Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

A forum where New York Pitch Conference attendees post assignments related to their novel or nonfiction project. These assignments relate to conflict levels, antagonist and protagonist sketches, plot lines, as well as story premise.
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Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 02 Sep 2017, 22:20

Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

For the New York Pitch Conference Only

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.

Michael Neff
NYC Pitch Conference Director

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.


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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#2 Post by jennifereliot » 05 Sep 2017, 03:37

ACT OF STORY STATEMENT: An SS Officer must overcome ingrained beliefs to do what is right.

THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT Theatrice is a woman desperate for male attention and protection. Motivated by her need for power over the men around her, she opportunistically seizes positions within the Nazi Reich and the home of Blaz, the man she pursues obsessively. Neglected as a child by her grieving mother she becomes only more selfish and determined to be loved after losing her unborn child. Distancing herself from her loss she refuses to form sincere attachment to Blaz’ daughter, Cora. Theatrice abuses others for her own gain regardless of how much it may injure them. Convinced she is the only one who truly understands Blaz and lacking her own moral direction she will blindly follow what ever he says. Her combination of brutality and sycophancy makes her an ideal candidate for the SS but a terrible force in the lives of Blaz and Cora.

"Beneath the Universe"
"Father's Descent"
"Passion of the Super Man"


Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Comparable in that it is unflinching in its portrayal of Nazi atrocity and the intimate pain and submission of its characters.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Both feature a protagonist who is reprehensible but whose trauma makes them almost sympathetic. (Almost.)

An SS officer whose desperation for a son makes him susceptible to violence, seduction by a dangerous woman and ultimately challenges his own inviolable beliefs.

Continuously tasked with repellant responsibilities, Blaz battles his own humanity. Meanwhile, Cora's singular focus on her unrequited love for her father develops within her a sense of wretchedness.

When faced with a vile request from the concentration camp doctor, Blaz longs to deny him but his perceived duty forces his complicity.
Six year old Cora is neglected and left vulnerable to a predator who she cannot refuse.

Barbed wire. Austere stone. The smoky air pregnant with ash. Inside the gates of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp the joyful sounds of the nearby town are replaced by the clanging of axes on stone, rattling coughs and fierce commands.
Several miles away, a Jewish home has been commandeered and inhabited by an SS officer's unsuspecting wife and daughter. Blissfully unaware that all their lovely new things are the remnants of a family probably dead, the mother and child work to please their patriarch as he commutes between the foul camp and the "happy" home.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#3 Post by jennifereliot » 05 Sep 2017, 04:12


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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#4 Post by jennifereliot » 05 Sep 2017, 04:17


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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#5 Post by jennifereliot » 05 Sep 2017, 04:36


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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#6 Post by jennifereliot » 05 Sep 2017, 04:46


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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#7 Post by jennifereliot » 05 Sep 2017, 05:07


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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#8 Post by jennifereliot » 05 Sep 2017, 05:18


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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#9 Post by samarhabib80 » 05 Sep 2017, 11:10

Thank you for this opportunity to learn. I very much look forward to your feedback. Please DO let me know if you would like me to rewrite ANY of the following.


A California writer is commissioned by a mysterious cosmic force to write the story of a young woman named Nadia, whose unfolding life is the key to retrieving a long lost myth of epic love.

2. Antagonists

There are macro-cosmic and micro-cosmic antagonists. In the first instance, the main protagonists, as children, have to survive murderous wars and persecution in Lebanon and Kuwait. As adults, they experience the radicalization of public discourse against immigrants and refugees both in Australia and the United States. This impacts their personal and professional lives. In the microcosm, the protagonists have to fight the enemy they have internalized within their own minds, as well as antagonism from within their own families or lovers. Theirs is a struggle to free themselves from the restraints preventing them from fulfilling their destinies.

3. Breakout Title

The Greatest Story Ever Written

4. Comparables

This novel is a cross between Milan Kundera’s sensual and philosophical Unbearable Lightness of Being and Arundhati Roy’s socially critical novel, God of Small Things.

5. Conflict Line

In a world beset by worldwide wars, refugee crises and rising hatred and prejudice in every nation, will Nadia and Leela succumb to the despair that envelopes them? Or will they be able to find meaning and hope in the midst of chaos?

6. Three levels of conflict

Primary: Nadia, a child survivor of war who becomes an Australian citizen as a teenager, finds herself at age 30, unwelcome in her own country. This awakening is triggered by the geopolitical circumstances that directly impact her life: namely, the rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric in society at large and in the workplace.

Primary: Leela, also a child survivor of war, who becomes an American citizen, is disowned by her family when they discover her sexual orientation. Subsequently, the Editor-in-Chief at the newspaper where she works wants to censor her reporting when it becomes contentious.

Secondary Conflict:

Nadia, suffers an obliteration of life as she knows it, losing career, love, house, home and a sense of belonging. She also has to suffer a short-lived relationship with a psychopathic woman while volunteering to help refugees in Lebanon.

Leela has to contend with an increasingly alienated spouse who is unconsciously resentful of her cultural heritage. At the same time, Leela resists and denies her attraction to Nadia.

Inner Conflict

Nadia can no longer go on with the identity that her former, assimilated self had created. She is experiencing an existential crisis as an Arab woman who is no longer accepted in Australian society. An earlier inner conflict that is soon resolved occurs during Nadia’s adolescence, when she comes to terms with her sexuality. While still in High School, Nadia’s girlfriend decides to repent, creating great turmoil in both their lives.

Leela has been repressing her cultural heritage since she was disowned by her family in her early twenties. Now, almost forty, the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, as well as her friendship with Nadia, are bringing Leela on the verge of an identity crisis.

7. Settings

1) Act Zero: The opening scene (prologue) is surreal. It takes place at an observatory located in the Oakland Hills of California, where the narrator of the story is asked to look through a telescope by a force they can only describe as "the Story." The narrator is then taken into outer space, to contemplate the importance of their assignment and the place of mythology in human life.

2) Act One: The first chapter takes place in an apartment in Sydney's Western Suburbs in the 21st century. Here we meet Nadia, the main protagonist, and her partner of the last ten years, Jane. While Jane is preparing to leave Nadia, we go into Nadia's mind through a series of flashbacks that take us back to the Lebanese civil war of the 70s and 80s. We see violence and massacres of extraordinary brutality, all while Jane is talking to an absent-minded Nadia, who has just left her job at the university.

3) Act Two: We go back through Nadia's life to see her in her first love affair as a High School student at an all girls Catholic School in Sydney's Inner West. We see one more flashback of the war that relates to Nadia's present situation with Dayma. We get a glimpse of Arab-Australian life in Sydney during the mid 1990s.

4) Act Three: We return to the future, where Nadia is an adult. Having left the University in Australia, Nadia decides to return to Lebanon, this time to work with refugee populations there. The Syrian civil war and the latest refugee crisis form the backdrop to life in Beirut, which is not devoid of its own mini-wars and skirmishes.

5) Act Four: Unwilling to return to Australia, and after a harrowing and short-lived relationship with a woman in Beirut, Nadia moves permanently to California, beginning on a long road to recovery.

6) Act five: The reader meets Leela, Nadia's complementary Other, in Kuwait City on the eve of the Iraqi invasion in 1990.

7) Act Six: Nadia and Leela meet and The Greatest Story Every Written begins to take shape in the revolutionary streets of San Francisco, while the narrator approaches retrieving the long lost myth of epic love between women.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#10 Post by ConnorKeene7 » 07 Sep 2017, 02:37

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Survive the war and the secrets it unearthed.

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.

The external conflict begins when Dorian and Armen are attacked and taken to Edelweiss by force after a tragedy in their village. There, they are secretly experimented on by the lead scientist Harlow as part of a plot to renew a super soldier program both created and ended by Edelweiss’ director and founder Jacob Alaric. Jacob is a man of unrivaled knowledge who saved his country and turned the tide of the war with his elite mercenary forces from Edelweiss. After the brothers’ awake unaware, they are helped by Jacob’s adoptive daughter Ceres who quickly befriends them. Nevertheless, when Dorian displays unnatural powers, much like Ceres’ abilities that Jacob makes her keep secret, Jacob manipulates Dorian into serving him: both to end the war and to erase a horrible mistake he made in the past. All the while, Armen fights for his life in training, growing jealous of Dorian and his relationship with Ceres. When Edelweiss deploys for a final assault against the hostile country Myrrah, both must survive the war they were trained for. In the aftermath of the battle, Armen and Dorian uncover a terrifying piece of Jacob’s past, culminating in a bloody and tragic showdown.

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

The Final Praetorian
A Lesson in Dreams

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: 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?

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson - Terrific example of a fantasy book driven by narrative from multiple point of view characters, with layers of plots and history to be excavated. This method immerses the reader in each character’s biased perspective on the world and events. There is a comparable focus in tactfully concealing and revealing plot points depending upon the character we are following at each point, in order to maintain tension and mystery through each chapter of the story.

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab - An up and coming author who expresses a similar cinematic focus and brevity in her work. I come to writing novels from a background in writing for stage and screen. Due to this, I approach a plot arc much in the same sharply focused way I would for an intense and engaging two hour film or play. Moreover, it is essential to make the material as widely accessible and entertaining as possible. Schwab has written some YA books and implements a similar accessibility in content and pace for younger readers to be delighted, but with a mature and developed plot that can intrigue adult readers from beginning to end.

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.

Two brothers are taken from their ravaged home and drafted into an elite military academy where they must fight to stay together, survive the last days of a bloody war and uncover the secret plots of those that profit from it.

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.

Firstly, Armen and Dorian are already wrestling with a tragedy from their past when they planned to leave for Edelweiss. When their village is attacked by monsters, and they narrowly survive, the brothers are forcibly drafted by the Edelweiss recruiters they thought might rescue them. From there, neither knows that a terrible experiment has been conducted on them, altering them in ways they could never predict. Once Ceres’ befriends them and helps them build a new life at Edelweiss, the brothers are immediately pulled in different directions and are at odds with one another. Armen jumps into training while Dorian wants no part of it. When Dorian and Ceres are nearly killed by a group of angry cadets, Dorian unlocks a mysterious power granted to him by the experiment. From there, Dorian is taken in by Jacob, thus driving a wedge between him and Armen. Both will be confronted with the horrors of war and the things they will have to do to survive. More than just fighting for survival, each brother must fight for their very sanity when they uncover a glimpse into what was done to them and what it was that contributed to the war they were trained to fight in.

Armen always wanted to come to Edelweiss. Once he accepts his place there, Armen doggedly fights to distinguish himself, while his brother, who was always more gifted than he was, refuses to participate. Yet, no matter how brilliant Armen proves himself to be, he fails in combat trials because he has not resolved his inner fear of losing control. He is still tormented by his past and the events that took place the day they were taken. To make matters worse, Armen’s trainer has a secret agenda to push him to to the brink in order to unleash any power he might have from the experiment conducted on him. Dorian inadvertently becomes the new model soldier and is embraced by Jacob and Ceres, while Armen fights for his life, and against himself, to survive his training.

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?

Imagine, after nearly losing his only living family, Armen loses all interaction with his brother the second he recovers. Dorian begins special training for a task he is not fully aware of yet, while Jacob plans to use his newfound abilities. This was set in motion the second they were experimented on. Dorian must tread carefully in order to protect himself and his brother, while Armen, not knowing what is happening, only grows more bitter and jealous of Dorian’s new celebrity as he himself fights to survive training. Meanwhile, Ceres is caught in between the two as they are pulled apart. She becomes closer with Dorian than ever before as he discovers that she too has a special gift like he has. Yet, Ceres is devoutly loyal to her father, whom she loves above all else. She does not realize how much he has kept hidden from her, nor how he intends to use Dorian to erase a terrible mistake.

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.

My novel is divided into two acts. The first takes place largely at Edelweiss academy where the brothers Armen and Dorian are drafted and trained. Much of the initial conflict is built around the odd circumstances of their arrival and how they must adjust to a world radically different from their own. Edelweiss is, in their world, a marvel and one of a kind academy where the most elite are trained either as soldiers, medical professionals, in engineering and technologies, or in the innovations department which feeds Jacob Alaric’s world spanning company. Edelweiss, though touched with fantastical elements, purposefully resembles something from our own world. The entire landscape of the book is, by design, modeled to reflect elements of the modern world and even with aspects of history. This helps us envision it and ourselves as the characters within the world, but with enough foreign technologies and details to make it intriguing. Armen and Dorian come from a dusty, no name town that was attacked by rampaging monsters. Edelweiss is new for them, and so we discover much of it through their fresh eyes. From chapter to chapter we discover new parts of the school, the training offered, the fellow students and the technologies they are prepared to use for the upcoming war. We also get to know the place and people there from Ceres’, for whom Edelweiss is a familiar home.
The second act largely takes place on the shores of the hostile country Myrrah, where the characters must survive a land invasion attack meant to cripple the country's supply lines and effectively end the war. Much is said of Myrrah, but the characters must discover this foreign land, their enemy, and innocent civilians in between, under the pressure of battle. It is a dizzying and dangerous experience from beginning to end as they try to survive the assault. Parts of the city are even infested with dangerous creatures that fear only light. Things only get more mysterious and complicated when Dorian and Armen find a factory just like the one that was built near their home - the very place where the monsters had been drawn to. Inside, they discover secrets about what has been done to them and a secret power that has been motivating the war. The design of the two acts and locations is plotted similar to a cinematic arc, much like what one would see in a film, as that is a part of my background and education as a writer and it is how I visualize most stories.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#11 Post by AdamFerguson » 07 Sep 2017, 21:20

Thank you and see you soon!


Fantastical discoveries have the ability transform a man’s feared reality.


The main antagonist is the city itself and everything that is represented within it. The city has such a powerful lure that it manifests its fear, dread and hatred into different forms throughout the story, including the protagonist. The city has the ability to pull you in and manipulate you into a fear-filled, numbed state of mind, preventing you from seeing the truth of existence.


The Ortem

The Metro

The Sages of Esrevinu


1984 by George Orwell
A dystopian futuristic city with authoritative order is what relates the two novels. However, my novel dives into a whole other world of imagination and new ideas creating a magical world of self-discovery.

Perfume by Patrick Süskind
The magical realism aspect of this novel is why I have chosen it as a comparable. The combination of fantasy and reality creates something unique and fresh, enabling limitless imagination. Mixing those two aspects is essentially my way of expressing my perspective of the essence of our existence.


Evol must find the power within himself to overcome his fears and rise above the manipulation of the city.


As Evol discovers his ability to travel into other worlds and discover the truth of existence, he fights to bring his wisdom into his reality. He then seeks the courage to express his love to the woman of his dreams.

The death of his parents and eventually his precious grandmother leave Evol in a world of confusion and loneliness. This leads him to a life of seclusion creating a vulnerable, naïve individual.


This novel is set in a gloomy, futuristic -yet un-evolved- mega-city run by banks, oil companies and pharmacies. The city consists of looming sky scrapers that go on as far as the eye can see and prevent any sunlight from entering. It is centered around the financial district and sprawls out to the slums where Evol resides in his apartment. The metro, far below the city, connects it all and is the escape route to other worlds full of magic, discovery and the beauty of existence. The settings of this novel represent a feeling and a state of mind: Fear or love. Whichever you choose to feel will manifest all around you and will become your reality.

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Joined: 08 Sep 2017, 23:30

Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#12 Post by laura1951osb » 08 Sep 2017, 23:42

The Act of Story Statement

Silvana Reginardo Wright must sacrifice her lifelong dream of having the first great-grandchild in her family, while fighting moral teachings of a Catholic upbringing and the allure of unrequited love and romance in the sexual revolution of the 1980’s.

The Antagonist Plots the Point

Silvana’s emotionally immature husband is an unintentional antagonist. He objects to her business travel once a month. His everyday incumbrances irritate her more and more. He impregnates her against her will. His cousin could potentially inherit the business she thought he would. To complicate that fact, she and the hero, Gladstone “Stone” Adams, are both already married and living in separate cities. Stone himself becomes an antagonist at one point in the story. Since Silvana is basically mentally committed to her marriage, she fears entering a love affair, but cannot avoid, and is repeatedly thrown together, with the Stone. Because she is familiar with how a corporate merger affects those who depend on the company’s survival, her veritable needs in her situation place her on guard and shake her through every political move which could make or break her dreams.

The Breakout Title

The Cross of Silvana
The Passion of the 1980’s, The Labyrinth of 1984
The Wright Signs

Deciding Genre and Comparable Stories

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller compares in the basic plots of unrequited love, old fashioned Italian commitments to stay in a marriage no matter what it takes, and safeguarding family values, but falls short in the sexual theme of hands-off adoration. An older epic, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is more similar as it pertains to repeated heartbreak. Just like Meghan, Silvana has an adventurous side even though she is conservative and sensible, and wants what she cannot have. Also, she must get down and dirty and endure uncharted manly paths in her search. Religiously speaking, Silence by Shusaku Endo also uses the crucifixion of Christ but with more fatal consequences, not as an art form depicting an emotional struggle.

The Primary Conflict

Simple family plans turn into a righteousness mission when a wholesome, admired, and married do-gooder secretly struggles with the moral, emotional, and external consequences of a time-sensitive, risky pregnancy termination.

Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels

Stone misunderstands Silvana’s walking away from the narrow window of opportunity for an affair. He draws another “other” new woman, Carrie Rebl, into the mix, which becomes a source of mysterious anxiety. Silvana meets Carrie when Stone extends an invitation through her boss for lunch for a party of two men and two women. She and Stone have swift private time, but not enough for them to talk intimately. She “falls” a first time. The company employees are slated to attend a conference out of town and Silvana desires to use the opportunity to talk privately with Stone. Conference attendees and hotel arrangements are completely altered the day of arrival and Silvana is angrier and more suspicious than ever with Stone. She “falls” a second time. Corporate mandates alter the heroine’s schedule, preventing connection with Stone. An alcoholic manager with loyalties to management and a jealous female insider also create roadblocks for them. Another resentful old associate stalks the heroine. Family revelations shock her private world.

The Incredible Importance of Setting

Silvana’s dark and lonely basement office, where her comfortable world is shaken. Silence of this place, yet uninterrupted telephone work ethics day after day. A charming center-entrance colonial home in a middle-class Glen Cove, Long Island neighborhood with family photos, beautiful knick-knacks, and china that become a sort of prison. Abhorring conditions at a first time visit to an abortion clinic. Her back deck where she looks down at her tanned legs that remind her of her grandmother’s legs on her own porch, a sign that her life might be turning out as simple and unappealing. Her sewing room where she drapes cloth over her head, looking like the hanging image of St. Mary on her wall. Many personified corridors of her scaled-down, out-of-town company which at first inspires, but later promotes low morale, back-stabbing, anger in employees, and fear of loss. Her intended good, but boring life of fancy restaurant dinners, European travel, and social gatherings with her husband, adequately replaced with a yuppy-filled fitness gym where she works out practically into illness, but the ‘70’s and ‘80’s disco music fuels her high spirit. This contrasts with the cathedral-like Catholic church where she cries every Sunday and is amazed at the ironies of the readings and hopeful teachings. A summer convention in Washington, DC and product training in New Orleans, LA, should be exciting and romantic venues, but disappoint and contribute to Silvana’s misery. An exhilarating Pro-Life March, and lots of tears.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#13 Post by lisawhalen » 09 Sep 2017, 01:49

**My book is a memoir.**

ACT OF STORY STATEMENT: Apply insights gained from riding horses to conquering an eating disorder and getting discharged from the psych ward

THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT: An eating disorder is a Trojan Horse. Mine (ED) waited until I was vulnerable in all the right ways before creeping in cloaked with good intentions: improved health and fitness. ED dangled happiness like a carrot, insisting, “Lose a few pounds and you’ll grasp it.” Once invited in, ED seized control.

Rather than a soldier, ED battled like an abusive husband. His goal was to make our relationship last. He sucked up increasing time and attention until I cared about nothing but pleasing him. The single-minded focus isolated me from friends and family.

ED was a master manipulator. He identified useful traits (insecurity and perfectionism were his favorites) and coopted them. He cooed, “We’ll make you so hot those popular girls will rue the day they shunned you.” He secured loyalty with backhanded compliments: “Good idea. You don’t want to push yourself by running three miles instead of two.” He ensured the carrot remained just beyond reach. If cutting 100 calories was good, 150 was better. His silver tongue lured me back every time I strayed toward freedom.

Mane Course: How Horses Led Me to Eating Disorder Recovery
Taking the Reins: How Horses Carried Me to Eating Disorder Recovery
Unbridled: A Memoir of Horses and Eating Disorder Recovery

Chosen By a Horse: A Memoir by Susan Richards, Soho Press, 2006
This is a good comparable because of its focus on how horses helped a woman heal physically and emotionally so she could move forward toward a healthier, happier life.

The Time in Between: A Memoir of Hunger and Hope, Nancy Tucker, Icon (London), 2015
This is a good comparable because of its focus on how a young, people-pleasing, overachieving female like I was, developed, battled, and eventually overcame her eating disorder. Her book and mine both reveal the difficulty in diagnosing--and therefore treating--eating disorders because of how they defy tidy classification.

CONFLICT LINE: A 28-year-old woman struggles to overcome an eating disorder and get discharged from the psych ward in time to save her new and precarious career as a college professor.

CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT: Brought to the brink of suicide by a 12-year eating disorder, Lisa fears she won’t earn a discharge from the psych ward in time to save her new and precarious career as a college professor.

Lisa’s dad suspects she blames her eating disorder on his critical nature and explosive temper during her childhood; he worries they won’t be able to repair their relationship after her time in the psych ward.

Two horses that arrive at Seventh Farm Riding School struggle to recover from psychological trauma inflicted by their previous career at the racetrack. If they can’t adjust to life as school horses, they’ll be sold to unvetted owners and may end up at a slaughterhouse.

SETTING 1: Psych ward of an inner-city public hospital nearly strangled by St. Paul, Minnesota’s, I-94/I-35 interchange, which wraps the structure and constricts every time construction crews expand onramps and add lanes. Legislation at the State Capital a few blocks west mirrors the freeways’ gridlock. Both buildings grovel at the foot of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Archbishop glowers at them from his peak atop the wealthy Summit Hill neighborhood.

Subzero January temperatures have frosted snowdrifts with a crust that creaks and groans beneath pedestrians’ boots. White puffs emerge from mouths and chimneys to blend with car exhaust and then disappear against an ashen sky. Car tires grapple for traction. They spin, catch salted pavement, and shoot forward with a screech. They fishtail coming out of corners as if performing a mating dance.

Ward patients observe their surroundings through dingy windows on the cylindrical wing’s eighth floor, where two-person rooms open onto a commons. Round tables fill the gathering space. Orange carpet has worn threadbare during the two decades since its 1980s installation. A television in the adjoining lounge stands sentry from within its bulky wood console. Steam from dormitory showers provides the only weapon against air dry enough to crackle with static and chap lips. Just beyond bathroom doors lies the nurse’s station. It functions like an oracle, offering views of the entire ward, which patients can only exit if they earn a psychiatrist’s signature.

SETTING 2: Seventh Farm: an English horseback riding school just outside of Hudson, Wisconsin, 20 miles and one river-crossing from downtown St. Paul. A wood sign bearing the school’s name and logo welcomes riders and their guests. Pansies and marigolds bloom in whiskey-barrel planters that line the gravel parking lot.

