I decided it was high time I sat down and committed my characters' family tree to paper. I had been holding the information in my head, but hadn't really worked out the dates of everything to see if what I had intended would work. Sort of crucial considering how each of the characters from the four books in this series are all intertwined in one way or another.
So I broke out the graph paper notebook and started plotting. And quickly ran out of room. I needed to take it back a generation or two in order to get the lineage down properly. I needed room for notes, I need to show how one family tree became entangled with another. And my 8.5 x 10 paper just wasn't going to cut it.
Oddly enough, the day before I started this project, a co-worker noted we still had rolls of paper left from our office move a couple years back. Sheets of paper that measured about 4 ½ feet long and 3 feet wide. I thought of that paper as I tried to jam everything onto my little scrap. The next day I left work with an armful of the paper. Today I will purchase a package of multi-colored sharpies and this weekend, get to work. I have it roughed out on paper and I think everything works, but each character has their own separate sheet and I need to see it all on one to really get a better feel for it and all the different relationships that overlap.
One thing I did notice as I was doing this exercise--a lot of people had to die to get my characters to where they were. Parents, siblings, spouses, fiances. Which meant I had to come up with interesting and yet plausible deaths. That meant aging some of the characters to let them simply expire of old age. Threw in some disease, a few accidents. I'm still working out all the particulars on this and hoping it doesn't end up as, well...overkill, I guess you could say.
Does anyone else work out elaborate family trees for their characters, and if so, what methods do you use?