Character Relationship Map Template

Character Relationship Map Template, within the Milanote app

Map out the relationships between characters

This character relationship map template outlines and illustrates the connections and interactions between different characters within a story, whether it's a novel, movie, TV show, play, or any other narrative medium. It's the perfect tool that helps creators, writers, and audiences better understand the dynamics between characters and how their relationships evolve over the course of the story.

Milanote's drag-and-drop interface is perfect for arranging images, notes, lines, links, videos, and tasks on an infinite virtual canvas. It's also flexible enough to change when your characters and story evolve. When you're finished creating your character relationship map, it can be shared with others for feedback and collaboration.

This template is part of our guide on How to plan a novel.

  • Explore ideas
  • Organize visually
  • Share with your team
  • Gather feedback
  • Export to PDF

How to use this template

Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional writer, follow this step-by-step guide and learn the modern process of creating a character relationship map for your next story in Milanote, a free tool used by top creatives.

1. Start with an empty template

The Character Relationship Map template contains some simple placeholders for the main and supporting characters and lines to show how they relate. Feel free to add extra characters if you need them. Aside from the classic circular relationship maps created for most stories, you can also use them to explain:

  • Traditional Family Trees: This style resembles a family tree, with the main character(s) at the center and lines branching out to depict their family members, including parents, siblings, and extended relatives. It's especially useful for stories with complex family dynamics, such as sagas or generational tales.
  • Timeline-Based Relationships: This style combines a timeline with relationship connections. You can see how characters' interactions and dynamics change over time. It's great for tracking how relationships evolve throughout your story, especially in narratives with multiple time periods or flashbacks.
character relationship Step1
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Start with the empty Character Relationships template.

    Choose a template

    Each new board gives you the option to start with a beautiful template.

2. Add the main character

It's important to start with the central character, especially if your story revolves around one individual like a protagonist. Place their image and name in the center of the map.

character relationship Step2
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Drag out a note and describe the central character.

    Drag a note card onto your board

    Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left hand toolbar.

  2. Add a new board for each character

    Create a new board

    Drag a board out from the toolbar. Give it a name, then double click to open it.

3. Add secondary characters

Identify the secondary characters who play important roles in the story. These could be friends, lovers, antagonists, family members, or anyone who contributes to how the plot develops.

character relationship Step3
Pro tip:

Think about the reasons behind each character's interactions and conflicts. What do they want from each other? What obstacles or opposing goals drive tension in their relationship?

4. Add supporting characters

Now add in the supporting characters like co-workers and neighbours. These people may not be crucial to the main plot, but including them offers context, believability and depth to your story.

character relationship Step4
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Find an image that represents each character.

    Use the built-in image library

    Search over 3 million beautiful, free photos then drag images straight onto your board. Powered by Pexels.

5. Show how they relate

Now use lines and arrows to visually represent the relationships between your characters. For example, use a solid line for positive relationships and red lines for conflicts. Labels can also help explain what the relationship is such as family members, and partners or even describe the location where they live.

character relationship Step5
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Connect each character with lines.

    Use lines to connect objects

    Select an object, then drag the arrow from the top right. Connect the line to another object to create a quick diagram.

6. Highlight their importance

Use the pen tool to call out important characters in the relationship. This helps draw attention to their significance. Circle the heroes and put a cross through the enemies.

character relationship Step6
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Using the drawing tool to highlight characters.

    Sketch ideas on the board

    Click Draw in the lefthand toolbar to sketch anywhere on a board. Press Save to commit a sketch.

You're done

Now that your character relationship map is done, you have a clear overview of how all the characters relate in your story. Referring back to this means you're more equipped to write engaging character narratives and believable stories.

Map out your characters

Map out the the relationships between your characters