PRINCESS FOR HIRE by Lindsey Leavitt is a cute, fun ride with plenty of depth. It lives up to the promise of its title. Join me as I break down Act I – so we can learn and hopefully apply to our own writing. Scroll down for links to Act II and Act III.
Logline: (my words) Small town Idaho girl receives her wish to make an impact when she’s offered the job to substitute for princesses around the world.
- Strong protagonist? Check. Desi
- Irony? Check. Right away I can picture the potential scenes for a small town girl trying to survive in the world of royalty.
Is the main character of your current wip the absolute worse possible candidate for the role? Good. If not? Um, fix it.
- Universal appeal? Big enough for the targeted age. Girls at this age aren’t playing dress up any more. They make fun of Disney princesses, but secretly wish to feel special – like a princess.
- Antagonist? The Princess Agency establishment and their philosophy of not letting the subs make an impact in the lives of the princesses. And one agent in particular.
Opening Image: (Tone, style, mood, snapshot of the character’s life.)
Desi works for a mall pet store dressed as a groundhog, passing out coupons. She runs into her ex-friend, Celeste, who makes fun of her. Desi’s voice during this heartbreaking but humorous situation sets the tone. It makes me want to read more.
Funny, funny, funny. I could do a whole post on the genius of this first chapter!
Theme stated: (What is this story really about?)
Check. I found it in Chapter 2, page 15. Desi wishes to be the kind of person who makes an impact. And she humorously adds, and a more glamorous job. Can a small town nobody make a real impact?
- Hero: Desi
- Stakes: Her happiness.
- Outer Goal: Desi wants a fresh start for eighth grade. (Not looking good.)
- Inner Goal: Desi wants to make an impact, even though her friends and family seem to be against her.
- Desi has a miserable job that Celeste (her ex-friend) knows about.
- Desi feels like the black sheep of the family – the non beauty queen.
- Low self-confidence.
- Unrealistic crush on Celeste’s boyfriend, Hayden.
- Unwillingness to listen to the voices of reason in her life. (Friend, Kylee; parents)
- Needing money for college.
“If the events that follow did not occur, it would pretty much stay this way.” Blake Snyder, SAVE THE CAT.
Catalyst: (The life is about to change moment!)
In chapter 4, Desi takes a bubble bath, and Meredith appears in a bubble (love the play on Cinderella) and offers Desi a job as a princess substitute.
Honestly, I debated whether the catalyst was Meredith arriving in the bubble or when Desi made the wish to make an impact on the fish tank at work. But Blake’s words in SAVE THE CAT when describing the catalyst moment convinced me otherwise. The main character should be asking: Dare I go? Should I go?
PFH is a middle grade novel. And accordingly, the debate section covered the span of about a few pages instead of a few scenes. Meredith asks Desi to sign the contract. Desi has to make the fateful decision.
Break into Act II (The protagonist makes the decision and leaves the old world behind.)
Desi signs the contract and enters the bubble with Meredith. Reader can’t miss that turning point!
I’m sure there are lots of terrific stories where the main character isn’t the worst possible candidate for the role. But how I feel about that would make this post way too long. So maybe another time! See you next time for Act II!