Every Branch on Your Character’s Family Tree Led the Story from Somewhere – Guest Post by Traci Kenworth…

Just like your own background in life, every branch on your character’s family tree led the story from somewhere. Whether their grandfather got off on that boat from Europe all those years ago, or they were born here in the states among the stars and seashores, there’s a story there. Just like there’s a story in every movement your character’s family made across the centuries. We all come from somewhere. Some of them not good places. Some of them downright creepy, degrading places. Things of history. Living under Napoleon’s regime wouldn’t have been Grandeany more than Pontius Pilate’s. And yet, the stories that came out of each place haunt today’s generations.

It’s because we get people. We get families. And both are tied up in those stories. Every branch of family that’s come down through has their own life lessons, their own triumphs and disasters. Life’s always been that way. It has to for us to survive. That’s what stories at the basis are: tales of survival. How one group or another survived this or that. It thrills us to hear the songs of champions from those ages. They help us to believe the impossible: that we can live another day and we will defeat our enemies. Be they a nasty printer or a Julius Caesar. No one stands alone. Even though it seems like it at times. There is always someone beside us.

Cavemen learned to band together for a reason: we’re stronger when facing a foe together. It’s been that way down through the centuries. We’ve been hindered by language, different religions, politics, etc. but certain groups have broken off to form their own divisions among the peoples. We need each other to survive. And not just to survive, but to build, to conquer, to expand into new lands. Just one person can’t do it. Or at least, they wouldn’t get far. Everybody needs somebody to push forward in life.

That’s what we’ve learned throughout history. When we build together as a society, we go far. Even different groups can band together under the same frame of government. We just have to respect each other’s way and learn to work together and appreciate each other’s strengths. Now, sure there are going to be disagreements. There always are in life. But there are also ways to go past arguments, to strike deals to overcome our differences. That’s how governments work.

Where your characters come from can be a big deal. They suggest their economic status, their potential to advance or not advance in society. That’s a good thing to know because it lets us know how far a character may or may not go. And if they end up going further then their overachievement comes as a surprise. Even so, there would have to be a reason for that overachievement as well. Some secret hidden in their background; some blessing placed on them by a god at birth who knows but you’d have to hint at such. It couldn’t just show up out of nowhere at the last minute to save the character.

Each little note of specialty a character has or develops must be discussed or hinted at within some point or other in the book. You can’t overwhelm the reader with coincidences. Show Hercules growing up, developing his strengths. Harry Potter going through the processes of learning the magics that will help him defend himself and his loved ones from his hated enemy. Simba had to learn the courage within himself to face his uncle and the hyenas and take his true place in the lion kingdom. There are so many stories out there that show the specialness of these characters and how they come about.

The courage of the generations that came before can give future generations the courage they in turn need to succeed in their own endeavors. It helps us to know that our ancestors struggled against the same things as we do. We see that they didn’t quit or give up. We study how they did something and apply it to our own situation to see if it could help us in return. Learning from the past helps us all. That’s why education is so important. If we don’t talk about where we’ve been, we can’t learn to do better in the future. To overcome the past. We grow from listening to the stories of the past generations.

All throughout history, we’ve been taught lessons from those who’ve lived before us. Whether they are our ancestors or other people that lived before us, we can discover how they did things and figure for ourselves if it will work for us. Perhaps it’s a good idea, perhaps not. But discovering how things were done gives us the tools we need to make our own decision on a matter. It’s an important part of growing up. Not allowing our children to take those steps to discover keeps them immature and unable to think for themselves.

Branches of your character’s family chart can certainly have an effect on his or her current situation. Think of health conditions we’ve suffered through with previous generations. They didn’t want to go through them any more than we do. Today, we have better medicine to combat things. What sort of advantages do your characters have over their previous counterparts? Did they inherit a skill or ability from someone before them? The Arts? Do they work to develop them further or bury them deep because their ancestor only got pain and poverty for their efforts so they think it’s a losing cause?

How might something our family’s always done influence us? Politics? What about breaking away from what other generations have done before them? Did it cause friction? A break in the relationship all the way? Were they able to break away from that situation and better themselves? Find a peace to live by? These are the sort of questions we need to ask ourselves as we deal with family branches and whether there was strain put on them or not through the years. New family members marry in. How does that affect the status quo? Dig deep and find the sometimes complex ways our characters relate to their family branches.

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20 thoughts on “Every Branch on Your Character’s Family Tree Led the Story from Somewhere – Guest Post by Traci Kenworth…

  1. My mother is a keen historian and has researched the family tree back through history.
    For her it is fact s and figures but a few stories along the way.
    This is a great post.
    What stories out past holds we can only imagine

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love to research my family tree as well, Sue. I’m hampered by some twists in history right now but hopefully, I’ll pick up the thread again soon. Our pasts could astound us with the stories they hold! You’re right, Sue! Thanks for stopping by! Have a lovely day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My mum is definitely an avid historian but she does dismiss my writing because it’s fiction not fact.
        But I think history is rather like a rubics cube, you see your view.
        My view could be different because it’s what I see.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Nothing wrong with fiction or facts. You’re exactly right on the view when it comes to fiction. It is different because it’s what you see whereas history is an accumulation of a lot of different views. Keep on writing!

          Liked by 1 person

    • For some reason the like button is giving me problems, I’ll get it asap. Thank you so much, Kim! I appreciate your help with getting my posts out there! It means so much to me! You have a lovely, lovely day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I suppose, in my Wolves of Vimar series, I knew about Carthinal’s family history to his grandfather, but no further back. The other characters, not so much. Fero, I know about his father, and Basalt’s brother, but not much about the others.
    And in my historical fiction, hardly anything about the family histories. I will try to rectify that in my next books.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t it a wonder how the characters we write can take on a life of their own and histories we never even imagined come about somehow? Things hinted at in places in the stories can come into full bloom by the time we’re finished. In a series, history seems to grow in leaps and bounds as we go throughout the books. I’m glad you’re learning about your characters and where they come from. They can be such fascinating subjects to us, I know.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Sally! I do the same sometimes. I take characters from some of my stories and put them in short stories of their own or stitch them into books in a series where called for. Sometimes they are descendants of characters that were the main protagonists in a book or series. Other times, they are a distant point of contact that is important in the scheme of things and how they fall in the story. In other words, I’m a bit like Stephen King, in that I often intertwine my books with one another be that as a town or history of individuals or such. I just like for my characters to have some sort of connection.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, thank you, Teagan! I don’t know why I’ve lost your feed for your blog! I have others as well! It is something how our minds work! One minute we’re thinking about doing dishes and the next our thoughts are on battlefields with Revolutionary soldiers. The smell of blood, the sight of doctors and other nursing individuals holding down patients with severed limbs, trying their best to save them. Our thoughts can distract us to no end. But there’s sometimes fun and a story in there! Have a good weekend, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person


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