[STORY] One book tweak landed a movie deal

One feedback may give your book the possibility of capturing not only readers, but movie makers.

If you’re reading a crime story, would you rather see it from the observer’s, victim’s, or criminal’s point of view?

Depending on who you are or how the story is told, your answer could be any of the three.

But for one of our authors, the point of view was critical to selling the book.

Neil-Senturia Blog1Photo credits: Neil Senturia's Facebook account

Neil Senturia won the right to tell the story of the biggest woman-led Ponzi scheme in the U.S.. Gina Champion-Cain—a smart, beautiful and successful entrepreneur—ripped-off investors for $400 million. 

Neil-Senturia Blog2Photo credits: Amazon

Neil was not one of the victims. But he interviewed Gina for weeks and wrote a manuscript. The draft explained how she pulled it off while analyzing her psychology.

When the draft was done, Neil asked me for feedback. As part of a manuscript checkup, I evaluated the draft’s strengths, weaknesses, suggestions and opportunities.

My biggest suggestion?

This one tweak catapulted the narrative. The story moved from explanatory to gripping.

The pivotal suggestion:

Tell the story from the point of view of the criminal herself.


Some of my explanations:

  • Let the reader identify with Gina by seeing the world through her lens. This will enable the reader to know, like and trust Gina as a flawed heroine/anti-heroine.

  • To enhance reader empathy, have each scene explore Gina’s emotional state—such as her desire for something, fear of being found out, courage to do something bolder next time, creativity in covering for mistakes, terror of rejection, suspicion about irregular activities, remorse about her impact on others, and final relief in being arrested.

  • Share other people’s actions through Gina’s point of view. Have other people’s moves,
    such as Jasper’s whistleblowing, be revealed as Gina discovers it herself, so the reader also experiences the surprise.

Neil took all my suggestions and completely rewrote the manuscript. 

Six months later, his book was released by a reputable publisher. Within a year, he sold the book to a movie maker.

Neil thanked me many times, “Your vision to have Gina tell the story was the key to the puzzle,” he said.

What about your book?

It’s probably not a true crime novel. But it does have a point of view. 

Whose point of view are you speaking from?

Is it the best point of view for your story?

I’d love to hear.

If you’re working on a manuscript and you’d like feedback, let’s chat.

Just one tweak can make all the difference in your book’s success.

Happy writing!

by Helen Chang, ABM Editorial Director

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