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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Character Control

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Did you ever hear a good idea and think "Wow, that's so simple, so obvious. Why did I never think of it?"

The January 2009 issue of the SCBWI Bulletin has an article on "Keeping Those Characters in Line" by Denise Ortakales. What is her advice? In order to keep information about the characters in your book, how they are related to each other, their individual histories and lives and quirks - use the genealogy charts and worksheets available on many genealogy websites! Treat your characters like they are real people. You think of them as such anyway, don't you?

You can find ancestral charts (pedigree charts), family group templates, forms for recording individual information, timeline charts. Genealogists are very structured, organized and detail-oriented - which is what you need to be about your book and characters. Try these various websites to find free forms you can download:

Family Tree Magazine: http://www.familytreemagazine.com/freeforms/
Family Tree Resources: http://www.uftree.com/family_tree_template.asp
Kindred Keepsakes: http://www.kindredkeepsakes.com/products/charts/free.asp
Bailey/Williams College : http://www.cs.williams.edu/~bailey/genealogy/

3 comments:

Denise said...

Hey, thanks. I'm glad you liked the article. But be prepared to be bitten by the genealogy bug (if you're not already!)

Francesca Hawley said...

What I did with one story I worked on was to go into Microsoft Word and create organizational charts. Family tree charts are great, but it doesn't let you keep track of siblings all on the same sheet (except for the family group chart). So I created the organizational charts with grandparents at the top. That way I can keep track of all the siblings and their families on one page. I may add the genealogy sheets to my background information though. It's a good idea.

Kessa said...

Another good program is Legacy- www.legacyfamilytree.com. They have a free version and if you have an elaborate character family, you can track relationships.