New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

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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New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 28 Aug 2018, 20:26

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: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#2 Post by IvoKisicP6 » 26 Jul 2020, 19:59

1. Story Statement.
Jack Zeleznjak must find the ultimate truth before he turns completely insane.

2. Antagonist/Antagonistic Force.
Mother Asherah. The time-traveling demiurge who controls all of reality. A creature bent on seeing her will obeyed and followed, notably the wayward species called humans. All-powerful and untouchable, her only desire is to make the universe into her image, forcing the natural process of existence in accordance to her mandates. Obsessed with control and power, she will stop at nothing to see her kingdom become a reality.

3. Title
A) Lost Icarus.
B) The Aftermatter.
C) Chronicles of Jack Zeleznjak.

4. Genre & Comparables.
Thriller, Weird Fiction.
A mix of Blake Crouch's "Recursion" and Phillip K. Dick's "Valis."

5. Conflict Line.
After he loses his wife, a psychologically disturbed man attempts to restart his quest for ultimate truth and the afterlife, pitting him against the powers of transcendental beings and his madness.

6. Inner Conflict.
Inner conflict: Jack Zeleznjak is torn apart by the choices in front of him. A deep flickering hope is the only thing he cares for -an answer for his existence and life itself- This forces him to push forward in his seemingly delusional and increasingly dubious quest. Filled with anxiety and crippling self-doubt, the unstable man tries to discern each step of the way if what he is doing is right or wrong, honorable or cowardly, enlightened, or insane.

Secondary conflict: Everyone surrounding Jack tries to make him go back on his quest and take charge of his life, not to mention his dead wife who's body awaits for him in the town's coroner office. All the people in Hollowville seem to attempt to reach Jack's better judgment, but the man has an endless stream of convoluted explanations as to why he must keep going with his unreasonable path. But even when the man himself doubts his own words, a shrouded voice in his head gains the upper hand of every argument and uncertainty he carries inside and forces him to carry on with this somber adventure.

7. Location.
The story takes place in three key locations.

The first one is Hollowville, NY. A small town not yet wholly transformed by the passing of time and the influence of the modern world, Hollowville serves as a symbol for the last remnants of the American imaginary of what a small town is. Surrounded by forests and lakes, Hollowville is haunted by eerie stories of missing people, strange deaths, and paranormal events that linger in the urban legends of the town. Unbeknownst to the main character, his choice of lodging is the center of it all, a wood cabin with a dark past. As the plot unfolds, he learns that the United States at odds with the spirits of its previous inhabitants and the entities that now control them. An invisible gateway, Hollowville sits at the core of a colossal cosmic drama that almost nobody seems to perceive.

The second location is South America. As the main character thinks back on the path that has inadvertently led him to Hollowville, he reminisces on his journey through the mountains of Peru, Bolivia, the valleys of Argentina, and the corrupt streets of Paraguay. Following a traveling shaman, Jack learns about the world outside the hectic metallic rhythm of New York City, and the secrets of the third world which still retains what he can only explain as ancient magic, and the difference between a citizen and a human being. As he follows the mysterious character called Porfirio, Jack begins to understand how much more exists outside the scope of normalcy. By the time that he arrives in San Marcos Sierra, a small rural town in the middle of northern Argentina, an alleged gateway for "the other side," the man is confronted by an impossible scenario.

The third location is called The Aftermatter. As the main character explains throughout the book, an entire hidden realm lies at the other side of the frail veil of our everyday reality. A world were dreams, the imagination, the afterlife, higher dimensions, and other universes lie meshed together by an incomprehensible logic. The aftermatter is a place where the mind serves a vault for all its characteristics. Using the imagery and information that all creatures have experienced, the aftermatter manifests according to the idiosyncratic contents of each person, and yet, it is a real place that not only different people can arrive at, but that other creatures, sinister and divine, live in. It is a world filled with questions and answers for the human soul, and where Jack is convinced the ultimate explanation for life, existence, and the meaning of reality exists.

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Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#3 Post by eanicholsP6 » 03 Aug 2020, 21:07

Deleted as I will be unable to attend.
Hopefully will be participating in a future event.

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Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#4 Post by CavisAdamsP6 » 04 Aug 2020, 00:39

1st Assignment, Story Statement.

To free the world from a looming techno-enslavement is to become the man he must be in order to do so, even to die trying.

2nd Assignment, Antagonistic Force.

At the first trip that the protagonist takes to the hi-tech laboratory, Doctor W. Bennett materializes on the scene. He is the quintessential dark and professionally charming scientist who begins the process of experimentation on the suspecting protagonist. Doctor Bennett, while not overtly hostile at first, is literally the forward hand of the larger clandestine entity known as Gentrix. Bennett becomes the technological gatekeeper that leaves it open, leading the protagonist down the proverbial foxhole where gravity is crushing, and no life ever escapes the same. Bennett, while forthcoming as to the life-changing nature of the experiments, also knows that his specimen is trapped within a web of intrigue that he himself has conspired to spin. Bennett knows that the protagonist cannot turn back just as well as he knows his own dubious intentions.

While he is certainly the chaperone to scenarios of death past and future, Bennett’s true motives are eventually revealed as those of one who has orchestrated the ultimate necessary evil. However, playing god for all the right reasons does not lessen the brunt of antagonistic forces.

To keep the world-changing technology out of the hands of the very entity by whom he is employed, Bennett must maintain a posture of strict professionalism in word and deed. Remaining the inside man means going against his own moral code and instinct, whilst ceremoniously carrying out a history of dirty work, the legacy of experimentation on beast and man alike. Bennett interacts with the protagonist from the standpoint of knowledgeable scientist versus unprotected subject, a role of which the doctor effectively convinces himself along with any reading witness, carrying out his deeply scientific duties beneath the auspices of that greater entity, until the time ripens to act on his true intentions.

Bennett comes out of the dark in stages, first revealing himself to be a force bent-straight on saving the world, then again showing himself willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, of another, in order to do so.

3rd Assignment, Breakout Title.
The current title is "A Novel Man." The 3 alternatives are:

White Lazarus. Black Death.

White Lazarus. Black Resurrection.

The Spirited Lives of Memory.

4th Assignment, Comparables.

The revived spirit of “Total Recall” (Phillip K. Dick) meets "Recursion” (Blake Crouch), at the pace of reverse “Memento” (Christopher Nolan).

5th Assignment, Conflict Line.

A self-inherited, white red-blooded American struggles to keep his identity amidst the effects of a mind-bending technology. What he once found an imaginative respite along the cutting-edge of role-play delves sharply into the real world. It is a world where even his innermost thoughts and memory turn relentlessly unlike his own.

6th Assignment, Inner Conflict.

Justin Wilder has inherited the long trappings of materialism along with the contextual culture and mindset wherein his position is couched within society. His world view is challenged, however, by several ongoing manifestations of dissonance. Firstly, as a child in one fateful moment, he gazes erroneously into the gravitational eyes of a hard-shipped black man, something that spurs his young mind into questioning, however inarticulately, the equality of socioeconomic conditions amongst the different people of the world.

Even after “growing out” of this childish need to question everything, he is followed by the same dark dream wherein he is still a child locked in a basement with the rest of the blacks. When a door opens a light from high atop the stairs, cuing them all to a hysterical and hopeless dash for that one, narrowing escape, he awakens to find himself at once that man at that top of those stairs. It is he who slams the door shut, locking-out those rising shrieks of pain and suffering from below.

While he never consciously admits to it, this underlying cognitive dissonance must be part of the worldview upon which his life is disconcertingly built, the world which he had questioned since childhood, and the bulk of the gravitational tide which ultimately impels him to volunteer as an experimental subject for a clandestine new technology.

This underlying dissonance with the world comes to rising conflict as some of the alternate realities that he experiences begin to eclipse his world views with those of their own. When he relives the last moments of a young black man, who is shot and killed by a police officer after attending a Black Lives Matters rally, the experience proves overwhelming for his own middle-aged normality, prompting the most salient and drastic personality change in the walking and talking while white investment scout.

After going through this experience in the laboratory, he literally inherits the life memories of the young black man, a reality that initially manifests in his dreams only. But it is in the context of one pivotal dream wherein, from his traditionally privileged point of view, he sees that dark child that lays dying in the park. But then shifting within, it is from that newly inherited point of view—that high-school-aged, poor black male—that he sees himself suddenly for the privileged man that he has always been.

It is the acute stress of this memorable encounter with his own social archetype that, unlike the previous two alter egos that he has experienced, moves him irrevocably into another realm of self-awareness... even a persistently emergent character change from within, a thing both exciting and frightening for the world at large, a wife and daughter for example.

A secondary source of conflict within the novel is that which revolves around his 14-year-old daughter. She is one who, in spite of all that he has provided for her in terms of wealth and social status, insists on “pretending to be Black,” much to the embarrassment of the posh conservative that he is at the outset. Neither school-teacher nor psychologist can provide him a satisfactory answer as to why his little girl that has it all would envy those poor, black girls who have nothing to offer the world but sass. At one time he comes into his daughter’s room to find a thoroughly tattooed, half-naked (pants-sagging), black man hanging over her headboard. What she defends as just a poster of a gifted rapper, he sees as a stark herald of his daughter crossing into the forbidden exploration of that proverbial strange fruit.

The dynamic of this conflict between his daughter Gina and himself falls from one of a churning defiance, to begrudged acceptance between the two. Finally, a newfound respect for the world of his family grows, as he himself undergoes the changes of outlook because of his involvement with the ongoing experiments. Not so ironically, as his daughter sees the changes in her own father, she feels less the need to rebel, to paint the monotony of her own white picket inheritance with the hues of black stereotype. We see more of who is truly Gina, as she finds fulfillment in the increasingly colorful reality that her father brings home in tow of his cool decisions. He has bravely volunteered as a techno-Guinea pig for the gaming technology! The resolution of this secondary conflict is a peaceable one wherein the previous combatants rest in a warm, fulfilling embrace after so much egotistical wrestling.

7th Assignment, Settings.

The morning sun becomes the overarching illuminator to an otherwise stagnant downtown Minneapolis. From the glistening reflection of the dawns rain on the still wet streets, up past the rousing army of shuffling shoes, the rising slants of sunrise give movement to the angles of concrete and shadow--gleaming depths to the elsewise flats of steel and glass that rush to the highest stories.

Up where the sounds of a waking city follows through a thinner breeze, a window slides abruptly closed, shutting the outside behind that clear and impenetrable pane.

The world inside of the office occupies the vast half of the entire 27th level. Size withstanding, it would be typical, with its expanded array of blue and maroon cubicle, were it not for the youthful adornments of mostly female interns that grace the breadth and width.

Amidst it all rises the chatter of business; chimes of human, machine and keyboard that flourishes besides the sometimes-incessant conversation about winning the lotto, moving to Mexico, or the switching of the crooked skirt around that newest intern from India.

All of this is too much and too close to the frosted glass of the large office at the far corner. The sounds and shadows that snoop along the other side of that frosted pane is an intrusive distraction for the one who is inside. When time meets like one staggered collection of deadlines, as time here often does, he only wants to collect himself in this space, to visually escape out of the body-length windows at the 25th-floor sky. Besides the poorly renovated design of the opaque, wall-length partition un-between that floor at large and himself, his office is a place of welcome refuge and worry.

This corporate setting of building and sky-way, along with the occasional run-in with homelessness while en route to-and-fro, is the primary backdrop for the intrigue that the protagonist begins to feel concerning a mysterious, tech upstart.

The abode of the protagonist and family is amongst what the lesser percentages of society would consider more of castles than mere houses. The wealthy Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota is one of manicured shades of summer green, sweeping colors of fall and shimmering wintery whites tamed by the angles of heated driveways and the forces of the earliest snowplow. The house itself is a Victorian-risen style of a few earthen shades, a 3-story height crowned with multidimensional roof. The composite asphalt driveway opens welcoming to the street from whence comes the triple-burgundy Mercedes with leather interior. Inside the house it is notably drafty at times, unfulfilled space for protagonist and family to grow into home.

Somewhere in the state of Minnesota, there is a building set apart within the space of a wooded clearing. It is a tall, single story front with a warehouse sized addition that looms beyond the roof-line. The older brick construction, broken by a few, elongated windows along the face, is indicative of the 1980s. And once inside, the outdated marquis of black felt, spotted with white alphabet pieces, is an indicator of who’s who inside the un-extraordinary building.

It is after a short move down the hallway, past the plywood door and through a plain waiting room with equally passé artwork, that the scene opens with the space that is the outer laboratory.

Sleek, body-width podiums rise smoothly as if in host of the one who enters, elevating to various heights along the walker’s pace, until the restlessly deep gloss of their surfaces reach away into the dimness. Gracing that gleaming and silhouetted company of computer towers is the occasional, dim pulsation of redness in lightening linear. The intermittent throb of information sequences is like a winking beacon of the great, hibernating data-banks of memory here.

When stirred, at the command of Doctor Bennett, manifestations of said memories can be seen literally in the very air, the luminous streams of holographic symbology that swarm the warehouse of space, feeding into intelligent--if not quite conscious--clouds of glittery, articulating expression.

On at least one occasion the antagonist, protagonist in tow, walk through these dynamic mists of green as if they weren’t there, the same passing visibly through the two men that make their way to a far wall.

The inner laboratory is accessed by opening one of the large, obvious wall panels that is obviously not a hidden portal. Passing through this vacuum from the vaster outer into the smaller inner laboratory is moving from dimness to bright. This room is immaculately white, except for the metallic framing of a more traditional-looking computer console that is stationed above the lone podium near the center. It is next to what is at the very center of visual gravity here; a large, white chair. The chair appears with a design that mimics the familiar aesthetics—if not the comforts—of a huge recliner. From the expanded foot base and up along the extended armrests, one might imagine the sorts of bands or restraining devices that will emerge, at some point, to make some repentant subject to feel more secure. The surges of sequencing data flow through this room only during times of experimental activity, bringing to pulsating light the otherwise inconspicuously transparent cable lines that are hardwired to several key locations. There is an old-fashioned monitor above the white recliner--a cardboard-thin and flat rectangle of a thing that might oscillate automatically with respect to the eye of the beholder.

At a pivotal point the protagonist is surprised to learn that he must fly to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, somewhere in South Holland more precisely, to personally oversee an important offshore account there.

There is a taxi from the airport in Amsterdam, a ride into which asphalt weakens as it stretches between God’s vast organic blankets of country-side, the beautiful patch-workings of the busy locals, where mammoth windmills rove here and there faithfully. The drive eventually returns to tar however, the city of the Hague is where protagonist and ladies stay at The Den Hague, a 4.5-star retreat in South Holland’s quainter version of urban life. It is a place where the façade of a modern city breathes in the oceanic air of a far simpler county.

There are two days of exploration before the scheduled meeting with the business contact. These first days include the far-fetched protagonist tales at sunset about the fiercely bloody battles carried-out at the skyline. It is over a sparkling white wine glass on a high balcony, peering to the space above the restless shoring of the northern sea, that the protagonist re-envisions how the slave king of the blacken-elves disemboweled the high boogeyman of the Netherlands. Apparently it is this resurrected scene, right before the naïve young eyes of his daughter, that causes such spontaneous, crimson sunsets that spill far-reaching overhead.

The trio also explore some of the more local attractions, including a few quaint museums off cobblestone ways, a standing medieval prison with restored torture-room to boot, and even float on a noon-day water way that slips glistening past the shops, stirring the natives who gladly intercept with wines, cheeses and all sorts of oliebollen.

The days come to an end before the business contact, being in and of themselves an oasis of reprise grounded between 10-hour flights in a place known for its flatlands.

It is a ruse, however. When the protagonist goes to meet the business contact, stepping into the portly, euro-conic car with complimentarily accented driver, he is serpentined quickly above ground and then spirited below. There is a considerable length of tunneling where hollow passes with rushing dimness, the beams of the headlights like a movie projector that casts this dampening and surreal film.

It is much ado for a regular offshore account because it is not. After the drive ends at the cavernous opening, stopping before the underground entrance of a building that will extend high above, it is soon revealed that the antagonist himself is here for the greeting.

This building actually hosts a more advanced and expansive laboratory where the final experimental phase must be conducted. A few strings were pulled to bring him here, and the protagonist finds himself being guided down hallways, where at times information flows as incandescently as soundwaves… at times returning suddenly from around corners to pass over and away again like echoes throughout these chambers. Stopping before one expansive room, the luminous green smokes the floor impassively, stirring quickly as the two pair of high-end shoes pass into this one of the main sets.

