Thursday, November 8, 2012

Family Pedigrees for Book Plots

I described in my Trails and Rails blog entry titled "Start At the Beginning" how I used pedigrees charts to help me plot the families in each of the three novels. Even though I have my timeline, I still needed the visual to get me past the writer's block that developed. I fell in love with the characters and plot of book 2, Wyoming Promise, FIRST and had trouble developing all the characters and plot for the first novel, Nebraska Sunrise. (See the blog for my new historical western romance series by clicking on the tab Trails and Rails located at the top of this blog.)

I decided against using my Legacy database program I use for my own family history research and which I have used for my multi-generational series. I started with my word program, using the vertical bars and underscore keys to make connections. A lot of work, but it looked like this:
Family pedigree developed in Word

It was a hassle, especially keeping everything lined up and tabbing to get the form formatted. Actually it was not too bad until a child from each family decided to get married. Then again, isn't that what romance is all about?

Fine, but for putting together a pedigree chart by hand, I decided I needed to do the hourglass/butterfly design, and the size and nature of the Word characters did not cooperate too well with that venture.                                                            
Same family pedigree on a spreadsheet

So, copied and pasted what I had into a spreadsheet program, moved the information in the cells around and came up with this.

Instead of vertical bar marks, I used the cell outline feature that is part of my Windows 7 Excel program.

I like it better because it more clearly shows the marriage between the two families.
Next, I copied and pasted this family pedigree from the spreadsheet program into a Word document....
And I ended up with this.

IMHO, much better!