This past Sunday was my daughter’s wedding. And as I mentioned in my last post, I would be laying my pen aside, but my mind would still be doing writerly things. Reflecting on the wedding, I found the day was a great analogy for story arc. Each part of the wedding and reception reflected how a story line grows in a novel. As I smile thinking about the wonderful event on Sunday, I’ll share how I see the analogy and a few pictures not only to illustrate my point but also to share my joy.
Today couples create a theme for their wedding that goes beyond colors. My daughter and her fiancé chose favorite things. Every part of the day a reflection of that choice.
(Photo of Cake Topper, table decorations and favors.)
Favorite superheroes cake topper. A CD of music representing their journey to marriage (Note the label looks like the one from Guardian of the Galaxy.) Favorite games in the table decorations.
Novels need a theme
Each novel we write must have a theme. Secrets and Charades’ theme: Your past does not have to determine your future. New Duet has a similar message: leave the past behind. Writer’s weave the idea through the story from opening line to the end.
Novels can have settings that help carry the theme. My novels speak of new beginnings so the settings are opposite of the protagonist’s former lives. click here to order.
Wedding surprises and novel structure
My daughter and her husband wanted their guests to enjoy some of their favorite things. While the venue for their wedding and reception were typical, the whole day was uniquely their own.
The Bride and Groom represented the hero and heroine in the structure of a romance novel. Both have distinctive character qualities with their individual goals and desires. The wedding like a story arc has basic bones. The Bride and Groom enter a church or other setting where guests watch them say their vows. Everything beyond that is up for grabs.
Pam and Jon chose to have my niece perform the ceremony keeping it more of a family affair. The flower girl passed out flowers rather than sprinkling petals on the floor. And the ringbearer had a Chicago Bears Teddy Bear ring pillow to carry. There was a string trio, but the bride (to the surprise of her groom) entered to a recording of Somebody to Love, by Queen. The couple exited to Star Wars music after reciting traditional vows. Bubbles were showered on the couple who drove away in a classic 60s convertible.
Disasters a must
A microphone malfunction and the flower girl standing frozen in the aisle reminded me that stories must have a few disasters. Not necessarily an explosion but something to create tension. Perhaps the heroine can’t cook or the hero really isn’t very good at fixing things.
Our novels need to have unique bits that keep the reader engaged. A female doctor in the 1800s is unique but becoming a mail order bride is over the top. A wounded warrior after returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan loses his leg in a motorcycle accident stateside which adds to his angst.
Unique elements for the decor : favorite superhero cake topper, party favors and a CD for every family of all the music representing their romance and each table had a different game for guest to play.
The wedding had a traditional photographer and a videographer but there was also a photo booth with props. A few added twists that spoke to the favorite things theme greeted guests at the reception. The table center pieces were games the guests were encouraged to play. Prizes were given to the first person at each table who won a game. The games were available to play all evening.
Children’s games helped keep my grandchildren engaged, and many adults were loving the opportunity to play games rather than dance. All the games were ones Jon and Pam have enjoyed. But the game curve intensified just like a plot twist. There were several pictures mixed into the decorations that represented favorite movies. There was a prize for the person who deciphered all the clues.
Plot Twists are a must to engage the reader
Twists are what make your story sing. Characters that aren’t who they seem, unexpected solutions and buried secrets. The protagonist doing what no one thought they could.
That brings me to my favorite part of the reception. My husband is not a dancer with a capital N. Pam wanted to do something unique for the father/daughter dance. So, for months they worked out the steps for Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from the musical Mary Poppins complete with straw hat, cane and umbrella. The guests were surprised and delighted.
As in a well-written novel there was a challenge to the plan. In this case on the dance floor. Jon had no idea what Pam and her father had planned, but he wanted to do something extra special as well. (Sound like a familiar plot twist.) His mother made him a coat like the one from Beauty and the Beast that he put on after the initial traditional first dance. Jon insisted this dance would be the best yet. (the challenge.) He changed into the coat bowed and took her hand as they danced to Beauty and the Beast. After the lovely dance, Pam threw down the gauntlet (in a joking manner of course), and she and her father to quote Jon, “Smoked him.” Yet he had another surprise up his sleeve. As the applause died down the Bridal Party held up paddles with the number 10. Another awesome surprise. Laughter and more applause resonated around the room. The DJ in his 30 years had never seen both the bride and groom keep a surprise from each other. Again, unique things sprinkled in a story arc.
During the toasts Pam’s brother David, who is serving in the Army gave a toast via Facebook Live on his brother Nathan’s phone that was broadcast to the whole room. So cool. David also viewed the wedding ceremony from his brother’s cellphone. Again, a sweet surprise thanks to technology that intensified the emotion.
A great The End
The reception wound down and the couple headed out for their honeymoon.
In a romance novel, the couple struggles with and overcomes all the disasters and unexpected twists in the plot. They enjoy or work through all the surprises to reach their happily-ever-after whether that is a wedding, a honeymoon or a declaration of love. In my novels, the theme of putting your past behind has been resolved and a promising future loom. The reader like the wedding guests will talk about what they experienced for a long after The End.
Thanks for indulging my afterglow thoughts. Happy writing.
What events in your life were fuel for your story arc?