"Unending Devotion" by Jody Hedlund was a compelling book, and I blew through it in no time. It was a deliciously romantic and inspirational story. For a brief book blurb and more about Jody, click here.
Of course there's always plenty to learn from reading great books, and here are the lessons I learned from "Unending Devotion:"
- Open with character-revealing action: Lily, the main character, is devoted to rescuing young girls from a life of prostitution. But we aren't told this. We're shown through the opening scene, where Lily orchestrates an escape.
- Unanswered questions, stat: On page two we already have unanswered questions. Why is Lily's sister suffering? And where is she? Why are the sisters separated?
- Introduce the love interest early: We meet Connell McCormick on page 15. Sparks fly right away, and we know we're in for a great love story.
- Give the MC more than one enemy: Lily not only fights an evil bully in a small town, she also fights the woman who runs the brothel. Lily makes enemies of both characters, and they later work together to hurt her.
- Explain why the MC can't run to the police to solve her story problem: Lily soon learns that the logging town of Harrison is lawless because the villain has paid off the sheriff. This explains why she doesn't arrive on the sheriff's doorstep and ask for help.
- In a romance, tether the couple together to create a bond: Lily and Connell are caught in a snowstorm, and forced to survive the elements together. A great opportunity to fall in love, yes? Or kill each other, depending on the story :)
- Think of the worst thing that can happen to the MC, then make it happen: Connell loves Lily, and the town bully knows this. When he wants to exact revenge on Connell, he knows capturing Lily gets to the heart of the matter.
- Give the MC a physical and moral battle: Lily's main objective, or her surface story problem, is to find her sister. But there's also a larger moral objective--to rescue young girls from lives of prostitution, and erase evil from a lawless town. These multiple goals kept the pacing tight.
- Use a symbol to reflect a character's journey: In this case, a quilt. Lily reflects on all the mis-shaped pieces, and the seemingly ugly patterns. But those pieces, just like the imperfect pieces of our lives, come together to make something beautiful.
Have you read "Unending Devotion" yet? Is there another book you've read lately that taught you important writing lessons? Please share!