, I am just mindful of the complexity and learning curve it might introduce.


Andrew, my concern with your approach here is what it might do when it comes to syncing…

Unless you are willing to have that speculative structure reflected all the way to Ulysses/Scrivener, it might create some hassles for users down the track.

Multiple narratives would also open an easier door to more easily syncing with multiple Scrivener projects etc too, which has been requested as well.

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That is a fair point Matt. But it sounded more to me as if @Lucho wants to plan different possible narratives and then choose one over the other. Possibly with that final choice being the one to eventually sync, or not, with Scrivener. If that is the case then the other narrative options could be deleted.

Which is really why I asked the question. As it isn’t clear what the OP wants specifically.

I personally don’t see it as being much more complex than having multiple mind maps, which is already a feature. Although, I haven’t been syncing Aeon with Scrivener/Ulysses. Do you think the learning curve might be steeper because of syncing?..Sorry, noticed you are also saying multiple narrative timelines might make syncing with multiple Scrivener projects easier. So, I’m just wondering how you think the learning curve might get more complex?


Simply moving from a system where “all data is in all views” to one where “some views show some subsets of data and others don’t” is a fair transition for some people. Adding multiple narratives has the potential to confuse this further, because now there are even more places to look for data.

On the flip side, if designed properly, perhaps it would make the relationship clearer for users and make things easier to follow.

It would just require some experimentation and user testing to work out. We always need to be mindful not to design with “power users” in mind first (even though we try to include as much as we can for them).

The other complication would be in some of the peripheral views – redesigning an inspector to show the position in multiple narratives, redesigning the filter to be able to target multiple narratives, etc.

It is all possible, just requires a lot of careful design work.

Thanks for clarifying. Your points make sense and I can understand where you’re coming from now. I’ll be interested to see if you can figure out an implementation of it sometime in the future.

Thank you all for your considered responses. @ahansonauthor to clarify: Yes, my wish would be to ‘play’ with alternative narrative scenarios; to sense which would work best and then before going to 1st draft and hence syncing with Scrivener. Your Custom Type and filtering system would most likely satisfy my needs. If you could further explain this then I would be grateful.
Thanking you again.

Hi @Lucho,

I have built a working system which I will upload to this thread as a template tomorrow. It is quite late here and I want to add some info about how the system was built and instructions as to how you can use it to move your events into different narrative options for comparison.

I am hoping you find it useful.


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Hi @ahansonauthor,
Many thanks for this along with your time and consideration.
I look forwards to seeing the template when you post it.
Thanks again, Lucho

Hi @Lucho,

Apologies, I have been writing all day. I have one question before I spend some time writing up the instructions for the system I have built.

Is it your intention to build one set of events that can go into one narrative, and then a second set of events that can go into a second narrative option, and a third set etc etc? Or is it your intention to build one set of events that can then be shown in different narrative layouts all at the same time?

I ask because Aeon Timeline can only show one event in one narrative position at a time. It cannot show it in say Chapter 5, scene 1 and Chapter 8, scene 3 at the same time.

If you are looking to build the first of the two scenarios then my proposal can help. If you are looking for the second then I may be wasting my time writing up detailed instructions.

I hope the question makes sense.

No apologies necessary.
It is the latter of the two proposals that I am looking to accomplish: one set of events but then in differing orders, for assessment.
Do you now think that this might not be possible?
Regardless, thanking you for your time in this.

Ah okay, when you called the title of this post ‘Multiple Narratives’ I thought you meant something else. My mistake.

If you want to preserve a set of discrete events and move them around into different narrative structures, there are two ways to achieve this:

  1. Save down different versions of the same file with those events in each and then try the different narrative structures in each. Unfortunately, a multiple file system would be impossible to maintain easily if you wanted to add new events to your narrative in the future.

  2. The much simpler way is to just try different structures in the one timeline. Narrative view is very malleable. You can easily adjust the position of items by dragging and dropping them. This is the same approach Scrivener uses of course.

There has been talk of allowing multiple narratives in Aeon Timeline, but not in the way you want. That feature request is more to do with the planning of multiple books or TV episodes in one timeline file, and it wouldn’t solve your particular problem.

The system I built worked like a dream for that request but not for yours I’m afraid.

I hope you find a way of achieving what you want.

If it is really important for you and if you are willing to put some time in it, then you could duplicate every item on your timeline, tag one A and the other B. Then you create two folders in your narrative – one called A and the other B. Put events A in A in one order and the identical events called B in the other folder. Now you can filter by A or B in your timeline and still see only one of the identical events at a time.

You can have two folders in your narrative, representing different structures. Once you’re done and decided which one it should be, you can delete one of those folders and you can go into your timeline, filter for either A or B and delete all the duplicate events in one action. If you do it with tags and not the title of the event you can even remove the tag afterwards without having to change the title again.

Hi Rob,

That is exactly the system I built. Only using custom types and relationships rather than tags. I can upload the template file I created but I’m not convinced it answers @Lucho ’s specific needs in this instance as events can only be allocated to one narrative folder at a time. Although in my system if you allocate a relationship to an event and use multiple relationships then an event does show the prospective placement when filtered.

That’s why I propose to duplicate the events. You could have two instances of the same event, called A and B (or whatever) and assign one to one version of the narrative and the other to another.