When I was in high school, most of my classmates had to research and draw a family tree for their American History class. I got out of that particular project because I was in the Advanced Placement course. Apparently, the administration thought that families were too mundane and simple for us AP students.
Well, I say 😛 on them! I wish I HAD done one! Because I spent the whole of yesterday researching, drawing, plotting, and killing my main character’s family tree. Back 300 years! Man! It’s no wonder I slept for 9 hours last night. I had wanted to get a little work done on my manuscript, but silly me, I thought I’d have plenty of time after working on a simple family tree.
Oh, was I ever wrong! It was anything but simple, and consumed my day, my time, and my brainpower.
I’d like to post a picture of it, since I took a few, but if anybody is actually able to read it through the blurs, it will give away a good portion of the ending. So I can’t. Needless to say, it looks a little something like this:
Except mine is handwritten, messy, and on a ginormous poster board. Which isn’t big enough, really, for everything it needs to hold. And it’s not even finished! There is still some plotting and naming to do.
I usually love to name characters. That’s one of my favorite things about writing. It’s my writing crack and when I’m stuck on something, I distract myself by naming new characters.
But man, I am named-out for a while. I spent so much time researching names, name meanings, history, mythology, etc., that my brain was mush by the end of it.
And every single person on this family tree has a story. And a history. And importance in the overall arc of my series. Not that they’ll all be named, or even mentioned, but their actions and lives play a part in how my main characters acts and lives. So THAT was a chore, as well. Sitting down with each of these characters and learning their names, their stories, their shames, their triumphs… whew!
And I’m not even done! *Whimper* This is only the family tree of my main character, and I need to do branches of other people up and down the tree that I couldn’t fit onto the poster board. But I need to take a break from family-treeing for a while. Some of my conversations with my characters yielded new and exciting plot points and backstory, so I’m going to work on that for a while.
Is anybody else stuck in a drudging writing task that is important, but draining?
Happy writing, everybody!
“Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future. We make discoveries about ourselves.” Gail Lumet Buckley
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”
― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon