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Understanding Your Character: Building A Relationship Map

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Understanding Your Character: Building A Relationship Map

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:22 pm

In many cases we build characters based on a certain concept, and over time, as the character meets other people, the character grows. Sometimes, the character grows in unexpected areas, other times, they fit the rigid guidelines that you've set for them. I've found a technique that helps define who a character is, where he came from, and ultimately, determine what is going on in your creation's fictional mind. We're going to create a relationship map.

Let's start by drawing (on paper or on the computer, MSPaint will work fine.) a circle and writing your character's name within. This is going to be your center, and your starting point for your relationship map. It doesn't matter how big this circle is, but leave room for others on the page.

Next, pick one of your character's relationships, whether it be an NPC or another player's character, and draw them a circle, too. Yep, that's right - put their name in it. Now, draw a line between the two circles, and write on that line the nature of the relationship. ("Is friends with..." or "Holds a grudge against...")

You can repeat this as many times as you wish, and even with entities not associated at all with your character. Eventually, you're going to end up with a spider-web mesh that might be several pages large, with tape holding it together. I like to try and keep mine to one page, but you're welcome to expand upon your relationship map as much as you feel it should be. In many of my maps, I end up drawing two separate lines for every relationship, with an emotion attached in either direction.

This really starts to get useful when there are many other characters that you interact with, and you can't remember what relationship you have with them, and you can't determine how your character should be acting. Just open up your character's relationship map, look at your relation to them their relation to others, and become better at playing the role of your character.

Please, feel free to share your relationship maps here, and share your stories!
Last edited by Remæus on Mon May 05, 2008 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added an example to the diagram explanation.
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Re: Understanding Your Character: Building A Relationship Map

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby pixelgami on Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:28 pm

These might be useful! I've used Open Mind in the past for paper outlines. Never though of using them to map character relationships--duh!

Here are some free/trial ones I pulled up on Source Forge:

Open Mind

The Brain

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I know this is a pretty old topic but I'm going to do that now :P
Sounds fun. A lot of fun.
Also sounds like a helpful tool when writing stories.

Thanks a ton, Mr R
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