Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

A forum where New York Pitch Conference attendees post assignments related to their novel or nonfiction project. These assignments relate to conflict levels, antagonist and protagonist sketches, plot lines, as well as story premise.
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Mypitch494
Posts: 7
Joined: 27 Sep 2020, 17:37

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#51 Post by Mypitch494 » 13 Oct 2020, 18:16

STORY STATEMENT<br/>

In a desperate effort to resolve her writer’s block, Imani Dubois, a celebrated novelist is compelled to work with the fictional character that she’s created.

Mypitch494
Posts: 7
Joined: 27 Sep 2020, 17:37

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#52 Post by Mypitch494 » 13 Oct 2020, 18:16

2- ANTAGONIST [200 words]

Maleek the character Imani created, jumps off the page, declaring he came to ‘clear the gridlock,’ and let her words flow. No one else can see or hear him. Stunned,Imani fears she’s losing her mind . . . again. Maleek won’t go away. She relents, agrees to work with him.
His tough love tactics, dragging her into dreams, showing her flashes and visions of her traumatic past, go from disturbing to terrifying, becoming ever more sexual in nature. This despite her fear and shame of losing control of her body and experiencing sexual pleasure.

Although his bullying tactics are menacing, Imani finds herself conflicted, dreading that Maleek might leave her. Then she’d be alone . . . again

Missy Worthington, Imani’s only friend, agent and business partner, was heiress to the Worthington fortune, until she defied “Mother,” to work with Imani. Together they have been successful.

Missy is the polar opposite of Imani She never misses an opportunity for a sexual adventure. However, like Imani, romantic relationships never last.

When Imani declares her writing gift is gone, Missy thinks about her bottom line. Her mother always said friendship is friendship but business is business. Missy has to decide; abandon Imani? go crawling back to Mother?

Mypitch494
Posts: 7
Joined: 27 Sep 2020, 17:37

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#53 Post by Mypitch494 » 13 Oct 2020, 18:18

3-BREAKOUT TITLE

Locked Box

Her Little Locked Box

The Character

Mypitch494
Posts: 7
Joined: 27 Sep 2020, 17:37

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#54 Post by Mypitch494 » 13 Oct 2020, 18:20

4-GENRE AND COMPARABLES <br/>
Genre: Paranormal Fiction<br/> Magical Realism
Comparable Novel: Keeper of Lost Things
Author: Ruth Hogan
Genre: Magical realism

I believe my novel Locked Box and Ruth Hogan’s novel Keeper of Lost Things are comparable and should be shelved together in the bookstore. Readers who enjoyed reading Hogan’s novel will appreciate my book, as well, because of the following similarities.
In the novel Keeper of Lost Things, Anthony Pearson was a collector of lost things. When he died he left the task of caring for these lost things to his assistant Laura.
Just as Laura is in pursuit of the origins of these lost things. My protagonist, Imani, a celebrated novelist, is unwittingly in pursuit of lost memories. Just as Laura inherited Anthony’s house and its lost things; she also inherited its irritable ghost. Imani has Maleek, a ghost-like figure of her own. Persistent and terrifying, Maleek is a character of Imani’s own creation. He jumps off the page and invades Imani’s life, bent on prompting her into the “locked box” where she has hidden away lost childhood traumas.
However my book differs from Hogan’s because it deals with a young woman’s suppressed childhood traumas and how that effects her inability to maintain a romantic relationship, a friendship and her struggle to get a grip on sanity.

Mypitch494
Posts: 7
Joined: 27 Sep 2020, 17:37

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#55 Post by Mypitch494 » 13 Oct 2020, 18:21

5-PRIMARY CONFLICT<br/>
<br/>
With the unwelcome aid of the fictional character that she’s created, a celebrated novelist, who has lost her gift for writing, must relive memories of a traumatic past in order to unlock her next book.<br/>
<br/>

SCENE:

Imani is not quite sure what sends her seeking the sanctuary of the quaint café. She has an inkling that it has something to do with that hallucination that she had in her apartment yesterday. Though she's tried, she can't seem to remember exactly what form the hallucination took. Or was it a dream? The details of the bizarre episode have slipped deep into that place in the recesses of her mind. Though she does vaguely recall that it had something to do with a disturbing, impossible encounter with her main character, Maleek, the one that she wrote-in as an Idris Elba look alike. Yes, the one from the novel that she's been trying so hard to write.
As is her practice, Imani chooses to vanquish thoughts of bizarre hallucinations. She locates a table, opens her laptop to a blank document, and prepares to do some writing. She's convinced the only way to keep her sanity in check is to throw herself into her work.
Ignoring the distinct feeling that she is being watched, she places her fingers on the keys hoping for her gift to kick in. But the feeling persists. Imani looks up to find herself trapped in the intense gaze of 'amazing Eyes-Guy.' He is seated at a table directly across from her. Imani is annoyed when her heart does an involuntary flutter as heat rises in her cheeks. He’s tried to make conversation with her in the past. He's cute. His eyes are truly amazing. But she's not interested. She knows the drill, recognizes that, ‘Can I jump your bones?’ smile. Still, a tiny reaction tiptoes across her chest, the guy, those eyes, his gaze, an attraction. She pushes it aside.
Eyes Guy smiles, his deeply dimpled smile, and nods a casual greeting, which she returns just as casually, before she manages to pull her eyes away. Imani considers repositioning her chair so as not to face him directly. That would place her in the aisle blocking pathways. The café is crowded. She doesn't see a table that she could move to without sitting in close proximity to other patrons. She regrets not asking Missy to join her. At least that would've been a distraction. She thinks about going back to her apartment but given the strange phenomena that’s been going on there, she decides against that too.
So she puts in her ear buds, turns up her music and gives 'Eyes-Guy' the most disinterested glower she can muster. Then turning her attention to the laptop, she places her fingers on the keys and waits for her gift to kick in, for truly serious literature to manifest. Nothing. Riding out the wave of panic that is rising through her spine, she readjusts her hair, readjusts her ear buds, readjusts her laptop and readjusts, her intent. Perhaps it's better if she just sticks to the original formula for now. Clearly, she hasn't got what it takes to be a writer of consequence.
She decides to stop fooling around and focus on finishing the last book in her trilogy. Missy will be asking for it soon. After all, those books have been their bread and butter. And this last trilogy is poised to be made into a movie. Imani takes a breath, shakes out her hands and places her fingers on the keys certain that now that she's 'come home' her gift will return, nothing.
"Having trouble? Need help?" comes a deep baritone voice from no direction in particular. Electricity streaks her chest, trapping her breath in her throat. Maleek is there standing right by her side, an irksome grin on his lips.
"No. I don't need your help," she hisses in a low whisper.
"Oh I beg to differ. You bought me here specifically because you need my help." Now, with frustration getting the best of her, she shouts,
"I don't need your help!"
"I didn't offer it," says Eyes-Guy looking confused. Realizing what she's done, Imani fumbles for an explanation.
"No. I'm sorry I wasn't talking to you. I didn't mean…."
"Now look what you've done,” says Maleek. "You upset the guy with the amazing eyes."
"Can you just leave! Just go away! Leave me alone!"
"Hey, whatever,” Eyes-Guy says, throwing up his hands in surrender. “You got it." He huffs from the café.
Defeated, Imani looks at Maleek and asks,
"What have I done to make you show up here to ruin my life?"
"Ruin? No Babe. I'm here to help. Actually, I've been helping for quite a while, you know, with what you call ‘the gift.’ And don't worry about Eyes-Guy. He'll come to the conclusion that you were probably talking to someone on the phone, seeing as you have the ear buds in. So nothing to concern yourself with."
"Okay fine," Imani says exhaling a breath. "You are my hallucination, I might as well take advantage. You say you're here to help. So help. I want to write a serious piece of literature. I've been trying to write it for a while, but I can't seem to get it down."
"You see, the thing is Babe, I can only help you write the stories in the order that they are meant to be told."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well it's like a bottleneck in traffic. It’s like first things first. Things with you are fragmented, some parts are missing, hidden. Your stories need to merge. They must pass through in their designated order."
"What? Traffic jam? What are you talking about?"
"In time you'll come to understand. It's kind of like gridlock. The fluff comes first because fluff has little substance. Fluff passes through easily. These are followed by the tales that ‘should’ be told which precede the tales that ‘will’ be told. Then there are the tales that ‘must’ be told.
Those are the most difficult, the ones that will take the biggest toll on you. They are the ones whose puzzle pieces will be the hardest to locate and reassemble. But when all your pieces come together, then the tales will be told in their proper order and all will flow easily. You see? Simple." Imani's head is spinning, her heart is going from a trot to a gallop, as she tries to make sense of what she just heard.
"Actually," he says. "You caused the gridlock by attempting to skip the natural order."
"I did…what now?"
"Oh don't worry. We can fix it. I'll help."
Imani stiffens as Maleek steps behind her and places his hands, ghostlike and buzzing with current, on her shoulders

