Welcome to Plot Busters and the story structure breakdown series of this terrific middle grade mystery.
Opening Image: (before snapshot of the protagonist’s life)
Sherry is getting ready for school, and the Ruler asks for Sherry’s help to find her missing car keys. We see Sherry’s poor attitude, learn about her boyfriend, her family; and because it’s the third book in the series, we already know a bit about her.
Theme stated: (What is the story really about?)
Not finding a specific statement, the theme was obvious as I read it. It’s about family and self-sacrifice.
For me, there is less flexibility with structure when it comes to mysteries. Early on, the mystery needs to be introduced, clues planted, and the detective introduced, who has motivation to solve the mystery. I SO DON’T DO SPOOKY has all of that.
Sherry, a middle schooler, with emotional lessons to learn, takes on any challenge with spunk and fight.
Outer: Sherry and her mom must figure out who is stalking the Ruler.
Inner: Sherry must be more respectful to the Ruler while solving the case, or she won’t be allowed to work with her mom anymore.
For sherry, it’s all about spending time with her mom, but evolves into saving her step mom. For a middle schooler those are high stakes.
Six things that need fixing: (or the plants in the plant and pay-off concept)
1. Sherry does not respect her stepmother.
2. Someone is hiding the Ruler’s stuff in the house and the Ruler blames Sherry.
3. Sherry misses her mom.
4. Someone is stalking the Ruler.
Okay, so it’s not always six.
In chapter one, someone is playing pranks on Sherry’s stepmother and Sherry is getting blamed. Call it a clue or the inciting incident. But everyday life has changed. The question is – what is Sherry going to do about it?
Debate: (asks some kind of question of the main character)
Is Sherry going to help her stepmother or continue to be disrespectful?
In chapter 4, the real mystery is stated. Sherry meets with her mom and her mom’s counselor. Together, they are given the mission to protect the ruler and find her stalker. With one rule – Sherry must show respect to the Ruler.
She might not have come to that conclusion on her own, but what middle schooler would?
The debate section in this story isn’t huge. Honestly, I think the question of how Sherry treats the Ruler is more a part of the character arc than the debate. What do you think?
And with the introduction of the official mystery, Act I ends.
Do you have all these elements in your Act I? Or do you not even pay attention to that sort of thing?