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Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 09 Feb 2013, 02:17
Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments
For the Algonkian Novel Workshop Writers 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.
Algonkian Writer 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!
THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT
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.
THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT
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).
CONTINUE READING ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: http://www.authorsalon.com/page/general ... iterature/
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.
CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE
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).
DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES
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: http://www.authorsalon.com/craft/view/62/
- 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?
CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT - COMING OF THE "AGON"
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.
OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS
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?
THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING
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.
CONTINUE TO READ THIS ARTICLE THEN RETURN: http://www.authorsalon.com/craft/view/97/
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.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 14 Feb 2014, 17:37
After climbing out of the chasm of a psychotic break, Krista Bonner is determined to overcome her assassinated husband's ultimate betrayal and forgive the sins of the living while dealing with the dead.
Rejected by her cartel family in Colombia, Olivia Santos arrived in Seattle determined to make her own wealth and a name for herself. Her plan didn’t include an affair with married Bremen Bonner but she’s flexible like that. After all, he alluded to hidden millions. And divorcing his wife Krista to marry her. Who knew that the assassin they hired to kill Krista would miss and blow away Bremen instead? Time for another plan.
Maybe Olivia couldn’t touch a cent of Bremen’s money now. Simple reality in an unpredictable world. But the hired killer and the wife-turned-widow? What to do about them? She’d bide her time flushing out the assassin. Dealing with Krista—top priority. The widow couldn’t be allowed to profit from Bremen’s death. Olivia’s payback to Krista should be slow and painful, though not necessarily involve physical pain—that part would come later. After spending a couple of months in a psychiatric facility, wouldn’t Krista be vulnerable, an easy pawn in Olivia’s game of psychological terror? Now, that was a plan!
~ Ghost Saviors
~ Hidden Saviors
~ Edge of Life and Death
~ Edge of Brave
~ The Sensitive
DECIDING YOUR GENRE & COMPARABLES
The genre for my novel is paranormal (ghost) suspense. It's difficult coming up with comparables as I can find no "ghost" or supernatural novels where the ghosts are the helpful ones and the humans are the ones to be feared.
THE PRIMARY CONFLICT
An assassin's bullet kills Bremen Bonner as he pursues his wife Krista outside their Seattle suburb home. His arm reached out to grab Krista when the specially-made bullet disintegrated his head. After a two-month stay in a psychiatric facility, during which Bremen's ghost taunts and torments Krista, she sequesters herself in the Rocky Mountains to continue healing. She questions her ability to make sound judgments regarding relationships, and has also inherited the seven million dollars that Bremen kept hidden from her during their marriage. Soon she discovers that her husband's vengeful mistress Olivia has rented a house not far from her and is engaging Krista in a game of cat and mouse.
INNER: Shortly after arriving at the mountain mansion, Krista finds a ghost with issues (Danny) inhabiting the mansion, and her childhood "imaginary friend" (Owen, also a ghost, who it turns out is Danny's mentor) visiting on a regular basis. She's torn between confusion and joy at her reunion with Owen, and angry that she must fraternize when she expected privacy. As the two ghosts build a tenuous friendship with her and share knowledge from the "other side," her frustration mounts regarding the kind of life she is expected to live, which includes forgiveness toward her husband who died in the act of trying to kill her. She also learns that Danny is her dead husband's father, whom her husband never knew.
SECONDARY: Krista's mother, Raylene--with whom she has a long-standing strained relationship--arrives at the mansion uninvited to further complicate her daughter's life. She's visiting under the guise of concern for her daughter, but truthfully wants to know how Krista can afford to live in such a place, then attempts to coerce Krista into questioning her mental stability so Raylene can obtain guardianship over her daughter and the money. While Krista is in the process of ejecting Raylene from the premises, Olivia shows up and invites the mother to stay with her for a few days.
This conflict is coupled with a nosy, middle-aged, next-door renter--Donna--who drops in at the most inconvenient times. She's too cheerful and exuberant for Krista's tastes. As we learn later in the story, Donna is the assassin who killed Bremen. She shares her motives with Krista and asks Krista to hire her to kill Olivia, as Donna knows of Olivia and strongly suspects of her intentions. Since Bremen (at Olivia's behest) had hired Donna to kill Krista, but Donna spared Krista's life instead, Donna doesn't want to see Olivia now end it.
Though the story begins in rainy, overcast Seattle, Krista Bonner then lands in a psychiatric facility before moving to a semi-secluded mountain mansion overlooking Snowmass, Colorado. She arrives in February. The road leading to and in front of the mansion is winding, narrow and impassable during snowstorms. Although Snowmass and Aspen are relatively short drives away, the frequency of the storms makes them unreachable until snowplows open the road back up. The feeling of seclusion with exquisite beauty embodies the setting.
The mansion itself is over 6,000 square feet and meant to house a maximum of 18 people, but although she is staying alone, Krista feels she needs the room to work out her issues. The home is sumptuously decorated and fitted with amenities that Krista has never experienced--heated wood floors, sheepskin rugs, multiple fireplaces, a lower level playroom including billiard table and pinball machines, gourmet kitchen, and a master bedroom and bath that rivals any five-star hotel. The view overlooking the valley down to Snowmass is breathtaking. The house Krista lived in with her husband in Seattle was 1100 square feet and still wore the same furnishings that they acquired at the beginning of their 10-year marriage.
This manse practically abuts the mountain road in front. In the back a large balcony juts out from the great room and a small backyard extends in a gently sloping area that quickly falls away into an adjoining black diamond ski run. Her neighbor's house to the east (rented by Donna) is close enough that Krista can look out the second-story master bedroom window and view Donna's yard and driveway. The neighbor's house on the opposite side is situated farther away and is all but hidden by a stand of evergreens. The next house beyond that is much smaller--shabby in comparison to the surrounding homes--and is where Olivia lives as a renter. The property across the road from these homes is steeply sloped up and contains ski runs.
Aspen--where Krista shops soon after her arrival--makes her uncomfortable with the wealthy crowds and designer stores. (Her previous shopping excursions were limited to mostly Target and J. C. Penney.) The town's atmosphere grows on her, and becomes her escape whenever she needs to leave the confines of the ghostly mansion. Krista has her first indirect confrontation with Olivia in an Aspen jewelry store. Krista's visit to an Aspen pedestrian mall provides the background for a major story revelation.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 15 Feb 2014, 16:17
1- Story statement:
Attorney Jordan Cohen races to save her lover and client from a murder conviction, to prove to herself that her lover is not a killer, and last but not least, to save her marriage and the reputation of her prominent husband.
2- The Antagonist:
Dvora Cohen, Jordan's sister-in-law, wants revenge. Two decades after the fact, she stumbles upon an opportunity to ruin the internationally acclaimed pianist Ari Ash. She is going to frame him for murder. She blames the maestro for her rape, which happened when she was twenty years old and in love with him.
Dvora’s life is a mess; her aspirations dashed, her talents wasted, she never married and she is now serves as a lowly secretary in Sam Cohen’s lucrative Tel Aviv law firm. She is also the not-entirely-welcome relative at his home. Dvora could never measures up to her successful and benevolent big brother, or to her beautiful and successful sister in law, Jordan Cohen. A musical protégé in her youth, Dvora is the black sheep of the family.
Dvora is also annoying, self-righteous, crass, and an all-around pain in the ass.
She frames Ari Ash, in order to put the rape behind her and finally begin her real life.
3- Breakout title:
Who are you, Ari Ash?
4- Genre and comparables:
The closest I can describe my book is by calling it a cozy mystery with a little violence and tons of explicit sex.
My new suggested genre: "Sexpense"
5- The Conflict:
Jordan must find out whether her internationally-acclaimed pianist lover and client is a murderer. If she fails, he will go to jail for life. And Jordan’s husband, her marriage and the good name of their prominent law firm, will all be ruined.
6- The Inner Conflict:
a- Is Jordan in love with a killer? Her doubts eat at her while she keeps coming back for more addictive sex. Presumption of innocence has never been harder...
b- Jordan is torn between her need for her oh-so-incredibly exciting love affair and her need to preserve her marriage and her partnership with her best friend husband. After so many years of marriage and monogamy, she desperately wants both...
c- Jordan's fear that her affair will be splashed on the front page of the newspaper can go away if she gives incriminating information on her lover to the police...
7- The Setting:
Tel Aviv. The fast and furious city. The city with great beaches, hot weather, extroverted lust, the city of traffic jams and aggressive assholes. A city of glass and steel and old-world open-air markets.
Jerusalem. The city where a suicide bomber blows himself up on a bus, three cars ahead of Jordan's.
Israel. The modern, western country in which Shabbat dinner is still a very special family time in most homes. The country in which a fascist party is trying to get elected to parliament.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 06 Mar 2014, 22:47
1. STORY STATEMENT:
Save her life and her heart, as she forgives and seeks forgiveness
2. THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT:
The story’s antagonist is a perverse narcissist who, in the name of God’s divine will and waving the Vatican’s flag, abuses men and women, members of the order he has founded. Marcial Maciel is an ordained priest with French and Spanish ancestry, born in Mexico, in 1920. His life intertwines with that of the protagonist, Sofia. He seduces her and convinces her he is the hero and she, his heroine. As many abusive narcissists, Maciel builds bonds with others sucking their sense of security and self; disarming them first in order to, later, convince them that the roles have reversed -- the abusive becomes the victim, and the Narcissist's victims become the abusers. As a consequence, the confusion experienced by his targeted victims, paralyzes them. It becomes the dazzling light over a hunting jeep, blinding and subduing them as preys; even becoming the narcissist's accomplice. Maciel believes himself to be superior and "transfers" his own weakness to his victims. In his "self-created world", he is above the rules. He is a megalomaniac whose image becomes his treasure and weapon; success in his noble goals justifies his actions. In his sick mind, he is determined to create a legacy without measuring the cost.
3. BREAKOUT TITLE:
The Virgin Who Surrendered (La virgen que se entrega)
Seduction of a Heroine (Seduccion de una heroina)
Lost Journal (El diario perdido)
4. GENRE AND COMPARABLES:
Historical Romantic Novels -
a) Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner
b) The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Authors of both novels create one or more protagonists whose life events and challenges present a serious shortcoming or injustice in society or institution. Concretely, they both illustrate the vulnerability of children and youth when confrontation with an abusive individual and/or system clouds or blinds their judgment. Esther does not question the Orthodox Jewish rules in Jerusalem Maiden, even when it costs her happiness and the fulfillment of her dream; and Vivian Daly, representing one of hundreds of orphans who traveled through the States being offered as cheap labor to families, did not question the injustice.
In my story, Sofia, the protagonist, represents women who at a young age, were seduced by deceitful and abusive man, Marcial Maciel, and by the order he founded.
5. THE PRIMARY CONFLICT - COMING OF THE "AGON":
Level I - After viewing virginity as an ideal to live and preach, Sofia realizes her virginal hero is everything but a virgin, and struggles to reconcile a life of love and the virginity she cherished.
6. OTHER MATTER OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS
Level II - Sofia is constantly second guessing herself: is she exaggerating, is she ridiculous, is she the strange one or is it the others? We see this from the first scene of the story, where she is looking at a salesperson and zooms into his face and his lips (How long had it been? Had she ever…?). We see it throughout the story, since her potential lover is also deceitful and they wrestle on a teeter-totter of emotional and physical interactions.
Level III - Steven Pendleton, her potential lover, is hiding “other relationships” from Sofia and a series of misunderstandings lead her to think there could be no “normal” scenario for love. In addition, a “recruit” from her past is constantly appearing (generally anonymously), until a final encounter where Sofia almost loses her life.
7. THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING:
My story has three main settings: Manhattan (Mid-town and then East Harlem), Monterrey, Mexico (in the outskirts of the Rockies), and a town in Wyoming, which I call Jackson (meant to reflect Jackson Hole). Manhattan and Jackson have their known charms, but within, I use Sofia’s apartment (Manhattan), and Steven’s home (Jackson) as a place of conflict and deceit. It is also where most productive communication, and close to have sex scenes happen.
Monterrey is a bit more intriguing, I believe, since not many people have the unique view of the place that Sofia has (along with those who grew up there in the 70’s, of course). Far from being a large industrial city, Sofia sees it as an enchanted box of memories and love where everything her dad touched turned to gold, and every dream she reached for, came looking for her. I describe it as I remember it growing up: over a hundred cousins within several square miles, thirty first cousins within a quarter of a mile... All sharing a pool, a playground and a tennis court next to an equestrian field. In the evenings and weekends, uncles and aunts would sit outside year-round, tequila or whisky in hand, while the children of all ages plaid cricket, badminton or simply with mud, building a colony of bugs. The older cousins would invite friends so the flirting among them could be an added entertainment. Food was offered in every household and everyone was always fed. No one knew who owned the dogs or the cats, or the horses for that mater. A phone call now and then would let a brother or sister-in-law know that one of their five or seven children was still at someone else's home and he or she was going to be put to bed. In real life, Maciel, the abusive and perverse antagonist in my story, took advantage of that spirit of trust everyone still enjoyed during those decades. It was an immense abuse of trust.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 10 Mar 2014, 23:18
1) Write your story statement
In a country where citizens are controlled and monitored via a next-gen electronic wrist cuff, the adherent teenage daughter of a high-ranking government official discovers deadly corruption in the system and must figure out a way to subvert it, and, by extension, her father, before more innocent lives are lost.
