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Question
I am currently working on a fictional book, my first. I have two question: 1. I am trying to make my characters come alive, so seem to appear on the pages of the book as it is read.  
In my mind, I know what each character looks like, but somewhere between my mind and they paper the transformation beomes a little fuzzy.  

How can I make them more realist?
Tall slender build with dark blue eyes that remind you of the ocean, just does't cut it.

Question 2: I know how I want the story to end, and how each character relates to its ending, but pulling it all together so it makes sense, is hard.  Is there a certain way to pull everything together, like a summary to make everything flow from beginning to end?

My story is about an abused wife who finaly gets the nerve to run away from home, is taken in by a stranger, lives in fear her husband will find her and then is kidnapped by a totally new character.  She is kidnapped becasue her friend is in love with the main character's husband and by getting her out of the way she hopes to win him over.

I will appreciate any suggestions you offer me.

Thank you so much.

Answer
Hello Diana:

Creating characters that "come alive" takes a lot of practice, and I don't recommend worrying about it in writing the first draft of your first novel. That is an advanced skill like pacing or rhythm, and will develop slowly over the course of time as you mature as a writer. You can make a beginning now by writing "biographies" of all your characters, in three categories: physical (height, weight, etc.), sociological (social life) and psychological (mental quirks, attitudes, etc.) These should be at least 10 pages long.

Before you write a novel, you must do a lot of thinking and planning. There are several methods of "pulling everything together," this is the one I recommend:

First, decide on a premise. The premise is what your story is “about." It can also be described as the “takeaway,” what you want the reader to take away from the book. It should be universally applicable (works for all people). This statement will describe one principle - something your life has taught you, something you believe in passionately. An example would be “Love plus plenty of money makes for a good marriage.” True or untrue, your premise should reflect your views on the subject. This is the most important part of your book, so choose carefully.

Once you have your premise, get some 3x5 cards and on each, write a few words around an event in your story that supports your premise. Keep going until you feel you have enough events to fill a book.

At some point, a pattern should begin to show itself. Sort the cards around this pattern until the arrangement suits you. From that, make an outline, keeping the premise in mind at all times. Make sure there's some kind of progression – some movement from A and B toward C.

When you are finished organizing your material, you may want to write a synopsis - the story of the story comprising 10-20 pages. Once this is done, you can begin to write your first draft.

This method allows you to control your material, which in turn will allow you to mark your progress.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 700+ questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand

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I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at http://pygmypress.com, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.

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I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

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BA degree in Written Communication

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