Raise your hand if you’ve seen the new movie, The Vow. I haven’t, but I’m intrigued because it contains a twist on the premise of my new book, The Shadow of Your Smile. A wife loses her memory, and her husband has to woo her all over again. My story is different in that my hero and heroine have been married for 25 years, with a family and life. However, their marriage is on the rocks…so while they have a lot to lose, there’s also that sense that they’ve already “forgotten” each other.
Still, as I was building my story, I thought – how will this be different? How can I make this story more powerful, with bigger issues to make it stand out in the market? How do I make it more sellable than another story with the same premise?
I did this by adding in four powerful elements: Acts of Heroism, Sacrifice, Redemption and Justice.
Acts of Heroism is the journey of a hero or heroine from selfishness to selflessness. In my story, I had a hero who had given up on his marriage because his wife shut him out. He had turned to ice fishing (remember, we’re in Minnesota). His goal is to stop serving himself…and learn to serve his wife, even if she never remembered their lives together.
Sacrifice is that element that makes a hero sympathetic. It may be at the end of a journey, or at the beginning. In my story, I put the Sacrifice off stage – my hero and heroine have lost their only daughter in a tragic crime before the book opens. Worse, they’ve never recovered from this loss. As the story progresses, the hero must confront the idea of not telling his wife about their daughter in order to help her heal, and thus, lose his daughter all over again.
Redemption is that piece that heals their wounds. It’s the love they find again – but also Eli stepping in to be a real husband, one who engages and protects his wife. He has the opportunity to repeat his sins – or conquer them. I put Eli in a potentially adulterous situation where he can start over again…with someone else. And then I let him choose what kind of man he’ll be.
Justice is something everyone craves in a story – for the wrong to be set right. The bad guy captured, and the memory restored. (maybe. ) I added a suspense plot into this story so I could create a sense of Justice for Eli, the former police chief. And, I layered in a way to “heal” the family despite all their wounds.
As you’re creating your story, build in these four elements by asking:
- What are my hero/heroine’s heroic acts, and how do they become less selfish every time?
- What does my hero/heroine sacrifice at the beginning, that they can repeat at the end? Or, what do they sacrifice at the end to finish their heroic journey?
- How are my hero/heroine redeemed of his/her mistakes by allowing him/her “another chance?”
- How will Justice prevail in the end?
With these four elements, your story will have a strong foundation and increase its chances of surviving the whirlwind of the submission pile.
Quick Skill: Build in the four pillars of a powerful story to keep your story from crumbling.
P.S. By the way, if you sign up for the daily Flashblog reminder in your email box, you receive the 5 Elements of a Best-Selling Novel. A quick class on those foundational elements ever editor is looking for! Sign up at: http://forms.aweber.com/form/35/866611135.htm
P.S. As you might already know, MBT is now offering an advanced membership! And, we have one more week of preview. Go to: http://teammemberpreview.mybooktherapy.com to find out more and sign up for your free trial membership. No obligation, you get to join in the fun, and you’ll get an invite at the end of the month to join at our reduced rate! Hope to see you on the team!