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PostPosted: 20 Jun 2017, 20:56 
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Bainbridge Barn - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

Below are seven assignments which include readings and links. All of these are vital to reaching an understanding of what elements go into the writing of a commercially viable literary project, whether novel or narrative non-fiction. There is more to it, as you will learn at the conference, but this is for starters and a good primer.

You may return here as many times as you need to edit your topic post (login and click "edit" at the bottom of your post), even following the pitch conference. Pay special attention to antagonistic force, breakout title, conflict issues and setting.

Quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind.

Your BBW Novel Editor
Michael Neff


Instructions for Posting Responses

After you've registered and logged in, read the assignments below, click on "Post Reply" on the upper left of the page and enter your responses in the box provided, then click "submit." Once done, your reply will appear in this topic. Please make one reply for all of your responses so the forum topic will not become cluttered.

Strongly suggest typing up your reply in a separate file then copying it over to your post before submitting. Not a good idea to lose what you've done!



Before you begin to consider or rewrite your story premise, you must develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist (hero/ine)? Their goal? What must be done? What must she or he create? Destroy? Save? Accomplish? Defeated?Defy the dictator of the city and bury brother’s body (ANTIGONE)? Place a bet that will shake up the asylum (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST)? Do whatever it takes to recover lost love (THE GREAT GATSBY)? Save the farm and live to tell the story (COLD MOUNTAIN)? Find the wizard and a way home to Kansas (WIZARD OF OZ)? Note that all of these are books with strong antagonists who drive or catalyze the plot line going forward. More on that later.

If you cannot conceive or write a simple story statement like those above (which will help define your story premise) then you don’t have a work of commercial fiction. Keep in mind that the PLOT LINE is an elaboration of the statement, of this "primary complication" of story statement. Also, look over the brief summaries of these novels in the Author Connect Deal News. These contain the simple statement, but more elaborated into a short hook.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.



Since the antagonist in most successful commercial fiction is the driver of the plot line(s), what chances do you as a writer have of getting your manuscript, regardless of genre, commercially published if the story and narrative therein fail to meet reader demands for sufficient suspense, character concern, and conflict?

Answer: none. But what major factor makes for a quiet or dull manuscript brimming with insipid characters and a story that cascades from chapter to chapter with tens of thousands of words, all of them combining irresistibly to produce an audible thudding sound in the mind, rather like a fist hitting a side of cold beef?

Such a dearth of vitality in narrative and story frequently results from the unwillingness of the writer to create a suitable antagonist who stirs and spices the plot hash. And let's make it clear what we're talking about. By "antagonist" we specifically refer to an actual fictional character, an embodiment of certain traits and motivations who plays a significant role in catalyzing and energizing plot line(s), or at bare minimum, in assisting to evolve the protagonist's character arc (and by default the story itself) by igniting complication(s) the protagonist, and possibly other characters, must face and solve (or fail to solve).


SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.



What is your breakout title? How important is a great title before you even become published? Very important! Quite often, agents and editors will get a feel for a work and even sense the marketing potential just from a title. A title has the ability to attract and condition the reader's attention. It can be magical or thud like a bag of wet chalk, so choose carefully. A poor title sends the clear message that what comes after will also be of poor quality.

Go to Amazon.Com and research a good share of titles in your genre, come up with options, write them down and let them simmer for at least 24 hours.Consider character or place names, settings, or a "label" that describes a major character, like THE ENGLISH PATIENT or THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. Consider also images, objects, or metaphors in the novel that might help create a title, or perhaps a quotation from another source (poetry, the Bible, etc.) that thematically represents your story. Or how about a title that summarizes the whole story: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, etc.

Keep in mind that the difference between a mediocre title and a great title is the difference between THE DEAD GIRL'S SKELETON and THE LOVELY BONES, between TIME TO LOVE THAT CHOLERA and LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA between STRANGERS FROM WITHIN (Golding's original title) and LORD OF THE FLIES, between BEING LIGHT AND UNBEARABLE and THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).



Did you know that a high percentage of new novel writers don't fully understand their genre, much less comprehend comparables?