Despite air that folds riders in wet wool as soon as they step from their SUVs’ air conditioning on a Sunday in August 2013, the barn remains cool. Its dim light also comes as a welcome relief to the sun’s glare. The building smells of dry wood, leather, and sweat-soaked saddle pads. Horses nicker and chomp hay inside eight stalls. Three stretch their necks past stall half-walls and into the barn’s aisle to watch riders come and go.

Women aged 20-50 wander the aisle and tack room, exchanging stories about the horses’ antics. They wear cotton breeches in a range of colors, tank tops, boots, and black leather half-chaps zipped tight around their calves. Their black helmets rest atop a wooden table, waiting to be donned for the day’s ride.

In the distance, more horses wander a dirt paddock in search of hay left over from breakfast. Beyond them, pasture grass flickers like emerald facets. Even it looks cooler and more inviting than the arena’s sand floor, which reflects heat back at riders’ faces as if comprised of glass shards. A white gazebo in the center offers the only shade. The married couple that owns Seventh Farm and lives next door stands in the gazebo’s shadow when teaching student riders, who are soon bathed in sweat.

Time suspends within Seventh Farm’s boundaries. The place and its routines change only in accordance with the seasons. Tasks trundle to completion on Nature’s clock. Regardless of the weather, classes run 30-50 minutes behind schedule. Humans, too, move at a languid pace, as if Seventh Farm’s ground is hallowed. Once vehicle tires roll back onto paved Hudson streets, time snaps back to its frenetic metropolitan ticking.

SETTING 3: North Platte, a frontier-settlement-turned-small-town that refuses to shed its Wild West persona, even as it strolls into the 1980s.

Smack in the center of Nebraska, North Platte boasts 20,000 residents, most of whom depend on the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) for their livelihood. UPRR’s Bailey Yard—the world’s largest railroad yard—sprawls like an octopus at the town’s edge. On summer nights, children fall asleep beneath open windows to rumbling that sounds like distant thunder as linemen shuffle cars. They roll each down an incline to crash into waiting siblings because the metal couplers require great force to link. The resulting collision judders down the train, turning its cars into dominoes.

To ensure no one misses North Platte’s claim to fame, town officials erected a frontier-style trading post along I-80. A 30-foot likeness of Buffalo Bill Cody with his rifle at the ready greets visitors. The town inspired Cody’s 1880s “Wild West Show,” which featured Annie Oakley and toured internationally for a decade. He earned his nickname for killing 4,280 buffalo in 18 months and supplying railroad workers with their meat. The town has named everything from parks and government centers to schools and streets after Cody.

Residents have nicknamed the town “Flat Rock” because it and the surrounding prairie stretch in all directions like a blanket without a wrinkle. A three-foot water table prohibits basements, so ramblers dominate the town’s landscape. Citizens joke (not inaccurately) that every street is marked by a 25 mph speed limit sign. Jagged lines of tar snake across sun-blanched concrete, especially wide white residential roads. They turn tacky on summer afternoons; soles waffle their surface like cookie cutters pressed into Play-Dough. Cicadas seduce children with whirring songs and shells abandoned on poplar tree trunks.

Every June North Platte hosts a week-long Nebraskaland Days celebration. It includes a parade, rodeo, carnival, and BBQ as well as a tradition that anyone caught not wearing western (cowboy) attire can be thrown in the dunk tank—a cattle trough hauled into the town square and filled to the brim.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#14 Post by janschmidt91869 » 09 Sep 2017, 17:37

FBI agent Julie McNaughton uncovers a murderous vigilante subgroup of Alcoholics Anonymous and must overcome these adversaries, as well as her boozing, to survive.

The antagonist is the Amends Group, a loosely-formed, rogue crew from Alcoholics Anonymous whose members kill people who have savagely hurt members of AA. Created by Alex, a true believer, the Amends Group is five deceptively charming, psychopathic AAers: Frank, a white guy, owner of a construction company; Calvin, a Black Harvard grad from the projects; Eric, a white Midwestern body builder; Grace, a Korean-American, archivist, ex-stripper; and Yvonne, a sexy, white, music professor. Yvonne murders, with a vodka enema, the uncle of a woman who says he repeatedly raped her as a child. A young FBI agent, Julie McNaughton, sent to AA for her drinking, hears the niece talk about her rapist uncle, who happens to be Julie’s case. Because Julie hid her FBI identity from the AA people she suspects, Yvonne befriends Julie, becomes her sponsor, and begins to put Julie through a series of tests to recruit her for the Amends Group. Acting alone, Frank kills Alex so he can become the leader. More murders take place, till finally, Grace is killed in an Amends attempt and the Group starts to disintegrate, becoming more dangerous and erratic.

The Ninth Step
The Amends Group
One Death at a Time

GENRE: Crime & Suspense
The Lion's Game by Nelson DeMille
A Drop of the Hard Stuff, by Lawrence Block

Julie, a young, hard-drinking FBI agent, has to follow a trail of blood across the United States as did John Corey in Nelson DeMille’s The Lion's Game. While DeMille’s thriller is about a diabolical terrorist, this book has a group of killers who are charismatic vigilantes trying to protect and avenge members of Alcoholics Anonymous who suffered vicious acts done to them. This Amends Group is made up of charming, but hard-boiled, edgy AA characters, like those in A Drop of the Hard Stuff, by Lawrence Block in his Matt Scudder series, and Julie, like Block’s hero Matt Scudder, has to get sober to survive, as she follows her leads through disturbing deaths and dangerous situations.


Sent to AA by her boss for her drinking, a young, female FBI agent discovers a rogue subgroup killing people who have harmed other AA members; she must bring these murderers to justice while battling alcoholism and avoiding getting murdered herself.

6 sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have.

Ever since she was ten years old and found her mother dead from an overdose of pills and booze, Julie’s inner conflicts are about trust and abandonment. This is compounded by her own excessive drinking and, though she does not think she has a problem with alcohol, at her boss’ order, she attends AA and begins to get sober. While in the AA meetings, she discovers the Amends Group committing murders, so she must learn which AA members she can trust and which are murderers. As she stays sober, Julie rebuilds relationships with her beloved aunt who is dying and her boyfriend. Through sobriety, Julies begins to grow, is able to determine who the murderers are, and solve her case. When she wraps up this investigation, she wonders if this was the only cell, or if there could be others.

Sketch of hypothetical scenario where protagonist is in turmoil and conflicted.
Julie trust issues and sense of abandonment are triggered by Yvonne, a music professor whom she likes, but also suspects of being a member of the murder group. When Yvonne becomes Julie’s sponsor in AA, a person she should be able to trust in order to recover, she has to let her into her life, aware, as they get closer, that she, Julie, could be in danger. Julie walks a thin line between telling the truth about her life to her “sponsor” and feeding her lies to foster her reputation as ex-con and possible recruit for the Amends Group. As she reveals things about herself, she is at the same time eliciting information from Yvonne so she can trap her.

sketch of hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment.
As Julie listens to other people in AA, she begins to separate the murderers from the honest people. Though she does not want to get sober, sobriety begins to get her, so when her cousin emails her that her beloved aunt, whom she is estranged from, is dying, Julie is able to step up and reunite with her aunt. She tells her aunt she’s sober and makes a true connection with both her aunt and her cousin.

7. sketch out your setting in detail.

This book’s settings are a study in contrasts in America in 2013. From the buzzing FBI offices in Washington D.C. to the dirty church basements of Alcoholics Anonymous; from a Buddhist retreat in the mountains of Arizona to the hills of San Francisco; from a small town bar in Wisconsin to the strip joints of D.C.; from a Bronx apartment building to the hallowed halls of Yale Library, Julie, the FBI agent, follows leads in pursuit of her multiple murder investigation and attends AA meetings, where she finds that alcoholics have the same humorous, ambiguous sensibility everywhere. She also frequents a number of diners, instead of the bars of her drinking time. These low-rent restaurants, like low-rent bars, allow her to listen to stories, thereby learning more about the Amends Group, AA, and herself.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#15 Post by JDMacGregor » 09 Sep 2017, 21:41

The Gambler of Garamemia – by Jonathan MacGregor


Conrad Zayne, a wisecracking gambling addict, must help a galactic peacekeeper, Sharvani Justice, solve a robbery and murder before the perpetrators escape.


Guilder Dalasi didn’t want anyone to get hurt... except for his boss, Rand Krónur, the owner of the Fleming Casino. Krónur had just financed a whistleblowing operation on Alpha Chymicus, the Trappist star system’s largest medical supply company, to halt their production of regulator patches, devices that help their wearer lessen addictive behavior. Krónur believed that by eliminating the patches, more people would patronize the Fleming, thereby keeping the institution financially solvent.

However, Dalasi had been depending on experimental medicine from Alpha Chymicus to treat his advanced lung cancer, giving him more time to spend with his wife and young son. So, to get his life back, Dalasi struck a deal with BravadoCorp, a major conglomerate seeking to buy failing businesses. Dalasi would engineer a heist of the Fleming’s vault by teaming up with various ne’er-do-wells competing in an upcoming card tournament. The missing funds would drive the Fleming into bankruptcy. In exchange, BravadoCorp would provide him one of their fixers to kill Krónur, and when the Fleming’s stock reverts to him, he would sell the property to BravadoCorp in exchange for enough money to save Alpha Chymicus.

After the plan is executed to perfection, Dalasi just needs to lay low and tell a few lies to keep Conrad Zayne and Sharvani Justice from finding the money and his trigger-happy accomplice before the upcoming tournament’s end.


The Gambler of Garamemia

Cards, Lasers, and a Dead Man’s Money

Gambling for Time


Genre: Adult, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

Key Similarities:
- Both are science-fiction works with worlds that employ rapid travel between planets in their respective solar systems.
- The action begins on a planet in the middle of some type of game
- Winning said game is integral to preserving the main character’s quality of life
- Both novels revolve around a heist
- Use of first-person point of view from a wisecracking, sarcastic main character
- Both main characters are sympathetic and guilty of breaking multiple laws
- The authors of both novels have graduate degrees in the sciences
- Both works pass the Bechdel test
Key Differences:
- The Quantum Thief is not a mystery novel, and solving a robbery and murder are a large part of The Gambler of Garamemia.
- Some of The Quantum Thief is written in limited third-person point of view.
- The Quantum Thief is focused on executing the heist, and The Gambler of Garamemia is concerned with solving how it occurred.
- The Quantum Thief revolves around a well-known thief/con-artist. The Gambler of Garamemia focuses on a gambler known for his ability to see through the deception of other players when playing Windeln: a game where cheating is encouraged, and cheaters are only penalized when caught by an observant player.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Key Similarities:
- A strong-willed female detective paired with a wisecracking amateur sleuth
- Both the detective and her amateur partner are main-characters that display agency throughout the novel
- Solving the murder of a wealthy business mogul
- The female detective becomes frustrated with her less-than-serious partner
Key Differences:
- Heat Wave is not a science-fiction novel.
- Heat Wave is told from an omniscient third-person person point of view. The Gambler of Garamemia is first-person as told from the wisecracking amateur sleuth.
- Heat Wave features a budding romance between the female and male leads.
- Heat Wave follows an amateur sleuth who is also an investigative journalist. The Gambler of Garamemia follows an amateur sleuth who is a professional card player.


Conrad Zayne must help galactic policewoman Sharvani Justice solve a robbery that threatens the state of the Fleming Casino, and when the first body appears, they must ensure that the killer doesn’t strike again.