In this space the antagonist gives a mood-altering demonstration of the theoretical beginnings of time and space, illustrated anew via the burgeoning glitter of articulating holographic tempests. The symbology swells to envelop the two bystanders in the far center, shrinking them in scale to a point where they can witness the intimate coalescing of molecules from a virtual insider's perspective, on down to the very threshold of quantum physics which overtakes this sky of special conjuring. There are several floors whereupon such dissimilar displays and technological functions are carried out.

This building, wherein the main laboratory appears to thrive like the vital organs and skeletal system of an otherwise concrete and steel body, is amazingly accessible to a limited public at the lower levels. There is a common museum on the 1st floor where rudimentary holographic technology is the highlight of traditional displays of art and storytelling. There is a deliberately mediocre cafeteria on the 2nd floor, where only the most inconspicuous seem to return. But it is from that subterranean entrance that the elevator bypasses all lower levels, even for those with the highest of security clearance.

Other mention-able settings that appear in scenic transition are those of a brick and mortar Minneapolis Firehouse with equally characteristic inhabitants, the churning-black guts deep within a fiery room that passes the skin-peeling point of explosion, the brashly intimate environment of a police station during roll-call and then the subsequent crooning insides of the patrol car… and last but not least, the incessantly uprising energy in the midst of a pressing crowd during a BlackLivesMatters rally. It is one that goes on into the deep night, eventually spilling into a terrifying foot chase that paints a tragic, crimson scene on the nightly canvas of a Minneapolis park.

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Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#5 Post by LaMarP6Going » 09 Aug 2020, 01:09

Assignment response from LaMarP6Going, re: The Reluctant Mandarin.

1) Having been pressed into service as Global Media Director, Austin Kelly leads a group of saboteurs to upset the plans of the Chinese Communist Party.

2) Antagonist Ling Gut Hing was groomed to lead the Chinese Communist Party. Ling respects three things: sex, money, and power. Now sitting at the right hand of his father, President Gou, Ling sets policies and charts the future of Global, the universal ruling body in Beijing. His twin sister, Lilly, enjoys a similar position, but they share little in their views toward humanity: Lilly seeks to uplift the Chinese people but Ling, narcissistic and insecure, lusts for power. His pet project is an acceleration of the existing enslavement, internment, and forced organ-harvesting program aimed at the eradication of religionists, political opponents, and other dissidents. Ling supports the choice of Austin Kelly as Global Media Director. It will be Kelly’s job to launch the upcoming Global initiative, One World. One World is Ling’s vision of hegemony, genocide, and a ramping-up of the organ-harvesting program, disguised as government largesse in the form of social programs. He recognizes Kelly’s skills, but more importantly, he relishes forcing Kelly to work in support of goals which Kelly vehemently rejects as cruel and inhumane. To achieve his goals he murders, connives, and plots the death of his father, sister, and Kelly.

3) My first choice for title is The Reluctant Mandarin. Alternate titles are shown below:

*The Irish Manchurian
* The Liar of Beijing
* The Reluctant Propagandist

4) Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, or Political Thriller. This book is a contemporary blending of THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE by Taylor Caldwell and BEND SINISTER by Vladimir Nabokov with THE ORGAN BROKER by Stu Strumwasser. The book will find audience with readers who enjoyed books such as DEAD TOMORROW by Peter James and HARVEST by Tess Gerritson.

5) a. Conscripted as propagandist for the Chinese Communist Party, an American media titan leads a group of elite saboteurs against Beijing’s planned pogrom of genocide and force human organ harvesting.

b. In the summer of 2048, Austin Kelly must accept the position of Global Media Director as offered by the Chinese Communist Party. To refuse the assignment might lead to financial ruin or the death of himself and his family. The CCP came to worldwide power nearly twenty years earlier, with the complicity of American president Chao, whose campaign was Kelly’s client. Kelly has come to terms with his part in the downfall of America and the free world—he was played. Additionally, CCP killed his parents and two patriarchs in his wife’s family. But he accepts the position in order to safeguard his family—especially in light of the unplanned pregnancy announced by his wife. He feels trapped, the victim of a Hobson’s Choice. But being highly principled, he cannot in good conscience further CCP’s oppression. In his journey he must gather resolve and the strength to lead an elite group of resistance fighters, while balancing the needs of his highest stewardship: the safety of his family.