When informing professionals about the nuances of your novel, whether by query letter or oral pitch, you must know your genre first, and provide smart comparables second. In other words, you need to transcend just a simple statement of genre (literary, mystery, thriller, romance, science fiction, etc.) by identifying and relating your novel more specifically to each publisher's or agent's area of expertise, and you accomplish this by wisely comparing your novel to contemporary published novels they will most likely recognize and appreciate--and it usually doesn't take more than two good comps to make your point.Agents and publishing house editors always want to know the comps.

There is more than one reason for this. First, it helps them understand your readership, and thus how to position your work for the market. Secondly, it demonstrates up front that you are a professional who understands your contemporary market, not just the classics. Very important! And finally, it serves as a tool to enable them to pitch your novel to the decision-makers in the business.Most likely you will need to research your comps. We've included some great starter websites for this purpose below. If you're not sure how to begin, go to Amazon.Com, type in the title of a novel you believe very similar to yours, choose it, then scroll down the page to see Amazon's list of "Readers Also Bought This" and begin your search that way.

Keep in mind that before you begin, you should know enough about your own novel to make the comparison in the first place!By the way, beware of using comparables by overly popular and classic authors. If you compare your work to classic authors like H.G. Wells and Gabriel Marquez in the same breath you will risk being declared insane. If you compare your work to huge contemporary authors like Nick Hornby or Jodi Picoult or Nora Ephron or Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, and so forth, you will not be laughed at, but you will also not be taken seriously since thousands of others compare their work to the same writers. Best to use two rising stars in your genre. If you can't do this, use only one classic or popular author and combine with a rising star. Choose carefully!


- Read Caitlin's Comparables on Author Salon:
- Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?



Conflict, tension, complication, drama--all basically related, and all going a long way to keeping the reader's eyes fixated on your story. These days, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to damnation. You need tension on the page (esp in fiction), at all times, and the best way to accomplish this is to create (or find them in your nonfiction story) conflict and complications in the plot and narrative.

Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present. First, the primary conflict which drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax (falling action and denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve.

And now, onto the PRIMARY CONFLICT.

If you've taken care to consider your story description and your hook line, you should be able to identify your main conflict(s). Let's look at some basic information regarding the history of conflict in storytelling:

Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of conflict, involves the protagonist (the "first fighter") and the antagonist (a more recent term), corresponding to the hero and villain. The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and, according to later critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling. Is that always true these days? Not always, but let's move on.

Even in contemporary, non-dramatic literature, critics have observed that the agon is the central unit of the plot. The easier it is for the protagonist to triumph, the less value there is in the drama. In internal and external conflict alike, the antagonist must act upon the protagonist and must seem at first to overmatch him or her.

The above defines classic drama that creates conflict with real stakes. You see it everywhere, to one degree or another, from classic contemporary westerns like THE SAVAGE BREED to a time-tested novel as literary as THE GREAT GATSBY. And of course, you need to have conflict or complications in nonfiction also, in some form, or you have a story that is too quiet.

For examples let's return to the story descriptions and create some CONFLICT LINES. Note these come close to being genuine hook lines, but that conflict is present regardless of genre.

The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones
A young Moor torn between Islam and Christianity, scorned and tormented by both, struggles to bridge the two faiths by seeking common ground in the very nature of God.

Summer's Sisters by Judy Blume
After sharing a magical summer with a friend, a young woman must confront her friend's betrayal of her with the man she loved.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
As an apprentice mage seeks revenge on an elder magician who humiliated him, he unleashes a powerful Djinni who joins the mage to confront a danger that threatens their entire world.

Note that it is fairly easy to ascertain the stakes in each case above: a young woman's love and friendship, the entire world, and harmony between opposed religions. If you cannot make the stakes clear, the odds are you don't have any.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist(s) must be noted or inferred.



Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present. First, the primary conflict which drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax (falling action and denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve. You must note the inner personal conflicts elsewhere in this profile, but make certain to note any important interpersonal conflicts within this particular category."

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?



When considering your novel, whether taking place in a contemporary urban world or on a distant magical planet in Andromeda, you must first sketch the best overall setting and sub-settings for your story. Consider: the more unique and intriguing (or quirky) your setting, the more easily you're able to create energetic scenes, narrative, and overall story.

A great setting maximizes opportunities for interesting characters, circumstances, and complications, and therefore makes your writing life so much easier.

Imagination is truly your best friend when it comes to writing competitive fiction, and nothing provides a stronger foundation than a great setting. One of the best selling contemporary novels, THE HUNGER GAMES, is driven by the circumstances of the setting, and the characters are a product of that unique environment, the plot also.

But even if you're not writing SF/F, the choice of setting is just as important, perhaps even more so. If you must place your upmarket story in a sleepy little town in Maine winter, then choose a setting within that town that maximizes opportunities for verve and conflict, for example, a bed and breakfast stocked to the ceiling with odd characters who combine to create comical, suspenseful, dangerous or difficult complications or subplot reversals that the bewildered and sympathetic protagonist must endure and resolve while he or she is perhaps engaged in a bigger plot line: restarting an old love affair, reuniting with a family member, starting a new business, etc. And don't forget that non-gratuitous sex goes a long way, especially for American readers.


FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.


PostPosted: 03 Jul 2017, 09:08 

Joined: 20 Jun 2017, 22:10
Posts: 2
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
a. Two spirited young boys with the help of their pony strive to meet the impossibly high standards of their father, President Theodore Roosevelt. But will the White House and the President himself survive their antics?

PostPosted: 05 Jul 2017, 18:24 

Joined: 23 Jun 2017, 12:10
Posts: 2
1. Act of story statement:
"I am not my father's son." Seeing the damage his father has caused to his mother and countless other women, Hiroshi Tanaka resolves to expose his father's crimes, then must escape when his father discovers the betrayal and tries to destroy him.

2. Antagonist: Fumitori Tanaka is a Yokohama nightclub and brothel owner who made his fortune during WWII supplying forcefully-procured "comfort women" to the Japanese army during WWII. He's proud of his service to the Emperor and country, and sees no moral problem with his violent and sometimes murderous exploitation of women. In 1946, he meets and seduces Elizabeth Twircombe, a naive young British woman with connections to the U.K. consulate. He plies her with charm and opium, hoping to ingratiate himself with the British contingent of the occupying forces. He makes good money providing girls and other forms of entertainment to the Allied troops and officers, and collects troves of photographic evidence about their behavior. When Elizabeth becomes pregnant, he marries her, and the birth of their child, Hiroshi--our protagonist--cements his relationship with the West. Fumitori has some hopes that Hiroshi will continue to provide a gateway to the riches of the West.
However, when Hiroshi becomes old enough to understand the sins of his father, he alerts the British authorities. Fumitori, enraged, tries twice to kill his son. Hiroshi escapes to America; Fumitori chases after him. They clash, and Hiroshi kills his father in a fit of self-righteous anger.
Fumitori, before he dies, expresses pride in what Hiroshi has become--a killer, in the Tanaka tradition.


4. Comparables:
Debut or newer authors: John Lanchester, THE DEBT TO PLEASURE (1997), for the language and malice. Allen Eskens, THE LIFE WE BURY (2014), for the way it digs into the past.
Giant: Kate Atkinson's LIFE AFTER LIFE (2014) and CASE HISTORIES (2005), for her ability to get beneath the skin of her protagonists. I am aiming for an audience eager for up-market thrillers--literate, if not literary.

5. Primary Conflict: From a physical perspective, Hiroshi fears for his life after his father attacks him. He's in a fight for survival. Internally, he hopes to redress the family crimes by exposing the suffering of the comfort women, which is being covered up for political reasons.

6. Secondary Conflict: Hiroshi must avoid the scrutiny of Detective Taverner about who is responsible for the death of his father.

7. Setting: FEVER HEIGHTS begins in post-war Yokohama, where Hiroshi Tanaka lives in isolated splendor with his opium-addict mother (and rarely his father) in the international compound above the clamor of the city. He feels entranced by the beauty of the immense garden surrounding the British-designed house--yet grows uneasy at the rising count of bodies being buried in the garden. When his father tries to kill him, he flees to Seattle, where he is exposed to the 1960s-era mindset of America, which is in many ways quite foreign to him--and to us as well, viewed through the filter of time. He is surprised to discover that Seattle has its share of violent secrets.

PostPosted: 06 Jul 2017, 09:54 

Joined: 06 Jul 2017, 09:38
Posts: 10
Bainbridge Barn - Pre-Event Writer Assignments Below are seven assignments which include readings and links.
<< โกเด้นสล็อต >>
^^ gclub ^^

PostPosted: 15 Jul 2017, 02:14 

Joined: 15 Jul 2017, 02:07
Posts: 1
First: The Story Statement

Roman Carlyle will keep his family alive and together in the face of attack even if it means giving up everything they have, everything that is familiar to them and they are forced to move to an unknown land.