2) 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.
Max Maynard: Senior Director of State Intelligence, a branch of the government responsible for the monitoring, enforcement, and protection of Extensional Technology. For such a militant and stalwart man, Officer Maynard has surprisingly humble beginnings. His childhood came in the midst of the Dark Liberation, a time before The Grid, before Extech, when freedom was prized above all else, but at great cost to society. Maynard and his family were homeless. He watched his three siblings die of starvation and disease. Officer Maynard believes that the government’s control over its citizens via the Extech is crucial to a thriving nation, and his ultimate goal is to prevent his wife and children from suffering the same fate as his siblings. When an unknown source (his daughter, Val) begins dismantling his operations, he sees it as a personal attack, and will do whatever it takes to protect the institution that he holds above all else.
3) Create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).
“The Great State”
4) 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?
My novel, “The Grid,” will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium.” Both YA science-fiction novels are dedicated to building a strong dystopian world that hinges on both a next-gen invention (in “Delirium,” a “cure” for love, in my novel, a state-of-the-art monitoring cuff) and a main character who struggles with the fact that this supposed “savior” to society might, in fact, be destroying it. Safety versus Choice, conformity vs. rebellion…
“The Grid” also has a militaristic setting, like that of Orsen Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game.” In both novels, the readers follow the main character as (s)he delves deeper into war games, gains experience and insight, and must come up with more and more creative ways to thwart (her)his enemy’s plans. Fans of “Ender’s Game” appreciate its fast-paced, intelligent plot and the nobility of the main character as he sacrifices his own needs for the greater good, and in this way, they will also appreciate “The Grid.”
5) Write your own conflict line following the format above. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist must be noted or inferred.
When the teenage daughter of a loyal State officer realizes that her government is corrupt and barbaric, she risks detection and subsequent death in order to fight the system from the inside out.
6) 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?
Internal Conflict: Val has lived her life successfully by following the rules and excelling at everything she does. It is the only way she gets attention from her father, who is a hard-nosed militant, and, next to her rebellious older brother and under-achieving sister, has labeled her “the good one.” And for Val, any infraction against The State could get her kicked out of her On-Track (her career track) and ruin the exceptionally bright future gleaming before her. But Val is exceptionally smart, deeply caring, and loyal to her friends and family. When those close to her are getting hurt by the Extech, it is difficult for Val to admit to herself that the government, and those in charge, would insist on something that hurts so many people, but it is also not in her nature to see a solution to that suffering and do nothing about it. Following the rules means personal safety and the life she’s worked so hard for, but it also means injustice, and watching others get hurt by the State-mandated Extech.
Scenario: Val’s brother, whom she’s closest to, whom she respects and who understands her better than anyone, turns out to be a conspirator against The State, and her love for him causes more conflict with her desire to follow the rules.
Secondary Conflict: Val ends up getting close to a boy on her On-Track patrol team. Merron is someone who, had Val met before she decided to help the Wilders (the rebel movement against The State), she would have thought was a perfect catch. He still lives in the dark, still thinks that hunting down the Ratters (people living illegally off the grid) is the right and honorable thing to do. He is a great friend to Val, but if he learns about her secret, he could expose Val as a traitor.
Scenario: On patrol, Val and Merron have caught a Ratter and now have him in custody. Val knows that if they bring the Ratter in, he will be killed, but Merron is with her, and their orders are to bring the man in. She could easily notify the Wilders and have them take Merron and the man, and she could carry on more easily with her missions from thereon out, but it would mean betraying Merron, who trusts her, and risking him finding out the truth and hating her for it.
7) 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.
“The Grid” takes place in the near future (2050ish), in a fictional place (Ryker City), which is the capitol of a fictional country (The Great State). Ryker City is a bustling city where future design consists of sleek, modern buildings that blend effortlessly into the brilliant green landscape. Everything is designed to be maximally efficient; solar panels are built seamlessly into facades, wind turbines create the most of higher elevations, and everything from garbage collection to public transit is streamlined so that the city seems to be running itself, quietly in the background. Unlike today, where technology tends to distance people by replacing real-life socialization with the digital kind, in Ryker City, that kind of technology is outlawed. Everyone seems happy, and there is a real community vibe. People help each other; it almost seems utopian. But, this quiet, placid background makes other things stand out more: the guy who falls to the ground, dead, because his Extech overdoses his Insulin, the kid at school who is swarmed by State officers because he was caught drinking a black-market soda, the guy who flies into a fit of rage when he’s been noted that his girlfriend has followed through on her Extech’s advice to seek companionship with guys who she’s better matched with.
Then, there are the Woods where the Ratters live in secret. These people live in in shacks close to inlets of water, usually far away from one another. The landscape is wild and untamed, yet bursting with animal life that, in the city, seems too placid, and plants and colors that don’t even exist elsewhere. In the Woods, many homes are run on solar, wind, and water power, but the set-ups are camouflaged to blend into the woods. Further from the cities, in places of strengthened resistance, outlawed technology are used as booby-traps for the State Intelligence Patrols that comb the woods hunting for the Ratters: cell phones used to set off buried mines, a group of tvs mounted onto trees, rigged to flash seizure-inducing lights. Sometimes music can be heard, played on speakers hidden in the underbrush, not to hurt, but to remind the patrollers that they are not the disease-ridden barbarians The State wants them to think they are.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 13 Mar 2014, 10:27
R. IRA HARRIS
Sukh Singh, a Sikh teenager from Punjab, comes of age in Vancouver and assimilates into his new country, after narrowly escaping complicity in the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Baba-Ji, a holy man, who had first endangered then saved him back in India, takes advantage of the now prosperous Sukh. Combatting superstition and tradition, he pursues justice through the courts, only to find he cannot escape his heritage. To find peace of mind, he must battle both his internal demons and the fanatical Baba-Ji.
ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT
Baba-Ji, a sevador (holy servant) to Sant Bhrandiwale, appears to be part of a revolutionary movement attempting to establish Sikh home rule in Punjab state in 1984. He takes advantage of the uneducated and superstitious Sikh population in India and throughout the world by promoting his own brand of Sikhism. He establishes gurudwaras from Malaysia to the UK. His enemies are killed or exiled. Preaching holiness, he is a seducer of both young girls and wealthy women. He is venerated by a superstitious following who believe he can magically cure illness and depression. Using his position of spiritual power, he amasses a fortune and maintains absolute control over every activity in the many gurudwaras that he creates.
HOLY MAN, A STORY OF INDIA
ONLY TEN GURUS
ONLY THE SINNER
Comparable works: The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Call It Sleep by Henry Roth
Sukh Singh, a native of Punjab in India is a teenager who comes of age in British Columbia after surviving an attack by the Indian Army against the holy Golden Temple of Amritsar in India. He must find a way to survive as a stranger in a strange land.
1. Sukh is consumed with guilt for having put his father in danger’s way, resulting in his father’s death. He wants to keep his head down and not cause his mother any grief, but is led into danger by Baba-Ji who involves him with the plotters to assassinate Indira Gandhi.
2. He must survive a harrowing escape through the Mideast to Europe and then on to British Columbia where he succumbs to pressure to assimilate by rejecting traditional Sikh clothing and turban and adopting western dress.
3. He falls in love and marries, only to lose his wife in childbirth. Conflict arises with his mother who forces him into an arranged marriage with a traditional Sikh widow, to care for his infant son. The widow’s grief over the death of her own son propels Sukh into the hands of Baba-Ji, who the widow believes will cure her depression. Sukh had not stepped foot into a temple since the attack on the Golden Temple, and now finds that he must support his wife’s desire to promote Baba-Ji’s new temple in Vancouver.
4. Sukh’s discovery that Baba-Ji is a crook and possibly a murderer and rapist leads him into a legal battle in the court system, over the protests of his superstitious wife.
The story starts in Ludhiana, Punjab, India, in the home of the protagonist’s father, a truck driver. It’s a poor house in a dusty city in the agricultural heartland of India. Action moves on to the Golden Temple of Amritsar, a spectacularly grand structure that is the Sikh version of the Vatican. There, a pitched battle ensues with the Indian Army and a band of revolutionaries that has occupied the Golden Temple.
After a return to Ludhiana, the protagonist flees across Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Europe, eventually arriving in verdant British Columbia where he attends university. Eventually, the protagonist's legal battle takes him to the south Pacific, Toronto, and London, ending in a court room in Vancouver.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 25 May 2014, 06:11
While building the greatest realm of all times, two brothers must fight for all they believe is just and right, taking them from the heights of Heaven to the gates of Hell.
Jesus is, at his heart, full of good and innocence; but at this earliest stage of his advancing spiritual career, he is a great foil to Lucifer. He is full young to have been given such a lofty position and his inexperience shines through at every opportunity. It is clear that he was handed into importance by right of his birth, instead of through the usual path of deep emotional growth over an infinite number of journeys, like Lucifer and most of the other Earth Counselors.
Desperate to prove himself as worthy for the job he was given, and even to impress Lucifer, Jesus tries too hard and behaves pompously in an attempt to seem more adept than he actually is. Deeply afraid of failing his father, his fear causes him to take a hard stance with his opinions. One would feel sorry for him if he didn't come off as such a self-important snob. (Draco to Harry Potter)
The Fall of Heaven
The Birth of Evil
And He Separated the Light From the Darkness
Genre & Comparables
I believe this work will fall most closely under the umbrella of speculative fiction, but based on the amount of science included it may be placed in the Science Fiction racks.
Like Gregory Maguire's “Wicked,” this revisionist version of the creation tale is sympathetic to the usual villain – Lucifer.
It begs the question who is the rightful heir, who has the greater claim to the ruling over Heaven and Earth, similar to George R.R. Martin's “A Game of Thrones.”
It also compares to J.R.R. Tolkein's “The Silmarillion” in that the time and place of this work reach back to the very beginnings of our world, before the beginning of our own history.
After being passed over for promotion in favor of the leader's young son, this most loyal subject fights against his jealousy and disenchantment, ultimately leading an uprising that will fracture their world and jump start a new one.
Additional Levels of Conflict:
Lucifer is the most trusting and dutiful of subjects. He not only agrees with The Lord's directions, but has always felt the rightness of their path keenly. He feels a personal adoration and mentorship with The Lord that enhances his connection. At first he is confused and hurt, but over time these emotions deepen into serious doubt of The Lord's ultimate authority and confident pride that he could in fact make better decisions. His feelings are driven to change through the continual frustrations with Jesus.
Scenario #1, Inner Conflict:
Jesus insists that there will be no reworking of lost life forms following the meteorite collision with Earth. It really isn't his decision to make, and certainly not one for him to make alone. This is a situation that should have been discussed with the Council and a proposition developed for submission to The Lord for his final ruling. Jesus says that he is acting upon The Lord's authority by passing down this edict and they will not hear any argument.
This places Lucifer firmly in opposition to The Lord and Jesus. Lucifer feels he has the right of their accepted process on his side, as well as the agreement of many Council members and the need to defend all the work that was done by the Committee, especially Sophia. However, at this first truly hostile event, Lucifer still feels unable to openly defy The Lord, even in the guise of his representative Jesus. He feels compelled to defer to Jesus', aka The Lord's, decision and is forced to do so in front of the Council. This very fact only serves to spur Lucifer's frustration to new heights, filled with embarrassment. The layers of his anger are entangled and become clear to Lucifer as he sees for the first time that there is no way to keep everyone happy.
Scenario #2, Secondary Conflict:
Asher confesses to Lucifer that he has partnered himself to Eve; a serious and formal binding of two souls to each other for eternity. This act is not to be entered into lightly and traditionally follows a long series of steps including family introductions and some shared journeys. This enormous transgression is the last thing Lucifer needs to deal with in the height of his turmoil within himself and his mounting troubles with Sophia, Jesus, and The Lord. He chooses to ignore the situation momentarily, it is just not important enough in the grand scheme of things. He dismisses Asher and refuses to help him, saying instead that it is time he learn to deal with his own problems for once. This reaction says a lot about Lucifer being stretched to his limits, since he has never hesitated to work through anything with his most beloved brother.
