Character My Writing Journey

Character Mapping

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

I’m a bit of visual learner, so it’s no surprise that one of my favourite Scrivener functions is the ability to see a novel outline as index cards pinned to a cork board. I’m also a big fan of the character sheets (which allow me to note key characteristics of individual characters), but recently I was struggling with how I could best articulate the relationships between characters.

I love the idea of visualising these relationships in a diagram and have taken to using Google’s Lucidchart app to develop a network map that clearly and simply articulates the links between the characters of my novel-in-development, Elementals. Below is an early draft of the network. As you can see, I’m able to identify both direct and indirect relationships between characters as well as use colour to code different elements (in this case, red text boxes for Fire Elementals and coloured text for emotional (rather than functional) relationships).

Using Lucidchart to visualise character relationships in ‘Elementals’

I love being able to see the full tapestry of character interactions at a glance – it affords so many great advantages:

* Identifying opportunities for minor characters to have more influence on the plot through their relationships with other characters
* Identifying heavily-linked characters – allowing me to better consider how plot developments will impact on them through their direct and indirect relationships
* Keeping track of how relationships change as the novel develops (perhaps through using colour-coded arrows for different parts)
* Identifying and addressing unnecessary complexity in the character network – e.g. “Do I really need another character for this plot development or could an existing character perform this role?”

What about you? How do you plan and keep track of character relationships and networks?

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