Somehow I just knew from the moment I saw the cover for KAT INCORRIGIBLE by Stephanie Burgis and then read the blurb on Amazon – that I’d love it. I had a whole stack of YA but as soon as this book landed on my doorstep, I read it.
In Regency England, when twelve-year-old Kat discovers she has magical powers, she tries to use them to rescue her sister from marrying a man she does not love.
But this blurb from the inside cover just doesn’t do it justice. At all! Here’s my version:
In Regency England, twelve-year-old Kat, who is constantly earning lectures from her stepmother and older sisters, turns down a secret order of powerful magicians to dabble in her mama’s simple magic with hilarious results as she saves her family from financial and social ruin.
And, of course, I analyzed it. Like I always do. And I found pure gold.
I’m not going to do the entire Blake Snyder beat sheet break down because I’m afraid to say that it got a bit tedious for my readers by the end of Act III. #readerscanbreatheasighofreliefnow
Instead, here is a quick break down of the crucial elements.
In the first chapter, we learn that Kat’s family is in dire straights. Her brother has run up a gambling debt and her older sister, Elissa, is willing to marry to save the family. This sets the whole story in motion.
Act I Climax/Lock-in/point of no return #whateveryouwanttocallit
After learning that Elissa’s soon-to-be-husband murdered his first wife, Kat steals the key from her stepmother to unlock a cabinet, which holds her mom’s things. She grabs onto a magical mirror, which transports her to a great hall where she learns her mom belonged to a secret order of guardians. And Kat is one too.
The act of stealing from her stepmother is Kat’s point of no return. She’s going to do whatever it takes.
Kat’s whole family has traveled to a country estate for Elissa to meet Sir Neville. Kat performs her first spells and uncovers some serious dirt on Sir Neville.
In her moment of triumph, Kat stands up for herself and her family and solves the main storyline conflict. (I don’t want to give it away.)
Third Act Twist
The twist isn’t huge, but during the climax, certain truths are revealed that show the stakes were actually much higher than Kat ever realized.
There are many things this novel got right. Kudos to Stephanie Burgis. But for today, I want to point out the power of coming full circle with the opening and closing.
I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin.
I made it almost to the end of my front garden.
That totally cracked me up. These first lines showed the voice, the main story conflict, the spirit of the main character, and the humor.
I was twelve years of age when I cut my hair short, became a highwayman, and captured husbands for both of my sisters.
And it wasn’t just in the opening and ending lines. The first and last chapters show this mirror image also. And most importantly the change in Kat as a person.
Can you think of stories that have had their opening and ending chapters come full circle? Does your current wip?