Heaven: A dimension different from our own familiar three, but similar in basic building blocks and emotion. A world that would look familiar to a human being, but behave in a way wholly unrecognizable. The very air is charged with the energy flowing in and between every atom of every thing. There is an invisible fabric that weaves every soul together, with every building, with every piece of equipment, with every other being in the universe. The place is created and maintained through the mind of each soul, individually and collectively. The various worlds and dimensions accessible to souls help to add depth and scope to the idea of Heavenly existence.
The arena is vast, larger than any solid building could ever be. Yet because of the nature of the Heavenly Dimension, light and energy twist and contract to make the cavernous space almost intimate. Advanced souls are adept at projecting themselves out into their surroundings. This would appear to a human to resemble a hologram, but it is actually that actual soul's atoms amplified and temporarily copied to be in multiple places at the same time.
Lucifer and Sophia's home is a vast palace with wings of apartments for different members of Lucifer's large, extended family. Clean, marble-like floors and ornately, intricately carved walls; full of columns; Italian Renaissance combined with Moorish palace.
The Earth Bureau is a sky-scraper, reflective glass panels every external surface. Much like the arena, the interiors are bright and light-filled, incredibly tidy and sparse with clean lines and smooth tiled floors. Could look sterile except that the aura of the building is exuberant and pulsating with life.
The garden of E.D.E.N. is lush. There are areas of meadow and primeval forest. There are beautiful waterways winding through the landscape. There is a simple, but It is surrounded by wild jungles to the west and south, ocean to the east, and tracks of savannah to the north that have patches of desert.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 26 May 2014, 23:42
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 28 May 2014, 04:28
EDIT: Deleted prior post (incorrect forum).
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 29 May 2014, 07:23
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 30 May 2014, 09:15
Under A Moonlit Sun
A young woman’s quest for salvation through the pursuit of true love and personal liberty in the murky dawn of the Cultural Revolution China when hope lurks.
Antagonist and Antagonist force:
Yiming is the boyfriend of Shobi, the protagonist. He is born to privilege, handsome, bright and ambitious. He desires personal grandiose including high academic/career achievements and a wife who is beautiful and fits the traditional model of chastity and womanly virtues. Though highly intelligent, he is arrogant, emotionally aloof and chauvinistic. He is traditional in his belief systems, adhering to Confucius dogmatism including orthodox behaviors of women and virtues of hierarchical social order. He makes Shobi feel inferior because of her “enemy class” family background and her mongrel lineage and hides her from his family and friends. In a self-righteous way, he sets out to “fix” Shobi who is spirited, socially conscious and idealistic but emotionally vulnerable. He dismisses her concerns of political oppression and social injustice and lectures her not to waste her time involving in pro-democracy movement. He accuses her feelings of loneliness as emotional fragility and demands her to keep her emotions in check. He is essentially insecure; his suspicion that his place in the heart of the protagonist is declining leads him to place a watcheye around her to spy on her. As competition for academic advancement intensifies, he becomes increasingly single-minded on his pursuit of winning a scholarship to study in America, the highest academic badge of the day, and pressures her to do the same, an ultimate “qualifier” for him and his family to accept her. He is ultimately self-serving and capable of great cruelty when his own interest and glory are at stake. When Shobi befalls victim to the prey of a powerful political scoundrel who lusts over her and hijacks her chance to study in America, he accuses her of betraying him when he discovers that she is not a virgin. He ultimately abandons her when he sees that Shobi has become a burden to him and that his interest be better served with her being cast away.
The dehumanizing political oppression is also an antagonistic force.
Under A Moonlit Sun
Passage to Her Private Gobi
Rise of the Flaming Cliffs
My story is a literary fiction plays out against a real historical background.
First comparable: "The Vagrants" by Yiyun Li
Similar to The Vagrants, my story is a portrayal of China in the wake of the nightmarish Cultural Revolution and at a dawning of a new era of hope through lives of a young woman and her family, friends and foes. It is a distillation of history and memory where human beings love and betray one another in their struggle to pursue their hearts’ desires; their stories are at once raw and devastating as they are tender and inspiring.
Second comparable: "Waiting" by Ha Jin
Similar to Waiting, my story is foremost a love story, where the two main characters strive to transcend the human condition imposed upon them by an oppressive political system and dehumanizing social circumstances, to free themselves from shackles of hatred and backward ideological constrains through acts of compassion, courage and forgiveness and to ultimately follow their hearts to true love embraced by the uncompromising force of the soul.
In the aftermath following decades of political turmoil, a bright young woman is torn between her love for her fiancé and a forbidden love affair with a married man.
Shobi is conflicted and feels guilty of her attraction to the married man who appeals to her heart and soul. In a country where prevalent social norms expect her to abide to the womanly virtues of the orthodox Confucianism, she must be faithful to Yiming, her betrothed, regardless if he makes her happy. Her idealism and high spiritedness are undermined by her longing for someone to love and protect her, and she is ashamed of her hidden “ulterior motive” that marrying Yiming will pull her out of her social morass.
Scenario: below is an internal monolog the protagonist (Shobi) has on her way to her dormitory room to get ready to go out with her accidental encounter (Liang) who has sought her out and asked her out:
His smile stayed with her as she climbed the stairs, staying close to the wall to avoid being run over by her hurrying dorm-mates dashing up and down the steps in hops and skips. She liked his smile, she remembered, the drawstring curve of his mouth and the deep dimples. She tossed her head back; the familiar fall of her hair across her shoulders gave her a sense of assurance. She turned the corner on the second floor landing, her hand sliding along the cool wooden railing.
She had not expected to see him again. Nearly two months had passed since they bid farewells at the train station. She had thought of him often at first, wondering what his life was like. What he might be doing at a particular time of the day. Would they run into each other? The thought struck her one evening as she walked alone back to her dormitory from the library, halting her steps. On a few occasions his image surfaced unexpectedly in her mind in the middle of a lecture or when she was hovering over a drawer of index cards in the library.
Gradually, settling into the rhythm of her routine with the heavy hand of study load clamping down, she thought less of him. But there was another reason, she knew, which had made her consciously chase away her thoughts about him: it was Yiming.
Surely, having a boyfriend shall not prohibit her from making new friends, with men or women. Who would argue against that? And Yiming, she believed, would be the first to agree with her. Surely.
But Liang was different from others.
She could not explain the differences, however, nor had she allowed herself to dwell on the thought. She had wished the grueling journey on that miserable train to continue, she remembered, and had felt a sense of relief of late as she realized that she had thought less of him, and that they had not run into each other. These notions troubled her. Before turning out the light to sleep at night, she caught her glance lingered on the wooden case on the desk by her bed which housed the memento seal Yiming carved for her. Her last thought of the day was always on Yiming. The thing was, thoughts of Yiming had inevitably brought Liang into her mind. She had more than once closed her eyes in the dark and made Yiming surface and grow until his image took up the entire view of her mind’s eye and said to herself, Look, he is the one!
But now Liang showed up unexpectedly and she found herself delighted to see him. You are, she seemed to hear a voice say with a pointing finger. You can’t deny that!
Had she wished for it? She considered as she stepped on the third floor landing. She pushed the double-door open, her footsteps echoed in the dim hallway. Some girls passed her in the hallway and greeted her; she responded absently. She stood outside her room, searched for her key impatiently in her bag, found it, and let herself in.
Relieved from the load of her books, she took a quick glance at her mail Lili had brought in for her and left on her desk. Lili had pointedly placed a bulging manila envelop with the familiar brushstroke lettering on the top. This reminded her that she owed Yiming at least one letter: there were two from him already this week and she had not written one back. She thrust her mail under her pillow and changed into a warmer jacket. Before heading out she paused in front of the small oval mirror hung by the door. A pair of dark amber eyes stared back at her from the mirror. She lifted her chin to button up her jacket and averted her own eyes.
Secondary Conflict involving social environmental:
Nimiety, Shobi’s best friend since childhood and confidant and whose fiancé is Yiming’s best friend, is dismayed by her split of heart and criticizes her behaviors.
Scenario: Below is a scene taking place in the bedroom of Nimiety’s newly wed sister when Shobi confides to Nimiety her troubles:
“Don’t pretend,” Nimiety laughed, casting a downward glance over her shoulder. She was standing by the window looking out. Behind her, in a typical bedroom of newlyweds, spread out on the floor in between the bed and the wall, Shobi moaned loudly, rolling from side to side as though she was in pain.
“It’s nice here, isn’t it?” Nimiety said, pushing the curtains aside. “Come look! The dog is going crazy chasing the firecrackers! He is going to get burned! Hey!—” She pushed the window open and yelled. “Hey you! Get the dog out of the way! Get him inside! Yes—you! Yes I am talking to you!” she gestured vigorously. “I said—get that dog inside! That’s right! You are a dead man if he gets hurt!” She laughed and closed the window.
Didi, Nimiety’s second elder sister, got married the day after Lunar New Year in 1983. Shobi attended the wedding as one of Didi’s maids of honor. The wedding was held at the groom’s family compound in Qinpu County just outside Shanghai metropolises, comprised of a cluster of interconnected and stand-alone farm houses that was home to the family’s three generation cohabitants surrounded by a few acres where the family grew their own private crops and vegetables. The wedding was a small family affair comparing to the more elaborate ceremonies commonly held in city restaurants. Didi and Kai were comrades during their decade long Youth-Sent-Down years in Yunnan. Didi, who was granted the permission to return to Shanghai just three years earlier, partly because of her fragile health, but mostly because of her eldest sister’s permanent settlement status in Inner Mongolia. She was given a job in one of the neighborhood factories sewing buttons to shirts and suits and attaching drawstrings to undergarments and waited for nearly three years before Kai was finally granted the permission to return to Shanghai only a half year before the wedding. At the tea after the wedding feast, her face glowing and her gait a bit unsteady, Didi looked radiant in a fitted, high collared silk blouse and matching trousers in the traditional wedding color of red. She carried a large porcelain kettle and served jasmine tea to the guests who sat in chairs and stools arranged in a semicircle in the hall, talking and cheering festively. Her groom, in matching red customs, stayed close by her side, grinning ear to ear and, now and then, putting out his arms protectively behind Didi as though she might at any moment stumble over. At the wedding banquet earlier, the newlyweds went from table to table to toast to the health of the clan elderly. They made toasts to their friends who attended the wedding, wishing them good luck and success in their careers and other worthy endeavors. In return they received congratulations and well-wishes for their matrimonial happiness and a speedy conception of a son. From the same goblet, they downed round after round of rice wine as their guests cheered them on loudly until the bride’s mother intervened and half-dragged them away from overindulging themselves, which clearly the delicate bride might not live up to.
Didi’s new home was situated in the L-shaped main house, flanked on one side by the barn and the outhouse on the other, hugging a concrete terrace in the middle which was used both as a playground for the children and a place for milling and sunning out crops and hays in the summer after harvest. Comparing to the noisy, crowded metropolis, this place with birds singing in the trees, chickens cooing and roaming around freely, a dog and several cats each minding their own businesses or chasing and waging wars with one another fending their own or invading others’ territories felt like a paradise.
Nimiety turned her attention to her friend who was now quiet and had huddled up in a fetal position with her head nearly disappeared in the rumples of the bed skirt. “Now what’s wrong really?” Nimiety sat down by her on the floor.
Shobi did not move. Nimiety patted her on the shoulder. Shobi groaned, shucking her off.
“Okay. I guess I won’t tell you then.” Nimiety said, rose to her feet and started walking away.
“What?” Shobi’s glazed eyes appeared in the folds of the bed curtain.
“Nothing.” Nimiety said. She went back to the window humming a tune.
Shobi pushed herself up and sat against the wall.
“Didi is pregnant!” Nimiety whispered.
Shobi turned and stared at her as though she did not understand what Nimiety was saying.
Nimiety stared back, blinking.
“Pregnant?” Shobi turned her gaze at the beautifully made out bed piled high with a dozen or more silk quilts of various colors and patterns. “They just got married…”
“Are you stupid or pretend to be?” Nimiety rolled her eyes. “That’s why they got married! You think my mother would have agreed to the marriage otherwise? Her fairest of all daughters marrying a farmer?”
Nimiety came over and slid down sitting beside her. She smiled mischievously. “I think Didi got pregnant to force my mother’s hand.”
“But… Isn’t…that you are not supposed to…until…” Shobi struggled.
“Have sex until you are married? I can’t believe how incredibly old fashioned you could be sometimes!” Nimiety waived her off dismissively. “Your virtuous Confucius crap!”
“It’s not that!” Shobi protested.
“What then? Your virtuous Victorian crap? I wonder which is worse!”
They broke out laughing. “Hard to believe though,” Shobi said after a moment. “The demure, submissive Didi…”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” Nimiety said. “Didi is anything but submissive. I admire her.” She lit up a cigarette.
“What are they going to do?” Shobi asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Are they going to keep it?”
