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.