Writing Tips for Beginners: Family Tree

The last two posts have been about characters and characters need family. Especially main characters. When your character has a small family (or a lot of family members that don’t matter) it’s easy to keep track of them, but what if you don’t? That’s were one of my favourite websites comes in: Family Echo. On this website you can create your own family tree and even save it by creating an account. It’s actually meant for real life family trees, but hey, it’s useful for fictional families as well!

Like I said, it’s meant for real life family trees, so you start out with ‘me’. You fill out your character’s first name, surname, surname at birth if they took their husband’s/wife’s name, gender, birth date and maybe a death date if they’re dead. Once you’ve done this, you can add more family members (you don’t have to fill out everything).

The protagonist I have chosen for this family tree is ‘Teddy Bear’. Yes, this will be about a family of bears. I would’ve shared the family tree for my WIP, but I would’nt have been able to show this step-by-step and it’s quite complicated. So Teddy Bear would not have been born without any parents (duh). As you can see, this is really simple: you click on ‘Teddy Bear’ and then in the menu on the left you can click on ‘add parents’.

Once you’ve clicked on ‘add parents’ you can fill out the same information as before. Let’s call Teddy’s parents ‘Mama Bear’ and ‘Papa Bear’ (yes, I’m serious).

Ah, one happy family, eh? Teddy has a sister, though, Grizzly Bear and of course he has grandparents, since Mama and Papa didn’t just appear out of nowhere!

Though for now Papa did appear out of nowhere. As you can see, Grandma Bear’s name is in grey instead of black, this is because she has sadly passed away. On the left you can see her birth and death date. This basic information is not the only information you can fill out though, as I’ll show you with Grizzly.

When you click on a person, you can choose to fill out their contact information, which is the second or the third choice in the menu, depending on whether the person has/had a partner or not. You can also fill out some biographical information:

So Grizzly likes science and history and likes to blog and research. Let’s get back to the family tree, because Mama Bear has a sister, a brother-in-law and a nephew who haven’t been added yet.

There they are! Now, let’s make things a little bit more complicated. Grandpa Bear hasn’t always been with Grandma Bear *gasp* and he even got a child out of that relationship! Another Uncle Bear (so original).

Sadly, Ex Bear has passed away. This is quite a simple family tree, but once things get a lot more complicated and more members are added, it might be hard to find the person you’re looking for. Luckily, there’s a tool for that!

Just click on find and a menu of all the family members (in alphabetical order) appears. Another useful tool could be the ‘show’ tool, which I’ve also circled. Right now, you can only see their names, but it can also show their birth date, death date, email, adress etc. Sadly not all at once, but oh well. You can also decide how many generations of parents or children you want to see.

I hope this post was a little bit helpful. If you’ve decided to use Family Echo and you have any questions, feel free to ask! I don’t bite.

– The Writing Hufflepuff

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