“The baby? Of course they are going to keep it. Haven’t you see how giddy Kai is today? Grinning ear to ear? He’s got a beautiful wife and a son all at once!” Nimiety paused, as though remembering something. “Hey-” she turned to Shobi. “Of course you are not telling anyone about this. Mother will kill me.”
“It’s not me you need to worry about. What about the neighbors? What about Didi and Kai’s work units? Aren’t they supposed to apply for a birth permit first?”
“Didi is slim enough. She is not going to show anytime soon. My nephew will simply be a premature baby, that’s that. As to the government, well, farmer boy has his advantages and my mother will be grateful to him for once. Everybody in the whole bloody county seems to be his next of kin.”
Shobi fell silent. Then she sighed and started sliding back down to the floor.
“What is the matter with you?” Nimiety kicked her, not so gently, spitting out billowing rings of smoke.
Shobi ignored her.
“Miss your heartthrob already?”
“Stop!’ Shobi turned away.
“Still having a headache?”
“More like heartache…” Shobi mumbled.
“Alright, I had enough of this. What’s the matter?”
“At least they are right for each other…” Shobi groaned under the bed.
“At least? That’s what really matters! Do I or don’t I need to tell you!” Nimiety reached over and pulled Shobi out from under the bed curtain.
Shobi sat up, pushing her hair off her face. Nimiety offered her the cigarette.
Shobi took a drag and coughed over the smoke. She had never smoked before.
Nimiety tilted her head to study her, taking the cigarette from her. “What’s Yiming up to these days?”
“I met someone else,” Shobi said between her coughs.
“You certainly not!” Nimiety said slowly.
“Yes I did!” Shobi’s bloodshot eyes pained. “You heard me. A year ago.”
“Bloody hell!” Nimiety exclaimed. “You mean you have been seeing this other guy for a year already? Does Yiming know? I thought you two could hardly part for a minute. I had thought I ought to invite Yiming to the wedding. All that longing to be together. You lied to me!”
“I didn’t lie. I love Yiming…”
“You do, don’t you? Now how that suppose to work?”
Shobi started sliding down again, but Nimiety had her arm. “You can’t do this to Yiming. He is my friend too. How am I going to face Zhonghai? How are you going to face Zhonghai? Four of us, we suppose to be together. Always! What’s gotten into you?”
“What do you want from me?” Shobi started to sob. “You think you know everything, but you don’t. If you want to patronize, why don’t you start with your own sister?”
Overall setting and social and political landscape:
The story plays out against the backdrop of post-Cultural Revolution China when people suddenly glimpse hope for a better future following decades of political turmoil. The lives of the characters and their aspirations are entangled with the fate of their country caught in a crossroads with many social and political shifts.
Detailed settings scene by scene:
Setting for the Inciting Incident:
Shobi chance encounters Liang on an overly crowded, stranded train from Shanghai to Beijing
Setting for Back stories:
Protagonist’s childhood in Shanghai and in her lakeside ancestral hometown in the countryside of Wuxi during the Cultural Revolution when her family is repeatedly targeted by maddening political persecution;
Liang’s childhood in Nanjing during the feverishly idealistic early years of Mao’s rule;
Liang’s youth in remote poor barren land following Mao’s “Youth Sent-down movement” where he wastes away and loses his comrade-in-arms young wife along with his innocence and idealism;
Protagonist experiences reversal of fortune at the end of the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai when signs of hope for a better future arise;
Protagonist’s coming of age years in a boarding school in Shanghai against the backdrop of the country’s first pro-democracy movement during 1978-80, where she falls in love with Yiming;
Setting for Shobi and Liang as love develops between them:
In Beijing the love between Shobi (Protagonist) and Liang develops despite her resistance to it and their differences in age, personal background, and attitude toward pro-democracy movement. Beijing as the center of China’s political power and seed of social change, plus the rawness of its climate, the richness of its history and the ruggedness and beauty of its landscape, makes it uniquely inductive for a soulful connection between the two main characters.
Setting for the attempted sexual assault on Shobi by the Party Secretary of her school:
Takes place in Han Shen (the Party Secretary)’s office in the medical college in Beijing Shobi has just been admitted to. The office is big with high ceiling, dimly lit, filled with boxy, dark redwood heavy furniture, with its walls adorned with Mao’s dashing calligraphy.
Setting for Shobi being confronted by the wrath of her best friend for her apparent split of heart:
In the bedroom of Nimiety’s newlywed sister, whose bold act of getting pregnant to force her mother’s hand to agree to her marriage to the man of her choice provides a good setting for Shobi to confess to her friend troubles of the heart.
Setting where Yiming seduces Shobi into having sex with him against his own orthodox doctrines:
In his family’s apartment in Shanghai on a stiflingly hot summer afternoon when Shobi, at a low point of her life, is particularly vulnerable and where he knows she is powerless to resist him.
Setting where Yiming abandons her:
During a torrential thunderstorm near the city park in Shanghai where they have had many of their rendezvous over the years. The place they call “our place.”
Setting where Shobi uncovers the secrets of her past and her unusual lineage:
Back in the abandoned ruinous house of her ancestors in Wuxi where her invalid grandfather appears unexpectedly to reveal to her the secrets of her past and her unusual lineage.
Settings that reflect continued brewing of pro-democracy movement in the nation’s major cities which eventually led to Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.
Colleges and streets of Shanghai and Beijing during the months in late 1987 and early 1988 .
Setting for the climax where Shobi and Liang reunite and consummate their love:
The summit of Mount Tai, China’s most sacred mountain.
Setting for denouement/Epilogue:
On a Midwest college campus in America
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 31 May 2014, 19:46
Write Your Story Statement
Seventeen year old Ally Towers must overcome her defenseless attitude and agoraphobic tendencies in order to solve a puzzling death linked to a 70 year old mystery.
Sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story:
Eighteen year old Zackary Rex is a blond, blue eyed geek who prefers the company of his computer, Eva, to his peers. He leads a decisive, structured life that categorizes and values objects as well as people based on a merit system created by well-established criteria. Once an object or person ceases to be useful, they are removed from his world expeditiously. Having evaluated his peers as useless, his interactions with them are few which is wise given his panache for plaid. His parents are a necessary evil that provide money and food but not much more. When once overweight and clumsy Ally Towers returns to school after a five months’ absence revealing a more slender and attractive persona, Zackary decides that she may be worthy of an honorary place in his life. Volunteering to work with Ally on a school project in order to get closer to her, he begins to see the possibility of a beneficial relationship. Grateful for the offer of assistance, Ally is initially happy to work with Zackary. But when she begins to back away, Zackary takes the necessary measures to ensure she will remain part of his world or suffer the consequences.
Create a breakout title:
The Road Traveled
In Her Own Time
Silence Isn’t Golden
Develop two smart comparables for your novel:
Teens who enjoyed “Out of the Easy” by Ruta Sepetys, would enjoy my novel, “The Road Traveled.” Both protagonists are trying to find their place in the world, and are battling lack of self-confidence. Both understand and try to deal with their surroundings (i.e. Josie in “Out of Easy” has to deal with a mother who is a prostitute, and Ally in “The Road Traveled” who is shy and an introvert, must deal with a mother and sibling who are opinionated, argumentative extroverts). Both believe that their futures are defined by their circumstances. In the novel, “Since You’ve Been Gone,” by Morgan Matson, Emily receives a letter from her friend Sloane containing a list of things to do. Emily has to extend her comfort zone in order to complete the list and hopes that when all items from the list are completed, she will be able to find the missing Sloane. In my novel, Ally, must also find the answers to a set of clues left to her by her mentor. Ally is intelligent and resourceful, but are qualities that she does not see within herself. Like Emily without her best friend, Ally must travel a road without her mentor. In all three novels, the protagonists undertake a journey that changes them and helps them understand their self-worth.
Write your own conflict line following the format above:
A shy and once overweight teenager who prefers the safety of her room, must deal with an unbalanced and manipulative suitor when she embarks on a journey to find a lost treasure.
Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have.
Ally is cute, funny, and quite intelligent; but, her weight issues and shyness overshadow everything she does. Her room is her refuge and feeling sorry for herself alleviates the burden of change. She is constantly bullied at school until she can no longer function, and is placed on home schooling for several months to deal with depression. She wants to be more like her mother and sister who are never at a loss for words and can easily stand up for themselves. Ally hates confrontations and thinks arguments are unproductive. During her hiatus, she researches everything she can about weight lost and healthy eating. When she is cleared to return to school, she has lost fifty pounds. But, as far as she is concerned, she is still the overweight and unattractive mute everyone ridiculed.
Ally returns to school after a five months’ absence feeling apprehensive and unsure of what her first day will bring. Suddenly, she becomes the focus of attention as everyone congratulates her on the weight lost and new “look.” She begins to feel that maybe she will be treated differently. Until she runs into her two nemesis, Caitlin and Brittany, who start a rumor that the weight lost is due to Ally finally giving birth to a baby. Ally retreats to the too familiar girl’s bathroom where she hides in her usual stall to avoid confronting Caitlin and Brittany.
Ally promises the geek, Zachery, that she would go to a dance with him. But, his changing appearance and smothering nature are beginning to make Ally uncomfortable. In order to avoid going out with Zackary so that she can date a dreamy exchange student, Ally lies and tells Zackary that her mother wants her to stay home.
Chrissy, Ally’s older sister, finds out that Ally lied to avoid going out with Zackary and tells her that no one deserves to be treated that way and reminds Ally that at one point, she was shunned. Ally doesn’t appreciate the comparison and lashes out at Chrissy for being jealous and reminds her of all the times she treated guys in the same manner. Chrissy points out that Ally needs to understand that what goes around comes around.
Sketch out your setting in detail.
My novel takes places in three different locations: (a) South Oakes High School; (b) Golden Sun Retirement Home; and (c) the Von Wagner Mansion.
South Oakes High School
Located in a county in Maryland, South Oakes High School boasts a winning football team as well as a student population made up of an extremely varied demographic. Students come from some of the most affluent families in Maryland as well as some of the poorest. The school is made up of two large buildings; one relatively new with huge picture windows to provide an abundance of light. The other building is rather dilapidated with dark halls resembling tunnels. Archaic lockers painted army green are pushed against faded beige walls covered in oil and dust. Hidden in obscure hallways are the girl’s bathrooms. Ten stalls each painted in the same awful green as the lockers. One huge mirror overlooks five sinks with outdated leaky faucets; none of which drip in any consistent or melodious rhythm.
Golden Sun Retirement Home
The Golden Sun Retirement Home is situated on ten acres of pristine land. Couples as well as single residents occupy the enormous building resembling a French chateau complete with stained glass windows reminiscent of impressionist works of art. In direct contrast to the classical features of the outside, the inside of the home is sleek and modern and includes everything from a disco bar to a soda fountain.
Von Wagner Mansion
Originally built in 1923 and located on 16th Street in Washington, DC, the mansion contains several balconies, a court yard, an enormous garden with statues galore, and an abandoned green house. The mansion was vacated by the widow of Henry Von Wagner and her son several years after his death due to the inability to maintain the property. The mansion was built in an “L” shape with a tower in the middle linking the other two sides. Currently up for sale, the home has been empty for several years and has fallen into disrepair. Once beautiful furniture is covered with fur left by visiting rodents, insect nests adorn the mahogany staircase, while spider webs create the illusion of silver threads cascading down the crystal chandeliers.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 03 Jun 2014, 06:35
Marion Webster after being caught in bed with her lover by her husband, flees to a seaside New England town where she tries to recover her emotional composure and determine a pathway forward; be it alone or in her marriage if her husband will have her back.
Jennifer is the benign antagonist here. She is a raven haired exotic beauty who tantalizes Marion's senses. Though she knows Marion is in the process of finding her way back to her husband, she selfishly lures Marion into friendship where she evokes strong sexual vibes. Throughout the story she conducts a soft seduction bringing Marion to the brink of consummation but not quiet going all the way. Jennifer wants Marion but she holds a big secret that could be the key to Marion's happiness.
3. Break out Title:
A Tale of Two Women
Marion has two major challenges. One challenge is to get over the emotional and physical connection to her former lover and re-devote herself to her family and the other to determine the nature of her new attraction to a woman and how far she is willing to take that attraction while she is in the process of resolving her domestic debacle.
Marion finds herself after five years of a relatively happy marriage,she starts an affair with a young delivery boy in his late teens who reminds her of her high school love who she was supposed to marry. She loves her her husband but cannot resist the sexual lure of the young boy and the feelings of reminiscent passion. After the shame of discovery she feel she has lost her way. Her husband has been her Rock of Gibraltar...always there for her. Her young daughter also witnessed her infidelity. Then the curve ball hits. In her chosen destination of recuperation she finds herself extremely attracted to a local hairdresser, a dark haired beauty called Jennifer. The lure of the potent chemistry between them intensifies the emotional confusion as well as intense sexual yearnings she seems unable to defy. She now has to come to terms with her feelings for her husband, her former fiance and a now for a woman whom she falls deeper in love with everyday she's there. She has never had a relationship with a woman. She must choose a path.
