New York Pitch Reviews, Algonkian Writer Conferences, Poetry

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2016, 16:42 
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“The Prude on the Prowl” by Alexandra Marks

1. Story Statement

A magistrate must rescue his niece from the brothel where he himself was a patron.

2. The Antagonists

Magistrate Henry Curtis is a late Victorian, upper middle class gourmand on his first visit to an unusually elegant house of ill repute. He is stunned by the first virginal prospect set before him. It is Henrietta, the daughter of his outcast and impecunious sister. Almost a decade has passed since he’s seen his either his sister or his niece. Shocked and appalled, he demands Henrietta leave with him. In full adolescent rebellion, Henrietta refuses and the magistrate is shown the door by the savvy, pragmatic madam, a Mrs. Cornelia Swiven.
Mrs. Swiven, once herself a naïve young woman who “fell” and then rebuilt her life as a courtesan, worries the magistrate could ruin her business. With a wily understanding of upper class society and its inherent hypocrisies, and plenty of connections in the nobility, she contemplates how best to make use of the debacle.
The magistrate, despite his fear of scandal, decides he must rescue the girl. Mrs. Swiven, meanwhile, decides to keep her as a companion and “insurance” to ensure the magistrate’s silence. But the meddling of a Mrs. Laura Ormistan Chant spoils both plans. A social purity activist known as ‘The Prude on the Prowl, Mrs. Chant is determined to cleanse the public sphere of indecency. When she learns of Mrs. Swiven and Henrietta’s plight and she adds saving Henrietta to her list of God-inspired crusades.


3. Breakout Titles

a. “Rescuing Henrietta”
b. “The Prude on the Prowl”
c. “The Magistrate’s Misfortune”
d. “The Prude”


4. Comparables

The “Prude” is comparable to Kate Manning’s “My Notorious Life.” It deals with the same issues of women’s sexuality and societal hypocrisy, although the “Prude” has a lighter, more humorous tone. It’s also similar to Sarah Water’s “Tipping the Velvet” in that it captures the everyday lives of women in the Victorian era, but alas, the “Prude” deals primarily (but not solely) with heterosexuals and is definitely PG-rated.

“The Prude” can also be thought of as sui generis. Think Downton Abbey meets Bertie Wooster meets Betty Friedan.


5. Conflict Line

A Victorian magistrate must confront his own and societal hypocrisy around sexual commerce when he discovers his niece is being groomed to be a high-class courtesan. He must save her from taking an irrevocable fall at the same time battle a radical puritan who hopes to cleanse London society of all indecency, vice and liquor.

6. Inner Conflict

Magistrate Henry Curtis is conflicted between accepting Victorian upper class society’s strict, hypocritical social codes which allow men to do as they please with “fallen” women, his shock at discovering a long lost niece on the precipice, his desire to rescue her and his fear of shame and scandal.

Secondary Conflict

The Magistrate’s must break free of his imperious older sister who is a fierce enforcer of middle class moral codes without any consideration of human frailty or forgiveness.

7. Setting

London in the 1890’s became known as the “Naughty Nineties” for chaffing against more than fifty years of restrictive Victorian morality. The middle class strictly observed propriety while the nobility, entrepreneurs and artists flagrantly flaunted much of it. The Magistrate and the Prude inhabit elegant drawing rooms, London’s manure-filled streets, glamorous palaces of entertainment and vice, elegant suites at the Savoy and its dingy back halls. The atmosphere is suffused with awe at the transformative power of technology (electric lights and ascending elevators!), growing labor unrest and the arrogance born of the expanding British Empire.


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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2017, 14:36 
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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2017, 14:45 
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PostPosted: 26 Oct 2017, 12:39 
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Think Downton Abbey meets Bertie Wooster meets Betty Friedan. Phen375


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