6) (Kelly is compelled to negotiate uncomfortable questions; first, from his wife, then from his seventeen-year-old daughter, Summer.)
After I tucked her in, I retired to the living room. I was alone, and I wasn’t. My wife and daughter were only paces from where I sat, but I stood apart from them out of necessity, as my parents had shielded Dallas and me.
At that moment I felt terribly isolated, and I felt the weight of the commitments I’d made. I thought about Summer and her brother: What would the future hold for them? And what of their children, and their children’s children? What would freedom mean to them—or the lack of freedom? Was there any chance that we could change the trajectory of oppression? Or would we sacrifice our lives on the besotted and bloodied altar of the Global Mall?
I walked into the backyard and stood quietly, eyes closed. I inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, cleared my mind, and centered myself. Slowly my arms floated upward in Qishi. My body moved softly through twenty-four patterns of Tai Chi. My breathing was nearly imperceptible and my mind released present burdens in total acceptance of is. At the conclusion of Shoushi, I stood in repose with eyes gently closed, calmed by the magic of Chi.
I thought of the two conversations I’d had that night: One with my wife, in which I’d promised to withdraw from the commitments I’d made in the cause of freedom, the other with a bright inquisitive child who was quick to call me out and encourage me to honor the dangerous path I’d chosen.
I had given them both promises; promises that were diametrical, and which were both in support of holy objectives and principles.
I knew I would be forced to break one of them.

San Diego County, California: Several locations within the greater San Diego area are integral to the story. Protagonist Austin Kelly and his brother Dallas live in Del Mar, an upscale seaside community. Kelly’s office is located in a non-specific location of the city. Several scenes take place in Tijuana, which is currently located in Baja California, Mexico, but as told in the story, borders have disappeared, so it is characterized as being part of San Diego. There is a scene set in the famous Balboa Park Friendship Garden. Two scenes occur in the nearby Anza-Borrego Desert. Another scene rolls out in Encinitas, a north county seaside town. Two other scenes describe interaction between characters as they sit on their surfboards, discussing conspiracy while waiting for waves. The rich and diverse geographical and cultural landscape of San Diego County offers a full spectrum of places and vibes in which to place the characters. The scene from Kelly’s office window recurs several times, serving as a graphic depiction of societal contrasts between upper and lower-economic cohorts. San Diego County was chosen as the primary location due to familiarity, and because of its vast array of diverse settings. The story uses settings to emphasize contrasts between social classes, customs, economic classes, and generational attitudes.

Hong Kong, SAR: Brief scenes and mentions are set in Hong Kong, where rebellion and subterfuge lurks around every corner. Much background and historical foundation is set here, both in the city, and in the outlying New Territories. Much family history is told in the setting of the New Territories, a rural area of Hong Kong abutting the border with mainland China. In this area, agrarian families adhere to more traditional mores and customs; life is slower and more rooted in family and the land. Scenes placed in the city of Hong Kong emphasize urban hustle and bustle, unrest, and the struggle for freedom against the forces of oppression. There is also a thread of family history set in Guangdong, China, a southern province that contains Hong Kong, SAR. Background and family historical themes play out here in small villages, family stockyards, and a military academy. A tale set in the Cultural Revolution is told in this setting, where Communists and feudal lords clashed for power at the expense of humble citizens and freedom.

Beijing, China: Beijing is depicted as the seat of worldwide-power and oppression. Global, the omnipotent ruling body, is based there and as Global Media Director, protagonist Kelly is compelled to visit the city several times. Also, antagonist Ling lives in Beijing. The dark underbelly and hypocrisy of Communist leaders is graphically shown in a chapter that describes the debauchery of a private night club in Beijing. Lavish offices, parties, and private residences are the purview of CCP officials, while the peasantry persevere through hardships and the drudgery of subsistence and pain. In the book, Beijing is painted as the seat of all worldly power: Big, bold, and unabashed. Using various settings, the story reveals the underlying treachery, hypocrisy, and greed inherent among Chinese Communist Party officials, and the stalwart perseverance of common citizens. Characters and settings showcase how the repressive communist system favors fealty and loyalty and punishes dissidents.