The whole story is set in a picturesque New England seaside resort town. No name yet.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 03 Jun 2014, 23:35
William Gottschalk sacrificed his career as a prosecutor and lost his fiancée in a failed attempt to expose Charles Lindbergh—America’s Lone Eagle—as a racist fraud. Searching for the truth fifty years later during another murder trial is the easy part; forgiving himself is the challenge.
A nation in the throes of the Great Depression needed a hero. Charles A. Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927 served up the icon America demanded. Tall, blond, blue-eyed and handsome, Lindbergh was everything an icon should be---except authentic. The glitzy veneer masked a heart of stone: Lindbergh was a closet Nazi sympathizer committed to ethnic cleansing. When Lindbergh’s firstborn is kidnapped and murdered in 1932, the country found its villain in Richard Hauptmann. To send Hauptmann to the electric chair, Lindbergh orchestrates a colossal cover-up and suborns perjury to hide an ugly truth. Lindbergh sacrificed his handicapped son because he deemed the boy a ‘deviant.’ Lindbergh will do anything and everything to serve two masters: his bogus image and his twisted faith in racial superiority.
1. The Trials of Buffalo Bill
2. Death Masks
3. The Fifty Year Secret
If, as Hemingway said, all American literature begins with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, then all legal thrillers begin with To Kill a Mockingbird. That novel is the gold standard to which all aspire, but none will attain.
Scott Turow, Presumed Innocent.
Mr. Turow is an active trial attorney, adept at engaging the reader with realistic trial settings. He couples the trial narrative with human interest stories, in this case, one of the heart. Readers who enjoy this sort of book with enjoy mine.
John Grisham, A Time To Kill
Although no longer a practicing trial attorney, Mr. Grisham defended criminal cases for a decade and understands how to immerse the reader in the secret world of trial practice. The protagonist must not only face the justice system, he must face the KKK’s attempts at street justice.
Primary: A young prosecutor who sacrifices his career and his love in a failed attempt to expose the truth in a high-profile murder trial must confront his guilt fifty years later in a murder case with eerily similar fingerprints.
INNER & SECONDARY CONFLICTS
Inner: The young prosecutor fails in his efforts to expose the truth, because too many people have too much at stake to allow justice to prevail. Worse than the loss of his career is the haunting realization that the young attorney’s zeal got his fiancée killed. For fifty years, he hides from his calling, until he is asked to defend a young Asian, charged with infanticide. The attorney must suppress his demon to undertake the defense.
Social: In defending the Asian, the aged attorney must peel back the onion to expose layers of his past to his close associates. As he lays bare his darkest secrets, all realize that the stakes are far higher than one trial.
Two NJ courtrooms, separated by fifty miles and fifty years, are the dynamic venues for the unfolding of two murder trials. Although the rooms are “fixed,” they are not unchanging. The view from inside the bar is as fluid as the gallery is static.
Important sub-venues in the trial set in the 1930s are NJ’s Sourland Mountains, inhabited by an old Indian tracker, as well as Kate’s diner, a rusted but lively eating joint on the banks of the Delaware and Raritan Canal. The sub-venues in the 1980s murder case are a rib place in the heart of Newark, and a bike shop set in a suburban NJ.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 05 Jun 2014, 01:08
Assignments by David E. Smith Jr.
A teenage boy seeks to save the family farm and rid the village of their evil and tyrannical bankers.
Antagonist Dabanker, is the leading tyrannical banker of the Village of Goobersville. Dabanker, a miser-like, selfish and wicked man who stops at nothing to take property and see people suffer.
Dabanker subtly terrorizes the village of so-called peasants, depleting bank accounts while confiscating their land due to insurmountable debt incurred through borrowing. Dabanker meticulously uses all resources available to take control of all the land, particularly the largest privately owned land, the Gladstone family farm.
Dabanker’s seeks to collect on the last largest existing bank note in which the farm is behind on payments; creating a true monopoly. Dabanker’s goal: build a lucrative property investment for the bank; a large commercial chemical plant on the Gladstone land; the last natural food source left in the village.
Dabanker seeks to stop the protagonist and golf prodigy teenage son of the family farm at all costs who vowed to save the family farm.
Conjuring Your Breakout Title
1. The Archived Adventures of Gooby Gladstone: Enchantment of the Animal Kingdom
2. The Miraculous Golf Adventure of Gooby Gladstone: The Return to the Gold
Young Adult High Fantasy
1. Author Steven Pressfield - The Legend of Baggar Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life compares to my book.
The main protagonist in my book as in the Legend, learns: 1st, the game of golf is comparable to life; 2nd, the game played well can lead to victory on and off the course, 3rd, simple or complex decisions can be made through knowledge of the game that can make one grow as a person.
2. C.S. Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia
My story is comparable in that: the setting is in an imaginary world where the main character travels between realistic and imaginary settings. The main character exists in an entirely fictional world set within the real or primary world that is rational and familiar to the real world along with the perception of magical elements.
The primary world in fact does exist and is creeping its way into the fictional world. The main character continually experiences adventures in order to help people receive justice in the wake of wrong or evil-doers.
CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT - COMING OF THE "AGON"
The Miraculous Golf Adventure of Gooby Gladstone: The Return to the Gold by David E. Smith Jr.
1. Primary Conflict – Can the skills of an amateur golfer with the assistance of farm animals help the main character destroy the evil banking institution that the Village of Goobersville has succumb to and created the process to destroy his family farm?
2. Secondary Conflict - Can a young boy on the high school golf team achieve the skills of a professional through monetary award golf tournaments in enough time to raise enough money to stop the bank from foreclosing on his family’s farm?
3. Third Conflict - Can Gooby raise the confidence from within to make his desires come true.
Primary Conflict: The protagonist fights within himself as to whether or not he, a simple farm boy become a skilled enough golfer to actually win enough if any golf tournaments that would allow him to save his family’s farm.
Upon a revelation as to the super powers the protagonist naturally possesses, the conflict arises of does the protagonist have enough power to summon all the necessary forces to rid the tyrannical force that placed his family’s farm in jeopardy as well as help the town go back to the way that business used to be.
Secondary Conflict: The protagonist’s family (father) is seriously ill, and can the protagonist step up and be a man at such a young age?
The protagonist conflicts with the son of the antagonist and must overcome his obstacles before he can face the ultimate creator of problems, the antagonist.
Social Environment Conflict – Is it possible to take down an institution that is continuing to threaten the way of life for all in Goobersville Village? Can Gooby and his animal friends, his family and committed villagers devise a plan that will rid the banking tyranny forever? Can transactions once again go back to the gold standard or just a handshake?
Southern Slave Plantation – Ordinary World:
The story initially takes place after the announcement of a legendary tale. The first setting is in an ordinary world – during the period of U.S. African American Slavery. The region is located in the deep south on a slave master’s plantation where legendary characters father and son, professional snake wranglers and slave escape path experts who go from plantation to plantation to clear through the thorny brush, creating an undetectable passage way at night to assist slaves in escaping the plantation.
Father Cato, the expert wrangler, takes his son with him to teach him the ropes of earning a living clearing brush under the stealth of darkness, but the son Gooby, during each nightly mission seems to disappear at the most in-opportune moment, a moment here when the slave master has discovered intruders. Gooby disappears, leaving his father alone. Gooby’s sudden disappearance lands him into a ghost scene.
Ghost Scene – Golf Course overlooking the entire fantasy village of Goobersville
The ghost scene is where character Gooby, now pictured and considered a prize winning amateur golfer is at a crossroads in life at an early age. Here, he can see that winning, particularly money, is not everything when he not only sees the turmoil on his family’s farm but the cry for help from a village where he grew up, populated with the most honest and friendliest people. Upon the indication of a decision, Gooby is found stepping into the fantasy world.
The fantasy world with remnants of the ordinary world creeping in, place Gooby in a timeless warp. This time period is a world in which Gooby grows up in a family destined to lose their family farm; a farm that practically feeds the entire village of Goobersville, to a tyrannical and usurious banking institution. The bankers descended upon Goobersville, taking land and gold from the villagers. The last and largest plot of land to be taken was the Goobersville farm, a tract of land the bankers intend to place a chemical plant on; gaining huge profits while the village is left to starve.
Gooby, only a teenager with average golf skills learned in high school, with a sister, mother, best friend and an ill father, is stressed to find a way to save his family farm from the bank who has called upon the bank note and seeks the debt of $300K. Gooby uses the farm land to train for amateur golf tournaments to win enough money to pay the bank off and fulfill his dream of become a great golfer.
Average golf play is not enough, and thus the animals and plants of the farm who stand everything to lose whereby they can no longer nourish people as they will be destroyed by a chemical plant, awaken Gooby to their existence and join forces with him; helping him to win enough golf tournaments to save the farm.
Upon the winning of the tournaments, Gooby can now pay off the farm and move on as prize-winning amateur golfer. Upon one of his wins at a golf tournament, Gooby realizes that to move on, even though the farm is paid for, still leaves the farm in jeopardy. The villagers, many who used to work for the farm, but layed off, have no money to pay for any of the farm food. The bankers took all their money.
Plants and animals will not be bought to nourish the villagers, but left to die, not serving the purpose they were on the farm for. Gooby, a little older and wiser now, calls upon his animal and plant friends and devises a plan to get rid of the bankers and return the village to the way it was when growing up; doing business with a handshake or deposits of gold.
The banking institution is destroyed and people can once again work and feed themselves in the village of Goobersville.
Gooby’s job is done and in an instant, he is back on the plantation at night to find his father and escape the slave master’s henchmen who thought they saw intruders in the brush.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 25 Jun 2014, 18:40
Story Statement: Chase Barnes must rescue a young boy from captivity before his own inner self implodes.
The Antagonist/Antagonistic Force: Barry Klein has had a life of endless opportunity. His family wealth afforded him the opportunity to develop a small drug selling business while attending Yale University. The power and respect earned from being an elementary school principal in Paterson, NJ provided him endless opportunities to obtain resources. Combine the two and you are presented with one of the most manipulative and egotistical antagonists private investigator Chase Barnes will ever encounter. Simultaneously, Chase Barnes has his own inner antagonist to tangle with- his conscience. While trying to rescue Esteban Machado from Barry Klein's captivity, Chase Barnes cannot escape the negative force that is his conscience, which leaves him questioning his every move in the case as well as his own life including his own existence.
Breakout Title: The Incident
Genre/Approaching Comparables: Mystery/Suspense
Chase Barnes is much like Robert B. Parker's Spenser in that they both rely on their short yet successful police careers and their natural abilities to counteract manipulation to find answers. On the contrary, Spenser is a former boxer and a tough guy by nature where Chase Barnes considers himself to be a "regular guy" with no special fighting or martial arts skills.
Chase also relates to Kate Atkinson's character, Joanna Mason, whose life also changes in a matter of seconds in "When Will There Be Good News?." Despite the gender difference, some of the experiences Chase and Joanna face are parallel.
Chase Barnes will also remind many readers of Michael Connelly's Bosch from the dark inner secrets they both wrestle with in their own respects. These are secrets from the past that the both attempt to repeatedly push further down and only forces them to become introverted personalities that only gets in the way of their primary tasks of solving their cases.
Conflict Line: Can Chase Barnes rediscover his cop instincts to save a young, innocent boy from a life of gangs, drugs, and crime?
Inner Conflict: The Incident has left Chase Barnes without a job and without a sense of direction or purpose. Despite the mandatory counseling, Chase is still left wrestling with his own inner thoughts, which gradually consume his mind. He has to figure out what it is that will save him and his family from self- destruction.
Social Conflict: In order to rescue the young boy, Chase has to overcome a new set of fears that have consumed his perspective on life. He has to figure out whether or not private investigation is his new career path and whether or not he still possesses the cognitive tools to do so.
Setting: The primary setting of The Incident takes place in Paterson, New Jersey. Paterson is a major city in the state and is an extremely urban backdrop that is truly riddled with extreme levels of violence and drugs. Paterson's culture and demographic is quintessential to the functionality of the novel. The story takes to through the streets and dark neighborhoods of the city and hones in on one focal point, Treasure Island Storage, which is located in the heart of Paterson. This is where the greater majority of conflict, action, and drama takes place.
The Incident also takes the reader into the nearby towns of Wayne, New Jersey where Chase Barnes and his wife, Lindsey, live. Wayne is an extremely large suburban town that has three high schools, three middle schools, and nine elementary schools and is considered to be on the higher end of the socioeconomic status food chain. Taking the reader to Wayne gives them an opportunity to see where and how the main character lives and functions outside of the work day.
