Yep, isn't that what we all think when we finish a new manuscript? If it's not, then maybe we should have a second look. But, what makes a book unforgettable? Is it the more than 3D characters? Is it the grand plot that no one else thought of? Is it the fantastic scenery that only you, the author could conjure? The answer is simple, it's all of these things and more.
So how does an author go about creating such a book? Let's start with scenery as this seems the most simple of all tricks. In today's books, readers are looking for a quick, satisfying read. So how does an author construct the perfect setting without miles and miles of narrative? Years ago, it was done with long narrative, but that is no longer the correct way. An author has to insinuate scenery into dialogue, and narrative with a balance that makes it unnoticeable. Easily said, hard to do. The characters themselves must notice the scenery, appreciate it, feel it, taste it and sense it. It must be so cleverly inserted as to not disturb the reader, but enhance the reading experience, so it puts them right there in the middle of it.
Plotting, well, we all know by now that there is no such thing as a new plot, so the trick there is to make the reader think…"Oh gee, this is so different." When in reality, it is the same, only turned around or twisted to look different. Take an ordinary plot and make it different. Again, sounds easy, but not always easily accomplished. One has to add the ingredient of imagination to accomplish this, which most writers have an abundance of.
Now, we get to the meat of the matter. In any romance, characters are or should be what makes or breaks the story. I say that because if the reader can't get into your character, then you could lose them altogether. How does one make the character stand out from another? You give them at least one very strong characteristic that anyone can relate to, courage, morals, integrity, honesty. But you don't paint them lily white and the reason is simple. They aren't believable if they don't have some faults. So if they have some deep dark problem in their character, how do you win the story over with the reader? You make them grow. If they don't grow and get better, then the story is a lot of wasted words. It is this growing along with the reader that makes them root for the character. It makes the reader care. When you make your reader care, you have hooked them.
With all of that, you finish your book and think, this is unforgettable! Well, it could be, and it might not be. What is different about your book that will make a reader at least pick it up and read the blurb, examine the cover and maybe read the first paragraph? Could be a sassy cover, a well written blurb, or a reviewer's opinion. But they say the number one selling faction is "word of mouth". In other words, someone else read it and recommended it to the reader.
Hook! And how do we hook? To me, hook spells action. The character should do something, even if it's wrong on the first page. There has to be a problem, a reason for the character to hook the reader. What is the character doing to hook your reader? Do they say something outlandish and everyone around them is gasping? Did they suddenly become the klutz when they usually are so neat and tidy? Or did they do something outlandish and are faced with how to handle it? Hook your reader by having something happen.