Mypitch494
Posts: 7
Joined: 27 Sep 2020, 17:37

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#56 Post by Mypitch494 » 13 Oct 2020, 18:22

6-CONFLICT- TWO MORE LEVELS<br/>
<br/>

Immediately following the abrupt ending of the one and only love relationship she ever had, the only one that she thought might actually work out, Imani Dubois, a celebrated novelist, falls into turmoil when her gift for writing evaporates.
She is further distressed when her fictional character, Maleek, materializes and brings chaos into her life with his indelicate attempts to drag her into that little box, just behind her heart, where she locks away the remnants of childhood trauma, to make her confront those shameful sensations, that lack of control, that guilt.

Conflicted, she finds she can’t tell Missy, her agent, business partner and only friend, about Maleek. Missy would think she’s lost her mind, would push her to seek professional help, might even decide there’s no future in a partnership with a writer who can’t write. Missy might actually return to the highflying lifestyle she was born to.

Off balance, Imani regrets ever having entered into the institution of “friendship.” She regrets that she took a chance, dared to get close to Missy. It was a mistake. Why had she done it? Eventually, just like Daddy, people will abandon you.

Imani is reticent. She fears sharing secrets. She won’t even share her secrets with the trusted therapist who had treated her as a teenager. Secrets are dangerous. They must be guarded. Imani knows if you share them with people, they will take them, sharpen them into claws and maul you with them.

She begins to question the very nature of reality. As her world spins out of control, she struggles to determine if it is she and Maleek, or the rest of the world, that is crazy.

SCENE:

There was that day, maybe it was yesterday, maybe last week, last month. Imani isn’t sure how long ago it was. Time is so fluid lately. She can’t seem to keep a handle on it.
It was the day her special space was invaded. Imani had felt Missy coming. She felt her on that weird twin-like vibe that they’ve shared ever since they first crossed paths. Yes, she felt Missy storming along the river walk, heading for where she sat on a bench staring at the river. Missy was bent on giving Imani a piece of her mind. Imani could feel it. She was bent on demanding that Imani produce the last book of the trilogy, maybe even bent on making threats about going her own way, maybe. Instead, Missy slipped to Imani side like a whisper. Imani’s sure it was the disturbance running through their vibe that put the brakes on her.
“What made me think I’d find you here,” Missy had said, sounding conversational, like it was just part of some ongoing tit-for-tat. Imani looked up, her expression neutral, not at all surprised. She expected Missy to materialize out of the blue. She had felt it.
“Is nothing sacred,” Imani said.
“Apparently not. Certainly not partnerships or friendships either for that matter,” Missy said treading easy, like she knew something, something about Steve, something about trouble in paradise. But what she didn’t know was that it had nothing to do with Steve, not this time, not anymore. This time it was about secrets, about Maleek, about that horrible nightmare, about those shameful sensations, her loss of control. “Where have you been? Why haven’t you taken my calls?”
“Oh, did you call?”
“Yes, I called. Are you okay?”
“Aaww that’s so sweet,” came that deep baritone voice from no direction in particular. “She’s worried about you.” The voice continued. Missy was waiting for an answer to her question. It was clear to Imani that Missy couldn’t hear Maleek. So no, Imani was sure she wasn’t okay. “Hey,” Maleek said “why haven’t I noticed that she’s so hot?”
Listless, Imani turned and looked over her shoulder and once again was not surprised that Maleek too had materialized just like Missy. She sighed. Lately, it seemed like people and entities just popped in and out of her head, in and out of her life. A shiver rustled through her as it occurred to her that Missy was just as capable of popping out of her life as Maleek. Then she chastised herself for even caring.
Ever since Maleek showed up, he’s haunted her, on and off, for days, maybe weeks, maybe many weeks, talking about ‘gridlock’ and the stories that ‘must’ be told. Yet she can’t seem to put two coherent sentences together. So she went there to the river to escape Maleek, escape Missy, to channel the lost memory of Steve, to go with the flow. But those two had found her, that day, and somehow she wasn’t surprised.

Now, today, this day, Imani is drifting along the promenade that follows the river's bank, thinking, ‘I'm losing my mind . . . again.’
This was their special place, hers and Steve's. But now it's just her place, her place that’s been breached by Missy and Maleek.
This is still where she comes to calm the jitters, to get a grip. Where else would she go? Who would she turn to? This is where she comes when things inside her rumble and shake, when fearsome entities bump up against her brain, threaten to push their way to the surface, to test the sanctity of the lid that secures that space, the lid that must constrain the unknowable.
It's been a while since this level of anxiety has sunk its icy fangs into her chest. But when it does, when she feels it crouching for the attack, this is where she comes to ride it out. Here she can lose herself in the hypnotic motion of the water. She can 'go with the flow.'
Today however, her mind is unfocused. She looks around and is relieved that there’s no sign of either of her trespassers. But she's still having trouble connecting to the flow. She can't seem to tap into the river's counsel the way she usually does. She can't even manage to retrieve visions of happier days with Steve. Her eyes are turned inward, her mind battling to ward off the fear.
She had thought that she would be okay, that she could handle the gamble, that she could balance walking the fringe between reality and hallucination. Now she knows if you wager with your demons, you always lose. She's losing control and along with it her mind . . . again.
The river is doing its best to capture her attention the way it usually does. It swirls and sparkles, playing with the sunlight. It summons the soft summer breeze to excite its flow, churning up peaks and whiteheads to mimic the ocean's tide, all to no avail. She has to get some help. She knows she has no choice.
The box is restless. Something scary wants out. Imani is losing her mind and she knows what this means. It means Missy will go her own way. It means she’ll be sent back to that frightful dark place, that place with that thing that lingers in the shadows. It'll be just like when she was fourteen. Mom sent her to that rest home, sent her there, to rest.

Mypitch494
Posts: 7
Joined: 27 Sep 2020, 17:37

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#57 Post by Mypitch494 » 13 Oct 2020, 18:23

7-SETTING<br/>
In this scene Maleek has convinced Imani to undergo regression hypnosis with her therapist. She has flashed back to a repressed event that happened when she was fourteen. She is in her father’s nuts and bolts warehouse. The warehouse setting plays an integral part in the scene.<br/>
<br/>

Scene:
Imani and Jake are holding hands in her Daddy’s warehouse. The air is stagnant. The warehouse stinks of sawdust, mildew and metal shavings. Thick darkness has wrapped around them like black strap molasses. Imani has never done anything like this before and it occurs to her that Daddy would have a fit if he knew that she's here in his warehouse, at night, with Jake. She is comforted by the knowledge that Daddy is out of town on a business trip.<br/>
As her eyes adjust and the murkiness gives way, Imani notes that the warehouse takes on a completely different look at night. She can make out the silhouettes of crates and boxes stacked high at irregular angles. They look like fearsome sentinels charged with protecting the place against nighttime intruders. <br/>
Splashes of light from the headlights of passing cars invade the space and abruptly give way to darkness. The light beams are diffused through the bricks of beveled glass that make up the walls of the building's south corner. The beams seem to shudder and shake with fear. It's like a giant neon sign intermittently flashing out warnings. 'S.O.S.' The shaky light beams bathe the jagged angles of the towering crates. Long jittery shadows are cast across the ceilings and floors. The effect is eerie. <br/>
Imani shivers and moves closer to Jake. He puts his arm around her and gives her a quick reassuring hug. He takes her hand and leads her down the long narrow walkway that cuts through the center of the work floor. Imani is impressed with his fearlessness. His moves are decisive, confident, as though he knows exactly where he's going and exactly what he plans to do when he gets there. <br/>
They come to a place on the warehouse floor where a single crate walled-in on three sides by taller crates, forms a perfect little enclave. Inside the enclave it is even darker. The surrounding boxes block out even the dim glow coming from the florescent night-lights that hang high from the warehouse ceiling. <br/>
But Imani is not afraid. She is with Jake. He lifts her and seats her on the crate. He pushes her skirt up just above her knees and positions himself between her parted legs. He cups her face in his hands and kisses her gently. Imani welcomes his kiss relaxing her lips to let his tongue slip in and join with her own. Soon they are fully entwined. His kisses becoming more urgent. His breathing ragged and hot. In one flawless motion he unbuttons her blouse and undoes her bra. His hands find her breast. His fingers circle the cleavage, slowly teasing before closing in on the nipples sending electricity up into her brain. Still kissing, he begins to moan softly. The need in those moans and the touch of his hands on her body, ignite her. Her heart is racing. She is ready. But she is also remembering her sex-ed instructor. Not to mention that awkward talk with Mom. Breaking the kiss, she whispers in his ear, her voice low and breathy, "You have something, right?" Still kissing and breathing hard he fumbles with the condom. Which proves to be defective when in his haste to unwrap it, he finds his finger protruding through its fine thin membrane. <br/>
It is then that they hear the sounds. Instinctively, they freeze, fall silent and listen. For what seems like a long while there is only the sound of their own heightened breaths. Then they hear it again…voices. Or more like husky whispers, breathing that sounds even louder than their own, squeals and grunts that don't even sound human.
 From the cover of their little enclave, they peer out into the blackness. They can make out the silhouettes of two figures standing in front of a large worktable. Their forms are bathed in waves of shadow and light from the headlight beams that wash over the space and retreat like the tide withdrawing from the shore. A fluorescent lamp hangs low over the worktable. It seems to be coming to life. Its dim glow slowly ticking off the seconds as it grows brighter. But it's the single candle, lit in the middle of the table that catches Imani's attention. A candle? <br/>
The figures, a man and a woman, are speaking in hushed tones that sound more like snarls than anything else. As the fluorescent lamp gains strength, Imani notes that the man is completely nude. But she is so fixated on the woman that, that fact hardly registers. She cannot see the man's face because his back is turned to her and he is shrouded in shadow. But the woman's face, contoured in varying degrees of shade, can be seen. She is bizarre. So much so that at first, Imani can't be sure she isn't wearing some sort of disguise, a facade, perhaps a mask. Her face is excessively painted. Every aspect of her makeup grossly exaggerated. It's as though she has painted on a permanent sneer. She looks like an irate clown. <br/>
Imani and Jake, their mouths wide open, are glued to the scene unfolding before them. And for a brief moment Imani is sure the woman has seen her. Yes, she and the woman lock eyes for just a second. And the woman smiles at her, ever so faintly, before letting her gaze drift away, dismissing Imani as irrelevant.<br/>
The man slowly undresses the painted lady revealing a shapely body covered in tattoos…snakes crawling all over her. They slither up and down her long limbs and encircle her full breasts, her buttocks and tiny waist. She lets out a freakish squeal of delight when the man roughly turns her around and slams her into the table causing the candle to shudder. He grabs a handful of her wild wooly hair with one hand and gropes her breast with the other. Subserviently she bends over as he thrusts himself inside her from behind. As he enters she erupts in a howl so loud that it drowns out the involuntary gasp that escapes from Imani's throat. Imani’s heart quickens and her stomach tightens.<br/>
"Silence!" The demonic command resonates as the man concentrates, working his slow rhythmic strokes.<br/>
The man is hitting his stride. The woman's head and shoulders arch and contract with each long stroke. The effect is a slow tortuous pulsation, spasms of pleasure and pain. Their movements seem to split what light there is, sending errant beams off in odd and skewed directions. The sound of their breath is amplified. It fills the space, echoes off the crates, the ceiling, the walls. The air is hot, red, yellow, electric. Each thrust generates static sparks and currents. Now the florescent light over their heads begins to crackle and flutter. The strobe-light effect transforms the scene into a series of disjointed stills, slow motion sporadic flashes. The passion that they generate is so palpable that Imani feels as though it’s actually touching her. Waves of viscous heat encircle her.<br/>
Captured in their intensity, Imani melds into the scene. Heat radiates out and engulfs her. She is entrapped, caught between lust and repulsion. It's as though she herself is participating in the haunting act. It’s like in that dream, that scary dream, the one she has over and over, that dream when the dark phantom enters her room at night.<br/>
Now the man's motions begin to quicken. He deepens his thrust, lifting the woman slightly off the floor as he does. She arches her back, her face a mask of lust. She throws back her head and lets out a howl, shuddering with her effort to suppress it. <br/>
"Silence!" he growls as he works towards his own final goal.</t>

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