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Character Development: Map That Family Tree

I have finally gotten off my tail to start trying to work on the family history of the people who used to own Blackbourne Hall (the estate my heroine is turning into a B and B).  I thought it might be handy to create a family tree for them so that I could keep track of characters and figure out who would have interesting stories attached to them that Ada or Isaac or the family history would talk about.  I googled around and found several online sites devoted to creating a family tree.  They’re cool, but they’re meant for doing the geneology of actual people.  I wanted some kind of software that would let me totally make up a family that no one will see but me.  And I came across Family Tree Builder.  It is fabulously free and amazingly detailed.  You can enter as little or as much information as you want.  For some of these characters I’m entering birthdates, names and that’s it.  Jeremiah, for example, had 4 daughters.  They aren’t all necessarily relevant.  BUT, if I decide they are, I can easily go back in and add information.  There’s a section for physical description, occupation, notes,  facts and a whole myriad of other details.  I think this will really help me to start getting a handle on the ancestors in this family.

This is a really great tool for any cast of characters that happens to be related.  It’s even good for developing your backstory, all those details that probably won’t make it on the page, but influence your understanding of who your characters are.

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