We’re breaking down PRINCESS FOR HIRE by Lindsey Leavitt in order to apply better structure to our own writing.
Act II is the bulk of the story. Let’s see how PFH holds up, according to Blake Snyder’s beat sheet.
B Story (subplot/love story/internal story/focus on theme)
The B Story offers a breather, a break from the tension of Act I. And it often offers a different set of characters, which this story offers in abundance.
In PFH, we see the start of Desi’s relationship with Meredith, her princess agent. I see this relationship as the “love” story. Meredith is grumpy, snarky and nothing like you’d expect a princess agent to be. (Great surprise and reversal of expectations!)
Fun and Games (Promise of the Premise)
Training: Desi substitutes for a Hollywood star as a Princess Caterpillar at a costume party. (Not exactly glamorous.) After, she meets Lilith, the sweet and kind agent, who is nice to Desi and fills her in on the why and how the whole substitution thing works. (Great explanation of the magic rules.)
Leavitt fulfills the promise of her premise perfectly. After training, Desi experiences a couple princess sub jobs. Her first job is for Simmy, an overweight and bullied princess. Right away, Desi breaks the rules. The substitutes aren’t supposed to act out of character or try and improve the life of the princess. But Desi, wanting to make an impact (remember the theme?), stands up for her princess, with much humor and tension. And we’re left not knowing if Desi made a difference.
Next is the Amazon princess and the tribal dance. And it’s everything you’d imagine it to be. I’ll leave it at that. Except, Desi tries to make an impact and “screws up” again. And we’re left not knowing if she made a difference. Again.
Meredith rescues Desi from her Amazon experience and states that Desi failed. Then, Desi is called to a probation hearing – as in she might get fired for breaking policy. Total game changer, just as a midpoint should be. Yay!
Bad guys close in:
Even though we didn’t have a standard villain in this story, in this next section it feels like it. The tension is upped, and Desi’s wish ‘to make an impact by breaking the princess sub rules’ is put to a test.
After the hearing, she is put on probation and sent home. Again, Desi runs into Celeste, Hayden, and a new cute guy in school. Did I mention it was while she was the pooper scooper in a town parade? Still humble and humorous. After getting dunked in a water tank by Celeste, Desi calls out to Meredith.
Desi is given one last princess sub job for Elsa in the Alps. The stakes are raised in that this is Elsa’s first call for a sub, which means Desi has a chance to earn the position of permanent sub.
Again, Desi tries to help Elsa when her childhood love, Prince Karl, tries to break it off because Elsa isn’t “royal” enough, even though he loves her. In the next six chapters we grow to care about Elsa and her grandmother, Helsa. (You’ll have to read it for the beautiful, moving story)
All is Lost:
Still subbing for Elsa, in a last ditch effort to convince Karl he still loves Elsa, Desi kisses him. Then she is whisked away and goes straight to the court of appeals. Her dark moment is while she is with Meredith in the travel bubble. Desi realizes she could be fired and brainwashed so she’d remember nothing.
Dark Night of the Soul:
Desi realizes she could go back to being a nobody with no impact. This moment is short and sweet but devastating because Desi is not the type of person to be held back.
Next time we’ll talk about the Act III – the part of the story which determines whether readers will read your next book or not. No pressure there! How will PFH hold up? Come back and see.
This was a wonderful breakdown. It really shows flow and buildup. The structure is pretty standard. I like how clear it is and how you showed it. Nice job.
It’s harder to see the structure sometimes, so the point-by-point is really useful. Thanks Laura!
Thanks Sheri and Lydia, hope it’s a little bit helpful. It is for me to break them down. 🙂
This was very useful and I love that you chose a book that I had read! I love it!!! I’m sure Lindsey Leavitt loved it as well!!
Can’t wait for Part 2 – The Royal Treatment!
Fascinating, as usual! And I’m glad to see that the “Bad Guys Close In” doesn’t have to be a literal bad guy. I like the idea that the “bad guy” is whatever is raising the tension to get to the midpoint/dark night of the soul, rather than having to be a guy with bad hair. 🙂
Looks like I’m going to have to read this one! Love how you break this down. Thanks, Laurel~ :o) <3
Leigh – Thanks!
Susan – Often times the antagonist does become more prevalent after the midpoint but it’s not always a “bad guy” or sometimes the bad guy isn’t revealed until the end but we see the pressure rise.
Jen – I’m looking forward to book 2 also.
I’m about to embark on Act III in my own WIp so I am very much looking forward to your next post! I’m really enjoying this series.
looking forward to part 3. I’m struggling with my own part 3 at the moment 😉
Lynda and Tana – I’ll be revisiting my Act III again soon too!
You broke this down in well. Blake (RIP) would be proud. 🙂
Also, FYI, I hate HATE pickled beets. Ew. Sometimes restaurants garnish with them…but who eats them?
Have a lovely week, Laura.
Interesting breakdown! Amazing how taking something apart is the key to building good things. 🙂
Karen – Thanks.
Lola – Beets all together are just kinda gross. That and asparagus. Blech!
Excellent breakdown! This looks like it must have taken a lot of work! It’s really useful, too, to see the structure of other books to help us view our own. Nicely done.
Great breakdown. I’m learning so much from these posts, also I’m interested in the next one, because there’s been a few books I’ve loved until the end and haven’t read the authors next book.
Okay, so I admit I’m skimming this and trying not to absorb too much of the plot, because I’m dying to read the book!
Great post because it’s that tricky middle that gives so many of us so much trouble. So this is a wonderful breakdown of all the important pieces.
Do you realize what a fabulous critiquer you’ve become? Being able to break down the story this way to see what’s working and what’s missing will be invaluable for your cps!