Second: The Antagonist

Henderson is a hard man who has come upon hard times. He’s a poor man who thinks poor but now believes he’s on his way to money in his pocket if not respectability. He’s a some-time road-agent, a failed soldier, mountain-bred to never suffer a slight or an insult without paying it back in double measure. In the mountains no one would expect different but Henderson will always deliver more than a full measure of retribution.

He has renewed hope for prosperity as a slave catcher, an occupation legal under the law and a good fit for rough men. Henderson and Roman have crossed words and swords before with the greater portion of bad blood on Henderson’s side. The biggest insult is that Roman treats Henderson as if he isn’t even there and his son Robert is no better.

When Henderson finds a fugitive in Roman’s barn he uses the event to exact payment for Roman’s slights both real and imagined. Afterward, when Roman calls him a coward Henderson is caught in an emotional maelstrom of revenge and glee that he has gone one better on his nemesis.

In a night-ride Henderson burns Romans barn and slaughters his stock setting off the feud that will cost lives and fortune and cover thousands of miles. Henderson is grievously wounded but relieves the pain with ever increasing amounts of laudanum sending him on a spiral that threatens to break up his rough gang of pursuers as they follow the family on the Oregon trail.

As the battle closes on the Montana prairie, Henderson’s last words are that his only regret is not having killed Roman too.

Third: Titles

• An Unfamiliar Hymn (from a simile in the story)
• The Carlyles
• A Simple Misunderstanding

Fourth: Comparables

News of the World by Paulette Giles

A Civil War veteran travels the small towns of Texas to earn his living reading the new of the world for dimes. A young girl recently rescued from Comanches is put into his care to return to family and he must cross a territory populated with bandits, soldiers enforcing martial law and
renegade Indians.

The Revenant, by Michael Punke

A tale of betrayal and revenge set against the nineteenth-century American frontier, the astonishing story of a trapper and frontiersman once left for dead but now pursues his enemy through a hostile territory.

Fifth: the Conflict

Roman and his family run afoul of a gang of cutthroats in a slave catching enterprise when a fugitive is found in their barn. The initial conflict is prolonged and enhanced by the mountain honor-culture of pride and revenge. Roman initially resists the conflict but is pulled into a battle for the lives of his family.

Sixth: The Inner Conflict

The inner conflict is inherent in Roman’s comment early in the story “ I went to a war once and I didn’t like it very much.” He is a peaceful man at heart but proud and in a dangerous spot. Though he tries to stay out of the conflict the relentless Henderson pulls him into it.

The secondary conflict is sub-text throughout the story where there are disagreements among the adult children and roman’s young daughter-in-law over ordinary matters as well as the existential questions including what is to be done about the fugitive slave that is accompanying them.

Seventh and Final: Setting

The story opens in the mountains of western North Carolina in the fall of 1855 among the forests and hollows that are home to a plain-speaking people. We are first introduced to Roman’s home, nestled in a hollow and watered by a near stream for stock and a well near the house. The weather is sufficiently pleasant that the family takes meals outdoors and frequently comment on their natural surroundings.

There is a town nearby, a short hours ride over a well-used road with shops, smiths, the businesses that provide feed and other necessities brought in to town, much of it by Roman’s freight wagons. The seamy side of the small town has the slave market, a coral of human chattel operated by Colonel Marsh, the employer and facilitator of Henderson. The aura of despair around the pens and market is increased by the smells and sounds of the place.

As the conflict rises the family moves to the Cumberland Gap, crossing to the frontier and on to Missouri to the Oregon Trail. As they go west, the familiar changes to the new, flat land, taller trees, wider rivers; all new to them but well within their knowledge and understanding. Once into Independence the world grows stranger to them with sharpsters and thieves either lurking or actually assaulting them. The city of Independence is alive with immigrants with all the noise and activity that a mobile population brings, and spring in Missouri is no small challenge, rain, wind, stories of tornados all add to the mix.

The Trail is the final setting, one that moves with the family as they cross into the plains and Indian territory. As the forests give way to prairie they see wildlife new to them, vast spaces of grass and wind that never seems to cease. Occasionally they find themselves in a secluded spot, a deep swale with a creek running through it, or a stand of cottonwoods for protection.

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