I've started working on a project and wanted to keep all my characters and their relationships well organised.

I'm already using TiddlyWiki to archive all the ideas about the world and its inhabitants I come up with, but I wanted to separately save the relations of the single characters in a map.

Features I'm looking for:

  • nodes (characters) are inserted like a set of data
  • relations can be added anytime
  • the software has a search tool to find nodes
  • I can add tags or search criteria to a node like I would in a database (e.g. age; "select name where age = 25" or something like that)
  • visual output of all the relations

If you have ever worked with a database you probably know what I mean with the search criteria.

If I knew how to set up a database and code the visual interface I'd probably write the software myself, but I hope there's already something like this out there.

  • Have you looked at genealogy services e.g.Ancestry that would allow you to make a family tree? Commented May 28, 2020 at 8:49

4 Answers 4


The description of what you're looking for immediately brought mind maps to mind (no pun intended, but WOCKA WOCKA WOCKA!). I'm not sure if they'll fit the bill, but I thought I'd toss them out for your consideration.

Hopefully, someone with better information will be able to help soon, but a quick, precursory search found a couple of mind mapping packages you might be interested in.

The first is Scapple from Literature and Latte, the makers of Scrivener. It allows you make free associations between various nodes, and connect them when and if you'd like. It has no built-in hierarchy, which makes it seem close to what you expressed in your question:


The one thing I didn't see mentioned on their site anywhere was search capabilities. But as noted, this was a quick overview.

The second I found boasts a powerful search feature among many, many other features, but at a price. It's called XMind:


XMind also has filtering and what they call "drill-down" features which might make it more what you're looking for in this case. But again, it comes at a price. The Premium license gives access to all of it, but it seems the free version only provides the diagramming capabilities. so there's that.

Just a couple of options to look over. This isn't, of course, the ONLY way to do this, and in fact, there's another post here on Writers in a similar vein:

Software for developing and organizing characters

Maybe those suggestions will help more. Whatever the case, good luck in your search and with your project!

  • 1
    What about Scrivener it self?? I believe they have a tool within the software that allows you to map out things like a cork board. I am not sure though it would have a search feature.
    – ggiaquin16
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 18:19
  • @ggiaquin They do, and it IS great, but there's no way to relate the items on the cork board to one another. And I can't speak intelligently on the search capabilities. Why don't you add Scrivener as an answer of your own? :)
    – Josh
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 18:28
  • 1
    I will wait for Lauren to comment. She loves to recommend scrivener :P I have no actual experience with even using scrivener. I decided to try novlr instead for my writing tool. Much more simplistic for a pantser like me. So My suggestion wouldn't go any deeper than what I already said as a comment.
    – ggiaquin16
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 18:31
  • 1
    Scrivener has two ways to link. You can add links outside the text, or in the text using a wiki-like feature. The links only go one way, so if you want navigate in both directions, you have to add a link to each item (e.g. Luke->Darth, Darth->Luke). Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 19:05
  • 1
    I'm tossing this out as well, just take a look since it's free: YWriter6- spacejock.com/yWriter6.html Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 9:42

Building your own software might provide writers with a tool that they have been missing.

On the other hand, obsessing about the perfect tool instead of writing is a common problem in aspiring writers – psychologists call this procrastination – and I would strongly advise you to write instead, if writing is your primary goal.

I have been happily developing character relations on paper for all my life, and have found no limitations to that method yet. If you draw out your graphs in pencil you can easily delete, change, or add relations. I found that even redrawing the whole annotated graph usually doesn't take more than a few minutes.

Pencil and paper are extremely versatile, they are cheap, available everywhere, and don't require techology that some writers might not have available.


I've now started working no making my own software that serves all the points I've mentioned.
I'm using Unity because it's the only developing platform I've got experience with building GUIs in.
For my database I've decided on SQLite.
I hope to have a first simple prototype soon.
I'll post a link when it's available.

  • probably not the best place to post a link like that. It is generally frowned upon as it would be considered soliciting which is not part of the site (or any StackExchange for that matter I believe). You also need to provide full disclosure that it is your software. However, I do wonder what the purpose of this question was as you stated initially you don't know how to code (at least code a GUI) or do a database. With you offering to post a link, I wonder how much of this was seeing if there was a product like this so you can try to grab a corner.
    – ggiaquin16
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 23:56
  • 1
    @ggiaquin I posted this question 3 days ago and hoped there already existed a tool but I also saw some other questions online with similar subjects and none of them seemed to have found a program that matched their needs. So I started doing some research on how to set up a small local database. <br/> And I could not code a good user interface if my life would depend on it but with Unity which is actually a game engine it's more of a drag'n'drop thing. <br/> It still won't look perfect, tho. <br/> And of course once I got a working build you could download it for free(if I ever get to that far)
    – Birkl
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 7:05
  • 2
    This is just something I'm doing for myself and if anyone else wants to use it I'm ok with that.
    – Birkl
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 7:10

I've recently launched Graphy (https://graphy.studio/) for relationship map enthusiasts! It's still in the alpha release but free, fun, and functional!

Here are some examples:

Simpsons: https://graphy.studio/graphs/xMxlExGqjF2IlllBCmJo

SpongeBob: https://graphy.studio/graphs/yZnI0Ek6HLOrJLvnSDnX

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  • Welcome to Writing.SE! Just to make this a more complete answer, how many of the features listed in the question does this have currently, and how many is it planned to have? (Also, for any potential downvoters/delete-voters, this does not fit the site's definition of spam, as OP has declared his affiliation with the software.)
    – F1Krazy
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 20:47

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