The timeline technique

One way to structure your writing to inform is by using a diagram like this:

Timeline 1

Three vertical lines with an arrow running through the middle of them create a timeline with two rows of four spaces

This is a timeline - the arrow is time moving forwards and the three lines break down the different events in order.

If you think of four events as being key things that happened in a certain order, then you could plan your article in that same order. For example, on the timeline the following could be the four key events that you could write about:

  • plans for the future of the skatepark, now that it is listed
  • what actually happened when the skatepark was listed
  • people’s reactions to the listing of the skatepark
  • how the listing of the skatepark came about

Timeline 2

Timeline of events supporting the story on the skatepark. The top row is split into four headings – What happened? How the listing came about? People’s reaction and future plans of the skatepark.

You could start with what actually happened so that the reader knows what the article is all about. From that point, you can then go back to the past to explain how this all came about. You can then return to the present and then move to the future.

It would be also be fine to go from the past, to the present and then to the future – as long as you start the article by explaining what has actually happened.

Once you have a timeline plan, you can then start to think about how all of the various conventions and ingredients will fit in. Some, such as a lively formal style will apply to each section and others, such as the use of a headline and subheadings need to be added when and where required.

Timeline 3

Timeline of events supporting the skatepark story. Under two of the headings, ideas for what to include have been included such as using quotes under ‘People’s reactions’.

This is now a plan that you could use to help you write your own informative article for the school magazine. As you go through the four key areas, you should keep in mind the key conventions that you have in your list.

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