Ringwood, New Jersey is also discovered in the novel. The main character discovers the home of the antagonist and experiences the mountainous roads, the handcrafted log homes and the wilderness atmosphere it provides. Ringwood is experienced in a small scene but is crucial to the flow of the story.
Finally, Saddle Brook, New Jersey is where Chase's wife, Lindsey, works with Bergen County Special Services as a special education teacher. Chase's case takes him to Saddle Brook in small doses but, like Ringwood, play a crucial part in his attempt to solve the case.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 04 Sep 2014, 01:02
1. Story Statement:
A charismatic 17th century African warrior leads the American colonies’ first slave uprising conspiracy.
2. Antagonist/antagonistic force:
My protagonist’s foe is the institution of slavery, quickly taking shape in mid-17th century Virginia and personified by Elizabeth Dunn, second wife of the tobacco planter for whom my protagonist works. It is Elizabeth, daughter of James Town’s late minister, who discretely champions new practices and laws that ultimately define what slavery is and will be. She is the one who suggests to her first husband that they purchase slaves from Africa instead of leasing more indentured servants from England. She is the one who resists a slave’s conversion, knowing the King’s mandate will require her to free a fellow Christian. She is the one who embraces the still-developing legal concept of lifelong slavery. And pivotal to the novel, she is the one who executes a key law, passed during the novel’s narrative, that children born to slave mothers will themselves be considered slaves.
Where does this hardness and harshness come from? From fear, of course. Virginia of the 1660s is a notoriously tenuous world, its colonists threatened by Indian attacks, fluctuating tobacco prices, and terrifyingly high rates of disease and death. Consumed by the urge to keep chaos at bay, Elizabeth repeatedly, ruthlessly acts to bolster her family’s position and security, advancing slavery’s institutionalization in the process.
Before This Day Breaks
Rise Against the Dawn
Historical novels Poisonwood Bible (Kingsolver) and The Known World (Jones)
As does my novel …
Poisonwood Bible brings a chapter in African history to life through multiple narrative voices, incorporating the mystical dimension of the unseen.
The Known World delves into a little-known aspect of American slavery through distinct characters, incorporating – again – the mystical dimension of the unseen.
5. Primary conflict line:
A warrior enslaved in 1660s Virginia must conquer the obstacles of a culturally and geographically isolated African slave force, of fractious English-exile allies, and of his own inner doubts and fears to mount the colonies’ first slave uprising.
6a: Inner conflict
From his earliest years, the warrior Suntu, renamed “Jack” by his Virginia owners, struggles with self-doubt and the need to meet his mother’s high expectations. In his pre-dawn reveries on the Dunn property, Suntu again and again recalls his difficulties in becoming the leader his mother wants him to be, feeling pressures and doubts and resentments that stalk him into adulthood, even as he steps forward to lead the slave uprising. In lieu of a scenario that depicts the trigger and reaction of this inner conflict, I have attached here one of the novel’s pre-dawn reveries that deals most directly with it:
In the black of night, my spirit left and traveled to an unremembered, unwelcome place, returning only now when I half-wake before morning, bruised from my hours of un-rest. I am gasping. This is what I know, what I must believe: If I can master my breath, I will survive. If I can steady my heart, I can be strong.
I feel in these moments before morning as I did when I was a child, lost, thrown in the darkness into a chasm too deep to escape, still falling, waking, shaking with terror beside my mother — sleeping, unknowing — realizing I must catch myself, control myself before my terror wakes her.
As I lie here, I wonder, could she hear my panting? Can the others hear me now?
There was, in the before, in the place where I was myself, a sound that soothed me, saved me, that stopped my fall and steadied my heart, restored my breath. I reach for the memory of the sound. It is life, plucked from air, the music made by my friend Sama, the music also made by his father and family, always.
My friend was born to make this music. When we were the youngest of children, his father first made him a child-small version of his own kora from a child-small calabash gourd. His father carved its neck and bridge, and strung its sides with long-stretched bits of an antelope’s hide. When the strings danced beneath the father’s fingers to show his son, there was a dullness in the master’s eyes, the resignation of a man yoked from birth to his fate — though music — without choice, without joy.
But Sama was not like his father. At first, he was too young to be shy or afraid to fail. He played with his kora as we played with our unstrung toys. We tossed carved balls and chased each other while he did as he had seen his father do, plucking.
Well before he and I were marched along with others into the bush for a season of learning, his music changed. A few plucks from thumb and first finger became a sentence in a story, a sentence repeated so we cannot forget, varied so we cannot turn away. We strained to hear.
His music, once awkward plodding, became a bird of changing colors. It flittered and cast shadows as it flew beneath the sun, rounding into circles, deepening until the circles became spirals, dipping down, then up, circling wider, tighter, wider again, until we became enfolded. And as his strings turned stillness into magic, Sama’s eyes, instead of looking dully into a bleak tunnel of existence as his father’s had, glowed.
There are chickens in our compound. My child burden is to feed and watch them, to crouch by their hut and collect their eggs in the morning. Our household eats and sells the eggs and at times the chickens. A bird from our compound, from my watch, has been selected more than once for celebrations, ceremonies.
One morning I arrive to collect the eggs, and see blood and feathers in the chickens' yard where two chickens ought to be.
I know I am innocent: I did not kill the birds. I did not invite the hawk to kill them. I did not shrink from hunting the hawk and killing him, because the hawk came and went unseen. I am innocent. Still, the hawk felt safe enough — from me — to fly, attack, and eat its prey, completely. I am no threat even to a hawk.
I hide from my mother, cowering behind the home of Sama's father’s wives. Lowering myself into the dust behind the hut, shrinking beside its termite mud, I feel small, meaningless, powerless.
Somewhere a well-fed hawk is laughing. And a mother seething.
I wish for invisibility, knowing my mother despises incompetence, weakness. If I cannot protect chickens from a hawk, how will I be able to protect our people? And a protector, which means a fear and threat to others, is what I am supposed to be. That is my inheritance.
I hear voices call for me. “Suntu.” It is not an invitation or lure, but a blunt command. I begin to see the space around me, my refuge, up against another father's women's house, for what it is. Scrub, backing onto the compound’s fence, exposed. I examine the spaces between the grasses, the ragged cracks in the dirt, the insect creeping beside my foot. I cannot stay here forever, even I — the small, meaningless, powerless, vanquished enemy of a hawk — am finally forced to admit. Hiding is futile, stupid, an act more childish than allowing the waste of two birds.
I realize that the hiding itself will become my life’s shame, overshadowing the murder of chickens by a hawk. If I stay hidden until they find me, the birds’ struggle and my failure to prevent it will be forgotten, but my cowardice in hiding will be remembered.
I decide to emerge, confront my mother, to control my fate, a little.
I walk to my father's wives' house, to my mother, her wrath. No grief for a chicken, only cold disappointment, in me. She expected better, she said. Too empty of hope in my future to look at me, she stares at her wrap, its green blossoms, its purple diamonds, dyed in a far-off place. Brought by a coastal trader, the cloth has an exotic foreign-ness that comforts her. As she stares into its colors, she retreats within it.
I know coldness, too. Without tears, I stand before her. I will do better, I say.
In the days that follow, I do. I make a net of my own invention, weaving strong thick grasses tied at the ends to poles set in the soil beyond the chickens' hut and its yard, a net high enough for the chickens to dart upwards without damage, open enough for them to see the sky, distracting enough to keep a hawk away.
There is a part of me that feels clever, smarter than the hawk, perhaps one day smart enough for my mother, who still will not look my way. But alongside this weak pulse of pride, lurking quietly inside, is a belief in my bottomless deficiency — a devil ready to surprise me in empty daytime hours and defenseless nighttime dreams, pleased to remind me that I am disappointing. This unseen devil is always at an instant ready to catch and immobilize me, throwing me into nothingness or deeper into a pit of worthlessness, the dread it brings.
Somewhere, Sama is playing the kora, practicing old melodies his father taught him, but also straying from them, letting his fingers travel somewhere new, forming circles that became spirals that dip down, then up, circling tighter, wider, until I am enfolded. These days, the days after my disgrace, are the first time I realize the sound of Sama’s music can save me from falling into fear.
I let the pre-dawn memory of Sama’s music soothe me. I can hear it as if it drifts and dwells in the workers’ cabin with me. I ride his melodies, the familiar ones to visit my former self and the strange ones my memory composes to escape this present. Each note twines with others, knotting, reknotting. The braid of sound circles and swoops and spirals back to rejoin itself, becoming an invincible net that stops me from disappearing into the void and the chasm, that sustains me. I hear his music. I hear his music. For the moment, I can breathe, my heart steadies, the chasm retreats. I hear his music. I hear his music. I can go on.
And then I must.
“Jack, get up. Up.” [/i]
6b. Secondary conflict
As the social and racial divide between Virginia servants and slaves rapidly widens, the Dunns’ senior indentured servant Wickes begins an affair with the recently arrived kitchen slave, Becky. The affair, resented by Wickes’s fellow servants once detected, is dramatically, disgracefully revealed at a gathering the Dunns host to impress other landowners. During the gathering, Becky’s pregnancy becomes apparent and a jealous indentured servant girl announces that the white Wickes is the cause. Both Becky and Wickes are publicly shamed as punishment for their unbearably offensive miscegenation, and Wickes loses his status as trusted manager of the workforce. Worst of all, time is added onto Wickes’s contract term. After the infant is born, Becky is stunned to learn that a new law has decreed her son is as much a slave as she is. He is renamed by the Dunns and considered the property of the Dunns … for life. Becky’s response is utter despondency. She ceases even to feed her child. Concerned for her new asset, Elizabeth Dunn calls Becky to the grand house to compel her to care for the infant. During this visit, an immediate, strong attachment formed between Elizabeth’s younger daughter and Becky’s infant sets the stage for a last struggle on the Dunn property.
My novel is set in 1660s Virginia, specifically across its Northern Neck (bounded on one side by the York River), and most specifically on the fast-growing property of Richard Dunn. The property — in its year-by-year emergence from a hardscrabble farm to the base of Dunn’s greatly expanded holdings — is a microcosm of the colony as a whole. During these few mid-17th century years, rapid social and political changes took place, creating what we now look back on as ante-bellum Virginia. With a setting that embodies the turbulent uncertainty of this brief period, the novel tantalizes with the thesis: it didn’t have to be this way.
At the beginning of the novel, the pace of change on the Dunn property accelerates. A grand house, echoing with unfurnished newness, has been erected on stubbly spent fields for the arrival of the owner’s second wife and her household. Season by season, as slaves and servants work the property or escape its confines to Indian lands or to African gatherings, this setting serves not only as a backdrop to action, but also as a prominent character whose isolating distance from other properties, rows of needy tobacco plants, killing storms, woods, insects, crop gardens and bare cabins drive much of the action itself.
Another site for the narrative includes the clearing where the Africans gather, primarily for slave funerals. Shrouded in thick-rooted woods except for the area where dancings occur, secluded at the foot of an escarpment, and featuring a calm spirit-bearing pond, the site allows the slaves to reconnect with their past lives and make new connections with each other. (That said, I think I will revise the novel's depiction of this setting to make it more vibrant and to convey more strongly its influence on scenes that occur there.)
Large properties along the York and the abandoned cabin where the conspirators meet also play a role in my novel. The setting of the cabin, which I present as once belonging to a free former slave, is important as it embodies the possibility of an independent free life. It hints at a potential, new chapter in Jack/Suntu’s life worth fighting for. In contrast, the large properties along the York represent where this society is headed, vast tobacco farms with powerful, lord-like property owners and a heavy, growing dependence on slave labor. (Again, I think there is an opportunity here; I will develop these two settings and their significance more fully as my workshop experience continues.)
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 06 Nov 2014, 08:15
1) Story Statement
An amnesiac computer engineer develops a program to replace his memory, but it is full of errors.
The antagonist shades the hero. Paul’s bosses, Izaak and Richard, create the world of his work: He has someone to answer to, to be destroyed by, or to try to destroy. Izaak, brilliant and giving, shows the indecency of Paul’s intelligence: smart without heart, without loyalty or humanity. Richard is Paul’s mirror, a reflection of his falseness and ferocity. Richard is what Paul would be unchecked by amnesia.
Dawn, Paul's girlfriend loves him undeniably. She takes care of him, takes notes for him, supports him and binds herself to his crime as an accomplice. But this sacrifice twists her love: how can she be with a man she doesn’t respect? She resents him and begins to control his life.
Joseph, the boy, is a constant reminder of Paul’s crime. He pricks Paul's conscience, making him obsessed with redemption.
Paul’s great enemy is his amnesia. As the years progress, it makes him loses trust in himself. Every thought and feeling, every value is suspect because they have been so easily overturned by the notes on his computer. The document of the man becomes more real than the man himself.