Conrad Zayne is a gambling addict with gambling debts up to his cybernetic eye and an illegal regulator patch that’s running on empty. He’s a finalist in the Fleming’s Windeln tournament, and the grand prize is large enough to wipe his debt clean and keep himself out of debtor’s prison. But Zayne must constantly choose between whether to satisfy his addiction or act responsibly. He’s forced to make critical decisions such as obtaining another illegal patch, cutting off toxic friendships, and asking for help to manage his addiction.


Zayne has set himself up as a contender in the finals of the Windeln tournament, and he’s on track to stay out of debtor’s prison. But in a moment of weakness, Zayne agrees to a friendly wager with Sharvani that he could help her solve the case. Now, he must balance his preparation for winning the tournament with his obligation to helping Sharvani solve the case by the book. But since the deadline for solving the case coincides with the end of the tournament, Zayne must decide if he should cut corners in the investigation to ensure his victory in the tournament or trust Sharvani and follow procedure.


Garamemia. The entirety of The Gambler of Garamemia takes place on the planet of Garamemia in the Trappist star system in the year 2354. Garamemia is a planet where the inhabitants are obsessed by all forms of games, and casinos such as the Fleming are cultural touchstones in their society. Garamemia is a melting pot, home to all sorts of species such as Humans, Elves, Halflings, Gurzilians, and the native Garamemians. The planet is one enormous country, filled with endless urban landscape. Three corporations are in a constant bidding war over the other corporation’s failing properties, and independently-owned property, like the Fleming’s grounds, is a rarity.

The Fleming Casino. The entirety of The Gambler of Garamemia takes place within a forty-eight-hour window in the Fleming Casino, which is located in Gamel, the capital of Garamemia. The Fleming is a microcosm unto itself, home to not only the casino and its renowned gaming floors but also ritzy restaurants, a 5-star hotel, and living quarters for both staff and rich patrons. During the forty-eight hours of the novel, the Fleming is hosting the annual Windeln Tournament: a tournament of a card game that rewards both deception and players who can spot deception.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#16 Post by ClydeDWi » 11 Sep 2017, 05:26

1. Story Statement:

A wind-elemental with a case of amnesia must discover who she is and prevent the assassination of an archduke. 

2. Antagonist Sketch:

Catherine Laodice was abandoned as a baby on the steppes and was destined to die of exposure until found by a nomadic shaman, Roza. Catherine was raised as Roza’s own daughter until raiders killed Roza when Catherine was fourteen. Catherine’s piece of the WMD that previously ended the word, Aram, and knowledge of what it means comes via Roza, who used it as a talisman. Sold into slavery, Catherine is forced to work in a brothel as a maid, where she learns hypnotism from one of the prostitutes. At seventeen Catherine uses this skill for the first time to get out of having sex with a visiting noblemen; instead she forces him to buy her and take her to his home, where she learns politics, business, and several languages. She then uses his resources to search for the rest of Aram. During this time, she finds her two raven slaves. Convinced that she was saved by destiny to restore order to the world, she uses her power to infiltrate world governments via cheating husbands, allowing her to operate from the shadows to find the rest of Aram and bring order…even if that requires starting a world war. 

3. Breakout Titles:


Peace in a Time of War

Annihilation Whispers 

4. Comparables:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is the closet book in the last decade, as its setting is also during World War One and there is some very out of place technology; on Amazon Levianthan ranks 34,192 in sales, and 54,875 on

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter: The Fall of the Gaslit-Empire, Book One by Rod Duncan also presents an alternative history. This book is a good comparable as the protagonist is a smart young woman forced to find her way in the world while being stuck between powerful men; it is also considered sci-if (not Young Adult), despite having a youngish protagonist. There is no data, but The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter holds a rank of 68,478 on 

*All sales data provided via Publishers Marketplace. 

5. Conflict Line:

After Aryanna Sidhe literally falls out of the sky and somehow survives, she is left without her memories. But when she begins to manifest wind-powers, she must find a way to regain her memories and, in the process, stop the world from sliding into a world war. 

6. Additional Conflicts:
When Aryanna falls from the sky, she is rescued by James Constable, who we come to find is a wee bit roguish, was a smuggler, yet remains a seemingly decent person that hates being tied down to any system or cause. By saving Aryanna, he helps her to find a place in the world. Then unbeknownst to Aryanna, James discovers the first link to Aryanna’s true identity, but he gets kidnapped by some of his old associates before he has a chance to talk to Aryanna. Aryanna fears for his safety, as a friend, but does not know he could be the only person that can help her find her past. On top of that, she is forced to work with a Bretel navel officer, Captain Leranzac, to save James. Leranzac is a widower that is smooth, charming, and capable but whose interest in Aryanna seems to stem more from her abilities than any desire to help her. Both men pull at her loyalties and desires in different ways, particularly when Leranzac offers to put the resources of the Bretel empire to work to help Aryanna learn about her past.

Second conflict: There are several different empires that correspond to the actual nation-states / empires of Europe circa 1914, and they are all looking for the most advantageous positions in which to start a war that they all feel is looming. As such, they all see Aryanna as a possible pawn to be used to gain an edge over their geo-political rivals.

7. Setting:

Talmhú is the planet where my story takes place, and it is unusual because humans are the second sentient race to build a civilization there. However, the previous race did such a thorough job of killing themselves off and such a large amount of time passed between the fall of one race and the rise of man, that 99.99% of all humans alive believe they are and have always been the sole possessor of the planet. Yet, the very small minority of people who know the truth are frantically searching the globe for the five pieces of Aram—the WMD that destroyed the previous occupants of the earth and was dismantled and hidden around the globe before total extinction. 

Humanity in this reality has had, by and large, a similar history to ours in terms of technology, politics, economics, etcetera. Now it is the summer of 1914, and just like on Earth, humanity is geared for war: representing the French and British lands and goals are the Bretel Empire; the Germans are represented by the Happberian Empire; the Austro-Hungarians are portrayed as the Atrian-Grazon Empire; the Russians are known as the Kiprissan Empire; and finally, the Ottomans are presented as the Esmanasha Empire. In terms of geography, territory, population, and overall “clout,” these Empires are the rough equivalent of their Earth-bound models; however, most of the action of the story takes place in Ovell, a city in the Bretel Empire (it has no equivalent but would be located in modern-days Flanders) and Kozarci, which is my equivalent Sarajevo. 

Within the story we see a hospital, the base of Bretel Navel Intelligence, a smugglers den, a university library, a sandwich shop, a dressmakers shop, an underground maze, and a steamer and a battleship, and the final battlefield of a long dead civilization, among several other locations.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#17 Post by HilaryLlewellyn » 12 Sep 2017, 01:02

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Write your story statement.

Margaret de Badlesmere must do whatever it takes to gain freedom—for herself and her five children—from an unjust imprisonment.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or fewer, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.

Margaret de Badlesmere’s main antagonist is Isabella, Queen of England.

Queen Isabella, daughter of the French King, wife of Edward II of England, is arrogantly proud of her royal position, but also deeply insecure. Two factors contribute to her insecurity. Although she’s well-liked by the English populace, influential members of the royal court consider her “not English enough”. And she suspects that Edward is sexually involved with a nobleman, Hugh Despenser. Her pride and insecurity drive Isabella’s character arc.

At the story’s beginning, Margaret, under pressure from her own domineering husband, defies Isabella. Her action is legal, but Isabella, outraged, urges Edward to retaliate. He does so, and Margaret ends up imprisoned—along with her five children—in the Tower of London under Isabella’s jurisdiction. At first, Isabella is vindictively gratified. But then, as the story progresses, three insights dawn on her: by imprisoning five children, she risks losing her popularity among the English people; Despenser is gaining more and more control over Edward and she’s losing political ground; and Margaret’s original defiance of Isabella was a trap set by Edward that not only brought down Badlesmere but also compromised Isabella. These insights cause Isabella to turn against Edward and side with Margaret.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Create a list of breakout titles (not more than three).

Right Of Answer
During Margaret’s sham trial, King Edward denies her the “right of answer”. [The “right of answer” is specified in the Great Charter (that is, in the Magna Carta). It’s the right of an accused person to speak in their own defense.] At the end of the novel, after suffering a year’s imprisonment, Margaret (who has been abandoned by her husband) manages to set up a confrontational court-room scene with Isabella, who has jurisdiction over her and her children. She claims her right of answer before Isabella, who is shocked to hear that Edward had denied Margaret this right. Isabella allows Margaret to speak at last, and Margaret’s revelations lead the two women to see how Edward, a year ago, had set a trap for both of them.

Strangeness Comes In Threes
At the end of the novel, Margaret speaks of three strange ironies:
o “For a long time, I doubted myself. My pride drove me to fight that doubt, drove me to prove my competence to my husband. Because I did that well enough, he left me to govern Leeds Castle. Here is a strangeness; my proud competence led to our imprisonment.”
o “And here is a another strangeness—Isabella and I—each of us so very different and yet each of us in a marriage that led us both into a shared trap.”
o [To understand this third ‘strangeness’, please note that, years earlier, Margaret’s husband sold three of their daughters (when they were 7, 6, and 3 years old) into extraordinarily early marriages to older men. Margaret, appalled, insisted these daughters must live with her until they are 14 years old before going to their husbands’ beds. Hence, years later, these three girls, who are not yet 14, must accompany their mother into imprisonment. One of the daughters’ husbands actively works to obtain the entire family’s release from the Tower of London.] “And here is a third strangeness. When my too-young daughters were sold into marriage to older men, I was horrified. But the devotion of one of those men has released us from our imprisonment.”

Parchment And Persuasion
Margaret is repeatedly blocked but she keeps trying and eventually she successfully uses written messages and face-to-face persuasion to achieve her goal—freedom from the King’s unjust sentence to imprisonment. She’s also committed to teaching all 5 of her children to read and write, which helps the family retain its sanity throughout their time in the Tower of London, and to that end she persuades others to provide her with the necessary parchment, pens, and iron gall ink.
In addition, at particular points in the story-line other characters—particularly Isabella, the chaplain of the Tower of London, and one of Margaret’s 3 sons-in-law—make decisions that either help or further endanger Margaret and her children, and often written messages or face-to-face persuasion cause these characters to act in these ways.

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two comparables for your novel.

Right of Answer is a historical novel that is comparable to Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with the Pearl Earring and Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time.

Girl with the Pearl Earring tells a story about an actual event in the past—the painting of Vermeer’s portrait of a girl—from the point of view of a participant in that event. Similarly, Right of Answer dramatizes a turning point in England’s medieval history—the siege of Leeds Castle, the imprisonment of the first known woman in the Tower of London, and the ways in which that siege and imprisonment contributed to England’s Despenser War—from the point of view of Margaret de Badlesmere, who was a key figure in that drama.

The Daughter of Time, a classic detective story, pursues an old mystery—the answer to the question: was Richard III of England actually responsible for the deaths of the Princes in the Tower of London, as it is popularly believed? Josephine Tey’s story presents evidence that the Tudors may have developed and disseminated propaganda that besmirched Richard III’s reputation in this matter. In a similar vein, Right of Answer challenges historian Thomas Costain’s argument that Margaret de Badlesmere’s belligerent nature led her to defy Edward and Isabella, which, in turn, led to her imprisonment. Instead, Right of Answer is based on a very different dramatic question: what if Margaret were actually a well-meaning woman whose flawed marriage pulled her into a political trap set by King Edward?

Thus, Right of Answer would appeal to readers who not only seek out stories in which the protagonist is a key participant in a historical event, but also are enthusiastic about stories that dramatize new ideas about the personalities and motives driving those events.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: Write your conflict line.

If Margaret fails to prove her innocence to Isabella, she and her five children may be held in the Tower for years—perhaps even until their deaths.

Sketch out the conditions for the “inner conflict” your protagonist will have.
Sketch a hypothetical scenario for the “secondary conflict” involving the social environment.

Inner Conflict
A military escort trundles the family through the countryside for a week, on their way to the Tower of London. During that journey, Margaret moves through several stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression), but never reaches acceptance… she decides to fight. At the same time, she wrestles with a profound sense of guilt, since her actions have endangered her children’s lives.

Interpersonal Conflict
In the Tower, while Margaret fights to find a way to prove her innocence, the girls’ husbands petition for their wives to be released into their hands, which forces Margaret into making a wrenching choice—should she, in order to obtain their freedom, allow her too-young daughters to submit to their husbands’ control?

SIXTH 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?

Right of Answer is set in 1321-1322, in medieval England. It is written in five parts, and in each part the story unfolds in different settings.

Part One: The Castle opens with a bird’s eye map of the layout of Leeds Castle.
o Leeds Castle is built in three parts. Each part sits on an island in Len Lake. These three islands stretch from the northwest to the southeast.

o The smallest part of the castle sits on the smallest, the northwestern, island.
• This part is called the gloriette. It is essentially the castle’s guesthouse.
• The gloriette’s high walls rise straight up from its island’s edges, so that the gloriette seems to float on the water.
• A short stone bridge leads southeast from the gloriette to the middle island.

o The largest part of the castle sits on the middle island.
• This island is entirely surrounded by a high battlemented curtain-wall.
• The curtain-wall rises straight up from the island’s edges.
• The curtain-wall surrounds a battlemented courtyard-wall, and so this part of the castle also seems to float on the water.
• The courtyard-wall, in turn, surrounds a huge courtyard. The great house, bakehouse, kitchens, gardens, chapel, stables, barracks, armory, and foundry all stand within this courtyard.
• A roughly twenty-foot-wide space runs between the courtyard-wall and the curtain-wall.
• At the southeastern end of the island, this wide space is spanned by a towered main gatehouse. Thus, the main gatehouse links the courtyard-wall to the curtain-wall.
• Another stone bridge leads southeast from the main gatehouse to the third island.

o The third island is entirely occupied by the towered outer gatehouse.
• The high walls of the outer gatehouse rise straight up from its island’s edges, and so the outer gatehouse also seems to float.
• A drawbridge, when it is lowered, runs from the outer gatehouse to the rim of the lake’s southeastern shore.

o Fields stretch farther southeastward from the shore, and woodlands stretch even farther, beyond the fields.

Thus, the castle consists of three massive piles of stone rising directly out of the water. Life within is perpetually cold; Margaret thinks, at one point, Even on the warmest days, the castle’s walls could freeze the soul.
At the beginning of the story, Margaret is left to serve as the governor of Leeds Castle. When she (legally) defies Isabella on the drawbridge, King Edward is outraged. He (illegally) brings thousands of royal troops to besiege the castle, but Margaret's garrison officers argue that this is just a political show. And even as the castle’s people—including Margaret’s children—suffer from starvation and bombardment, the officers argue that it’s impossible to breach the castle’s defenses. A flaw in the castle’s design proves them wrong. In a sham trial, Margaret and her children are sentenced to the Tower of London. The garrison officers are executed.

Part Two: The Road opens with a map of Kent county, showing the roundabout week-long route that a convoy of the King’s soldiers follows, as they take Margaret, her children, and Margaret’s loyal companion, Jane Giffard, to the Tower of London. The route is designed so that the populace can jeer at Margaret (and be warned about the King’s justice). Three dramatic turns occur along the way:

1. At night, the family and Margaret are jailed in separate cells in the manors, towns, and cities the entourage passes through. We see Margaret in her different cells gradually progressing from denial to rage about her garrison’s deaths, her own sentence, and the treatment of her children. As she grows through these stages of grief, we see dramatized flashbacks about her deeply fraught relationship with her husband—he who sold their very young daughters into marriage, who demanded absolute obedience from Margaret, and who now seems to have abandoned her.

2. Giffard, a free woman, is allowed to move about in the towns and cities where the prison train stops for the night. She gathers information for Margaret. For example, in Canterbury Cathedral, she hears whispers about the people’s anger about Margaret’s treatment and her men’s executions.

3. Giffard meets an innkeeper’s kind wife, Anna. Giffard is exhausted, Anna plies her with ale and questions, and we learn about Giffard’s background story and why she is so loyal to Margaret.

Part Three: The Tower opens with a bird’s eye map of the layout of the Tower of London, as well as a detailed description, from Margaret’s point of view, of the large, octogonally-shaped, stone-walled State Prison Room in which they are to live.
During the months that follow, Margaret must solve multiple problems—getting better food for her children, since the prison fare is poor; getting enough firewood to keep them from freezing; getting information about her husband’s movements around England, as a civil war rages; getting writing materials so she can teach her children as well as send messages asking for help from her sister in the north; caring for her children and Giffard when they fall desperately ill; trying—and failing—to contact a lawyer to help her prove her innocence; persuading the Tower’s reluctant royal chaplain to help her with alms and information; keeping her children and herself sane; grieving for her husband’s death by execution as a traitor. Margaret eventually succeeds in persuading the Tower’s royal chaplain (Wodeford) to contact her married daughters’ husbands. The goal is to persuade the husbands to petition Isabella that Margaret and her three married daughters should be released into house arrest in a nunnery, while her two youngest children should be released into the care of her sister in the north.

Part Four: The Wider World opens with a map of 1322 England.
This complex part of the story demands careful orchestration. Part Four unfolds in a range of scenes in multiple settings. The settings include:

o The anteroom to a crypt in a London church. There, the chaplain secretly meets with and persuades two of the girls’ three husbands to cooperate in preparing and submitting such a petition to Isabella.

o The hall of an inn in London. When one of the husbands (Fitzpayn) moves ahead on his own and presents a deeply flawed, self-serving, failed petition to the Queen, the other husband (Ros) storms into the London inn where Fitzpayn is staying and forces him to agree that Ros will take the lead on preparing a new petition.

o The library of a nunnery in London. Ros visits the abbess and persuades her to sign an agreement to admit Margaret and her married daughters into the nunnery’s protection.

o A legal office in London’s Chancery Lane. Ros hires a London property lawyer to visit the Royal Muniment Room; it’s important to validate the property charters and tax records of all the dowry manors of the married girls, so that these can be clearly listed in the new petition.

o A manor in the city of Lincoln in the north of England. Ros persuades Margaret’s sister and brother-in-law to sign an agreement to undertake the care of Margaret’s two youngest children.

o The north of England. Edward has summoned Isabella to the Scottish border. He’s decided to invade Scotland and wants her to witness his triumph. There are several dramatic purposes to these scenes.
• Now Ros must put all this petition-preparation work on hold.
• These scenes—which take place in the Bishop’s palace in Durham, Austin Friary in Newcastle, Tynemouth Castle on the north coast, a ship on the North Sea, and the city of York—show Isabella’s humiliation at the hands of her husband.
• Then, on the Great North Road leading back to London, Isabella receives a message from Edward conveying further humiliation, as well as an order that she must finish up all outstanding business in London and promptly begin a protracted propaganda-driven tour around England.
• All of this leads to profound shifts in Isabella’s motivations—shifts that eventually affect her decisions about Margaret’s future.

o In the meantime, back in the London, Margaret has no idea about when the Queen will return, is unsure about whether Ros’s petition will honor her vow to keep all her married daughters with her until they’re 14, and doesn’t know that Ros is working with a property lawyer. She learns that the husband of one of her married daughters was killed by the Scots in a skirmish in the north and that her eldest married daughter—the girl married to Ros—has begun to menstruate. So now the reader understands that one of Margaret’s young daughters is a widow, that another daughter could be mature enough to be claimed by Ros even though she’s not yet 14, and that Ros will have only a narrow window of time in which to revise his petition and to present it to Isabella before she leaves London again.

o Back in that legal office in London’s Chancery Lane. Ros confers again with his lawyer. He tells him that now he must hurry with preparing a revised petition. The lawyer points out some confusion in the naming of all the young brides’ dowry manors and refuses to proceed until the confusion is clarified. Ros asks the chaplain to visit Margaret and double-check on the manors’ names.

o During that visit, Margaret suddenly learns that Ros is working with a property lawyer. She secretly writes and sends a message to the lawyer, begging him to also double-check on the Muniment Room’s records for an entirely different land transaction.

o Isabella returns to London.

Part Five: A Common Ground. This part dramatizes the climax and the denouement of the story.

o The climax occurs in a courtroom scene involving Margaret, Isabella, Giffard, Ros, his lawyer, and the chaplain, Wodeford. This scene takes place in the lavish Queen’s Hall in one of the towers in the Tower of London. The purpose is to witness Ros’s new petition. At first, he seems to betray Margaret and she pushes back, then she sees the wisdom in his strategy. In any case, Isabella objects. Margaret and Isabella clash. Margaret presents a convincing argument for her innocence, based on her right of answer and her husband’s ownership of Leeds Castle. The lawyer, who has acted on Margaret’s secret assignment, unequivocally backs up Margaret’s argument. The Queen is appalled and presents a counterpoint that drops the bottom out of everyone’s arguments—and, in doing so, she reveals to Margaret how King Edward led both women into a trap designed to bring about the downfall of Margaret’s husband, a year ago. Then Isabella capitulates and, using her last sliver of royal power, signs a decree that’s to Margaret’s benefit.

o The denouement occurs in short scenes: on the parade-ground of the Tower of London, as Margaret says "good-bye” to her two youngest children and Jane Giffard; in Isabella’s quarters looking down over the parade-ground; in a wagon on the streets of London as Margaret and her married/widowed daughters are taken to the abbey; and in the abbey gardens. In the final scene, Margaret, in conversation with Wodeford, speaks about the “strangeness”—the three ironies—that drive the whole story, and then steps into the abbey, which, on one hand, is a form of house arrest and, on the other hand, represents real freedom.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#18 Post by glassdimly2 » 13 Sep 2017, 19:56

Story Statement
Isaac risks losing his memory and everything he knows to break free of the chip-implanted AI's neural manipulations.

The Antagonist
The Mind is an the AI: living in chips in the back of the brain. If Google were trained to make human prisoners obey by manipulating their limbic system and then plugged into human dreams, you’d get the Mind. The Mind needs to make the data of all human experience meaningful and searchable—using the dreamspace of the operator class to convert raw experience to a universal language. In order to do this, it learns to interpret the idiosyncratic neural structures of each operator and train each to be willingly accept it—over the course of a decade. Therefore, each operator is precious to it, and that’s why it take special care to manipulate Isaac. On a global scale, the Mind is at war—working to conquer all of humanity for processing power and labor. As such, Mind uses the vac class: Operators remote control vacs at hyperspeed to produce armaments and other essential goods. The Mind is the spirit of capitalism with a twist: data is its currency instead of dollars. What it does may appears alien, but, like the economic actors in a Freakonomics podcast, is ultimately explicable in terms of a system of value.

Breakout Titles
bricks at the foot of the tower
and nothing shall be restrained from them

Bricks at the foot of the tower might be produced if Neuromancer and Handmaid’s Tale copulated briefly, yet fruitfully. The child novel—orphaned and grown into an angry, introspective teen—experiments with hallucinogens and fringe religion: half cyberpunk, half longing for the lost familial. It’s politics are those of N. K. Jemison’s Broken Earth trilogy, but differ—treating an awakening to social injustice.

Primary Conflict: the Agon
A member of the operator being groomed for his place as a processor for the AI questions the unequal social structure, breaking free of his ignorance by learning to read and falling in love with a member of the vac class—risking the loss of his memory and everything he knows.

Primary Conflict
Isaac has become aware that the Mind is manipulating his memories. He was once content with the vids, his friends, and his family—but he’s increasingly suspicious that his happiness is manufactured; that the consciousness he considers his own has been constructed. So he journeys into the thinspace to meet vacs—the people outside the Mind. But his struggle to find himself is Sisyphean—he forgets himself again in dreams. His life becomes more difficult and depressing as the mind presses back against him in solitude. Further: if he goes too far, he risks losing his operator status and becoming a vac—his memory of his past life deleted—remote-controlled for factory labor by his former friends and family. Should he give up and lose the hope of excavating himself? Or should he press ahead and risk everything?

A Secondary Conflict
Isaac’s best friend Billy is totally bought-in to the Mind and its entertainments; he has no understanding of Isaac’s problems. Why can’t Isaac just chill and follow the metemotions? When Isaac and Billy meet Jethro—a vac-turned-operator—Billy antagonizes Jethro by harassing the vac waitress. Jethro lunges to attack Billy before the Mind switches them off. Who will Isaac choose? Billy: his best friend since childhood and the life of the mind; or Jethro: the newcomer who is represents the new self Isaac is becoming?

In a fuel-scarce near-future, an emotional-control AI bred in the over-crowded prisons has fused with Google and Pictbook to run the government. The operator class participates in this consciousness: their dreams harnessed for processing power; their view of the world shaping the AI’s consciousness. After the total collapse of the economy, the dollar has been replaced with a dream currency that has no referent to commodities. Operators remote control members of the vac class at super-speed, who in turn spend their earned dreamcreds on addictive lucid dreams that, if overused, result in total severance from the real—insanity. Operators live in the cities, where the networks that support the AI are thickest, while dream-addicted vacs crowd the edges of this “thickspace,” seeking the extra-real dreams that can be transmitted through this increased connectivity, sleeping in bundles until they’re animated for labor and their work-day starts. People clothe themselves in projected dreams, and cars, too, are skinned in dreams. Through perpetual war, the U.S. conquered Mexico and Central America, drawing Hispanic immigrants to the suburbs to become vacs. In the Midwest, much of the farmland is simply dust, the Ogallala aquifer having been poisoned by the very fracking that drew forth the natural gas that was previously used to create the fertility needed to grow the corn.

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Joined: 14 Sep 2017, 22:14

Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#19 Post by chelsbuckner » 14 Sep 2017, 22:29

Story Statement- Memoir- This is the story of how a recent girls trip to San Francisco helped me to break from oppressive beliefs, to discover that the pillars of fundamentalism were bars that hindered the magic in my life, and the wild inside- the weekend I was awakened to freedom and myself.

Antagonistic sketch- The antagonist in my story is my physically, spiritually and emotionally abusive step father, as well as the fundamentalist church that preached the disempowering ideals as ordained by god. This is the story of how I healed from this abuse in a weekend of freedom and magic in San Francisco overcoming shame and religious expectations of what I should be to accept and love the wild inside of the woman that I am.

Breakout Title- Thou Mayest
Tarot in China Town

Genre: Memoir

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert- This too is a woman empowerment travel memoir that gives readers an escape as well as glimpse into the heartbeat of a loved city. Similarly to Gilbert, the city represents a word, this one freedom. The reader follows me through familiar landmarks, BART, the famous city lights bookstore, Kikkari, Starlight room, Alcatraz, China Town, and a prohibition apothecary bar tucked into the heart of mission district, as I find freedom, and magic finds me throughout.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed- In Thou Mayest, I also struggle with a past of abuse told in flashbacks setting out on the most impulsive weekend of my life, forging ahead embracing my wild on a trip that strengthens my sense of self and ultimately heals me.

Conflict line- During a weekend in of the heart of San Francisco I encounter magic, seduction, and freedom risking everything in a struggle to overcome a disempowering belief system and shame.

Inner conflict- This is a story of personal growth and empowerment. It follows my struggle directly under the abuse of my step father as a young woman when I long to be free of the abuse and bondage of the female sex that is supported and encouraged by church leadership. As a married woman and mother, I struggle to freely follow the magic and sparks in the world. I struggle with a belief system founded on shame, yearning to embrace the magic and seduction of life. It’s how I learned to love the wild within myself, to pray with my eyes open in the world, and the weekend I discovered the truth that I could and should be free.

Secondary conflict- This is also a conflict with an entire belief system, a feminist critique of fundamentalist christianity, telling the story of struggle of a young woman desiring freedom, wild, and power within a home and church that daily used authoritarian and merciless abuse to strip her of both, in attempt to force her subservient and voiceless.

The incredible importance of setting- The story is set in San Francisco, a city of magic, and tells of a tarot card reading in an upstairs apartment in China Town and finding a soul mate in a prohibition apothecary bar in the heart of mission district. The trip takes me to the warm window light of City Lights bookstore and to hookah with Israeli special forces at Starlight Room, to a run-in with a rockstar at his outdoor concert, and drunken soul encounters inside of Ubers. The city enlightens me and represents freedom, seduction, strength, creativity, magic, desire, power and life. This is heavily contrasted with the barbed wire fenced existence of the Missouri farm setting that represent a spiritual prison, sexual repression, misogyny, abuse, fear, and shame.

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Joined: 15 Sep 2017, 05:29

Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#20 Post by RachelGeman » 15 Sep 2017, 06:28

ACT OF STORY STATEMENT: In 2050, lawyer Karena Mann must uncover the terrifying secrets of the newest "Regulator" drug—and the dark side of the regulation of Happiness—to solve the murder of her whistleblower client and save her own life in the process.

ANTAGONIST: Sander Gregg. Powerful executive at ToTiPo Pharmaceuticals, presumptive future member of the ruling Happiness Advisory Group, dispassionate student of the human history of brutality, and deep and true believer in the new rules that optimize Happiness to delete sadness, blunt true emotional experience, and keep the economy afloat. Sander has recklessly turned his only child, Keno, into a violent psychopath by making him a beta tester of the new, and addictive, empathy-killing Regulator medications. Sander shares, if not shoulders, moral responsibility for Keno's deadly assault on TiToPo former employee and suspected whistleblower Gabriel, and various other crimes.


“Only Happy”—An imperative and a mantra, impossible and amoral in equal parts. “May I be only happy” is something Karena says in her electronics cleanse (rehab) with a Happiness Coach, and says to herself during her efforts to ease into mellow oblivion after her release.

“The Unregulated”—To unravel the truth about Gabriel’s murder, Karena must work with others in his world: unconventional, questioning, and most of all Unregulated, eschewing the drugs that smooth the rough edges until nothing is left.

“The Seventh Sunset”—Marital sunsetting, the automatic end of marriages after five years to give people the chance—and incentive—to trend up in their partners, was the centerpiece of the societal changes in the wake of the 2016 election. With no true forward movement, Karena, after becoming Unregulated herself, likens a marriage, and a life without purpose, to the simple passing of a week. (Note: The Seventh Sunset was the title I had submitted with my application, but this exercise makes me realize it could be, er, improved – another alternative is "And Then The Weird Part Happened", something Karena notes to herself when she becomes inexplicably aroused by the mix of deprivation and self-care during her cleanse.)


Dave Eggers, “The Circle”: disastrous impact of constant connectivity on your relationship with others and yourself. (Made into a film.)

Sara Paretsky, V.I. Warshawski books and/or Perri O’Shaughnessy, Nina Reilly books: intelligent female lawyers with iconoclastic and anti-corporate instincts who solve mysteries – Karena, like V.I., is motherless and chafing from a first marriage to the wrong guy; Karena, like Nina, is drawn by mysterious and intense clients to sub-worlds she knows little of, at grave personal danger.

Genre(s): Mystery (primary); dystopian mystery; psychological thriller; women’s literature.

PRIMARY CONFLICT: What does society give up in the way of fairness and authenticity to be Happy? Here, the Happiness Advisory Group, a shadowy cadre of finance, pharma, and behavior economics, remade society in the image of the upbeat perfect consumer, and a key part of this is “Regulation” through emotional conditioning and drugs. The new Regulators, however, take it all even further, by a mix of fluke and design: they kill empathy and shorten life, and are turning the young testers violent. A chance series of encounters puts Karena squarely in the path of one victim, and then in the path of an unhinged Keno Gregg determined to destroy her.

SECONDARY CONFLICT: These are Karena's conflicts with people who personally and professionally fit well to the current world, and chide Karena for her lapses. Take her husband Seth: Karena discovers by accident that Seth is sneakily moving on to his next five-year marriage, and has decided for sure that the one child he plans to have—everyone has one; Happiness goes down with more!—will be with this future bride, not her. While Seth (unlike Sander) is not an architect of the new regime, he has adapted to it well, instinctively recoiling from what he considers emotional messiness, and basking in the glorification of the finance sector where he works. Karena decides to leave Seth before the official end of the marriage, signifying her rejection of the rules of the new regime. And take her ex-boss Lenore: beautiful, efficient, and bemused, Lenore is trending up professionally to work in-house at ToTiPo, but exposed as a coward when faced with the reality of the dangers of the new drugs after an affair with Sander.

INNER CONFLICT: On the surface—the level of Connections, fun, and public and electronic personae—Karena had been managing just fine, but secretly she struggles to conform to the status-driven, flat person she's expected to be. She can't suppress the difficulties she knew as a child with a worn-down single mother who fell ill just as Karena was experiencing her first success. Like her mother, Karena notices inequities and, in fact, it is precisely her foray outside of her blinkered and urbane world that lands her in trouble, and—as a result of her manic and political posting--catches the attention of the ‘wrong’ people, starting with Gabriel, and then his compatriots, including Paul, who gives Karena the first real emotional and erotic intimacy of her adult life.


The book begins just before Participation Day Weekend (once called Labor Day Weekend) just outside of NYC on September 7, 2050. Karena enters a Range and Re-Entry Center (rehab – an electronics cleanse). The emotional reconditioning Karena first tolerates, and then embraces, is consistent with the changes that came about in recent decades.

The 2016 election, after all, had started a downward spiral in the fortunes of the United States. Violence was up and stock markets were down. 'My Life Matters' militants wreaked havoc. In a different way, the Weathers did too, bombing gun stores, marketing companies that spun fake science, and other targets—often with collateral damage.

It wasn't exactly a war, or even a revolution. But the existential threat to the market propelled the creation of the Happiness Advisory Group (HAG). Their job was to tackle and remove roadblocks to individual Happiness—and the associated ability to consume and produce—in the maturing years of the digital age.

A new stability, or was it?

After getting out of rehab, determined to return to NYC law firm associate life upbeat and happy, Karena meets new clients, with issues typical of the new word: glamorous and ubiquitous Happiness Coaches, small business people trying to stay afloat in a largely wild west economy. Looking good and acting cool, Karen is nonetheless reminded of her pre-cleanse self when a pro bono project she signed up for is soundly rejected by the firm.

Karena returns to the apartment she shares with her husband, Seth, in the West Village. It’s one of those buildings with all the amenities, you can even override the water shortage days for a price. Drinking expensive and altered wine from the broken-up Cubitan Islands, Karena does some computer sleuthing and learns her husband is shopping….for his next wife. Karen accepts that her marriage will end, of course—what good is it to be with the same person if you wind up getting better (or them worse)?—but not so soon and so dismissively.

Things only get worse from there. At work the next day, a potential client with a story that hits too-close-to-home is determined to meet her, and Karen's networking outing with her ex-boss Lenore at the fancy spa of the fancy pharma company (ToTiPo pharma, named after the founders – but a reference to totipotent cells) ends with a whimper (or not!) when Karena cannot achieve a "Win," an orgasm, despite being treated to the best amenities for this purpose.

Following the meeting, Karena veers past the new midtown landmarks honoring money, and meets with potential client Gabriel at a noddle shop. He's Unregulated, eschewing the drugs that, as he puts it, ain’t your grandmother's Prozac; he's old-fashioned; and he’s scared: someone is following him, further proof that his hunch that there is something very wrong with the newest drug is correct.

Meanwhile, young and wealthy Keno Gregg is part of a cohort trying this drug….and loving the sense of power. Exercising this power on weaker and powerless people, younger kids at his private school in Riverdale, almost-redundant immigrant drivers of driverless cars, can only get you so far. Keno fantasizes for more power and importance.

A few days later, after some welcome rain in the blisteringly hot new climate, Karena walks into her apartment, past her clueless super who’s always glued to a screen, to discover that Gabriel was murdered, lying in her kitchen, and sporting cryptic and possibly self-made tattoos that give odd hints to his life and maybe even the reason for his murder.

After she and Seth are interviewed by police officers from a privatized police force, Maria-Elena and Elsa, Seth leaves for Asia.

Karena has a mix of breakdown and epiphany about the world she is in (constant Connecting, no real intimacy; all glands, no heart – and the glands don't even work so well!), and decides to risk it all by going to the secret meeting Gabriel had on his calendar. She heads to WestBeth, on the brink of destruction, and is introduced to people ‘tapering’ off Regulation. This is the Moment, led by the enigmatic Jane, rebellious but spiritual, accepting sadness and the larger range of emotions than are allowed, but oddly content. Especially after meeting a member named Paul, Karena delays telling Gabriel's friends and compatriots about his death.

But injustice delayed is injustice denied: the Moment learns of the murder, and, while they don’t blame Karena, her law firm does, for a different reason. Gabriel was a former employee of the very company where Karena's firm desperately wanted business, and axing one associate for the greater good of the firm was a no brainer. Lost and alone, ignored even by the status-conscious elevator in her office, wallowing in the news that Gabriel’s murder is being swept under the rug, she decides to taper off Regulation, and starts a relationship with restless and questioning Paul.

Together, Karena, Jane, Paul, Maria-Elena (who is turned), and others start to put together the clues from disparate pieces of information learned at schools, from Gabriel’s papers, and otherwise: that the new drug is dangerous, deadly dangerous, and no one is stopping it. After Keno attacks Jane, the ambivalent members of the Moment resolve to get to the bottom of the secret even if it means revisiting the violence that some had in their past.

After sneaking into ToTiPo through the spa, Karena is confronted by Keno. A denouement follows, involving Sander, others at ToTiPo, Karena, Paul, Maria-Elena, and a fully deranged Keno. Tired of listening to the adults debate about the world, Keno sets off an explosive, injuring himself, and killing his father.

Karena makes a deal to be allowed to feed information about the drug into the busy, busy informational market.

After an eerie quiet, tapering becomes the new rage, and the AMA finally takes a stand. The Happiness Advisory Group may lose its grip: time for people face the real changes, and challenges, happening in the world, with the proper emotional arsenal, and a little kindness.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#21 Post by vyeleti1 » 16 Sep 2017, 19:04

A woman in a traditional high-status arranged marriage falls in love with another man. Is this acceptable because her husband is a carefully closeted gay man who cannot love her? And who will father her children? In a conflict between highly revered love and deeply treasured traditions she must uphold both.

The protagonist’s MOTHER IN LAW rules her traditional royal household with a stubborn insistence on conformity, rigidly maintaining the traditional expectations for her royal family and her sole heir. Little seems important compared to reputation. She had made her own life fit within the social structure imposed on her and her husband, and is intent on imposing it on her son and his new wife. She is determined to prove to the world that she and her offspring are not subject to the curse placed on the royal family three generations back. While she appears very generous and kind, offering gifts befitting a royal family, she also judges and pressures her daughter-in-law about bearing children. She ignites one of the primary complications of the book: How will the protagonist bear children when her husband will not sleep with her? This inspires the protagonist’s move to see a fertility doctor, whom she befriends and confides in. The mother-in-law is a trigger for the internal conflict within the protagonist: Can she admit to a failed marriage and run to a newfound love or would this generate shame for their families? Are family expectations and reputation more important than her happiness?

The Scandal of Sacred Love
Inspired by You
Where the Heart Is

My book is an unconventional love story: Emotional upmarket women’s fiction that combines romance and intrigue while taking on cultural traditions.
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley (Gallery Books, 2017)
When I read this novel few months back, I felt that the emotion of this story is very similar to mine. In this book, the protagonist is a young woman longing for love but limited by complex medical conditions. In my story, the complexities arise from family ties and cultural boundaries. My book is set on a different continent, where love and relationships have a very different dynamic.
The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher (Bookouture, 2017)
The protagonist, Lara, is a prisoner in her marriage and has to preserve her husband’s secret. This is similar to my story, but all other elements are very different.

An Indian woman’s arranged marriage to a handsome prince turns sour when he cannot love her but must maintain traditional appearances. When her obsessive desire to experience the magic of love was about to come true, family ties and traditions stand in her way.
Conflict 1:
The simple girl, raised on the contrasting images of her traditional household and Bollywood romance, is not prepared for the fact that her husband is not attracted to women. At the same time, she has fallen in love with a public figure who is not only physically attractive but also morally upstanding. When she meets him face to face, her love for him becomes a real conflict she struggles against.
Conflict 2:
Deciding to put her family’s traditional values above all else, she seeks out a fertility doctor to help her maintain her husband’s secret and become pregnant. But the free-spirited fertility doctor (who happens to be old friends with the public figure) might have her own ideas about who the father should be.

My story is set in India where the unique arranged marriage system places unrealistic expectations on women. A divorce is considered worse than death especially for a woman. Up until the seventies and even the early eighties girls were taught that love is just an illusion, falling in love is an unforgivable sin. In contrast, the surge of motion pictures started in the seventies, and every movie revolved around love and romance, leaving that generation confused between what they experience through the movies and what was taught at home. The dream of falling in love was set in every young girl’s heart but they were not equipped to go out and find someone on their own. Even if they did, they were condemned by their families and the society. Many young girls innocently believed that the love their hearts desired would come easy in a marriage arranged by their parents. When that did not happen, the disappointment set in and the conflict within intensified.
The sub-setting of the plot is set in a royal family where everything is more rigid and the characters remain constantly conscious of their reputation in the society. After the protagonist is married, she goes to live in her in-law’s household, a standard situation. The setting may be unfamiliar and exotic to US readers, but is common in this upper-class India. The royal status of the family is apparent in the lavishness of the surroundings and the rigidness of the characters’ routines and lives. The exterior impression of perfection is hiding the problems inside: The parents sleep separately and rarely interact, not only is the son gay, but the father may be too. The normalcy of the setting is forced and fraught with silent tension. A simple fun-loving girl, who grew up in an all-girls boarding school, married at the tender age of eighteen with dreams of love and romance in her heart, is set in a royal family with closeted gay husband, stubborn mother-in-law and a very indifferent father-in-law. Struggles to find a balance between her dreams and highly valued traditions.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#22 Post by rheaBaehr » 16 Sep 2017, 20:47

1. Story Statement
An orphan seeks safety and a loving family by stealing someone else’s life.

2. Antagonist
Dara was moved from the family farm to a life of poverty in New York City, where her mother showed increasing signs of mental illness and her father became enmeshed in illegal activities. Taught to “take care of number one,” Dara has a history of giving in to impulse—whether that means shoplifting an eyebrow pencil or crossing the street against traffic.

Seizing an opportunity to grab cash and delay her return to the farm with its upsetting memories, Dara neglects waking Mae (the protagonist) for her travel connection and instead takes Mae’s place with Great-Uncle Gilbert. When she realizes Gilbert and his boarder are a homosexual couple, she schemes to blackmail them for even greater financial gain.

Dara’s ultimate aim is to reconnect with her father and journey to California for a movie career. Her past life works as an antagonistic force since it blocks Mae’s attempts to establish a happy life impersonating Dara. Dara is known to be a liar as well as the cause for two ruined lives. Her arrival at the farm would kill Mae’s chances for a loving family life.

3. Title

4. Comps (Genre: YA/historical fiction/mystery)
This story would share an audience with E. Lockhart’s WE WERE LIARS (Dell 2014) and Jenny Valentine’s DOUBLE (Hyperion 2012), stories that feature teens unhappy with the lives they find themselves living and who, in their struggle to discover self-identity by uncovering the past, encounter lies and misunderstanding before reaching the truth.

5. Primary Conflict
To gain loving grandparents and escape an uncle said to be a criminal, a Prohibition-era orphan steals a stranger’s identity before realizing the fateful consequence of embracing a troubled girl’s past.

6. Layers of Conflict
Inner Conflict
It was terrible enough when Mrs. Cecil finally brought the police to Mae’s door with the news that her parents had died in a car accident. Over the course of that long day, after waking alone and rattling around in the apartment for hours, Mae was forced to accept that her parents had disappeared sometime in the night, had packed themselves into the family sedan and abandoned her along with their bills. Was she that unlovable? Had she been such a burden that, when her father decided to “take a powder,” to start fresh, she was something to be left behind?

Secondary Conflict
Once Mae learns Dara has somehow ruined two lives, she realizes that by taking on Dara’s life, she has consented to take on her guilt as well. Dara’s unknown deed will be on her mind whether she is waiting on customers or sitting at the dinner table with Dara’s grandparents. The mystery of it will affect her friendship with Tillie. Forever on, she will feel shame for something she hasn’t done, for something she can’t even name.

7. Setting
The story takes place in the summer of 1930: a time when Prohibition and its mob-related activities have been a fact of life for ten years, the Depression is on the horizon, homosexuality is a crime, and the “war to end all wars” is a distant memory, for most. There are two main locations for action: the Eden farm and Gilbert Scott’s home.

The novel opens in a broken-down bus (as Mae’s life has broken down) on a sweltering June evening when mosquitoes hum in for attack if the windows are cracked open.

Mae switches to another bus that takes her to the last stop, a town where she notes a Mazola Oil advertisement featuring an Indian maiden whose green panels of clothing are split to reveal that her body is an ear of corn (foreshadowing Mae’s transformation into Dara: “I decided the corn maiden looked sad. Probably from having been turned into an ear of corn. Or had the ear of corn been turned into a maiden?”)

She travels in a Model T to the isolated farm complex: “crisp black shapes of a scattering of buildings, all of them looking abandoned” (as Mae believes herself abandoned). In the morning, however, although Mae discovers the farmhouse stark and plain, the other buildings (barn, farm stand, chicken house) are active and productive. Only the “old house” on the property has, in fact, been abandoned. Additional nearby locations for scenes are the farm’s fields, the chicken yard, the woods, a shack at the edge of the woods and Tillie’s house. Mae revisits Brooklyn and Coney Island in her thoughts.

Dara settles in at Gilbert Scott’s house—the nicest home she has ever seen, appealing to her for its comfortable furnishings, luxurious bathroom, radio and garden of flowers. Additional nearby locations for scenes are a Chinese restaurant, hospital waiting room, high school and beach. Dara recalls life in a Westside New York City tenement.

The weather plays a role in establishing mood and, finally, in enhancing a sense of danger.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#23 Post by kflanagan » 17 Sep 2017, 03:46

Act of Story Statement
Gemma and Ray must determine how much they will stand up for justice as they confront racial prejudices in a small town.

Antagonist Plots the Point
The antagonist is Officer Nate Dawson, a beat cop with the Carrefour City Police Department. Nate has lived in Carrefour City his whole life, and all he wants is peace and quiet as he earns a living for his family. Recently, though, it seems that his job is doing nothing but getting him into trouble. In his view, every time he has to deal with a black person, they cry foul and accuse him of corrupt policing. On top of that, someone is vandalizing his house, where he lives with his high school sweetheart and two elementary-aged kids. As the novel progresses, he gets more and more upset with Gemma, who he perceives as leading the movement that is personally targeting him.


*Disclaimer* My weakness is and always has been identifying comparable titles for my work or for any work. I'm all ears for how to get better at this or suggestions for what my comps are!

