I learned a lesson when I tried to marry a character for the second time. Yes it was a secondary character, but it was a real slap to my face and got me seriously thinking *I need to do way more note taking as a I write*.
So I began by taking a big piece of paper and sketching out family trees, connections, and I make sure to give every person a date of birth to guage ages etc (another lesson learned from a corner I had written myself into with Last Marine Standing!).
Now I not only have a written plan but I use aeon timeline (http://www.scribblecode.com/) which is simple (but can be as complicated as you want to make it!) piece of software in which you can give everyone a birthdate, organise marriages, children, connections, and also most importantly timelines in stories.
As a writer sometimes I get so involved in the emotions of a story that a pesky detail, such as the fact it's May, when yesterday it was June, can become part of the furniture - you don't notice it!
I also draw maps of the town, of rooms, of houses. For Montana I created the layout of a whole dude ranch with paper and a whole raft of different color felt tips! (You can see it, sideways, up there! points...)
|Aeon Timeline... for the Montana series|