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Characters family history etc

edited December 2005 in - Writing Problems


  • For all the character profiles I have done, I haven't really talked about family history. I've noted whether the character's parents are still alive, but not much else. I was wondering how others write this information? Do you draw family trees etc? Also, in your profiles, do you go as far back as childhood, and talk about some of the times they had when they were younger etc?

    Any advice would be great. Thank you in advance
  • I've certainly gone back to childhood for some of my characters.  In one case, events then were very important to his development and led to where he was at the start of the story.
    For sprawling families, I usually need a family tree (no, she's his great aunt, not his grandmother, for instance).

    In real life, I've known one person who never talked about her past at all, and everyone who knew her thought she was a bit strange to volunteer no information at all about her childhood, or whether she had siblings, or even what she'd done before she came to live in the village.  So I think most realistic characters would let slip something about their childhood in the right circumstances, even little things like falling off a slide and scraping their knee, for instance, or how they hated maths at school.
  • Do you have to include other family members as active characters if you talk about them in relation to a main characters family history?

    Any advice on that would be great. Thanks.
  • I don't suppose you have to - you could just mention Mad Aunt Jane in passing, leaving other characters to wonder if the genes had been passed down :)
  • Hi Schumi. They're your characters. You created them. It's up to you what you put in their profiles. It's just that the more you put in, the more you know them and the more real they become.
  • You can do a search for character charts on the Net or take out a loan of screenwriting for dummies etc.  BFN until another time as I am about to watch Heartbeat and then Herule Poirot. Apart from doing some writing, I have been watching Agatha Christie films. Mum has been giving be a subtle hint of help there I reckon.
  • i build my characters up in my head and can picture them so vividly, I plan out their past, hobbies, characteristics and apperance all in my head. Perhaps you should do that before you carry on - on paper, in your head etc. Even if you don`t need the information in your story it helps to know it so you dont contradict yourself. Going back to childhood depends on your plot - I often use flashbacks to portray this but its up to the writer.Hope this is o.k.
  • I was interested to read that you use flashbacks when going back to a characters childhood. How do you introduce the flashbacks? Do you change the look of your writing i.e. italics, or do you do something else?
  • It can be enough to just leave a blank line.
  • I do what evaine suggested, just leave a line/ strat a new paragraph. If you want to distinguish it a bit more you could use italics, a different font or start a new chapter (if its a novel) but its personal preference...anything goes as long as it is obvious, be creative!
  • change strat to start, might make a bit more sense...hmmmmm
  • Yes, it does make more sense, PP.
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