As I’ve said on the blog many times, characters are an integral part of any writing project. But it can be difficult to keep track of everyone involved in your story, and how they all connect. There are certain genres — fantasy, for instance — in which stories contain large casts of characters. If you write within these genres and have a highly populated story, you might find it helpful to use a technique or tool to keep all your character connections straight, and to perhaps create some new ones.
My first suggestion comes from author Marie Lu, which she offered in her pep talk for National Novel Writing Month. Marie said, “Write a long list of all your characters. Then, start drawing random lines connecting random characters to each other. Don’t think—just connect. Afterward, look down at your page. Try to figure out a connection between each of the two random characters you just linked—something scandalous, maybe, or something sweet. Something three-dimensional and unexpected. Some explosive scene that throws the two together.”
If you’re looking for some new character connections that will spice up your story or banish your writers’ block, then Marie Lu’s suggestion is a great one. Seeing a visual reminder of who is involved in your story, and creating actual, visual connections between them can be just what you need to discover where your story should go next. This is also a great exercise if you’re feeling blocked and need to find a new direction for your writing.
Secondly, I’d like to suggest a website called CharaHub. The purpose of this website is to catalog the characters in your story, describe their traits and backstories, and then connect them all in one handy place. The site is free to join and you can keep all of your character profiles private if you don’t want to share with others. CharaHub is a great way to stay organized, and it’s a helpful repository for ideas that you can return to whenever you need to. I have found the site to be really helpful with my recent writing project, which has a lot of characters with different, intricate connections.
Characters can invade writers’ brains sometimes, and that can be just as helpful as it is maddening. When you have so many different people to think about all at once, it can be difficult to keep things straight! Hopefully these tools will help you out. Happy writing!
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan