What does your family tree reveal?
Family trees connect us to our ancestors, and perhaps help us understand ourselves better.
My Family Tree
Family trees fascinate me. I learn not only the names of my ancestors, but also their occupation, and important dates used to mark their life, births, marriages, and deaths. Recently, my mother unearthed our family tree.
The first person on the tree was born in 1685, a farmer with two wives. His first wife died, although she had given birth to a live child, who was named, but died as a infant. His second wife had nine children and I am descended from one of them!
I am not surprised I am from farming stock, it’s clearly in my blood. Could it explain my continued interest in sheep prices when I don’t own one sheep! Who knows? but it is fun speculating.
Paintings or Photographs of those on the family tree.
I love how our family tree relates to the paintings and old photographs we have around my mother’s house and my own. The pictures bring these forebearers to life, and adds to the story of our connection. I use this experience in creating characters.
Using family trees in my own stories.
Before I get going writing a story, I like to meet the characters. In a similar way, to finding out about my own family, I create family trees and feel the connections between story characters. This helps me conjure how they might behave in the world. For example, if both parents were dead, they may behave in quite a different way than someone whose infant cousin had died.
Often a vision of a face or stance will pop in my mind, and I give the character a name, and I write down quickly, before it disappears in the ether of my thoughts. On unlined paper I write their name and add other names as they occur to me.
I begin to see a pattern. Perhaps they have the same last name, or it pops into my mind that they are cousins, and I’m off drawing a family tree.
In the past I wrote great screeds on character credentials, but I have found another way which is infinitely more fun!
Learning about characters in my stories in an evolving thing, and I have other ways of developing their prersonalities to become three dimensions people who inhabit the worlds I create.
Look out for other articles about this coming soon.
What does your family tree look like?
Have you got a family tree? If not, you might have fun creating one, based on who you know, and chatting with older members of your family.
Who knows what stories you will uncover!
Create your story family tree
Take up your coloured pencils and paints, or black ink pen, and start with a name.
If you are having trouble thinking of a name, there are numerous websites where you can simply start with a letter and get a list of first names or surnames in whatever nationality you desire. Recently, I used this website for Scottish surname being with T- Taggart - the last name of the captain of the ship going to South America with Miss Lisette Baird, in part 2 of her story, which will be out later this year in another Three Quills anthology - sorry if that is a spoiler!
For those of you who have yet to read ‘Lisette’s floral tiara,’ (part 1) it is out now with two other stories from the wild and wonderful Quills, Jen Yates, andLeigh D’Ansey, in our anthology, 'A Tangle of Tiaras and Titles.'
If you want to know when Lisette’s next adventure is out for you to read,
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