Had to change it up, it's Indian Summer!
In the beginning, written stories that involved sacrifice meant that some one or some thing was sacrificed for the gods, or for the Hebrew God. Blood must be shed. Today, sacrifice might mean that a person offers something important to them for an ideal and not for a god. Sometimes this includes their life but it isn't a requirement.
As a writer, it is important to study your characters personality. Establish their background and belief system so the reader understands what it takes for them to set aside their beliefs to make the sacrifice that is required. Or maybe, it is their belief that causes them to make a sacrifice. The price for this is usually deep and personal cost. Does this sacrifice or lack of sacrifice make your character a hero or does it shame them, discredit them. What price do they pay?
High Noon starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. He is a moral man who can't allow a killer into town even though he has already turned in the sheriff's badge and plans to relocate with his new bride, Grace Kelly. She is a Quaker and hates violence but will put aside her beliefs and take up arms to save her husband. In the movie, we don't have time to visit the internal struggles of the characters for their decisions. In a book, you as the author must detail the internal struggles to satisfy the reader.
Casablanca starring Hunphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Bogart's character appears as a callous man but in a flashback we learn that he suffers from a broken heart and loves Bergman's character. Ultimately, he sacrifices his own safety for hers.
In both examples I have taken a quick look. As writers we need to delve into the depths of our characters. For this plot the setting must be small. One location is best. In High Noon it was the town and railway station. In Casablanca it is the lounge that Bogart's character owns. By limiting the setting, you create more tension.
Meet the characters. Are they selfish or do they have an intense belief system that they must follow?
Your character is confronted by a moral challenge. The events of the story challenge them and force them to make a decision. Do they follow their code or do the turn their back and why? If your character is selfish then you must establish why they would reach out and help someone. Remember, people are driven by their own beliefs and so should your characters be.
How does this sacrifice affect your character and the characters around them? The strongest sacrifice comes at a great personal cost.
This is truly an overview. All the plots that I have featured deserve more study before you select one and start to write. My daughter asked me about plots today as I was preparing this post. Our family tends to do fun things on the spur of the moment. I told her that as a writer, we may decide on a trip but we'd better take a road map so we won't get lost. That is what a plot is. A map with many roads. Choose one but don't worry if you need to change directions to make the middle a little more exciting. That is called a plot twist or a secondary plot.
Next Monday the plot will be: Discovery
Are you working sacrifice into your current manuscript or a future one?