Oahu, Hawai’i, and Kauai, Hawai’i: The natural beauty of the Hawai’ian Islands frames the final chapters of the book, lending stark contrast to the horrific conclusion of the story. The joy of childbirth and family is decimated by murder, forced organ harvesting, and torture, within the paradise of Hawai’i’s splendor.

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Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#6 Post by DrewRossP6 » 14 Aug 2020, 22:27

Go Find One
Drew Ross
(©Drew Ross 2020)

1. Story Statement:
Find his powers and use them to escape and survive.

2. Antagonist:
Hart is the second in command of an organization that is an offshoot of the non-governmental parts of the Central Intelligence Agency, but more. Through it, Hart controls the US defense industry and, indirectly, other companies and governments. The Psychic Warfare program has acquired the ability to rate people’s psychic potential, even if the person has not achieved that potential. Hart is the person with the fourth greatest psychic potential in the world, and he can accept nothing less than to be the first. Hart desperately wants to be able to advance in psychic potential through murder, but he is disappointed when killing Three, the person with the third greatest psychic potential, doesn’t grant Hart any immediate improvement in his abilities. He doesn’t know if killing those ahead of him advances him or leads the person he killed to reincarnate. He previously dated a FBI agent who falls in love with Hart’s nemesis, the person with the greatest psychic potential in the world. Hart has learned a technique from Eastern Europe to see through her eyes, to regard his enemy with hatred from eyes that love him.

3. Title
Go Find One
Kill One
Does One Know?

4. Comparables
The Magician of Lhasa by David Michie
Michie tells the story of a monk who must protect sacred texts from destruction when China takes over Tibet. Many years later, a contemporary scientist faces the same spiritual challenges as the monk, intertwining their journeys across time and space. Michie’s book is quite different than mine, but it hinges on deeper truth being the only path to resolve a dangerous journey.
Do Your Realize by Kevin Kuhn
Kuhn’s book tells the story of George, a reluctant spiritual traveler thrown into a new version of reality by Shiloh, a physics professor he meets on a commuter train. Shiloh gives George the ability to reshape the past and through it, the future. George reminds me of One, the central character in my book, a reluctant spiritual traveler who has no idea of his psychic potential until it places him in danger.

5. Conflict Line
A bored but brilliant psychiatrist must access the psychic potential that he never knew he had to escape the murderous leader of a clandestine organization with deep connections to the Central Intelligence Agency.

6. Other Conflicts
Inner Conflict: When One finds a camera in his office, his comfortably boring life as a psychiatrist who treats government employees is blown up forever. He is in danger because of his psychic potential, a set of skills that he doesn’t think he has and doesn’t necessarily want. His survival depends on quickly working through his resistance to who he is. He has to deal with past relationships, the dawn of a new one, anxiety that he’s hidden from himself and a lifelong belief that there isn’t much beyond what you can see in front of you.
Social Conflict: The FBI, military, the CIA, and mercenaries are after One, and everyone, including One himself, don’t know why they are chasing a psychiatrist with no background in special operations who doesn’t appear to have any special skills. The intelligence operatives want to get back to finding terrorists and clear criminals. They aren’t sure that they believe that psychic skills are any real threat, and even if they are, that One really is the person who holds the greatest risk of remote spying since he seems less psychic than fortune tellers and carnival psychics.

7. Setting
The first part of the book primarily is set in the Los Angeles office of the FBI. Most of the agents normally would feel comfortable in their usual workplace, but the government has sent in an old warhorse general to take over their weird new assignment chasing the best psychics in the world. They have another new temporary team member that they don’t like, Eleven, the person with the eleventh greatest psychic potential in the world. The agents know nothing about the world of remote access to information, and Eleven is their guide. He relishes in torturing them with a lack of any military or law enforcement decorum. He’s a pot-smoking neo-hippie with a sharp tongue in a building with people who rise through the ranks by following the rules and getting things done with a quiet focused anger that Eleven doesn’t understand or like. While we travel through a rural cabin and a mostly abandoned military prison, much of the later part of the book takes place in an abandoned rural car junkyard that One bought long before in order to recover a rare sports car.

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