Alternative:The Great Enemy, Journal
4) Comparables for Psychological Thriller
S.J. Watson’s “Before I Go To Sleep” has the same premise as well as a suspect spouse.
Dennis Lehan’s “Shutter Island” shares the depiction of delusion.
5) Primary Conflict
An amnesiac survives using a memory software, but discovers he's used it to cover up his crime and his conscience.
6) Secondary conflict
Paul’s is not who he imagines himself to be and so he keeps editing his identity. He’s had homosexual encounters, but erased them from his mind. He’s killed a man in a hit and run and then erased that as well.
However there are vestiges of these memories in his senses and in the people closest to him.
The first scene begins in Diamond Heights, the hills of San Francisco, a neighborhood surrounded perpetually by fog whereas most of the city is sunshine. He lives in his girlfriend's apartment, a middle class 1 bedroom. The story is told in 5 parts, each just a single day. And so each day he wakes up to a new setting while always expecting the same one. The exception is part 3 where he does return to her place--they are together again--but he feels as if he never left. There is a scene in the Google Bus where the close proximity of co-workers allows different dynamics, as well as the act of traveling itself. There's also Google headquarters and the floor he works on. Eventually his amnesia advances so that he can hardly hold a minute of thought, thereby rendering each location a new setting for him: there is the cliff he almost falls off of, the park he faints in, the jail. Since this is told in first person, I've tried my best to make the setting evanescent while the psychology rich and textured. After all, the dominant theme is the perception of reality, both from without and within.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 23 Feb 2015, 01:07
1.Story Statement. Jelly, the protagonist, must decide if loyalty can trump dishonesty and if a life-long friendship can survive human frailty with compassion and forgiveness.
2. Antagonistic forces: Jack Stratton, the husband of Jelly’s life-long friend, Olivia, is an awkward, irritating force in the novel. He is socially inept and insecure. He is pretentious and dull. Jelly tolerates his inappropriate comments and behavior because of her strong bond with his perfect wife. She confronts him occasionally, but it does not change their relationship. When her daughter disappears and he is the one who finds her, Jelly’s attitude toward Jack changes precipitously.
Jelly’s mother, Jean Spencer, is also an antagonistic force. She is a narcissistic, meddling mother
with whom Jelly has a distant but tolerant relationship. Jelly needs her, however, to care for her children and she tries to maintain a close family bond. Jelly’s rigid sense of right and wrong is clearly born from her relationship with her parents and leads to a damaging inflexibility in her friendship with her best friend, Olivia.
3. Title. Ignorance Is Bliss
4. The novel genre is adult women’s literary fiction. The novel compares well with “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen joy Fowler. Both antagonists are big-hearted, quirky women struggling to understand family and friendships. Both books are written in a light, humorous style and use our complicated relationship with animals to propel the antagonist forward.
Ignorance is Bliss by Holly Hazard—Best friends for life, Jelly stumbles of evidence that Olivia has acted on a forbidden lust she hid for more than 30 years. She must decide if friendship is about having a perfect life or being there when it isn’t.
6. Other matters of conflict.
Jelly has lived her life with a mother obsessed with what others think. From her position at her Club, to Jelly’s appearance and career, she meddles in Jelly’s life, giving unwanted advice and criticizing at every turn. Jelly is drawn to a friendship with Olivia because, although she is effortlessly beautiful, graceful and successful, she is also earnest, non-judgmental and loyal. When Jelly finds out that Olivia has been dishonest with her for over 30 years, the foundation of her friendship crumbles.
Jelly also faces numerous conflicts in her career as an animal rescue coordinator for a large animal protection organization. Her vegetarianism causes conflict with Jack and her mother, and she faces many conflicts when executing warrants for animal rescue, including from the abusers, neighbors and law enforcement officials, as well as staff.
Her conflict with Jack Stratton, Olivia’s husband, is noted above.
The setting for the novel is primarily in suburban and metro Washington D.C. There are also three scenes related to animal abuse rescues and a natural disaster.
Scene 1. A run down college bar in central Ohio. It is disorganized, smelly and should be familiar to most readers.
Scene 2. An office on Capital Hill and a factory farm in Pennsylvania.
Scene 3. The farm of an animal abuser on a farm in West Virginia.
Scene 4. Olivia and Jack’s upscale home in suburban Washington D.C.
Scene 5. Las Vegas
Scene 6. Wedding reception in suburban Washington D.C.
Scene 7. Bowling alley in suburban Maryland.
Scene 8. Jelly’s parents’ majestic home in suburban Washington, D.C.
Scene 9. The Summerhouse, a little-known structure, built by Frederick Olmstead on the Senate side of the U.S. Capital grounds.
Scene 10. A rehearsal dinner at a lovely farmhouse on the eastern shore of Maryland.
Scene 11. A wedding at The Summerhouse.
Scene 12. Jack and Olivia’s sprawling backyard and pool.
Scene 13. A large rental home in Jamacia.
Scene 14. Jelly’s parents’ majestic home in suburban Washington, D.C.
Scene 15. Jack and Olivia’s sprawling backyard and pool.
Scene 16. Starbucks
Scene 17. Olivia and Jack’s upscale home in suburban Washington D.C.
Scene 18. Jelly’s office at the Goss Foundation.
Scene 19. Jelly’s parents’ majestic home in suburban Washington, D.C.
Scene 20. Darla’s small apartment in Adams Morgan.
Scene 21. Olivia’s driveway.
Scene 22. A natural disaster site in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Scene 23. Jelly’s modest suburban home in Northern Virginia.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 29 Sep 2015, 00:02
STORY STATEMENT: Lissa must skirt the welfare system and find a home for four-month-old abandoned Rosetta, to atone for betraying the baby's dead grandmother.
ANTAGONIST: Gloria Carlsen
That first white bitch, the one who called herself some kinda volunteer in the Movement, well, when I was a little girl, she stole my big sister's boyfriend, right under her face. My sister swallowed a bottle of pills. She almost died. And now that Miss L, she's taking Chloe away from me. When I told Chloe that Miss L shouldn't teach black students, Chloe stood up for Miss L. Right there in front of everybody. And then I saw Daniel Mayes, drunk, stumbling out of Miss L's office. After hours. Wonder what Chloe'll think now, she knows her precious almost-son been doing nasty things with her precious whitey friend. The better to spread some rumors, Miss L, and make you high tail your ass outa here.
So sad about Chloe. But Lamont's mine now. I'll make him forget Chloe. He probly chose me cause I'm so much like her. And that baby, Ruthie's baby, well, it's ours, it's mine and Lamont's. And if a baby's half black, that means it is black. Don't give me no grief, Miss L, cause if you say no, there'll be consequences.
"No? Did you say no? Well, what's your friendboy gone say when he finds out you got you some black stuff back there when you were a supposed teacher--some young black stuff? And your daughter? Whoo, I bet she don't even know her own mama."
TITLE: THE SHAME STONE
GENRE AND COMPARABLES: Women's Mainstream Fiction
CATFISH ALLEY, by Lynne Bryant
A LESSON BEFORE DYING, by Ernest Gaines
GODS IN ALABAMA, by Joshilyn Jackson
SAVING CC HONEYCUTT, by Beth Hoffman
THE STORIED LIFE OF A J FIKRY, by Gabrielle Zevin
PRIMARY CONFLICT: A white woman seeking a home for the grandbaby of a dead friend, seeks help from a young black attorney she seduced and had sex with when she was his college teacher.
(1) Lissa's college-aged daughter, still angry with her for her drunken parenting, abandons her for the summer to intern for Lissa's disdainful ex-husband.
(2) Lissa, abused by her father as a child, is distrustful of her poet turned truck driver boyfriend's feelings for and loyalty toward her and fears he's messing around with some lot lizard.
(3) Lissa's friend and fellow "Side-Stepper", Toddy Lynn, has a phobia of flying and doesn't know how she'll continue to run her business as a travel agent.
(4) Though the white family approved to adopt Rosetta is lovely, Lissa knows Clarice, Rosie's caretaker, should absolutely be Rosie's mother. When Clarice and Rosie disappear, Lissa is distraught.
(5) Glo-Girl's threats to tell Lissa's shameful secret to her boyfriend and her daughter terrify Lissa.
(6) Dixon aims to publish his poems and essays, but he won't submit them.
(1) Lissa, who relinquished the right to call herself a teacher, is embarrassed and bored by her job at a stop-smoking clinic.
(2) Generally anxious, Lissa soothes herself by stroking the cleft in her chin with the tail of a stuffed squirrel named Eudora.
(3) When her self-worth plummets and she's tempted to drink, Lissa buys a dozen raw oysters and plays Oyster Roulette, tempting fate as she remembers her mother's death from a bad oyster.
(4) Lissa questions her own motives as she seeks a home for Rosetta and tries to make amends with Daniel. Is she only self-serving? Is she qualified? Is there any act that is an unselfish one?
(5) Lissa hates herself for her drunken parenting and wants to stand up to her daughter, but she ends up placating or folding, and then feels worse.
SETTING: THE SHAME STONE takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, where Lissa lives and works; Sunflower, MS, where the baby lives with poor sisters; Senatobia, MS, where Lissa's daughter is interning with her daddy; and the Women's Prison in Brandon, MS. Local places in Jackson are used, mostly with similar names to the original.
The Jitney Jungle No. 14 grocery store is where Lissa sees Eudora Welty shopping in her housedress and bedroom shoes, and admires her for not giving a rip.
In the Delta, where the baby is staying with two sisters, I have some description of the landscape and of small rural towns, and I mention "The Crossroads", a famed Blues highway junction.
Lots of eating establishments and southern food.
Some countryside and small town description.
Brief descriptions of rooms in various houses, showing discrepant incomes and lifestyles.
Carver College is drawn from Tougaloo College, complete with decrepit buildings next to new ones, and Spanish moss everywhere.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 05 Oct 2015, 00:13
Assignment 1: Story Statement:
An unexpected guest who shows up at the end of a milestone birthday party bumps a 50-year-old woman’s world into a full tilt and she has all she can do from falling off the edge.
Assignment 2: Antagonist Sketch:
Her children grew up, her dreams grew dim, and Rebecca Ahrens hadn’t had a personal growth spurt in years. She’d all but given up hope of that happening—until the night of her fiftieth birthday; the night she met her muse. On the deck outside her kitchen. In the flesh. A woman who came to inspire; to teach her to stretch her proverbial vocal chords and sing out loud. A muse, who just dropped out of somewhere and onto her deck, like a wayward meteor that had no place else to land.
Rebecca suddenly had her own personal growth coach, who takes her on an adventure of a lifetime. Forget everything you ever learned about muses in Greek mythology. This was no spawn of Zeus.
Assignment 3: Breakout Title:
2. A Muse
3. No Relation to Zeus
Assignment 4: Genres and Comparable
Genre: Woman’s Urban Fantasy. This book will appeal to women 35 and older, who are looking for a light-hearted, humorous read and who enjoy living vicariously through someone else’s adventures.
1. This is your life, Harriet Chance! By Jonathan Vision
This is a contemporary adult novel that takes an out-of-the ordinary look at the life of a woman through the eyes of septuagenarian Harriet Chance. The book is both delightful and thoughtful, and tells how Harriet’s carefully laid plans went out the window when she received a phone call to tell her that her dead husband Bernard had participated in a drawing but never took the Alaskan cruise he won.
Harriet decides to go on the cruise with a friend, but her friend backs out at the last minute. Harriet decides to go alone. During the cruise she has life-changing experiences. She has visitations from her dead husband and, midway through the cruise, her estranged but worried daughter joins her. Harriet (like my protagonist, Rebecca) is compelled to reflect on her own life, and the reader gets to know the life she led and how it could have been.
Although my book deals with more fantastical moments it takes an ordinary adult woman on an unusual adventure. The visitations from Harriet’s dead husband are comparable to the visits Rebecca enjoys—or sometimes doesn’t enjoy—from her muse.
2. Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore
Something really strange is happening in the City by the Bay. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Death Merchant Charlie Asher is just as flummoxed as everyone else. He’s trapped in the body of a fourteen-inch-tall “meat puppet” waiting for his Buddhist nun girlfriend, Audrey, to find him a suitable new body to play host.
A bit out there? Why, yes. Then again, the author has made a name for himself many times over.
Assignment 5: Conflict line
A woman of a certain age, who wonders what might have been, receives the gift of her very own magical but flawed muse, who drops in out of the blue and offers to take her on an enlightening adventure.
Assignment 6: Inner Conflict, Secondary Conflict:
Conditions for Inner Conflict protagonist will have.
Rebecca is given a chance to shake up her boring life but the offer is so sudden and unbelievable that she almost doesn’t see her good fortune.
Taken from Chapter Three: “If a strange woman materializes out of nowhere and claims to be your very own, personal muse, do you believe her, or pretend that you don’t see her?”