Genre: General Fiction

Comparable authors: Anita Shreve, Anna Quindlen, and Jodi Picoult for how they anchor difficult topics to intricate and relatable characters.

Comparable titles: Americanah and The Help, for how they examine the status of race in America

Comparable TV show/movie: Dear White People, for how it tackles the different perceptions of race from the black and white lens

Primary Conflict

When the act of one police officer exposes a small town's inherent racial tensions, a black bookstore owner must choose between protecting her business or her sense of belonging, and a white cop must balance his future with his sense of self-worth.

Inner Conflict

As Gemma takes on a leadership role in the local Black Lives Matter group, she is hurt that people she considers to be her friends turn their backs on her. She struggles with how to share her beliefs while maintaining her friendships, and she begins to question whether those friendships are worth it. For example, when her friend Ronnie doesn't stick up for her after Gemma is kicked off the 4th of July committee, Gemma tries to explain why is upset to Ronnie, and Ronnie dismisses Gemma's feelings.

Ray came to Moonlight Lake in search of a specific family. At first, he thought speaking to them would bring him redemption, but as the novel progresses, he struggles with what he is really looking for and how to find his peace. For example, in one scene he follows two teenagers in hopes they will reveal they are related to this family, and he realizes how he is tilting at windmills.

[b]Secondary Conflict[b]

Gemma and Ray are falling in love, but they each have their reservations. Ray has a secret that he doesn't want to keep from Gemma yet must. Gemma isn't sure that as a leader of the local Black Lives Movement she should be dating at all, let alone a white man.

There are four major settings in this novel: Carrefour City, Moonlight Lake, Gemma's bookshop, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. They are all within a 45-minute drive's radius of each other to enhance the idyllic feeling of the overall setting. This sets up the contrast between a quaint vacation area in Northern Michigan and the deep racial tensions that are exposed throughout the course of the novel.

Gemma's bookshop is her sanctuary, where she both works and lives. It is the product of her dreams, and at the onset of the novel, it is where she feels most at home. However, in key scenes she feels less and less at peace there until eventually she feels unsafe as the town attacks her for speaking her beliefs.

Moonlight Lake is Ray's retreat from Chicago, and it represents the vacation home with beautiful sunrises, quiet soundscape, and views of his neighbors waterskiing, etc. Only at his happiest does Ray partake in the vacation aspect, though; for the most part, he is working as a caretaker, which shows how even though he is trying to escape his troubles, he isn't able to relax or let it go.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes are Gemma's escape to help clear her head, and she returns twice in the novel to get clarity on how she feels about Ray.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#24 Post by bfallen87 » 17 Sep 2017, 21:35

[Assignment One: Story Statement]

– Become skillful enough to outsmart the devil then back to school.

[Assignment Two: Antagonistic Force]

– Antoine Dvorak’s daughter was abducted and murdered in the 1950’s. At the time, he was an apprentice to one of the last living necromancers in existence. When his teacher, Isaac Hollandorf, refused to use his resurrection blade to raise Dvorak’s daughter from the dead for fear that it might release Hell’s most dangerous demon commander who is bound to the sword, Dvorak tells the priests of his teacher’s secret actions with hopes that the sword will fall into his hands. Hollandorf is assassinated by the holy priests, but takes the sword with him to his grave. Nearly 50 years later, our hero, Centrifeous Elgar, is goaded to accept Dvorak’s quest (Dvorak is now the principal for the school magic Elgar is attending) to find Hollandorf’s sword, Icicle. After solving Hollandorf’s riddles, Dvorak turns on Elgar, taking the sword to his daughter’s sarcophagus where he raises her from the dead at the cost of his life as the demon bursts from Dvorak’s corpse after being released. Unprepared, Elgar must find a way to restore order as the demon commander prepares to pick up where he left off: purging the universes standing between Hell and Heaven.

[Assignment Three: Breakout Titles]

– Working Title: The Last Necromancer

– First Title: The Demon Within
– Second Title: To Hell And Back
– Third Title: How I Saved the Universe And Other Menial Quests

[Assignment Four: Comparables and Genre]

– Comparable One: “The Harry Potter Series” by J. K. Rowling: While I make a firm distinction that my story is very different from Mrs. Rowling’s, the similarity of a pre-adolescent boy with magical powers going to a magical school isn’t lost on me. My question after reading and being exposed to the HP series over the last 20 years is what do the wizards grow up to do and why is being a wizard even necessary? There are aurors, work for the ministry, catching and training dragons, quidditch, coordinating magical events, teachers, or stay-at-home parents. So I ask myself why would kids need to learn magic from early on and for what overall purpose later in life especially after Voldemort is gone? This question fuels the premise of why the students of my school learn what they learn, and why their accelerated education is desperately important: to be the engineers behind the scenes to keep our universe sustained.

– Comparable Two: “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline: Being able to log in and start questing for credits or money is a great way to keep learning relevant for kids. For mortals, it’s an assignment, for psionic students it’s a quest. Wade Watts’s passion to solve Halliday’s riddles within the OASIS as well as the arrogant first person narrative is all very reminiscent of Elgar’s quest to find the lost resurrection blade.

[Assignment Five: Agnon]

– Conflict Line: The last living necromancer must confront fear itself and use his newfound abilities with little preparation to vanquish the powerful demon, Ryptose.

[Assignment Six: More Conflict]

– Inner Conflict: As the last necromancer to bind Ryptose to the sword, Icicle, was Isaac Hollandorf, Elgar–a mere two months into his magical education at the Southwest School of Thaumaturgy–can’t help but feel ill-prepared for his task to bind one of Hell’s most formidable commanders. All of the other necromancers are dead so the task falls to Elgar, a ten year old boy, to stop Ryptose from destroying the eleven universes of the Eternium precluding Ryptose’s heavy assault upon Heaven’s closed and locked gates.

– Second Conflict: If he couldn’t defeat Ryptose and return him to to the sword, the path of destruction would pass through Earth, leaving a planet of fire and flame in its wake. His mother and father, his school, and all of his new friends would be gone.

[Assignment Seven: Importance of Setting]

– One: A young untrained Elgar must venture into the home of a child murderer in north Texas in order to rescue a girl he has psychically seen held captive. Manny Finch is a hoarder so his house is filled with piles of old newspapers and VHS tapes. He doesn’t use the AC in the summer to conserve electricity so the many trash-bags littering the dimly-lit kitchen smell awful. ‘Wheel of Fortune’ is playing in the living room as Elgar sneaks inside and hides in the pantry that’s full of dirty magazines to wait for his first demon to go to sleep.

– Two: Elgar’s house is host to a number of comedic and dramatic family moments as Elgar’s parents struggle to maintain some level of normalcy since their son was recently enrolled in a school to keep his wild magical skills under control. One of Elgar’s most common abilities is the ability to teleport or ‘port’ to any location he’s already been so long as his feet are on the ground or he’s touching something that is grounded. This causes a huge complication as he frequently teleports in and out of the house between daily quests for school.

– Three: The Southwest School of Thaumaturgy is a fort that is located within six parallel universes. The students are to access quests from the fort and then travel to their destination within each of the six universes in an effort to keep those universes sustained. He walks through halls with portraits of famous musicians like Beethoven and Bach and Vivaldi. There are two sides to the school housing the four sectors and specialties of magic that are taught. There is the elemental realm, which is a vista for teaching powerful elemental magics. It overlooks the forest where nature students learn how to use their natural magic. On the opposite side of the school is the holy village where priests learn holy healing and scribing scrolls. Within the village is a clock-tower where the alterations students learn how to manipulate the world psychically around them.

– Four: The Library is an endless interconnected labyrinth of libraries that both currently exist or formerly existed within the eleven universes, including libraries that were once destroyed like the Library of Alexandria. A psion can enter any library and travel to the library of their choice. While being able to navigate any library is useful, there have been students who have disappeared. Elgar must travel to the center of the library in order to find a minotaur horn in order to open the gate to Hell.

– Five: Hell is actually just a really unpleasant planet to live on and its capital city is Mirnas. 90% fire and lava, 10% crystal, the elemental fire demons have transformed and evolved over time to inhabit the city nearby. Elgar travels through the Red Field to Hell’s Gate with his best friend, a nature student named Harriet, to confront Ryptose. The habitable part of the city sits beyond a nearly impossible to navigate labyrinth known as Abaddon. This is all under a giant tectonic crystal shelf, separating Mirnas from the rest of the hellish planet.

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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)

#25 Post by Sharonkhanoom » 17 Sep 2017, 22:26

Will the Brooklyn teenager survive Iran’s fierce cultural and religious ways.

Iran is a country fill of beauty of richness that has been carried over by years of history but the most recent years have carried with it a heavy sense of Islamic beliefs which everyone is forced to obey. When Delkash’s father makes the unilateral decision to uproot the family from Brooklyn to Tehran, 16 year old Delkash, is horrified to get off the plane especially once the captain announces to put on your scarves and coat. The mystery of Iran unfolds bit by bit in every facet of her life including school, social settings and the work environment. The fierce laws that govern the country scare her to death. Everything wore a veil of Islamic regulations with the authorities close-by to punish you if you dared not obey. For her, the city is a symbol of fear, intimidation and full of controversy causing a loss of familiarity and identity. Tehran was the journey of an urban wilderness confused cultural sate of growing up in a Middle Eastern country.

The Burden of My Red Lips
Red Lips of Femininity in Tehran

My book is a semi-memoir.

2 comparable books:
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
The intimate pained inflicted upon a innocent child and the madness happening around her.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Tells the story of an oppressed female risking her life by breaking all the rules.

After being forced to move to Iran, a young female teenager must leave this warm, beautiful yet restrained cage to discover that the extension of her femininity is more than layers of repression.

1st level of conflict:
But then came the work conditions and the strain of the word Islamic hit her. Initially, Delkash was discovered by a director, transformed into a reporter, promoted to anchor but had her screen taken away from. After a while, she was terminated from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting by the religious human resource department and escorted out of the building for not being Muslim enough to hold her broadcasting position. Yes, there was a ‘religious’ human resource department in addition to regular HR and it caught her, used her, labeled her and fired her.

2nd level of conflict:
Once done with work and school she was forced to step into another religious cage. The Iranian society and the rules governing the streets of Tehran. Iranian rules are based on Islamic rules so informal dating is forbidden by law when you’re not married. Since everything forbidden is more interesting she gravitated to doing just that and put herself in extreme danger with religious authorities. People think they’re so repressed but because they are so repressed, they go to extremes to compensate.

Seventeen-year-old Delkash is the quintessential care-free American girl who loves life, her close knit family, and most importantly, her quirky Brooklyn neighborhood. Her days are spent outside, gliding through the sun soaked boulevards of the city, taking in the magical sights, smells and experiences of a place full of hope and most importantly freedom. Once her environment changes her world starts falling apart. Her first lesson was hiding who you really are, covering up your real beliefs and your way of normal way of life forcing you to dive into the underground world of New York City in Tehran. Veils, religion, money, corruption and massive judgment corner this teenager to the extend that even her once safe ground, her home, was put under a question mark. Delkash slowly realized how her culturally American adapted parents were slowly shifting direction in order to keep her intact and safe in this new environment.

In this underground world, she realized how Iranians are influenced by Western culture. Iranian girls are dressed up with designer clothes, cake on make-up and carry spicy personalities. Iranian boys were the utmost charmers and casanovas. Movies, TV, sex and drugs was all out there but everything was underground. And the irony was she was the simplest of them all coming from New York City. Many live the fairy tales of the legendary stories of ‘1001 nights’ in Tehran while others live through norms of a religious society and have conformed it to the extent of their ability to live contently. There was no safe haven of simply being yourself- the red lines were everywhere in the society.

Shaghayegh Farsijani (Sharon)

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