One function of the book I'm putting together is to use visual means to enlighten the reader where possible. A lot of people find it easier to understand things if they're represented visually - slow people, yes, like myself. I really like to see maps and family trees at the start of books, so I intend to build on that dramatically for my own.
I've therefore started putting a timeline together of the lives of all the key characters from the era I'm focusing on (1450-1550 Italy). It's fascinating for a number of reasons - especially when you consider adding in 'key moments' of people's lives and measuring them up against the other characters.
This is early on in its creation - I've colour-coded names as best I could according to their being either an artist, writer, ruler or 'other' (I'll work on that). I've already noticed some very interesting outcomes from the timeline: Lorenzo de' Medici and Aldo Manuzio (the world-famous publisher) were born in the same year, as were Leonardo and Savonarola, as were Amerigo Vespucci (whose feminised Latin name was given to America) and Agnolo Poliziano (scholar, friend of Lorenzo de' Medici, bane of Lorenzo's wife's life), as were Pico della Mirandola and Caterina Sforza, but perhaps the biggest year of them all was 1475: Michelangelo, Pope Leo X and Cesare Borgia come out to play.