“I’m losing my mind,” Rebecca said.
“This is what I’m here to prevent,” Audrey said, and then began to sing. This time the sound was soft and sweet.
When she was quiet, Rebecca asked her why she had done that.
“If your muse doesn’t sing, you are forgotten¬—almost as though you never existed. You, my dear, are walking on the edge of extinction and I am here to sing you to safety,” Audrey explained.
Rebecca is told she will have a chance to experience some missed opportunities, but has a short time to make up her mind. She will have to trust this stranger she still doubts is real.
Excerpt from Chapter Nine:
“I was never really good at anything,” Rebecca said. She and Audrey were sitting on her deck at midnight, and the time had come for Rebecca to decide whether to accept her muse’s offer or not.
“How do you know? You never really tried anything. By the way, I do like Merlot better when chilled,” Audrey said then added: “You are very good at sabotaging yourself, that’s one thing. Then again, you have been working at perfecting that skill for a very long time now.”
“All” she has to do is answer some questions and be ready to get whisked away at a certain time. She will be gone for six days in muse time, which amount to mere seconds of real time. She accepts the offer but feels conflicted about not sharing this news with her husband and for agreeing to take part in something so preposterous.
Excerpt from Chapter Nine:
“Sunday morning you will come out on this deck and retrieve a pink eight-by-eleven-inch envelope…Open the envelope and follow the instructions. There will be questions. Answer them exactly as asked. It is very important that you are precise. This process is most important in determining what paths you will walk during your journey.”
“Okay,” Rebecca said.
“You will have until noon to do this. Then put everything back in the envelope, place it in the same spot you found it. Do not be late. If you are so much as one second beyond the start of the noontime hour, it will throw everything off course. And that could be disastrous,” Audrey warned.
“You’re scaring me!” Rebecca said…
“Then go about your day as you would any other Sunday. Do you believe in God?”
“No, Rebecca said. “Should I?”
“It couldn’t hurt.” Audrey smiled.
Audrey has arranged for Rebecca to spend six muse-time days, sampling six aspects of life Audrey has determined Rebecca regretted missing based on the answers to the questions in the pink envelope. The problem is, Audrey has a tendency to misinterpret and, well, screw up more times than not.
Excerpt from Day One:
“Muse!” Rebecca shouted..
“You do not need to scream. I can hear you if you just think my name,” Audrey said, appearing but not reflected in front of the dressing room’s full-length mirror.
“Is that sign above my door really the name of my Food Network show?” Rebecca asked, her teeth clenched into locked position.
Audrey made a point of opening the door and looking at the sign. “It’s Not over Until the Fat Lady Eats. That sign?”
Yes, that sign!” Rebecca growled.
“Yep, that would be your very own show. You’re a star. This is what might have happened had you entered that Food Network contest you chickened out on year’s ago,” Audrey said.
“But why do I have to be a fat star?” Rebecca whined…
Audrey tinkled. “This is what you asked for,” she said. “I quote: Question: What sort of career would best suit you at this time in your life? You wrote: One where body image is not an issue.”
“Oh, hell!” That is not what I meant!” Rebecca moaned.
Assignment 7: Settings
In her quest to help the protagonist find some enlightenment and move forward with her life, the muse chooses a criminal court setting, a nude resort, a Langar in India, a Food Network set, to name a few. (Full disclosure: Four of the six adventures are all I have figured out so far.)
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 12 Oct 2015, 11:35
Story Statement: Unable to cope as her life cracks apart, Maggie spontaneously embarks on a month-long yoga teacher training in the wilds of Costa Rica, along with 13 strangers from around the world.
Antagonist 1: Max is brash, voluptuous and extremely charming, yet woefully tied to her stripping days in New York City in the 80's. Though she is nearing 50, she embodies a sexual charisma and energy that Maggie erroneously believed died off by that age. Max challenges Maggie's sensibilities with course language and a forceful confidence which provokes Maggie's meek demeanor. Though the women form an unlikely friendship from the start, they rub each other the wrong way. Max displays emotions extravagantly, while Maggie is bereft in a bubble of denial about all that's happened to her.
Antagonist 2: Harmony is a young 20-something woman with perfect blond braids, expensive Prana outfits and a cheerleaders' attitude. Her lithe body and beautiful face quickly peg her as the 'perfect yogi'. However, underneath her golden looks and bright-white smile lurks the terror of an abused heart and a strong chemical addiction. She is on the run and fearing for her life, but she's willing to do anything to keep her secrets to herself.
Antagonist 3: Jules is an Army Captain, descendant of five generations of Army Leaders. Her body and mind have been prepared for war her whole life, but having done nothing but push paper for the last six years, she feels she is losing her edge and her passion for the military. After another rejection for an active assignment, she tenders her resignation only to have it torn up in her face by her Sergeant. In retaliation, she shaves her head into a mohawk and dyes it pink. With 3 months leave, to grow her hair back, she joins the yoga tribe in Costa Rica on a whim.
These 3 characters vacillate between protagonist and antagonist, pushing Maggie to reach her breaking point, while they work through their own issues. Other secondary characters within the yoga tribe will exacerbate situations or lend helping hands throughout the journey. Group dynamics are stretched and tested when several of the girls compete for the male yoga teacher, who happens to be the only viable bachelor in the tribe. Throughout the yoga lessons, sutras and meditation exercises help to bring about inner changes to the group.
1. Yoga, Nuts, and Cougars
3. Letting Go to Become
Genre: Commercial Women's Fiction
Comparable to: Tales from the Yoga Studio by Rain Mitchell
This book is about 5 women who turn to yoga at turning points within their lives.
While my book is about how the group of strangers arrive in Costa Rica and while there, the dynamics begin to push and pull at each other until the issues that brought them to Costa Rica are exposed.
Comparable to: Seven Days of Friday by Alex A. King
This book is about a woman who discovers her Husband is gay and her daughter is fighting to stay alive, while battling an antagonistic Mother. She takes off for Greece, expecting to vacation but her troubles follow her.
Primary Conflict: Maggie left her life behind to escape to Costa Rica for a vacation that she thought would help her forget her troubles. Once there, she realizes she is not prepared to face the fact that she may be dying. Her new friend, Max, quickly discerns that Maggie is hiding something.
Internal Conflict: She is determined to hate her Husband forever and never go back to him, but unprepared to face her health scare alone. While she is in Costa Rica, the teachings of yoga work on her to open her up and accept the things she can not face. What will she decide to do?
Scene 1- Maggie receives a disturbing call from her Doctor, prompting her to leave her office to go home and research the diagnosis in the privacy of her home. After she logs on to the computer, she discovers her Husbands' affair. She immediately calls her best friend and handyman, Tanya, to change the locks. At the end of the night, after drinking two full bottles of wine and crying on Tanya's shoulder, she picks up a flier from her hot yoga teacher about a yoga training in Costa Rica and decides to pack her bags.
Scene 2 - Arrival in San Jose, awaiting one of her new yoga tribe members, Max. Unsure of what to expect and is unprepared for the vivacious, older version of a blond Betty Boop that walks through the door to meet her. She is at once put off and fascinated by Max' brash behavior.
Scene 3 - The two new friends take a hellish bus ride to meet up with the rest of their tribe
Scene 4 - Meet Jules and Harmony aboard their shuttle to Puerto Viejo, the groups dynamics are strained from the beginning when one woman stakes a claim on their yoga teacher and the two odd people in the back of the bus chant loudly during the 6 hour long ride. In Puerto Viejo, the night before reporting to training, the group parties and gets in some trouble on the beach.
Scene 6 - Harmony is sick during transport up into the jungle to meet Paul, the sexy yoga teacher that half the women would compete for. She is hungover and guilt-ridden over her involvement with a young man from the night before.
Scene 7 - Though he is sexy, he is the consumate professional and after learning that he does not fraternize, they are given the rules of yoga camp
Scene 8 - Conflict starts the first night when the woman from Sweden tells the rest of the girls to back off, Paul is hers. They begin to suspect she is not completely sane.
From here there are too many scenes to lay out, but each day starts with yoga and there is meditation or other exercises that help to thrust the players into action to deal with their baggage or to work out their differences. The scenery in Costa Rica changes as the tribe travels from Coast to Coast. There are jewel-bright birds, strange animals of all sizes and shapes, gigantic bugs and hummingbirds the size of crows. For her part, Maggie works through the 5 stages of grief, which encompasses Denial through Acceptance.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 24 Feb 2016, 06:45
An Israeli woman, raised by the Palestinian family that killed her own, tries to pick sides amid the unforgiveable failure of the United Nations to end the insufferable conflict and the hypnotic power of the Palestinian Ambassador with whom she has fallen in love.
The Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations enlists the help of an Israeli staff member and sole survivor of a brutal terrorist attack in translating and transmitting documents and photographs between the diplomats tasked with designing a scheme to end the intractable conflict and resolve the unanswerable question of Palestine. This is a driven man capable of mowing down anything in his way. He hails from a long line and large family of refugees, who know only their corrugated tin home in a Jordanian camp. He is as handsome as he is brilliant and doesn’t react well to the word “no”. In this game of cat-and-mouse, the protagonist and the Ambassador fall in love and must confront, not only the friction between themselves and the enmity between their peoples, but also the violence that devastates the UN and crushes all hope of resolution or reconciliation.
Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones
A Shameful Bowl of Stubborn
By the Light of the Firefly
Political fiction with romantic overtones
(The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons; Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini)
The young Israeli woman, reared by Palestinian terrorists, seeks common ground between two competing visions of utopia at the United Nations, where she finds only love and heartbreak with the Palestinian Ambassador and where everyone is asked to give up what they cannot.
The protagonist is born into a conflict that has simmered and at various times exploded in Israel, but after a brutal terrorist attack turns a quiet road into a killing field leaving her orphaned at the age of five, her situation becomes ever more complex when the Palestinians who orchestrated the attack take her in and raise her as their own. Despite this enormous crisis of identity or perhaps because of it, she takes a job at the United Nations where she is thrust into the diplomatic wrangling certain to end in devastating defeat and where her ambivalence and gut-wrenching guilt plunges her deeper into chaos and despair.
She looked forward to walking through the gates where peace and money were horse traded, where noble deeds were often bestowed upon ignoble people, where world leaders stood at podiums to lay bare their plans for their people, whose fortunes, nevertheless fell where they may, sometimes moving incrementally towards a fate that knew no mercy. Even for the lucky ones, dreams could turn to nightmares at the speed of an upended chess board.
Amid all this, she becomes an unwitting secret agent for the Arab side, struggling to quell the guilt by telling herself this is good for both sides. But all is lost when she falls in love with the Palestinian Ambassador and everything comes apart, including the United Nations itself.
Nothing made sense as she continued the slow and painful descent into madness. Not the kind that keeps you from going about your daily life; the worst kind, the one that lets you, while flirting mercilessly with your sanity.
Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory is the first setting, specifically the Kibbutz at the base of the Golan Heights where the protagonist is born, followed by a nearby road where a brutal attack kills her family. The next setting is the home of the Palestinian family that orchestrated the attack. Then, she is sent to America, specifically upstate New York, where a Palestinian aunt has promised to keep her safe.
The UN Secretariat is the main setting, where most of the action, or inaction, takes place, where she carries on her “escalator espionage” and where she eventually falls in love with the Palestinian Ambassador under the watchful eye of the other delegations, including that of Israel. Her nearby apartment is the backdrop for learning about her personal strife and near-descent into madness. The last setting is an apartment in Harlem after she has walked as far as she could to get away from the deadly blast that has brought the UN to its knees. She returns to the Golan Heights where she makes the break from the Ambassador and her past. Finally, there is a school she has built on the Gazan border for Palestinian and Israeli children whose parents will go on fighting their unwinnable war for legitimacy, even while their children are taught not to hate.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 09 Mar 2016, 02:30
Sacrificing his own career, a promising young attorney seeking election for a second term as State Senator, finds he walks a high and dangerous wire as he attempts to defend a father who has been accused of a heinous crime. His small town will forgive neither.
Re: Algonkian Novel Workshop Assignments
Posted: 09 Mar 2016, 02:43
He said her death was an accident. He knew the night, he knew its haunts and how to work them. At first blush, some might call him only a Ramblin’ Man, but on closer examination one would likely find him a snake in the town’s Eden. Yes, above all, he liked girls, but not to just swing them around by their ponytails. Indeed, he liked them, all girls, all women, for a darker reason, for the pleasures they could bring to him.
Night after night, neglecting his expectant wife and young son, he trolled the town, the countryside, his car becoming a vehicle of opportunity, his palms sweating and clammy upon the steering wheel in anticipation of what the night might hold for him.
The deed done, his seed spilled, would find him windows down, radio on full blast, singing along, driving home in a lavender Rolls-Royce!