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/