Since Matt and I had already created a calendar a few months ago, I decided it would make the most sense to use the in-world calendar when making the timeline. Duh, right? So when this thing is finished, every plot-relevant thing from road trips lengths to significant event dates will be nailed down to a precise year, month, and day.
Things were going fairly smoothly for a while, but as the story grew in scope and the cast list increased, I encountered the bane of every multi-book story: continuity errors.
I found myself running into problems like:
"The notes say Character A and Character B meet at such-and-so date, but according to the passage of time last session, Character B is still on the other side of the continent that day."
"Okay, going from Point A to Point B took this amount of time last session , but a couple of sessions ago it only took them this long. The route and means of transportation hadn't changed, so what gives?"
"You know, their horses were trained for this kind of constant long-distance traveling, but we're getting dangerously close to animal abuse here. Can't these people stay in one spot for more than a week at a time? Or maybe invent a car?"
So I sit, and I stare at the map of the continent, the map that is created with Microsoft Paint, and not at all drawn to scale. I take a deep breath, and turn my fledgling organizational skills up to 11 (which is probably a 5 for most people.) I start a new document containing the definitive travel distances from Anywhere to Everywhere, by miles, by days on horseback, by days on foot. I color code plot lines. I count on my fingers because my brainmeats are too sizzled to do mental math, and I don't trust myself to interpret the formula I punched in the calculator correctly.
When I can't even finger-count anymore, I write blog posts because clearly I need a break.
But I tell myself the headache is worth it. That everything will line up perfectly with enough hard work and wrangling. That future outlines will be so much easier because of my efforts now. That once this is done I need only concern myself with the fun part, the prose.
Most of all, I tell myself, "Thank GOD this continent doesn't have to deal with snow."