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As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I ran out of steam as I was filling in my “beat sheets” because my story idea didn’t include enough conflict and I had no idea who my characters were or where they lived.

Rather than stare at a blank sheet of paper, I flipped to another blank sheet, wrote my main character’s name at the top of it, and started sketching out her family tree.

A person’s personality, temperament, quirks, and habits are most strongly influenced by their parents. I can’t get to know my character without knowing her parents. Depending on the story, I may need to know her siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. In this case, my character’s extended family will be a frequent topic of conversation and they will make an appearance during a family reunion scene.

I should note, I don’t get fancy. In fact, I can’t draw, I have bad penmanship, and I scribble a lot. My creative process is not neat or ordered or exact in any way. To prove my point, here’s my sketched out family tree: