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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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#26 Post by SandraTylerP6 » 09 Mar 2020, 19:12

The Night Garden of My Mother: a Memoir
By Sandra Tyler


A middle-aged “sandwich” mom to very young children, strives to keep her promise to her elderly mother that she may live out her last years in her own home, and in the process discovers truths about her mother, an artist, like the real meaning behind her painting of “The Night Garden.”


My elderly but spirited mother propels the “plot” with her steely willfulness to maintain her independence. She holds me, her only child, to my promise that she may die in her own home, regardless of the lengths I must go to keep that promise—If I offer to find her a plumber she asks for her outdated copy of the Yellow Pages, and reminds me that she has been taking care of herself since she was 18, when her father had a stroke and she had to leave school to support her parents. She can gripe about the care-giving, how she’d sacrificed her youth and dreams of “making it” as an artist to take care of everyone, including my own father with Alzheimer’s. But in the care-giving she had been the one in control. Now, from the smaller challenges of her arthritic hands, to the larger one of losing her license after crashing her car into the wall of a carpet store, she must face up to the loss of that control. And with each new setback, she grows all the more defiant toward the last person she wants to depend on: me. But the fierceness of her will matches her love and concern, and therein lies the real friction between this mother and daughter.


The Night Garden of My Mother

When Your Mother Calls

A Daughter Divided


Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me
published by Random House
By Adrienne Brodeur

Wild Game, published last year to great acclaim, chronicles a daughter as confident, the keeper of her mother’s secret about an extramarital affair. The mother/daughter conflict here is different, but resonates of a similar struggle with allegiances; those high stakes of the devoted daughter. What I found missing is a greater universality to this mother/daughter relationship, beyond what finally seems a myopic chronicling of events. This may be just one reader’s oversight, since Emily Rapp Black in her New York Times review found that “This triumphant moment shows what a good memoir can do, using one person’s singular experience to shed light on a fundamental truth of being human. In this case: maternal love, that most primal and powerful kind.”

But it is exactly this “fundamental truth” that is the bedrock of The Night Garden, one perpetuated by daughters laboring to love/be loved by their mothers unequivocally. Primally. And in both memoirs, the mothers are strong antagonists driving the story, and there are clear denouements. Perhaps there finally is that fundamental truth to Brodeur’s own mother/daughter story, but the real success of Wild Game may be its strong narrative; The Night Garden as well, reads much like a novel, replete with equaling compelling detail and scene.

Mother Daughter Me
by Katie Hafner

In contrast to Wild Game, Hafner’s memoir, an Oprah Book of the Week, resonates beautifully of those fundamental truths. With real thoughtfulness and sensitivity, Hafner mines her relationship with her mother in the present, while lending it greater dimension with compelling flashbacks. She clearly had a most reckless and irresponsible mother growing up. But the mother here—again, the antagonist—is rendered complex; our mothers often are at war with themselves over how best to love us daughters, and that inner conflict is nicely probed. It is this complexity I found lacking in the Wild Game, and one I have honed in my own antagonist; readers will not only be sympathetic toward the mother in The Night Garden, but by the end, understand her in a way they may be trying to understand their own mothers. In Mother Daughter Me, Hafner considers her relationship with her mother while her mother is still able to live independently. Night Garden nicely complements this stage with the next — what happens to that relationship when our mothers become dependent and we their caregivers.

H is for Hawk
publishined by Grove Press
By Helen Macdonald

I can't help but add this third comp here — while this memoir is about a daughter losing her father, it is an exquisite rendering of grief. Macdonald expertly weaves her taming of a wild hawk with this monumental loss in her life. This is by far the most literary and sophisticated of these three memoirs, written with great thoughtfulness. I like to think that Night Garden as well reflects such thoughtfulness in its rendering.


Mother and daughter vie for control as one grows increasingly more dependent on the other, and often at the expense of their life-long close relationship to each other.


This daughter, while trying to stay true to her mother, also must remember she is a mother herself. I am torn between my children’s and my mother’s varying needs, a conflict that is illustrated most clearly when my ten year old son is seriously injured in a football accident. Finding myself now at the emergency room with my son rather than with my mother, I am struck by the parallels in their neediness, though also by the differences; while my mother is in denial of her dependence, my son surrenders himself to it entirely. Back when he was a baby, his needing of me had substantiated me as his mother. Now, when I am truly needed most, I feel far more inadequate as a mother than I had ever felt as a daughter.


The mother/daughter conflict is further complicated by the introduction of a full-time aide, when Chandice moves into my mother’s corner bedroom and insinuates herself into both our lives. She further skews tensions between mother and daughter as she comes to know my mother in her present state, one now complicated by dementia, better than I am able to know her myself.


Primarily, Night Garden is set in the world of my mother—in her home which she fondly referred to as her “happy house,” on the east end of Long Island. Unlike the house I grew up in, this is the first space in her life where she was able to come into her own as an artist. Inherited from her godmother, it also is a house full of history, of remnants from my growing up back on Staten Island and things from her own childhood: her baby doll with the china head sits beside mine on a bookshelf. Then there’s my grandmother’s Victorian lamp, sewing box, and vanity contrasted against her more breakout tastes of the modular. After she dies, I find crumbling sepia-toned photographs of my mother as a child, even locks of her baby hair and hand-drawn birthday cards to her own mother, all things that echo stories she told me over the years, mixed in with snapshots of me as a child and my own scribbled cards and drawings. In death, our lives as children, young women, and finally as both mothers, seemed melded together in a way they only perhaps can in our mourning—when for the first time, we might be able to imagine our mothers as having been daughters themselves.

Other scenes are set in my own world, specifically to accentuate our differences in how we both define home. Then there is the more neutral setting of summers on New England Lakes, that hark back to both our childhoods as together we try to recreate the past—even at the expense of the present.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#27 Post by JinjuRichardsP6 » 10 Mar 2020, 19:20

Assignment 1: Story Statement

Mayah must determine whether or not her beloved serf guardian, Sukren, truly cares about her or whether he views her as nothing but a tool for the Uprising. Sukren must decide if his loyalties lie with Mayah, the princess he raised, or with Lady Nari, his leader and mastermind of the Uprising.

Assignment 2: The Antagonist

Lady Nari is both extremely violent and extremely principled. She lives her life for one thing only: the good of the serfs. The daughter of a castle serf, who in turn was raised by a Matterist prophet, Lady Nari comes from a long line of resistance fighters. None of her ancestors, however, had her single-mindedness. It was Lady Nari, and Lady Nari alone, who turned her family’s informal religious network into a serf army dedicated to the Uprising. And dedicated they must be, for Lady Nari demands nothing but the highest levels of commitment from her followers. Whatever she is willing to do, they must be willing to do as well, whether it be murder, torture or enduring a lifetime of lying and manipulating those they love. She is no hypocrite, however. She cares nothing for her personal comfort or glory; her love for the serfs is genuine. Her arrogance convinces her that she knows best what is best for the serfs, and nothing can change her mind on that, which results, sometimes, in incredible acts of grace, and other times, in the absolute devastation of those who live by her word.

Assignment 3: Breakout Titles

Raising the Promised Daughter
The World Beneath the Hollow-Trees
Hunt’s Table

Assignment 4: Comparables

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (in that the novel is deeply focused on a non-romantic but still intimate relationship, the one between the two main characters, while drawing a world around them and a plot through them)

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (in that the novel takes place in a complexly ordered society with multiple different identity groups clashing politically, forcing the main characters to balance their allegiances)

Assignment 5: Conflict Line

The political handler of a prophesied child messiah struggles to balance both his love for the child and his commitment to, at any cost, ensure the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Assignment 6:

Inner conflict: Sukren’s primary inner conflict comes from his inability to want what he feels like he should want. In one scenario, his patron Lady Nari orders him to abandon his charge, the prophesied child messiah Mayah, because he is prioritizing too much her well-being over the successful execution of the Uprising. Reluctantly Sukren obeys. He is terrified to leave Mayah, whom he raised since she was a baby, without protection. He wants, however, to demonstrate loyalty to Lady Nari, who rescued him from an abusive master; moreover, he wishes he actually felt unmitigated loyalty to Lady Nari instead of feeling conflicted. Furthermore, Sukren dislikes that Lady Nari’s orders require him to pretend to be a lower status serf, as he has for the past decade enjoyed the higher position of Mayah’s guardian. He feels guilty, at the same time, that he cares about status at all. He feels like he should care solely about the Uprising, but he can’t bring himself to mimic Lady Nari’s single-minded focus despite her insistence that he do exactly that.

Secondary conflict: When Mayah decides that she no longer trusts Sukren, he cannot bear it. He forces her to flee with him to the edge of the bio-dome, beyond the reach of Lady Nari, or so he hopes. Without knowing it, however, he plunges them into an even worse situation. The edge of the bio-dome is populated by a people who deliberately limit the extent of their technological development. They live, in fact, as hunter gatherers, for the most part ignoring the rest of the bio-dome. Normally they are a stable, happy people, but Sukren and Mayah arrive during a social crisis triggered both by a series of unsuccessful hunts and a rapid increase in the number of refugees coming from the bio-dome proper. Thankfully, through his devotion to Mayah despite Mayah’s increasing bitterness, Sukren manages to win the admiration of a young hunter named Rajani who, despite the looming famine, takes both Sukren and Mayah in under her protection. Rajani, in addition to finding herself drawn romantically towards Sukren, wants to continue her people’s tradition of welcoming refugees into her society. She is resisted, however, by the rest of her people who apply more and more pressure to stop her efforts. Eventually Rajani’s entire family is ostracized, forcing Rajani to make a choice between her deeply-held convictions and budding feelings, and her family’s fate.

Assignment 7: Setting

The planet Chudami’s atmosphere clings weakly to its surface, which means both glorious visions of auroras every night, and nearly unbreathable air. It is only beneath the bio-dome that anyone can survive. The bio-dome itself is made up of hollow-trees. Hollow-trees are native to Chudami; indeed, they are the only type of flora or fauna endemic to the planet. With leaves that gleam green and blue in the dark, hollow-trees also produce fiery-red and orange breathflowers that emit oxygen.

The original colonists who crash-landed onto Chudami created the bio-dome and set up a rigid, stratified society underneath it. One of the scientists, Sarana, who became known throughout history as the Eternal Queen, decided to establish a dynasty of her own lineage. She did so by gene-locking the Dome Ring, a ring used to catalyze the breathflowers into producing enough oxygen to last through each winter. Her descendents became the Rajas while everyone else became their serfs.

The serfs live generally in greenhouses villages scattered around the bio-dome. Because the breathflowers create too much oxygen for Earth flora to handle, massive greenhouses were built and serfs moved into them so that whatever carbon dioxide the serfs breathed out would stay inside the greenhouses for the plants to absorb. The Rajas, on the other hand, live in massive hollow-trees they call castles. Some serfs also live in the castles, as servies to wait on the Rajas, as soldiers to protect the Rajas, as doctor-priests to tend to the Rajas’ physical needs, and as regents to handle the Rajas’ administrative concerns.

Population pressures due to the bio-dome dwellers’ limited space means serfs are considered disposable. Anyone who cannot in full health serve the Rajas is killed. Doctor-priests and regents are banned from reproducing. A legal system has developed that requires serfs to successfully apply for protection from a patron--or be considered fair game for abuse and murder at anyone’s hands. Not all the serfs, however, buy into this Rajas-centered worldview. And for the past several hundred years, they have been organizing. The Uprising is at hand, it is whispered, from one end of the bio-dome to the other.

Only one corner of the bio-dome remains ignorant of these sweeping changes. Indeed, the people who live on the other side of the shelterbelt, along the edge of the bio-dome, don’t care about the bio-dome proper at all. They live their lives as they have since the crash-landing, hunting mammoles (descendents of Earth moles mutated into giant, but still low oxygen-needing creatures) for meat and gathering nectar from breathflowers to drink. They are not a primitive people though. Scientifically-minded, they deliberately curtail their technological development in order to live out the rhythms of the truly good life. When a season of unsuccessful hunts collides, however, with an increasing number of refugees fleeing the bio-dome proper, the tribe is forced to respond to the pressures their neighbors face, or risk being wiped out themselves.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#28 Post by TravisP6Travis » 11 Mar 2020, 02:22

Travis Travis

First Assignment (The Act of Story Statement):
Failed G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N angel loses his love in a punishment of his own creation.

Second Assignment (The Antagonist Plots the Point):
The antagonistic force in the story is the bureaucracy in the heavens and the self. John’s spiral into chaos is fueled by his misguided desires to make up for past misdeeds. The gods exile his love to purgatory for the ring he stole and gave to her. Spinning down into self-loathing and despair, John makes one bad decision after another. He is given the chance to save his love from perdition only to find that she prefers purgatory to his love. To the gods, humans are like ants or animals. Most gods don’t care and some only care when we are having sex. Though to those beings not affected by the great anthill floods, the self that is the real enemy.

Third Assignment (Conjuring Your Breakout Title):
Life is Better with Polytheism: Death is Another Dead End Job
Is Heaven Really Heaven if you Forget your Toothbrush
Don’t Forget to Die: Practical Advice for the Immortal on Holiday

Fourth Assignment (Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables):
First: The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- I crafted this book in the dry British humor of Douglas Adams
Second: Heaven is for Real/ To Heaven and Back/ Proof of Heaven
- Each of these non-fiction(?) books follow in the tradition of near death narratives from a number of various religious traditions and cultural contexts à la Dante’s La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy), St. Patrick’s L'Espurgatoire Seint Patriz (The Legend of the Purgatory of St. Patrick), and King Yudhisthira’s journey to Naraka (hell) in the Mahābhārata (The Great Bharata).
- Though these are three recent after death narratives, and widely popular in the U.S., they lack a little bit of the social commentary and character of the more historical narratives. My book is a humble addition to this genre.

Fifth Assignment (Considering the Primary Conflict - Coming of the "Agon"):

Facing exile from the heavens because of his misdeeds, he must risk it all to save the one he loves from himself.

Sixth Assignment (Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels):
Inner Conflict: John’s inner conflict is an attempt to escape the memories of his past at the bottom of a bottle. Even in the heavens, one is not liberated from their past actions.
Secondary Conflict: A second narrative arc follows a band of friends as they interact with the man, Charlie Tackle, that died on account of our G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N angel’s negligence. Charlie must come to terms with his recent demise and wrap his head around his death which marked the end of John’s stay in the heavens.

Final Assignment (The Incredible Importance of Setting):

Polytheistic heavens, check. Monotheistic heavens, check. Monistic, Henotheistic, and Kathenotheistic heavens… wait what, check. Atheistic heavens, now your just f*&%ing with me, check. While the setting of this novel caters to the religious demographics in the U.S. – approximately 70.6% Christian, 5.9% non-Christian Faiths, and 22.8. non-religious according to Pew – it is largely based on the Buddhist 31 planes of existence. Spice that up with the fact that the districts of heaven would have been perfectly fine if humans hadn’t arrived and we are getting there. The food and drinks are next world, the scenery wraps your mind in a warm blanket and beats it with a wet coloring book, and the detail is so fine that it will leave you with a look that suggests that you wipe you’re a$$ with perfumed chinchillas. The setting strives for honesty in the afterlife beyond all else before getting lost along the way for a drink at the local pub.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#29 Post by KathleenP6Zglav » 11 Mar 2020, 23:16

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers
by KathleenP6Zglav

1. The act of the story statement.

A twelve year old boy takes a journey to the San Francisco Fortune Cookie Factory to find out who has been sending him secret messages to change his life.

2. The antagonist plots the point.

There are two major antagonistic forces in my novel. The first is Anthony the 12 year old boy's father Ed Lockhart who just does not " get " his son who dabbles in all and excels in none. Ed is distant and tough and unbending and makes Anthony feel like a failure even before he gets a chance to prove himself. Anthony has never felt this more acutely than trying out for the sixth grade track team. Ed almost refuses to sign the permission slip. But when Anthony finds his encouragement not from his Dad but a fortune cookie message his life begins to change. And, Anthony finds himself hiding the changes from his father who has lost his own notions of magic and mystery long ago. In the end this antagonistic energy leads Anthony to defy and dupe his Dad and travel across the country in search of who has sent him the messages of hope that have helped him transform his life.

The second antagonistic force is Clyde Montgomery the sixth grade bully who has bullied Anthony since kindergarten. This is a vendetta Clyde has inherited from his own Dad Bo whose superior athletic abilities in high school kept the resentful elder Montgomery on the bench often. Now, Clyde carries on the family tradition and revels in seeing his Dad's arch rival's son fail. But, Clyde has enough disdain not to limit himself to just Anthony as he preys on students weaker than himself.

3. Conjuring your breakout title.

The Fortune Cookie Club and The Sweet and Sour Summer

Crack Goes the Secret Messages

The Sweet and Sour School Year

4. Com parables --perhaps

Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullay Hunt and Restart Lose Your Memory and Find Your Life by Gordon Korman and Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech All these books show the hardships of Middle School and are realistic yet funny and poignant.

5. Primary Conflict Line In order to find and be true to his own emerging destiny, Anthony Lock hart must disobey his Father and allow his eccentric Great Aunt Jane to dupe her nephew and kidnap his sons.Then along their best friend Petra they call themselves the Fortune Cookie Club and travel across the country to trespass in the San Francisco Fortune Cookie Factory to find the person responsible for the messages who transformed Anthony's sixth grade life.

6. The primary inner conflict is Anthony's fledgling self worth. He must find his niche and his purpose and a genuine connection with his best friend even if it means standing up to a bully and defying his own Father.

7. Setting is a major character in my novel. Anthony along with his best friend Petra and his little brother Nicholas and his 80 year old Great Aunt Jane leave the familiar in Chattanooga Tennessee and get bombarded with the sights and smells and sounds of San Francisco's China Town. It is as if the world had been black and white and suddenly someone hit a switch and the world became color. In China Town the Fortune Cookie Club find streets strung with red lanterns that blow in the breeze like balloons at a state fair and rooms with huge shelves of Buddhas--- laughing and fat and meditative and skinny ones. In San Francisco they discover green cable cars and yellow taxis and the expanse of the orange Golden Gate bridge. From the setting the Fortune Cookie Clubs eyes are open wide to the world and they respond by wanting to see and do more . The Fortune Cookie Club revels in the novels setting and responds not with making their " bucket lists" but their ' just getting started lists ".

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#30 Post by BarbaraDumas » 12 Mar 2020, 04:55

Assignment 1 - Story Statement:
A tale of judgement, love and redemption in a world in which people chose to protect a woman, rather than a cause.

Assignment 2 – The Antagonists:
The antagonistic force of the novel is Judgement, represented throughout the Witleigh years (1950-1962) by almost everyone, however those most affecting the life of Andrew Baltimore, our protagonist are:
1. Neal Thompson, the mill boss in a three piece suit; Andrew liked him, envied him, often comparing him to Nick Charles: handsome, rich, and a bit of a drinker.
2. Claire McCauley, William Baltimore’s agent, and the force behind the artist’s success. She worked hard, amassing a fortune for them both through a long career marketing his work. Following William’s death, Claire decided to buy into the rumors that would add spice to the biography of this quiet, honorable man..
3. Frances Griffith, an angry bitter woman who tripped and fell into a life that she loathed. The happiest and most fulfilling years of her life were spent working at the Beachwood Mill during the war. Ultimately promoted to line manager, she began to feel secure in her job, and with her life, but she was forced out of the mill when the men returned. She might have been a little more accepting of the rule that returning soldiers must have their jobs restored to them, but when they hired William Baltimore, who had never before worked at the mill, her anger found a target.

Assignment 3 -Breakout Title:
1. A Tree Called Ezra
2. Judgement
3. Reconstructing Maggie
4. The More Things Change
Assignment 4 – Comps:
1. The Cider House Rules by John Irving – As with Dr. Wilbur Larch, Ms. Patricia Costello looks forward to a more enlightened time when women will be able to control their own bodies and their own destinies.
2. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo - Maggie Thompson, like Sarah Berg, fell in love with a family before she loved the son and her death left Andrew to wonder if she ever really loved him at all.
3. A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman The structure of the novel is similar, in that we are moving back and forth, to understand how Andrew arrived at today. Ultimately, both Ove and Andrew come to understand that: "It is difficult to admit that one is wrong. Particularly when one has been wrong for such a very long time.”

Assignment 5 - The Conflict Line:
Andrew Baltimore is devastated by the death of his first love, his best friend, and wondered, throughout his life, what he had really meant to her. When forced to confront the possibility that his adored father was responsible for her pregnancy and death, he does not believe it - but he fears that it might be true.

Assignment 6 - Protagonists Inner Conflict:
Andrew lost his muse, his best friend and fiancée, Maggie Thompson, when he was 19; he never recovered. Andrew was away at Princeton when Maggie died; his father, traveled down from Witleigh on the night train to tell his son what had happened. For the remainder of his life, Andrew would be able to step through the moments of that day,; scenes would rise up before him in response to stimuli that he could neither identify nor control. There were no hiding places, and alcohol only sharpened the images.

As they sat together on the train, William told him what happened beyond the fact of the death. “Maggie was pregnant, Drew. Rachael Thompson took her to a clinic in the city, apparently not a very good one. She, she bled to death. I don’t want to tell you this now, but I have to. There’s a sea of ugliness in store for us all.”

“She was pregnant? How could she be pregnant?”” Andrew asked, realizing immediately everything that the question made clear. He turned away, he wanted to run away. He never wanted to know. But William could not stop speaking.

“Rachael Thompson was arrested. I spoke to Pat Costello just before I came to your room. They’ve let her come back home, but it’s not clear for how long. Pat’s staying with her until her sister can come out from Indiana. There’s a lot of pressure on the police to put Rachael back in jail. They don’t know Maggie, or Rachael; all they know about either of them is this one thing, but it’s so easy for a single thing to wipe away everything that preceded it."

“Enough!” Andrew said, closing his eyes and raising his palm – pushing it back and forth, pleading for his father to stop. He never really lowered that hand.

Assignment 7 – Setting: Griffiths’ End: the neighborhood
The novel takes place in a small neighborhood of 8 houses two miles south of the village of Witleigh, Massachusetts. The Griffiths, an extended family of farmers, initially owned all eight houses and the fields surrounding them, but this was a neighborhood in transition, within a world in transition.
The book opens during WWII and ends during the Month of July 2004, however the principle scenes take place between 1950 and 1962, with the final scenes occurring over a long July weekend.
Andrew Baltimore’s grandparents, his mother’s parents, bought Morgan Griffith’s house in 1942. The house was one of three Victorians designed by Roland Griffith, grandson of the Griffith who first settled the land between Witleigh town center and the mill town of Beachwood. Roland, it was said, grew up building tree houses with papered walls and elaborate cornices and then, before the Great War and the flu epidemic ran off with half the Griffith clan, studied architecture in Boston returning to Witleigh to design homes for his brothers, Morgan and Walter, before building a final home for himself. These three houses were built for beauty, rather than practicality, and with the attention to detail that gives great Victorians the exquisite dollhouse quality.

Julian Costello, and his daughter Patricia, owned the Victorian built on a slope overlooking the neighborhood, the house Roland built for himself. Julian, a Witleigh native, owned and operated the first Ford dealership in the county; he would later introduce William to his agent.
Julian’s daughter, Miss Patricia Costello, taught high school English at Witleigh High. One of the main influences in Patricia’s young life was a maiden aunt who operated a women’s clinic, hiding women from abusive husbands and supplying married women with contraceptives when it was illegal to do to. Patricia would later blame herself for Maggie’s death – because of the single word she had not spoken.

George and Bunny Hastings were the farmers who lived next door to the Baltimores. Both were readers and interesting people, something that Caroline, who viewed Witleigh as Carol Milford had initially viewed Gopher Prairie, took years to learn.

Edna Bishop, sister of Morgan and mother of Bunny Hastings, had never traveled further away than Boston, but there she marched with Margaret Sanger and worked with Pat Costello’s ‘Auntie’ in the woman’s shelter. At the ripe old age of 33, she shed tears of joy when she was able to cast her first ballot – unfortunately for the man who lost the election.
Through the influence of Miss Costello and Mrs. Bishop, Maggie wrote short stories many based on the exploits of Edna Bishop. Andrew's favorite referenced the 19th amendment:
In 1902 Boston Edison brought electricity into the center of Witleigh, and by the end of that year streetlights shone up and down Main Street. But electricity followed the telephone poles, and it was 1920 before they made it all the way down to Griffiths’ End. Mrs. Bishop often proclaimed it a banner year for the neighborhood women: we got electricity in June, and then in September we finally got power.
Caroline Baltimore, naturally shy, assumed the worst of these people, and had as little as possible to do with them. They were farmers, but many were also politically active – without stridency - quiet self-effacing men and women who enjoyed their lives while understanding that the world could be a better place.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#31 Post by BarbaraDumas » 12 Mar 2020, 18:56

Assignment 1 - Story Statement:
The story of a man who finally learns that where there is smoke, it is best to turn and run before you're engulfed flames.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#32 Post by SHARONP6SPAULDING » 13 Mar 2020, 22:02

1. Story Statement:
The duty-bound New Englander must keep the promise she made at her father's graveside – to make the world a more just place – without breaking social, political, or legal norms.

2. Antagonistic force: In every way Mary’s opposite, Margaret is bold, beautiful, and brash, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants – to be the sole voice of the reproductive rights movement. United in vision, they are divided in approach. Mary is duty-bound to work through the system to change unjust laws; Margaret will break every unfair law if necessary. Mary is the daughter of a long-line of Boston intellectuals while Margaret is the daughter of working-class, Irish immigrants, and one of 11 children. Each is jealous of the other: Margaret craves Mary’s respectability and education, and Mary wishes to shed her Puritan morality to be emotionally free to live from her heart.

Mary must also break through and change the cultural, social, and political norms of her day to bring about lasting change.

3. Breakout Title: The Cat Bird or Who's Obscene?

4. Comps:
America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood
Free Thinker by Kimberly A. Hamlin (W.W. Norton & Co, 3/17/2020)
The Scarlet Sisters by Myra MacPherson (Twelve, 3/3/15, 4 stars)
Rebel Cinderella by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 3/3/2020, 5 stars)

5. Conflict line:
A.Torn between her head and her heart, a young woman wrestles with her Puritan morality of duty to God and one’s fellow man, and her deep desire for a simple life of love and the passion of her art. Will she rise up against the social, political, religious, and legal norms to fight for what she believes is right, or retreat to the shadows?

2. In a government sting operation in January, 1929, a grandmother is indicted, arrested, and jailed in Brooklyn for sending obscene material through the mail. The material is a pamphlet on sex education for teens she had written and illustrated with anatomically correct drawings. Will she die in jail, lose what little she has, or emerge victorious in the battle for free speech and reproductive rights?

At age 10, Mary watches as her father’s coffin is lowered into the ground and listens as the Congregationalist minister drones on about the path to God’s salvation through selfless works and duty to one’s fellow man. She promises God and her father that she will dedicate her life to making the world a better place, though she has no idea how or what she’ll do. Already at this age, her dream is to be an artist and she laments that her skills are merely those of a child.

A short time later, she overhears her aunt describe her as “the most dull and uninteresting child imaginable.” Mary takes it to heart. From then on, she sees herself as plain, with nothing important to say. In the face of a scandalous divorce and then ever-increasing public humiliation on a national scale, she must overcome her lack of self-worth to stand up in the face of crushing political, social, cultural, and religious norms to bring about social change.

7. Setting

Boston 1872 – 1910 – a world in transition. On one hand, it is the hotbed of intellectual and philosophical debate, yet the city is steeped in the history and traditions of Britain and the American Revolution. Its Puritan roots run deep, yet this same soil gives rise to the religious renaissance of the 1830s and not long after, the Transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau. This is the city that embraces the Arts and Crafts movement, originally founded by Ruskin and Morris in Europe, and in many ways, it becomes the standard bearer of a backlash against the industrial revolution.

New York 1910 – 1947 – is a melting pot of immigrants and titans of industry. With the massive and successive influx of immigrants, comes new religions, languages, foods, and ideas, but also the extremes of poverty, disease, and a glaring lack of social services. Eventually, these prompt not only labor strikes and changes in the laws, but also reform movements dedicated to improving health, working conditions, and education. This period marks a complete break with tradition in the arts as evidenced in the Armory show of 1913 and its “anything goes” promotion of Cubist art and not long after, abstract art.

While Boston strains against the confines of its corsets and stays, New York gives birth to the Boogie Woogie and Jazz.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#33 Post by P6JOHNMATHI » 14 Mar 2020, 08:50

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

The dragons maintained order, but they disappeared when the Oculus shattered. To bring them back, Jarin and his friends need to reach the Spire before winter's fall and reconstruct the Oculus. If they fail, the plague will destroy what's left of humanity.

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.
121 words

The primary antagonist is Malchior, a ruthless mercenary that is pursuing the Named in order to steal the power of their dragonstones for himself. His motivation lies purely in a need for “excitement.” Ordinary matters are boring for him, and the thought of more power, money, and influence makes him ecstatic. He is charismatic, cool under pressure, and has a moral code that he follows. However, he will not hesitate to strike down anyone that gets between him and his goal. He is a smooth-talking, slick manipulator. He is also an extremely skilled fighter and can handle multiple opponents with ease. He is described as cold, aloof, and determined. He doesn’t really maintain many relationships, but keeps a select few friends close.

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

The Nameless Gems
The Eternal Jewel
Shadow of a Flame

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas - Multiple POV narrative from the Throne of Glass series is similar to my own. The POVs in Crown of Midnight can shift from character to character even in the same chapter, but only at certain points when it is necessary to illustrate a point or develop the characters more. The action in my story and the strong female characters are comparable to Crown of Midnight.

Ruin of Kings is similar as it has dragons and false prophecies. The chapters are mostly on the shorter side and full of energy. The humor, banter, and dark undertones are comparable to my manuscript as well.

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.

The Oculus gave us life, but it couldn’t save itself. Jarin and his friends hold the key to its restoration. With a cruel mercenary tracking their every step and hordes of monsters spawning from the shadows, they have to make it to the Spire before the path closes for good.

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?

Inner conflict that occurs in Act 2 of the story. Ian, one of the protagonists, discovers the body of a woman who had been killed by a rampaging monster that he failed to stop. Her young daughter is standing next to her, sobbing uncontrollably. His healing powers do not work—not on someone who has already passed. But, there is one solution. He has some water, purported to resurrect the dead and heal all wounds. He had saved some from when he had visited the Gifted Oasis earlier in his journey. Does he use the water here, on someone who is a stranger to him, or save it in case he needs it later when his own group is in danger? A group that consists of friends he’s known since childhood.
Whatever his decision, he would need to live with it for the rest of his life.
When Katterin heads off to complete his own agenda without telling the rest of the group, they need to decide whether to chase him down or let him complete the mission by himself. They only have a hastily written note to figure out where he is. Do they trust in his judgment and let him come back on his own time, or prioritize their main quest and bring him back as soon as possible?

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.

The narrative takes place in an alternate retelling of the Holy Roman Empire during the late 17th century. Europe is called Valorys, and the main difference is the existence of magic, which was brought to the world by the Oculus when it crash-landed on Earth, long before the dawn of human history. There are touches of Hindu mythology weaved into the setting. The story starts off in an abandoned library, covered in dust and grime, untouched for decades. The protagonist is led here by his dragonstone, which glows to indicate the importance of a specific book. In it, he finds one of the only maps that reveal the location of the Spire, the ancient home of the dragons.
The Spire is atop the tallest mountain in the realm. At the center is an altar, surrounded by an array of obelisk-like structures.
Jarin is an intrepid scholar. Years ago, he awoke to the feeling of acrid smoke in his nostrils, and the heat on the skin. The fire went on to claim the lives of his family, and he was the only survivor. After the fire died down, he found a glowing red dragonstone in the smoldering wreckage. He hopes to find out the reason he has been given this strange gem.
Each dragonstone has unique properties, and every member of the main cast has their own type. The gems are imbued with arcana, the magical energy that powers the world.
The group’s travels lead them through deserts dotted with ancient shrines, petrified forests, and twin islands. In one instance, they’re taken prisoner on an island where the major landmark is a massive castle, decorated with swaying banners. They’re trapped in steel cages that are suspended above the water, where the briny ocean spray soaks their clothes and leaves them shivering, chilled to the bone. Another location is a haunted forest that is patrolled by an unforgiving guardian, made of bark, with twisted antlers and a sinister scythe bigger than a human’s body.
The world is filled with stories of heroes past, and the protagonists learn about some of them on their travels. The shrines are dedicated to elemental dragons and provide more information on the inner workings of the dragonstones and the powers they contain. At one point, the protagonists discover a labyrinth of tunnels filled with enormous statues that have plaques inscribed in a language they can’t understand.
Overall, there are mystical elements infused into the everyday world, along with unique creatures, and characters that experience emotion. They aren’t unflinching, unkillable superheroes.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#34 Post by GaryGoldhammerP6 » 16 Mar 2020, 01:49

1) The Act of Story Statement

A former Death Row inmate seeks acceptance and redemption after surviving his execution.

2) The Antagonist Plots the Point

Charlie Starke’s world is black and white, but also green – his business success is his roadmap for winning at all costs; for demanding perfection from everyone, including his perfectly compliant wife; and for his conviction that happiness can be bought with money or, if necessary, with deception.

He is not just a death penalty supporter but an advocate. He sees liberals, like his almost daughter-in-law, as naïve and weak. He is self-absorbed and hyper-aware of maintaining every appearance of a modern Southern gentleman. And he views the homeless, the struggling immigrant, and the ethnic minority as ugly refuse to be ignored at best, and at worst, discarded.

Charlie wants one thing: To see A.J. Mercer executed for killing his adult son. When A.J. miraculously survives the electric chair and is released, Charlie descends from hate into rage, assuming the role of A.J.’s judge, jury, and executioner. He becomes the embodiment of the broader heartlessness and fear that A.J. experiences throughout his journey back from the dead.

3) Conjuring Your Breakout Title

• Mercy
• The Nothing Man
• Nowhere Man

4) Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables

Genre: Cultural Fiction


We are Called to Rise – Laura McBride (Simon and Schuster, 2014)
This novel deals with the immigrant experience and how we can connect with each other despite our differences (or in some cases, because of them.) It also demonstrates, in great emotional detail, how the smallest act can have vast, irrevocable consequences.

Whereas in my novel the plight of immigrants and other “underserved” communities are mirrored by A.J. Mercer’s experience as an “invisible man,” in McBride’s story these communities are at the center of the plot. I found the writing personal and real, and despite having so many storylines going on at once, she does a wonderful job of making the narrative work seamlessly.

Sample reviews:

• “Laura McBride's debut is a genuinely affecting story of innocence, resilience, and the surprising ties that connect us all. The characters' voices are so real, so raw and human, you will find yourself thinking of them long after you have turned the last page.”

• “A masterful, affecting novel that is, at its heart, a story about hope, compassion, and the beautiful chaos of life.”

Just Mercy – Dorothy Van Soest (Apprentice House, 2014)
This novel is the closest I’ve found to my story, from the main plotline to the underlying themes of forgiveness and acceptance.

Like my novel, Just Mercy is about a Death Row inmate set to be executed, and how people on both sides of the debate, including the murder victim’s family, feel and react. Although in this case the inmate is actually killed, the book’s message is similar, with a twist at the end that makes you rethink the “value” all people have (or give up through their actions.)

The author also has a similar background to mine, in terms of my experience reporting on Capital Punishment and interviewing dozens of people on all sides of the issue. Ms. Van Soest investigated the executions of 37 Texas Death Row inmates, and has a history writing about violence, oppression and injustice.

Sample reviews:

• “This book is a gem for smart, socially conscious readers of all ages. I loved being inside the heads--and hearts--of each character. Eager to read her next one.”

• “From the first few lines to the last few words I was totally engrossed in this novel, wanting to know the ending but not wanting it to end.”

5) Considering the Primary Conflict – Coming of the “Agon”

A.J. must tell the truth about why an assassin is trying to kill him, even if that truth may send him back to Death Row.

6) Other Matters of Conflict – Two More Levels

A.J. Mercer’s inner conflict revolves around one immutable truth: that he should be dead, his secret buried with him.

He wanted to be executed; he practically begged for it. He was ready to sit in Yellow Mama’s wooden embrace and let her 2,000 volts do its work. But neither he nor anyone else expected him to wake up in the coroner’s van – legally dead, but still very much alive.

While set free from prison, A.J. isn’t free from his past. He is shunned by the public and stalked by an unknown assassin. He would be destitute if not for the small-town church pastor who houses and protects him; friendless if not for the few locals who believe him worthy of forgiveness and redemption.

A.J.’s social conflict involves his right to exist, or lack thereof, as his freedom came at the expense of his identity. A dead man can’t stay in prison, but he can’t get a Social Security number or a credit card, either. As far as the law is concerned, A.J. Mercer is dead – and if he decides to keep his name, then he is admitting that he did not in fact die in the electric chair, and therefore could be executed again.

7) The Incredible Importance of Setting

The South is an idea as much as it is a place – a concept beholden to its past while desperate to shake it.

There is the South you see in movies and television, from billowing farms and murky swamps, to towering monuments to football and the voodoo alleys of New Orleans. And then there’s the other South – the version where Reconstruction is still ongoing, and where, as with A.J. Mercer, its greatest struggle is for its own identity.

From the gentrified Peachtree streets of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, to the humble port city of Mobile, Alabama, we encounter a South desperate to be seen and understood. We see French-inspired restaurants where ladies lunch on fine linens, and Cajun cafes with huge murals of African musicians, and grits on every plate. We hear affected Southern charm, unfiltered drawls, and joyous “amens” rising from an unassuming black church. And we experience the subtle racism that sticks to the South like sap on a Chevy – the collective turning away from anyone Other, anyone too poor or too in need to be accepted as equals.

These Souths – the ascendant and the stuck, the progressive and the painful – collide in Mobile. The city wants to be the Bohemian shops and hipster clubs of Dauphin Street, where young progressive thinkers and intellectual gig workers drink $6 lattes as they pound on fancy Apple laptops. But just outside these new millennial meccas, on the same streets imprinted with vintage shoes, lies another world just beyond our collective line of sight. A world of invisible people -- the homeless and the hard up; the African Americans barely a handful of generations removed from slavery.

Mercy Baptist Church -- with the Midwest transplant preacher hiding from his past, and the predominantly black and homeless congregants who just want to be seen -- is A.J.'s world, the South in microcosm. Mercy, the church located on Mobile’s African American Heritage Trail, a refuge that once hosted meetings during the Civil Rights Movement.

The building’s white paint is peeling away, like scars unable to heal; patches of grass are brown and parched, neglected not out of malice but surrender. Like much of Mobile itself, this is a church that has been left for dead.

But it is also magic – for inside Mercy, for all too brief moments, the invisible can be seen.


8) Marketing Pitch

A.J. Mercer paces the concrete floor of his 5x8-foot cell for the last time, eager to end his 12-year nightmare: The knock on the door, the struggle for the gun, the body bleeding out on the carpet.

His unrelenting regret explodes with a deafening crack of 2,000 volts, and within seconds A.J. convulses, slumps forward in Alabama's ancient yellow electric chair, and is declared dead.

It’s over – until minutes later when A.J. inexplicably opens his eyes, confused and scared and very much alive.

Now a free man, A.J. enters a world where he is either a miracle worthy of forgiveness or a monster remade. He makes his way to Mobile, where a local pastor takes A.J. in, providing him with food, shelter and protection. The pastor soon becomes an advocate for A.J.’s lost humanity, imploring others that the former Death Row inmate was reborn in both body and soul.

But when a botched assassination attempt kills a beloved church elder, A.J. sets out to stop the killer – though to do so he must confront his past and tell the truth about that night when he murdered an innocent man, even if the truth sends him back to Death Row.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#35 Post by ElizabethGhoniemP6 » 23 Mar 2020, 23:53

Assignments for NY Pitch Conference – Elizabeth Brodbine Ghoniem

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

More than 4,000 years ago, a papyrus is hidden from the world. It is a document about choice and consequence; a document that has the power to determine the future. One woman will risk everything to find it and save it from falling into the wrong hands.

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.

There is an overarching antagonistic force in the story and that is the power of evil over good; choices that are not without consequence.

Evil is manifested in the primary antagonist, Hussein. Hussein is the leader of an international cartel that is hoping for world domination. A critical turning point in his life was when he was younger and was planning his future, post high school. He learned that he would not be able to follow his passion for medicine and healing but would instead be required to join the family business, the business connected to this secret international cartel. At first he was reluctant but the money and power that came with it, seduced him. His first murder was not that difficult. Later he would direct others to do his killing. When he had amassed enough money, it then became a matter of power, a power with a goal to control and manipulate. He had made his choice, and he would be responsible for the consequences.

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

The Venice Declaration
The Black Headed Gull
This Has Been Foretold


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

I still need to narrow the below down to two “smart” comps, and will do say after more research.

Dan Brown – Da Vinci Code – Abi could be considered a female version of a Robert Langdon, methodical and intelligent in her pursuit of answers. In addition, there are similarities of using religion and hidden clues as a vehicle for finding the truth.

Nora Roberts - The Witness - Not only does Abi share the same name as Abigail in The Witness, both Abigails are strong willed and brilliant woman, who have painful pasts that are difficult to share and that have formed them. She believes herself incapable of fully loving or afraid to love for fear of causing harm, and therefore tries to close doors from others. Similar to Abigail, Abi does find someone to trust, and he will help her uncover the truth of her family and bring down those responsible for their deaths and others.

Debut novelist - One recent deal published in Publisher's Weekly is Rebecca Starford's AN UNLIKELY SPY, about a young woman who joins an elite intelligence unit in London right before World War II, infiltrating a secret pro-Nazi group; weaving together a story of family, class, and betrayal, to Helen Atsma at Ecco, at auction, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House, on behalf of Pippa Masson at Curtis Brown Australia (NA). Australian rights previously sold to Jane Palfreyman at Allen & Unwin, by Pippa Masson at Curtis Brown Australia.

Debut novelist: Another recent deal is Miranda Cowley Heller's THE PAPER PALACE, which takes place over 24 hours and over 50 years, as decades of family legacy, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable childhood tragedy lead a woman to the precipice of the life-changing decision she is about to make on this singular summer day in Cape Cod, to Sarah McGrath at Riverhead, at auction, by Susan Armstrong at C+W (NA). Rights to Viking UK; Ullstein (Germany); Trei (Romania); Garzanti (Italy); Presses de la Cite (France); De Bezige Bij (Holland); 21st Century (Hungary); and Intrinseca (Brazil). Rights: Claire Nozieres and Enrichetta Frezzato at Curtis Brown

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

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

Abi, determined to understand why her mother and sister were killed, discovers the answers lie in finding a 4,000-year-old papyrus before it falls into the hands of an international cartel, their final acquisition that would allow them to dominate the world and control the future.

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?

Inner conflicts:
Abi’s inner conflict is forgiveness to herself. She believes she could have stopped the brutal murder of her mother and sister and it is this belief that creates a wedge in her marriage to John and also what fuels her determination to find the truth. In her relentless drive to find the papyrus she will risk everything believing this will be a way to make amends for their deaths.

Secondary conflicts/complications
Abi and John have a marriage that is unraveling. They have been struggling to conceive a child for several years unsuccessfully until it happens by accident, but the struggle caused an additional fissure, blaming each other and each hiding in their work instead of forced to address the underlying issues – not the infertility but their abilities to be honest and open with each other.

John is an international operative who is involved in a black operation; only few in the US know because it is suspected that the president and his team are part of the international cartel which is finalizing a plan to get the remainder of the countries under their control. He reluctantly involves Abi in the operation to infiltrate and finally stop their plans.

Tariq, a friend from her past and first boyfriend, resurfaces. His company is buying her company and she is forced to spend time with him in closing the deal. John, of course, is jealous. Abi knows this and while sometimes she is sympathetic, her anger at some of John’s reactions, also pushes her to seek comfort with Tariq, knowing full well her flirtations are misleading Tariq and she will never break her marriage vows.

Abi and her best friend, August, have co-founded a company that has developed a neurological device that when implanted into someone with memory loss can restore these memories. The technology was developed to help brain-injured people and Alzheimer patients but the international company their company is merging with sees other uses for the technology. Abi has relinquished control over the company through the acquisition and just maintains a board position but August, her co-founder, has retained a role as president of the new wholly owned subsidiary and Abi realizes that August has plans to use the technology maleficently. Abi will try to stop him and the others.

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.

The Venice Declaration is an international flight through time and place. Abi touches many places in her pursuit of the papyrus, but it also reveals the ease in which modern advances has allowed the cartel to assume power across the world.


2650 BCE in Saqqara, Egypt, a burial place for Pharaoh Sekhemkhet, a ruler of lower Egypt, and the prologue for our story. Within the same prologue, we learn of the escape of the Pharaoh’s scribe to a place across the desert that later in more contemporary times will become known as Qumran. Qumran is a place of desert, few to no inhabitants and a natural fortressed area to allow a civilization to grow and thrive but in obscurity.

It is also the place to hide from the Pharaoh’s enemies who are after the scribe to obtain the papyrus that is believed to have powers to predict the future.

Contemporary times

Venice, Italy during Carnival.
The magic of Carnival allows the setting to take on the magic of the story. Our protagonist, Abi, is introduced, standing at the window looking out at a square reflecting on her life and how it had changed since the night her mother and sister were killed. Abi and her husband have come back to Venice during Carnival hoping this special time will help them rekindle the hope for their marriage they had during their first trip.

A photograph found in a mask shop is the inciting incident for a search for the truth of Abi’s great uncle’s death. The scene on a vaporetti allows us to introduce a character who is following Abi and a dinner and scene at the masquerade ball to give further display to the characters and add intrigue to mysterious conversations that occur.

Our story ends in Venice where the discovery of the papyrus is announced and its significance is shared, the Venice Declaration.

Cambridge, MA
The home for Abi and John. Abi is a neuroscientist and has co-founded a company with her best friend, August. She met August while a student at MIT and then later met John through August. John at the time was a post-doc. While August and Abi left academia to pursue their commercial interests, John stayed at MIT and joined the faculty. We learn that in addition to his faculty position in the political science department, John uses it as a front for his clandestine operations to protect the United States. With the exception of a meeting that occurs in law offices located in South Boston overlooking the harbor and the airport, and a scene with airport security at Logan airport, most of the action occurs in Abi’s office building, Cambridge restaurants, and her house on professors’ row in Cambridge.

Cairo, Egypt
Cairo, Abi’s home for the first seventeen years of her life. We get to experience some of the cultural nuances and rituals of living in Egypt and the place itself invokes the exotic. It is where many of the murders occur, and we are able to witness one of these with the death of her great uncle’s foreman. It is also where Abi is asked to assume responsibility for a teenager upon the death of his adopted father, a former foreman to her great uncle and learns that her great uncle’s death might be the result of a papyrus he is believed to have found and is missing. We learn about ancient Egyptians customs and practices through a scene at the Egyptian Museum and a glimpse into the political turbulence in the 1950s that still reverberates in Egypt today.

London, England
Abi will travel back and forth through London to stop at the University of Oriental studies to meet with William Boyles Cheswick, a historian of religion who plays a critical role in helping Abi understand the significance of the 4,000-year-old papyrus and then later helps to translate it. In London, we also are brought into the Mayfair Hotel and then later into a hospital not far from the university after Cheswick is left for dead in his office.

Alexandria, Egypt
We are brought to another city in Egypt, on the Mediterranean Sea. We learn more about family life in Egypt and during this scene another clue is provided to help Abi discover where her great uncle might have hidden the missing papyrus.

Paris, France
John and his colleagues are holed up in a non-descript building in a suburb of Paris trying to breakup, a cartel and prevent it from taking over the last remaining seats of world government. The cartel also uses Paris as a city to convene its international leadership. Both of these are not about the city but about a convenient point for travel from various parts of the world and is also one of the countries on the brink of falling under the cartel’s power.

Later, we have a scene on a yacht in the Mediterranean, where a plot to kill the daughter of the French president is foiled and the world learns of the treachery and starts to reclaim and rebuild democracy.

Sinai, Egypt - St. Catherine’s Monastery
Abi and her colleagues travel to the Sinai believing the papyrus was given by her great uncle to a previous archbishop. St. Catherine’s is a place where the three religions intersect – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. We learn about the significance of place to all religions and the protection of the monastery by a document that Prophet Mohamed is believed to have imprinted with a mark of his hand. The papyrus is found in the ossuary, the burial place for deceased monks.

Farafra and White Desert, Egypt (Sahara)
The final act of treason by our major antagonist, Hussein, occurs in the White Desert, a place that was formed over centuries and is remarkable for its geological formations, white pillars of uneven formation some looking like overgrown mushrooms. The area is known to be dangerous. It borders on Libya and people escape here to disappear or not to be found. The jihadists have an encampment here and it is where Hussein has elected to build a home. It is also here that both Abi and Tariq learn of the true deception of Hussein, and the desert battle and rescue culminates in the death of Tariq and the near death of Abi.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#36 Post by RICHARDKELLEYP6 » 22 May 2020, 20:23

By Richard C. Kelley

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
David must stop his wife from cuckolding him to insert her college lover into their marriage.

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.

As David describes his fear of losing his wife to his sex therapist, Zsófia, Christi (protagonist) at first appears as a beautiful, selfish younger woman.
But she volunteers at a women’s shelter, lavishing love on the children she doesn’t have. And she struggles to stay faithful to David, despite his impotence and controlling behavior that threaten their marriage (antagonistic force).
Christi’s approaching 40th birthday makes her struggle with a deep depression. She tells David she’ll leave him unless he lets her date each of her seven favorite college lovers once more, to find the joy she felt in her youth. David tries to save his marriage by giving his permission, but not for actual sex.
She uses her increasingly erotic first six dates to emotionally castrate David, while remaining nominally faithful. The seventh lover, Eric, broke her heart in college and she has never stopped loving him. She cuckolds David to force him to accept a “new normal,” with Eric her lover. Zsófia comes to despise her.
Christi learns Eric is a sociopath who cares nothing for her and she decides to kill him with his own gun, but David and Zsófia may have different ideas of who should pay.

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

The Cuckold’s Therapist
A Faithful Wife
His Wife’s Seven Lovers

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

Fifty Shades of Grey By E.L. James
Fifty Shades of Grey is a cultural icon, with references to it passing into popular usage. Its obvious similarity to The Cuckold’s Therapist is that each presents an emotionally complex story in the context of a sexual relationship outside society’s norms. The bondage and discipline practiced by Christian Grey is frightening to Anastasia Steele yet somehow draws her to him, and her acceptance of him draws him to her but threatens to break his carefully constructed emotional armor. They find out about themselves by each learning how far the other will go to be together.
Like The Cuckold’s Therapist, Fifty Shades of Grey is more intriguing and memorable in its appeal because of its original, genre-bending concept.

On Hart's Boardwalk By Samantha Young
Like The Cuckold’s Therapist, On Hart’s Boardwalk is the story of a long-married couple who are no longer meeting each other’s needs but desperately want to find a way to stay married. To excite each other and get thoughts of other people out of their marriage, they take a trip and embark upon a sexually-charged game to energize their fading love.
Both The Cuckold’s Therapist and On Hart’s Boardwalk, a more traditional romance, sustain the reader’s interest by using the couple’s ongoing sexual tension, which both animates and threatens their marriage.

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.

Christi (protagonist) asserts herself against the impotent and controlling behavior of her husband David. She threatens to leave him if she can’t have a date with each of her seven college lovers to cuckold David and bring her old boyfriend Eric into their marriage (antagonistic force).

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?

(Protagonist) Christi’s inner conflict is between her frustrating, if loving, marriage to David and her dreams of her youthful sexual freedom. David is decent, loves her deeply, and pulled her out of an early tailspin. But she tells David she will leave him if he doesn’t let her date her seven college lovers. He agonizes over the thought of seeing her with another man, then decides he’s more likely to lose her if he doesn’t give his permission for innocent dates. She uses the first six increasingly erotic dates to emotionally castrate David. The seventh, Eric, is the lover Christi lived with and now can’t live without. David must deny his own sexual impulses to break out of the cuckold role she has made for him in her “new normal:” Christi with Eric as her lover and David as their cuckold.
An early scenario which David describes to his therapist, Zsófia, involved a wild summer pool party to which David was invited by a client.
It is a wild party. David enjoys watching Christi, in her new, tiny bikini, dance with several men while drinking heavily, but his anxiety is building and he tries to get her to go home with him. She spots four young guys in the hot tub at the far end of the pool deck and plunges in, making her suit top almost transparent. She looks at David across the deck as if asking how far he will let her go. He smiles and nods, but his anxiety is cresting and he briefly considers fleeing the party.
One by one she straddles the young men, her arms around their necks, and laughs as they keep their hands underwater. She stays much longer on the fourth guy’s lap, and she isn’t laughing anymore.
She pulls his head up and whispers in his ear, then points at David. The young man looks straight at David and with a smirk on his face yanks her top off and throws it out of the tub, then wiggles one hand at David with the first and fourth fingers up. All of them roar with laughter. More of the other guests begin taking an interest.
Christi laughs with them.
After a few minutes, David gestures to her to come out, and she does so right away.
The men in the pool look acutely disappointed. The guy she had spent the most time with stands up, naked, and turns toward David with a big smile. He says something over his shoulder to his friends and they stand up to show David they had all been naked with his wife. The other party guests give her and them a loud round of cheers and applause. Christi is so thrilled she lets her top drop on the stairs and does a drunken pirouette in her thong, which provokes even greater cheering. Some of the men in the crowd laugh derisively, pointing at David while they talk to people around them. A few of the women look at him with pity in their eyes.
One secondary conflict focuses on how Christi’s friends view David, and how she responds. Her friend Janine, hearing Christi’s anger at David, uses “girls’ nights out” to lure Christi toward sleeping with other men as a way of easing her out of her marriage. She invites Christi to a lively, elegant bar where they are sure to be propositioned by attractive men, and she gives Christi a gold “hotwife” ankle bracelet to fuel the flames. Christi’s reaction to Janine’s urgings is ambiguous and conflicted, for through sixteen years of sexually frustrating marriage she has remained faithful to David.

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.

The events of the novel reach from mid-spring to early summer. Seattle (my home) would normally expect a lot of rain in the spring with not much sunshine, and almost no rain and constant sunshine in summer.
As the events of the novel are painted against a canvas of light and weather, changes in the weather contribute to the dire direction of the story.
The first scene, in mid-spring, shows David’s therapist, Zsófia, in late-afternoon sun and literally in a fog about the events to come.
Zsófia stood at the window in the late-afternoon sun. She smiled tiredly as she gazed down the wooded hill at an unseasonable thick white fog that spilled under the University Bridge and laid itself around the shoulders of Portage Bay like an ermine stole, accented by a multicolored necklace of houseboats. She turned when she heard footsteps on the porch and then a knock.
Several weeks later, the night is dark for David’s assault on Doctor Bobbie’s house, and the streets are slick from a bit of rain. Less light, more clouds building, more rain.
The night was dark enough as David drove carefully up Queen Anne Hill nearly to the Counterbalance, with last night’s sprinkle greasing the street, leaving the incline and every turn slick. On Bobbie’s block there were no lights, and the street was silent the way rich people’s neighborhoods are at night.
A few weeks after that, Christi sits in a fancy restaurant at the foot of Magnolia Bluff watching Elliott Bay and the ferry dock. A steady light rain is coming down, the night is very dark, and events are darkening as well.
Christi, from force of habit, arrived early and sat taking in the view over Elliott Bay. A State ferry was loaded to the gunwales with Seattleites in their black SUV’s, ignoring the soft, apologetic Irish sort of rain, heading for a weekend of hiking on the Olympic Peninsula. The M/V Samish blew a long blast on its horn and slid away from Colman Dock onto the smooth waters of the bay.
A week later, as David prepares himself to confront Christi at Eric’s ducal suite, the scene feels like Halloween, death and all.
An hour later David sat quietly in his car, concealed by the darkness, across a walkway from the Chrystal Palace. Cool air poured in through his window as bruise-purple clouds began to drop great globs of rain, a wind grew, and a murder of crows noisily mustering made the early-summer scene feel like Halloween.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#37 Post by JackieBardenwerperP6 » 27 May 2020, 23:45

Four ambitious new mothers fight to achieve their professional dreams while meeting the demands of modern motherhood.

Meet Vita Sands. A failed actress who dreams of riches, Vita thought marrying her wealthy husband would give her the life she desired. Only once their daughter is born, he becomes incredibly controlling and Vita decides she must free herself financially. She turns to blogging but struggles to capture an audience, so she recruits a group of skilled moms to help. Yet Vita only cares about saving herself, and repeatedly betrays her friends for her own means.

She especially lashes out at Addie, the protagonist, who quit her marketing job to become an artist. Desperate for Addie’s expertise, Vita promises to connect Addie with her husband’s art contacts. But when Addie begins to shine, Vita becomes threatened and lashes out. She befriends fellow mom Laney to manipulate situations so that Addie fails. She also begins seducing Grady, a stay-at-home dad on her team, and becomes irate when he and Addie develop a platonic friendship.

Vita is insecure and competitive and determined to rise above her own oppression by oppressing those around her. Vita wants to be loved, famous and free. And she will do anything to achieve her goals, even if it means destroying the lives of her new friends.

Having Enough
CLIMB (name of the moms group the characters join)

The genre for HAVING ENOUGH is upmarket women’s fiction.

HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT by Laura Hankin. This book is similar as it follows a group of new mothers who meet at a mommy and me music class and is also written in multiple narratives. However, it is different in that while HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT is more of a dark comedy which is compared to the television series The Real Housewives, HAVING ENOUGH is less about excess and more about real moms – it takes an honest look at motherhood, with the characters confronting real challenges facing women today.

THE PERFECT MOTHER by Aimee Molloy. This is a bestselling book about mothers, written in multiple narratives. Like HAVING ENOUGH, it explores what it means to be a good mother. However, while THE PERFECT MOTHER is a thriller and mystery focusing on a kidnapping, HAVING ENOUGH focuses on how women can find happiness as mothers while achieving their dreams.

When a fellow new mother promises to help Addie Madigan launch her art career in return for help launching a blog, Addie finds she must choose between pursuing her career at the cost of others and remaining true to the type of mother she always wanted to be.

Inner Conflict
Since giving birth to Evy, Addie has struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety, making it hard for her to connect with others and develop the network of help she desperately needs. Her husband is working long hours at a new startup, her family lives a thousand miles away in South Carolina, and for the first time in her life, Addie does not know where to turn for help. Her daughter has colic, making Addie terrified to leave her with a babysitter. She has no friends to call who have had babies of their own. And her own mother is so judgmental, Addie cannot imagine confiding that she is struggling. Addie is so overwhelmed by the care of her infant that she finds herself not only hating motherhood – which she wanted so badly – but unable to paint a stroke, let alone launch an art career. Addie feels like a total failure. She has never felt more alone, more vulnerable, or more scared.

So when Addie finds the strength to join a team of moms launching a new blog, she holds on for dear life. Yet even as she begins to pull out of her depression, she is unable to stop worrying. For example, when she is placed in charge of an important photo shoot, even though she appears confident and enjoys using her marketing skills, the entire time she worries about her behavior – first that she’s talking too much. Later, not enough. Then, when the women praise her, she catches Vita rolling her eyes, causing Addie to worry that she has annoyed Vita, her only lifeline to this group of new moms and the art world. This worrying causes Addie to lose focus and make mistakes, until once again Vita appears to be the star. Addie so desperately wants to be accepted, that she allows herself to be used and manipulated, all so she can avoid the painful alternative of being home on her family room floor alone, trying to calm a screaming infant.

Secondary Conflict
In addition to battling feelings of depression and loneliness while trying to launch her career through Vita’s blog team, Addie is also struggling with unresolved issues with her family. She left her southern home to attend college up north primarily because of her younger sister Poppy. Poppy, who had learning disabilities as a child, always received the majority of her parents’ attention, causing her to grow up selfish and pampered, while Addie, who always did well in school without much help, had to fend for herself. As a kid, Addie reacted to this lack of attention by working hard and making her own success. But now Poppy, who still lives in Charleston, is happier than ever with a rich successful boyfriend and an ironclad relationship with her parents. Now that Addie is struggling, she finds the pain of her parents’ indifference and Poppy’s success to be unbearable. And yet Addie has always been afraid to address these issues with her family because whenever she did as a child, she was told her needs weren’t as important as her sister’s. So, conflict-adverse, Addie has buried her pain by avoiding her family.

That is why when Poppy offers to visit Addie and finally meet her four-month-old niece, Addie is elated. Maybe with Poppy now in her twenties, their relationship will finally change. Only after Addie opens her home to her sister, she realizes that Poppy is using her only so she can park her car in her driveway while she jets off to Europe for a three-week vacation, similar to the one Addie and her husband had planned, then cancelled, to pay for IVF. This realization devastates Addie, and yet she never confronts her sister. Instead, she swallows her disappointment and buries her grief.

In addition, Addie faces challenges with her husband’s family, specifically when her brother-in-law decides on a whim to start painting and gets his work into her favorite gallery. She also must confront friction in her own marriage as her husband increasingly spends time at work instead of coming home. Lastly, she must examine her own moral compass when confronted with inequities among her new blog group, along with suspicions that Vita might be trying to seduce Grady, the stay-at-home dad they recruit as their photographer.

Other Conflicts – Multiple Narratives
Since this story includes multiple narratives, there are many other conflicts within the parallel story arcs that are important to the plot. In addition to Addie’s conflicts, we learn about those facing Laney, Kate and Vita, whose struggles are outlined in the Antagonist section above.

Laney’s primary conflict is that after being laid off from her education job, she is torn between starting her own business or getting a stable job in education. Her secondary conflict is dealing with her mother, who has moved in with them for financial reasons, and now is having health problems.

Kate, a high-powered attorney on partner track at a major law firm, is forced to confront whether she can continue to excel at her all-consuming job while preserving the relationships with her newborn daughter and increasingly distant husband, Grady, who joins Vita’s blog team after agreeing to be a stay-at-home dad. Her secondary conflicts include coming to terms with regrets she has over how she handled an incident where she was abused by a senior attorney early in her career, as well as control issues with trusting others with her daughter, and unresolved grief from the loss of her mother years earlier.

The story is set in Stamford and New Canaan, Connecticut, two towns located about forty miles outside New York City. This setting was chosen for its diversity of income levels as well as its proximity to New York, which is central to many of the characters’ ambitions.

HAVING ENOUGH follows four new mothers in different stages of life and with different financial situations. Addie is living in a starter home in one of the vintage, working class neighborhoods of Stamford. Laney, a first generation immigrant from Poland, lives in an overcrowded apartment with her son, boyfriend, and mother in the predominantly Polish part of town. Kate lives in a comfortable apartment near the train station allowing for a quick commute to her Midtown office. And Vita lives in a huge mansion in the New Canaan countryside. Thus, Stamford is the ideal setting because geographically it presents a unique situation where you have thousands of people from different income levels and backgrounds all living within a few miles of each other and within an hour of New York.

This location also allows for each character’s personality to shine through by looking at the living situation they have chosen. For example, Addie, who grew up in the South, loves flowers and gardens and spends a lot of time working on her small yard. Vita, who cares a lot about status, has chosen to live in New Canaan, one of the wealthiest towns around. Laney sees a mansion as a huge waste and cares more that her apartment provides walkability, which allows her to feel connected to her local community. And Kate is so busy with her job that she doesn’t have time for anything more than a sterile apartment with an easy commute, until her husband nudges her to look at houses near the beach.

In addition, because this setting encompasses everything from dense city neighborhoods, to beaches, to sprawling parks, the characters are able to spend time in many different types of locations outside of their homes. Yet Vita’s mansion remains one of the most important locations for setting and plot, as its very composition provides challenges for the characters, such as when Vita must learn to bypass the security system so her controlling husband can’t monitor her, and when Addie is forced to search the halls for her husband during a party, making what turns out to be a dangerously ill-fated decision to entrust her daughter with others.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#38 Post by P6AMYBRECOUNTWHITE » 04 Jun 2020, 19:25

The Act of Story Statement:


By Amy Brecount White

My novel, THE SECOND BLOOM, has three female protagonists with intertwining stories:


When her floral shop crashes, her nest empties, and her husband leaves her, Mel (51) has to find new ways to take root and bloom.


Robyn (39), a successful DC lawyer, wants to get the soul-sucking ghosts from her past out of her head and find real connection, not just sex.


A seasoned psychologist, Theresa (63) hopes to connect with her emotionally distant daughter, guide her toughest patient ever (Robyn), and re-envision her marriage after her beloved husband’s stroke.

Antagonist/ antagonistic forces:

Mel – Her twins (of four children) leave for college, and her husband Henry abruptly departs after 24 years of marriage which undercuts her roles as uber mom and wife. In therapy with Dr. Hall (Theresa), Mel faces how she also contributed to the failed marriage and tried to imagine her new life. Upending floral conventions, she starts to make eclectic “reality bouquets” that better reflect the pain and occasional ugliness of real life. The world wants neat, symmetrical flower bouquets, but that’s not her experience. Later, she grapples with Henry’s confessed infidelity.

Robyn – Her dead mother’s creepy, recurring ghost voice calls her a slut and makes her question her choices and undercuts her self-confidence. She’s never dealt with her sexual abuse as a teen by “cousin” Carter, but her therapist, Dr. Hall (Theresa), unearths the many ghosts Robyn keeps buried. She’s having an affair with Henry (she calls him Ray), but she can’t decide whether she wants that staid and stable life with him. Ray is also inconsistent in his attentions.

Theresa (Dr. Hall) – She wants to connect with her emotionally estranged daughter, Diana, who just separated from her own husband but won’t tell them why. Her new patient Robyn is evasive and triggers Theresa on multiple levels, mainly because she wonders if her soon-to-be-ex son-in-law is sleeping with her patient, Robyn. When a rogue wave at the beach overcomes her grandson Teddy and her husband Jerry, she has to choose which one to save and then live with the consequences. As a psychologist, Theresa is seeing both Mel and Robyn but is unaware of how their lives intertwine until late in the novel. When she discovers this fact, to be ethical she must let of one of them.


Backup: Bloom Again

Genre: Upmarket Women’s Fiction (i.e. Book group)


The Female Persuasion – Meg Wolitzer
The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

5) Conflict Line: (all POV’s)

A seasoned psychologist is seeing both the wife and the other woman—but doesn’t know it.

6) Inner & outer conflicts

Mel – Inner conflict: Can she forgive her husband Henry’s abrupt departure and infidelity or not?

Scene: Christmas Day. Inner turmoil between Mel’s desire for her family to be whole again vs. her raging anger at Henry’s cheating on her. She feels like Henry’s playing her, but she also acknowledges she could have been a better partner.

Secondary conflict: Her children, who don’t know about the infidelity, want to see their dad and Christmas and want their happy family back. Mel is torn between her own needs and those of her children, to which she’s deferred for decades.

Robyn – Inner conflict: “Ray” adores her and wants to become a couple, but she’s not sure she wants a monogamous relationship with an older guy with baggage, although that would give her some stability and might shut down her mom’s ghostly, critical voice.

Scene: Robyn tries to schedule a weekend getaway for her and Ray to test out their relationship, but Ray refuses, saying he’s busy with a family event and that he’s concerned someone might recognize him and tell his kids, which tells her that Ray isn’t ready to “out” their relationship.

Secondary conflict: Robyn worries about sharing her dilemma over Ray with her therapist (Dr. Hall) because she thinks her older shrink might judge her.

Theresa – Inner conflict: From the little her daughter Diana has told her about the breakup of her own marriage, Theresa guesses that her son-in-law was unfaithful. Her sexy patient Robyn triggers Theresa because Robyn frankly admits that she sleeps with older married men.

Scene: In therapy, Robyn triggers Theresa because Robyn shares that she’s having an affair with a man who just separated from his wife, and Theresa wonders if that’s her son-in-law, but she can’t ask that question directly or indirectly.

Secondary conflict: Theresa is dying to know more about her daughter’s separation, but Diana won’t share any details and resists Theresa’s therapeutic outreach.

7) My setting is the metro area of Washington, D.C., from September 2014 into April 2015.

The characters move through and interact with iconic landmarks known to most of the world – from the National Gallery of Art to the popular Georgetown Cupcake bakery to the famous memorials around the tidal basin. The power ethos of DC—usually based on educational status and connections—also figures strongly in how the characters interact and perceive others’ actions. My setting includes lots of diverse characters and neighborhoods, along with real events that occurred in that time period, such as a protest in Dupont Circle after the verdict in the Eric Garner case and the blooming of the cherry blossoms. I also set scenes in local woods and at the Delaware beach, a common DC getaway.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#39 Post by JOSHUAP6COCHRAN » 06 Jun 2020, 01:14


Save the multiverse and find your way home.


At first, a “Minder” by the name of Thalius sets the protagonist, Orion, on his quest. Thalius, having already experienced numerous interactions with other versions of Orion in alternate universes, comes to “freeze” our Orion in order to stop him from destroying the multiverse. At first, Orion’s only quest is to escape confinement, but that soon changes.
Orion manages to escape the frozen universe in which he was trapped for several centuries, causing a cat-and-mouse chase through the multiverse, with Thalius in dogged pursuit, after Orion is joined by a young girl named Jasmine.

Eventually, Orion and Jasmine are “saved” by a group of former Minders called “rogues.” These Rogues are partially led by Orion’s mother, who supposedly died when Orion was a young teen. Orion’s father joins them all. Jasmine is discovered to be a Minder and is dispatched. And then, roles reverse and it is shown that Thalius is truly a force of good and Orion’s mother is the true antagonist who has used Orion to conduct a final showdown between Minders and Rogues.
Part One of the trilogy (this novel) ends with Orion being taken by the Minders to an area of punishment until his loyalties can be tested and trusted. Orion is confused and incapable of resistance. He has a lot to figure out about the multiverse, but his training in “Minding” begins.


The Minders: Belt of Orion Book I (working title, The Minders)
Glitches: Chronicles of Orion Book I
Minders of the Multiverse: Book I


The Minders is a young adult novel intended to be read by most all ages, kind of like the Harry Potter series. The vocabulary and sentence structures are simplified, flashbacks are rare, and it’s told in a tight third person POV that follows the protagonist, Orion, in a linear timeline.
Comparables would be the thriller aspect of A. G. Riddle’s Atlantis series, combined with a Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide dry-humor element (without the sophomoric aspects). The story is serious, but also filled with moments of lightness and comedy. But make no mistake. This isn’t a funny story. People die (or at least a version of them does) and the existence of all we know is at stake. However, I did endeavor to have respites from the tension that are rewardingly funny for readers to take when wrapping their head around the concepts involved.


A young man finds himself as the linchpin in a war within the multiverse between competing factions of those who favor stasis (Minders) and those who favor natural entropy (Rogues).


The protagonist, Orion, must weigh his own worth and merit against those of his long-dead mother (who didn’t die) and who just might be on the wrong side of the situation. The protagonist’s father, who disappears in the opening chapter, returns but turns out to be a different version of his father, from a different universe, and is being used to manipulate Orion.
The protagonist comes to trust and depend on his young companion, Jasmine. Jasmine turns out to be a Minder who is many centuries old despite her appearance as a young girl. Loyalty and deception zig-zag their way through the plot as it unfolds, with multiple reversals.

Orion must try to keep his sanity within the multiverse, which is no easy task. In one multiverse, for example, Orion and Jasmine end up on a planet full of Orions—versions of Orion from different universes and ejected to this dead-end by Thalius in his attempts to correct the glitch that allows Orion to breach the multiverse. On the planet of Orions (one of my favorite chapter sequences) Orion comes to learn that most of his alternate selves are insane due to attempting to understand how the multiverse works, which makes him question his own capabilities and sanity.

Orion must come to terms with who is using him and for what purpose. Is his mother really his mother? His father wasn’t. And now his mother, who abandoned him in his youth, desires for Orion to join her and the Rogues to quash the Minders forever. But are the Minders, and Thalius, really that bad? Are the Rogues really that good? Is his mother a maniacal or benevolent force to contend with?

Jasmine’s betrayal and deception causes Orion to question his questions. And while he may never forgive her, can he ever trust her again?
At the end of this first novel, Orion is held as a prisoner by the Minders to perpetuate the multiverse and keep it stable. Has he gone insane? Is he really just in a mental institution? A coma? A dream? The nature of reality is questioned.


While the novel begins in “our world,” this is scuttled completely in the second chapter when the universe freezes in time. From there, we are not tied to any defined setting, and the multiverse allows for incredible diversity of setting… Orion visits “Nowhere,” a universe where all lost things accumulate—from socks to keys to missing people, airplanes and ships—and this is where he meets Jasmine, who disappeared from her family while on vacation in the 1950s. Orion and Jasmine visit the Eden-like universe inhabited exclusively with other versions of himself. They visit the Rogue stronghold, and a multiverse where there is no matter of any kind. In addition, the ability of Minders and Rogues to transplant elements of one multiverse within another (which is highly unstable and dangerous) makes setting even more fluid. The Rogue stronghold is like an MC Escher painting of blended universes, for instance.
World-building is difficult, so I try to settle the reader into the setting as soon as possible so character can be the driving force of the novel. However, setting is just as important as plot… and just as jumbled.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#40 Post by P6BonnieOldre » 07 Jun 2020, 01:20

Seven Assignments for New York Pitch
1-Story statement:
Jana, an eighteen-year-old Czechoslovakian Romani girl, discovers that her family has disappeared. Now, she must find and rescue them while continuing the fight to free her country from Nazi control.
The story takes place in WWII Czechoslovakia. The country has split into two parts—Slovakia, a German ally, and The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which is occupied by Nazi Germany.
The first part of the story takes place in Slovakia. There, the local fascists, the Hlinka Guards, are the antagonists. Their motivation is a type of bullying. They enjoy throwing their weight around and enforcing laws that targeted any government opposition. Their animus is especially directed at Jews and Romanies. A government edict forbids the Roma people from living, or even being, in the towns and villages. This, coupled with a historic dislike of the Roma, by some people in that society, makes the existence of the Roma precarious. When Jana’s family disappears, she immediately assumes that either the local police or the Hlinka Guards are to blame
The location of the story moves to Prague, in the middle part of the story. There the foes are the Nazi occupation force, in general, and the Protector, Reinhard Heydrich, in particular. He is the embodiment of the lust for power, self-absorption, and evil cunning that epitomizes the Nazi Empire. Eventually, Jana takes part in his assassination, and then she and her love interest, Otto, flee back to Slovakia which, although a Nazi Germany ally, is a safer place to hide, due to the rugged and forested landscape, which makes it a better place to hide, the prevalence of partisans, and anti-German sentiments held by a large portion of the population.
3-Create a breakout title:
Caravans Halted (current title)
Where is My Home
4-Comparable titles:
The plot of Caravans Halted is similar to The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, which also features a female protagonist involved in espionage activities and is told from multiple viewpoints. This novel should also appeal to people who enjoyed The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff, another book set in WWII with female lead characters.
5-Primary conflict:
Jana must find and rescue her family while continuing the fight to free her country from Nazi control.
6-Secondary conflicts: Inner and Societal:
Jana’s inner conflict is primarily that she doesn’t want to get married, but she is attracted to Otto. Her reasons for not wanting to marry are that she wants a less traditional life. To her, marriage means staying close to home cooking and tending children. At a deeper level, she is frightened of marriage because her mother died in childbirth.
Societal conflict is a given for Jana. Her people, the Roma, are in constant conflict with the outside, dominant society. At this time, an added level of conflict is caused by the war, the Nazis, the Slovakian Fascists, the Hlinka Guards, and the occupation of the Czech lands.
This novel is set in WWII Czechoslovakia. When Czechoslovakia broke up, before the Nazi occupation of the Czech lands, Slovakia became an ally of Nazi Germany. Despite that, its topography, and lower population, made it a good hiding place for partisan activity, as opposed to the occupied Czech lands of the so-called Protectorate.
Act I begins in the rugged hills, towns, and villages of Slovakia.
Act II takes place in Prague--gray with soot and disfigured by Nazi flags, emblems, and troops stationed on street corners, in front of government buildings, etc.
Act III takes Jana and Otto from Prague, through Moravia, and back to Slovakia.
Many settings are important to this story. They include: In Slovakia, a Partisan Camp, campsites, a farm, villages, a church, a ruined castle and the estate of a Hungarian count, a woodsman cabin, the Ilava prison where Otto breaks out Jana’s father and brother, a Gypsy camp on the outskirts of Ilava. In Prague, the home of Otto’s parents, the streets, parks, and squares, a library, the Prague Castle; outside of the city, the woods, and villages that surround Prague, including the village of Lidice, and various hideouts. In Moravia, a medieval fortress prison, and a cave.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#41 Post by rubysspoon » 11 Jun 2020, 17:40

1. Story Statement
A suffering boy uses quantum entanglement to journey to the "Bowls" - an undiscovered part of earth where pain does not exist.

2. The Antagonist Force
The antagonist force in the story is unresolved childhood trauma coupled with cancer.

3. Title
Big Bowl Pho
The Margins No One Sees

4. Comparable
The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

5. Conflict
Elliot Campbell lives with a secret guilt that he believes he is responsible for his sister’s death. His father has a new young wife and young children and has created a new life with hardly a space for Elliot.

His depressed mother, five years after her daughter’s death, still does not accept that the girl is dead. When Elliot is diagnosed with leukemia, he does not want to live until he meets a mysterious girl and travels to the margins of earth where the girl shows him a place where only beauty exists. He does not realize that she, too, has cancer.

6. Protagonist’s Inner Conflict
Elliot believes that the leukemia he is diagnosed with is the due punishment that he deserves for killing his sister.

Secondary Conflict
Elliot has hidden his self-harming tendencies and likes to be beat up by a bully on his hockey team. He has also hidden his cancer symptoms from his divorced parents whose self-centeredness was the cause of their daughter’s death.

7. Setting
Rochester, Minnesota – a Vietnamese restaurant, The Mayo Clinic and the margins of earth which Elliot’s mysterious girlfriend and her theoretical physicist grandmother call “The Bowls."

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#42 Post by JenniferBarahona » 12 Jun 2020, 21:26

1. Story Statement:

Sydney Cutley’s entire life has been preparing her for something she didn’t know existed, now at seventeen she knows and Sydney must navigate the Gifted world of Inhumans while discovering her place in it.

2. The Antagonist:

The Antagonist in this story is Austin Jensen, an inhuman or Gifted. From the moment Sydney, the Protagonist, meets him, her normal human world changes. She feels an instant pull toward the boy she doesn’t know at all and her thoughts flow back to him time and time again even though he isn’t there. As drawn as she is to him, Austin constantly pushes her away all the while pulling her deeper into both her infatuation with him and his Gifted world. She does not understand the tug of war he does, hot one-minute cold the next, nor does she understand his world. However, he is the force that drives her to learn more about herself and the Gifted world she should belong.

3. Breakout Titles:

The Gifted

Something More


4. Genre and Comparable:

Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This is a good comparison as there are many similarities in my story and this book. The protagonist in Cinder, Cinder herself, goes through a discovery of who she is and where she came from throughout the story much like Sydney does in The Gifted. The secondary driving force in both these stories is romance developing between Cinder and Kai and Sydney and Austin. Lastly, there is a strong fantasy aspect of both these stories.
The Guardian by A.J. Messenger This is another good comparison as it also has the underline something is different about Alexander that Declan is trying to discover much the way Sydney is learning about Austin. Once again there is a love story that draws the two different people, who are worlds apart together. Lastly, this also has the strong fantasy aspect to it.
Twilight By Stephanie Meyers – Much like Edward's focus and time is spent on keeping Bella safe from a race that he doesn’t believe she should be a part of Austin faces these same challenges with Sydney. But in both stories, the underlying pull for the characters to together trump the reasons they have for staying apart.

5. Primary Conflict:
Torn between her desire to learn more about the Gifted race in which she was ripped from as a child, and their leader, the undeniably attractive Austin, and her own fears of both, Sydney sets out on a journey to learn where she can from and what she can become.
6. Other Matters of Conflict:
Internal conflict

Sydney constantly faces the question should she leave and leave the Gifted world alone, or should she learn more, push for more answers even when she starts to realize she won’t like them. The conflict of curiosity verse comfort and safety wages through her mind in a constant loop.

Other Conflict
Sydney and Austin’s relationship.

The constant pull Sydney feels toward Austin even as he is pushing her away continues through the story as they both come to terms with their feelings for each other and how the Gifted world will view their relationship.

7. Setting:

The story begins in the regular everyday world of a New York City bar that Sydney’s pseudo parents own. This is the world Sydney knows, the one she grew up in. It’s a place full of people, music, laughter, light, comfort. It is in the bar trendy college bar that Austin and the Gifted come into Sydney’s life. Sydney notices them because they are so different from everyone around her, if she had met them in somewhere other than her own safe place, the bar, she might not have taken the time to see them. So it’s important she meets them here.

The alley next to the bar is where much of her interaction with the Gifted occur. I use this because it’s a smaller space, bricks on both sides, closed off, it is darker. An allay, in general, gives the feeling uncertainty and in turn that plays into Sydney’s own feelings of uncertainty.

When Sydney learns exactly what the gifted are to her, and in general she is back in the bar. Once again this is her safe spot and she is more open to the idea in an area that is comfortable to her.

And then the story moves from regular to Gifted as Austin takes her from her home in New York to his compound. The empty existence in the monochrome compound is something Sydney can’t understand and hostility coming off everyone around them is also a presence itself on the compound. Sydney is told time and time again that compound reflex the leader, and Austin is empty of everything Sydney knew life to be. But she doesn’t see that in Austin, she sees something more. And in turn, the compound starts to become full of life as she humanizes Austin in a way only she can.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#43 Post by SuzanneParryP6 » 13 Jun 2020, 04:24

1. Story statement

Survive the siege of Leningrad and recover lost love.

2. Antagonist or antagonistic force

World War II drives the plot of this historical novel. Along with the destruction, suffering, and chaos of war as the main antagonistic force, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin are specific perpetrators of evil. Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 results in an encirclement of my heroine’s home—Leningrad. The Germans bomb, burn, and blockade the city with the goal of starving its citizens. Widowed violinist Sofya Karavayeva and her teenage granddaughter, Yelena, are caught in the unfolding storm, eventually trapped in the besieged city.
Stalin’s power over the citizens of the Soviet Union is ironclad. The cruelty and unlimited reach of his secret police terrify the population for years before the Nazis’s attack. Everyone dreads the nighttime ‘knock at the door’ that may come for them, or someone they love, and destroy their lives in an instant. Sofya's story begins in 1939 when her son is arrested and sentenced to a labor camp.

3. Breakout title

Lost Souls of Leningrad - working title
The Violinist of Leningrad
Midnight in Leningrad

4. Historical fiction comparables

Once Night Falls - Roland Merullo - Lake Union, 2019
A story of partisans and average citizens in the Italian resistance during WWII. Life and death stakes, several captivating point of view characters, both male and female. Told chronologically in short chapters that rotate among the characters.
My novel is also a chronological tale of WWII, told from the multiple perspectives of several important characters. It uses an actual historical event—the Siege of Leningrad—as its framework, not unlike Merullo's use of Mussolini’s fall from power and temporary escape from Italy as the foundation for his story.

The Boat Runner - Devin Murphy - Harper Perennial, 2017
A dark, atmospheric WWII novel set in the Netherlands. A Dutch teen comes of age during the catastrophic events of the war. First person, filled with propulsive, emotional plot points, plenty of stakes and some very interesting underlying conflict.
Although my novel is told in third person, the tone of the two novels is similar. Both are dark, emotional stories, propelled by a sequence of disastrous wartime events.

5. Conflict line

In the aftermath of her son’s arrest by Stalin’s secret police, a widowed violinist get a second chance at love only to face a desperate struggle for survival when the Nazis attack her homeland.

6. Inner and secondary conflicts

Inner conflict - Sofya and Vasili
Early in the story, Sofya is reunited with the love of her youth, Admiral Vasili Antonov. Driven apart decades earlier by duty, they are now both widowed. The possibility of a second chance for happiness forces Sofya to confront a tightly-held secret with implications for her entire family. While acknowledging the risk of Vasili’s rejection, Sofya decides to reveal her secret, knowing she cannot begin a new relationship based upon a monumental lie.
In turn, upon learning her secret, Vasili is at first angry and disappointed. He briefly rejects her, but they are quickly reconciled.

Inner conflict - Sofya
As supplies disappears from the city and rations plummet, Sofya becomes obsessed with food. Although she and Yelena have more than many, they must carefully, compulsively ration what they eat—a few ounces every day. On the street one afternoon in dark midwinter, Sofya spots a ration card. She picks it up, and although she knows the valuable paper must belong to the woman walking just ahead, she does not call out to her. Greed and fear work against her better nature, convincing her to keep the card despite it almost certainly being a death sentence for the stranger. Tortured by guilt, Sofya must find a path to redemption.

Inner conflict - Vladik
Vladik is a teenage neighbor who works in food distribution. Filled with guilt after his mother and brother are killed trying to evacuate, he finds some solace in rescuing two orphans. His job provides him unusual access to food and, even though he is conflicted about stealing, he becomes increasingly confident his thefts will go unnoticed and unpunished. Although a courageous and kind young man, his bitterness toward others who take advantage of the system, and perhaps his guilt over the deaths of his family, will be his undoing.

Secondary conflicts or complications

Yelena and Pavel - Sixteen year-old Yelena falls in love with eighteen year-old Pavel as the war begins. Their affection grows, until on a rare visit, he proposes. The beauty of new love stands in stark contrast to the horror of the disintegrating city.

Yelena - Just when it seems perhaps the worst is over for Leningrad, Pavel is killed. Shortly after, Yelena discovers she is pregnant.

7. Setting

This historical novel takes place in the exotic wartime locale of greater Leningrad in the former Soviet Union. The most European of all Soviet cities, once majestic Leningrad is home to lifelong resident and widow Sofya Karavayeva. Baroque pastel palaces and appealing public gardens grace its many waterways. Dozens of unique bridges link neighborhoods while stunning cathedrals adorn the landscape. Despite its architectural charms, since the Communists have come to power a certain drabness pervades the city. And although a study in contradictions—with narrow winding streets and run-down living quarters straight out of Dostoyevsky—it remains an intellectual and artistic city. Pockets of energy can be found, whether at the ballet, the university, or the Haymarket—the large street market favored by black marketeers.
Imagine grand Nevsky Prospekt, filled with pedestrians, shopping and strolling. Nestled along that splendid boulevard is Philharmonia Hall, where Sofya, a professional violinist, rehearses and performs with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. The Radio House also occupies a spot in the artistic and commercial heart of Leningrad. It is home to the lesser Radio Committee Orchestra where Sofya works after a demotion due to her son’s arrest. On their days off, people walk along the Neva River embankment and visit the majestic Winter Palace, former residence of the tsar, to view the astounding collection in the Hermitage—already one of the world’s greatest museums. Sofya lives with her family not far from these landmarks, on the edge of central Leningrad in an average size apartment.
In the years before the war, Stalin’s security organs arrest Soviet citizens at random, covering the nation with an ever-thickening blanket of fear. Then, in 1941, Hitler attacks the Soviet Union. The Germans quickly encircle Leningrad, bombing and burning, destroying sources of heat, water and electricity. They cut off food supplies and the citizens starve. A bitterly cold winter sets in and the once beautiful capital is ravaged: filled with bombed out buildings, piles of snow and ice, and corpses. Leningrad’s physical destruction is reflected in the struggle and emotional deterioration of the characters.
Admiral Vasili Antonov—Sofya’s first and once again love— commands a vessel at Kronstadt naval base in the Gulf of Finland. Although just twenty-five miles west of the city, he is isolated from Leningrad and Sofya. When winter comes, his warship is frozen in the vast sea of white, fighting off German attacks.
Yelena’s sweetheart, Pavel, joins the People’s Volunteers and is assigned to the Ice Road—the Soviet government’s audacious attempt to resupply the city and save the citizens from starvation. Thirty miles northeast of Leningrad is the largest lake in Europe and when this lake freezes, Pavel will make hundreds of trips across the frozen moonscape, dodging Luftwaffe attacks and the icy, capricious terrain, in order to bring food into Leningrad.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#44 Post by NANCYMUIRHEADP6 » 15 Jun 2020, 03:26

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: story statement

A child psychologist has only three days to save eight terrified girls from the clutches of a child trafficking ring.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: antagonist or antagonistic force.

Dr. Wayne Curtis sat at his big doctor’s desk and pondered his choices, heart racing beneath his Tom Ford charcoal suit and monogrammed dress shirt. He hadn’t come this far to lose it all now. Even decades later, his face burned with the memory of hand-me-downs from an older brother, and sometimes even his oldest sister. Wayne prided himself on leveling the playing field in college, exchanging his baggies of weed and pills for stolen college exams. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he didn’t have the golden privileges enjoyed by his classmates. But now he was in serious trouble; $225,000 in credit card debt, the result of online gambling twisted out of control. When a gambling buddy offered him an easy way to make money using his position, he took it. After all, no one would dare question him, a high-level executive with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Wayne was not concerned with how the information he was providing would be used. After all, he reasoned, if it hadn’t been him, they would have just found somebody else.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: breakout titles

Hidden Among the Shadows
No Safety Net


Genre: Psychological Thriller
Market-wise, this psychological thriller will appeal to readers of Harlan Coben and Greer Hendricks/Sarah Pekkanen as it is a fast-paced page turner with psychological twists and turns.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: conflict line

When psychologist Charley Fox discovers that children from her clinic, girls between the ages of 11-13, are being placed in foster homes that don’t exist, she desperately tries to uncover the clinic insider who is responsible while finding the missing girls in time.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: conditions for inner conflict- primary/secondary

Protagonist Dr. Charley Fox has spent her life following the rules and succeeded at flying just below the radar of a harsh administrator. When a series of shocking events co-occur, she must leverage her anxiety, terror, and fury into the strength and passion she needs to overcome impossible odds. A scenario to further develop these emotions would be for Charley to leave the safety of her office, follow clues left behind by her young patient, and throw herself into a series of life-threatening situations.

Charley reaches out to her husband for comfort and reassurance. Since he is out of town attending a conference, she calls his hotel room to leave a message but a strange woman answers the phone. A hypothetical scenario to heighten this conflict is the memory of her husband’s one-time infidelity many years ago, an emotional trauma that makes it difficult for her to hear his explanations of a setup by his competitors.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: novel setting

The novel is set in a Los Angeles County mental health facility located in the sleepy suburb of Torrance. The clinic is a universe unto itself, run by a hated despot who resembles a Shoebill Stork, and the conflicts between the clinical staff and administrators often take the form of non-sanctioned additions to the puke-green walls of the clinic’s break room. A secondary setting is provided on the grounds of the Port of Los Angeles, where stacked containers cast deep shadows, giant cranes resemble awkward animals, twisting dirt trails can lead to danger, and unexpected visitors are never welcomed.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#45 Post by DEQUAINAWASHINGTONP6 » 15 Jun 2020, 21:13

1. Story Statement

Mira Star is bent on getting revenge on the men in her life who have wronged her, and with the help of her mysterious boyfriend Red, she knows just the way to do it. Mira’s husband, Mint Mallard, wants to find out if Mira tried to have him killed in prison so that he can either get her back, or let her go for good.

2. The antagonist plots the point.

Red wants to usher in the new mode of world existence, the Dirt Hours, in order to prepare Earth for his dominion and needs Mira’s help to do it. After he gets Mira pregnant, he will do anything to keep his progeny safe as her child is the final key to taking over the world. He has an army of Spawns that do his bidding: be it keeping an eye on Mira or attacking anyone who threatens her reliance on him. He will stop at nothing to eliminate all other men in Mira’s life as they are getting in the way of his plans—except Mira isn’t too keen to let him usurp her revenge.

3. Conjuring Your Breakout Title

“We Are Both in the Dirt”
“The Dirt Hours”

4. Genre & Comparables
Genre: Crime/Transgressive Sci-Fi
: Minion – LA Banks, Whiskey Road, Karen Siplin

“We Are Both in the Dirt” is Sci-Fi mixed with erotica, crime, and suspense, and depicts the lifestyles of people who are on the wrong side of the law and aren’t necessarily brought to justice because of their crimes.

It is a mix between Whiskey Road, which is a multi-cultural story about a complicated relationship between a strong woman of questionable morals and a man who is flawed an wounded by the perils of his own life and family, and Minion, a story about a kick-ass woman taking on supernatural forces that both scare her and give her life meaning.

Both comparables feature women who are used to being in control going up against forces that they cannot control, and in doing so they learn not only about their enduring strength, but the lengths that they will go to to protect what they didn’t know they cared about so deeply.

5. Primary Conflict/Agon

After embarking on a fruitless revenge tour that takes her through the darkest parts of the American west, a woman learns that she must find a way to forgive the very men she hates in order to save a world that has only brought her suffering.

6. Other Matters of Conflict

Mira’s inner conflict involves her simultaneous desire to kill and spend time with the men in her life. As she fights to maintain the anger that sent her on her revenge tour, she realizes that things aren’t as simple as she first thought. For example, when she visits her husband, she is overcome with her desire to punish him for his betrayals but is also attracted to him and undoubtedly still in love with him. She takes pains to be with him, over and over, until she finally has the guts to give him the payback she’s been orchestrating since he betrayed her.

The other conflict is her desire for independence. She wants to be on her own but has found herself linked to yet another man who is falling short of her expectations. In this instance, he has all the control, and she is struggling against his restraints to carry out her destiny according to her rules, not his, as that’s what got her in trouble in the past—negating her own feelings and desires in order to support another’s.

7. Setting

We Are Both in the Dirt takes place in the near future in Las Vegas and lesser known parts of Nevada and California. It takes place within the world of the criminal counterculture where opulence, hedonism and every indulgence is at one’s fingertips. The world at large is complacent and calm, completely unprepared for the horrors that are unfolding in every corner.

The story takes the reader from desolate desert lands to bumping bars and strip clubs but never leaves the realm of otherness inherent to a lifestyle that isn’t practiced by most.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#46 Post by katieschuessler » 16 Jun 2020, 21:34

1. Story Statement:

While living and working in occupied Palestine, Katie must come to grips with oppression as it confronts her head-on.

2. Antagonist:

In winter of 2016 we meet Bolous, the grumpy, creative, wild-haired proprietor of an organic farm near Bethlehem. His confidence and no-nonsense attitude enthrall our heroine, who is immediately smitten.

Soon thereafter, Katie becomes an artist-in-residence on Bolous’s property, an opportunity that changes the course of her time in Palestine—and ultimately her entire life.

3. Title:

Between the Raindrops
The Walls We Build

4. Comparables:

Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland by Pamela J. Olson

American Pamela Olson originally arrived in Ramallah as a journalist, diving headfirst into a deep, rich experience of Palestinian life and culture. Through her adventures, she learns about the complexities of the occupation while exploring concepts like identity and human nature.

5. Primary Conflict:

Under the harsh, sometimes loving guidance of her wild-haired mentor, a Jewish American woman must come face-to-face with the realities of oppression in occupied Palestine.

6. Inner Conflict:

Katie tries to make sense of oppression by looking at her own inner turmoil. She struggles with reconciling her Zionist upbringing with the humanitarian crises she witnesses in the West Bank. She draws on memories of her sister’s abuse.

Secondary Conflicts:

Katie struggles with filthy living conditions and clueless flatmates in Nablus, constant unwanted attention from men on the streets— including being grabbed by a driver as she was walking home, and a secret affair with one of the regulars at the farm.

7. Primary Settings:

Near Bethlehem, Wadi Makhrour –so named because of the sound that water makes as it flows across the valley floor-- is bursting with olive, apricot, and almond trees. Ancient stone cottages dot the green hills; our protagonist ends up living in one in the dead of winter, just below the restaurant and farm where she becomes an artist-in-residence. Biting temperatures and frequent rainstorms are punctured with long bouts of sunshine.

Across the valley, the Wall looms tall and gray, a bitter reminder of the occupation.

The frigid weather, deep quiet, and abundant solitude provide a respite from her soul-sucking life in Nablus, where she lives in a filthy flat with seven other international teachers.

Secondary Settings:

Katie’s memories take us to an American kibbutz in south Israel; an oasis in Ein Gedi; and to the gloomy, cool walls of her childhood home in Seattle.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#47 Post by SinclairCabocelP6 » 17 Jun 2020, 03:42

1. Story Statement
Convince the exiled CEO to save his former company.

2. Antagonist
Morty Reznik, with help from the board of the directors, betrayed Albion Financial’s illustrious CEO, Gordon Pender. In the four years since, he’s managed to run the bank into the ground, tarnishing its sterling reputation with scandal after scandal. Envious of his predecessor's prestige, yet unwilling to emulate anything close to honorable behavior, Reznik is the avatar of an industry that talks smooth but plays dirty. Though he's managed to keep the spotlight off himself so far, his attempts to cash in on Albion’s reputation have pissed off the public and made regulators ravenous.
The board, increasingly conscious of the company's decline and fall, enlists Felicity, Gordon Pender's former assistant, to find him and offer him his job back. Knowing that Pender's return would end his career, Reznik will go to any length to retain his power, whether it means fabricating documents or putting prostitutes on the company payroll to send Pender’s way. His relentlessness, however, could be his undoing—every banker knows the danger of overleveraging, and Reznik loves to overplay his hand.

3. Breakout Titles

4. Genre and Comp Titles
Inspired by the fabled death of King Arthur (and set in the most un-Arthurian world of contemporary banking), AVALON is a corporate riches-to-rags thriller in the vein of Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House with a touch of the business satire of Ling Ma’s Severance.

5. Primary Conflict
“Beset by debts and threatened with termination, a disillusioned employee of a failing bank must convince her disgraced former CEO to leave his luxury penthouse and return to the company that betrayed him before it collapses.”

6. Secondary Conflicts
Internal Conflict:
Felicity has plenty of fond memories of being Pender’s executive assistant, but the only promise the former CEO ever broke is the reason she’s spent the prime of her life stuck in debt and spreadsheets. As much as she’d love to escape the corporate world, she can’t. Her bills are piling up, her dying mother is costing more and more each month to treat, and nobody pays anything close to what Albion Financial does. After years of being a cog in the machine, she's struggling to define herself outside of the capitalist paradigm. Summoning the tenacity and compassion to restore Pender could reaffirm her humanity. It could also just be another expression of the system's power over her.
Complicating things, Pender has his own internal crises that Felicity must help him deal with before he can even think of running a major financial institution again. He’s spent the past four years drowning in booze, pills, and mistresses, completely blocking out the trauma of losing his bank, his family, and his last chance of a real relationship with Albion Financial's original founder, his father.

Secondary Conflict:
Wyatt, Felicity’s love interest and coworker, accepts an unexpected promotion to SVP of Conduct. Given tremendous power for the first time in his career, he swears he’ll restore the honor-based work culture that had flourished under Pender. As he sifts deeper into Albion’s dealings with arms dealers and terrorist financiers, however, he discovers just how corrupt the bank has become during Reznik’s tenure.
Eventually, the reason nobody else would take the job dawns on him—the position is the target of major regulatory scrutiny, and the SVP of Conduct could face criminal charges if Albion’s skeletons surface. While Felicity tries to bring Pender back, Wyatt must decide how far he’s willing to bend his principles in order to keep the bank afloat.

7. Setting
The city of New Camden is a fictionalized version of Charlotte, North Carolina, one of America’s prominent banking hubs. Growing uncontrollably with an influx of investments, it’s a far cry from the small hamlet that existed when Albion Financial was first founded. The unstoppable urbanization has not only introduced new anxieties to those who remember fresh air and quiet afternoons, but it’s also raised the stakes for the bank upon which the entire city's commerce relies.
Indeed, it’d be difficult to find economic activity that couldn’t trace itself to the three skyscrapers at the city’s center, all of which belong to Albion Financial. Under Pender’s leadership, the bank had been a responsible steward over the realm. After his wrongful ouster, however, New Camden’s future has become as uncertain as the bank’s. Crime and homelessness are on the rise, the lush forests and rolling hills at its outskirts are being encroached upon, and the bank’s employees can’t remember the last time they’ve seen the sun from their offices.
Aside from various company and city locales, another major setting is Avalon, the luxury penthouse in which Gordon Pender locked himself away in following his betrayal. Expansive and made of marble and panoramic windows, it's a veritable paradise and the perfect place for an exiled executive to remain in endless stasis. A pastiche, obviously, of the mythical island of Avalon (where King Arthur was taken after being mortally wounded), the penthouse is where Felicity must retrieve Pender from so that he can return to Albion Financial in its hour of greatest need.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#48 Post by YaliIzegbuP6 » 17 Jun 2020, 07:44

Assignment 1:

A young woman tries to understand why she feels such a deep connection to New England in the late 1600s, Louisiana around 1790, and Shanghai in the 1970s. When she stumbles upon a handwritten confession, the young woman tries to help bring about justice for a murder victim.

Assignment 2:

Each lifetime that the protagonist lives through comes to an end due to an antagonist. The manner in which the protagonist dies directly impacts the next lifecycle. The protagonist living in New England encounters an ultimate betrayal when she rebuffs a potential suitor.

The second life of the protagonist is not as cut and dry as the first when analyzing the actions that lead to a showdown, between two men, in the deep murky waters off the coast of Louisiana in the late 1790s.

The reader then catches up with the protagonist in yet a third lifecycle in Shanghai. A young wife watches in horror as her husband commits one of the worst crimes known to man. When she exacts revenge the reader is no longer sure how to view good and evil.

Finally the fourth lifecycle of the protagonist intersects with the past when she encounters a middle-aged recluse from China.

Assignment 3:
1. Circular Helix
2. Green
3. Anamnesis

Assignment 4:

A mix of speculative and historical fiction:

- Reincarnation Blues– Michael Poore

-Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Assignment 5:
Every action taken in a lifetime, good or bad, is hardcoded at birth. One strand of your mitochondrial DNA codes for all of the sins that you will commit, while the other strand codes for all of the virtuous actions that you will take. Every person on earth is given a soul at the exact moment they take their first breath, while the manner in which you die manifests itself in the next life. Have you ever met a stranger and felt an instant connection or immediate aversion to them? In the recesses of each cell in your body, your soul remembers. This is the story of one soul’s journey.
Assignment 6:
Twenty-two-year-old Calista Silva has done her fair share of right and wrong during her lifetime. While trying to help a murder victim’s family find closure, Calista unintentionally finds herself in the middle of a domestic dispute. As she lay bleeding to death from gunshot wounds, in front of a multimillion-dollar house in Washington, D.C., a sense of calm takes over. A feeling of déjà vu seeps into every pore of her body as she prepares to die. Everything that has happened over centuries culminates in that moment.

Assignment 7:

Part 1: New England in the late 1690s. Colonial America is the setting. A young woman is being urged to marry a man that she does not want to.

Part 2: Louisiana (New Spain) in the 1790s. African Americans are able to buy their freedom by paying the Spanish government a fee. During this time, Spain had control over part of the territory. Spain would later relinquish to France. A young man makes a decision that will end up costing him a lifelong friendship and more.

Part 3: Shanghai, China in the 1970s. The One Child Policy becomes law. A young wife is struggling with infertility.

Part 4: Mostly in the D.C. and Northern Virginia area. A recent college graduate stumbles upon a piece of evidence that will help provide a family with closure.

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Joined: 16 Jun 2020, 18:09

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers - Kerri Kuchta

#49 Post by KERRIKUCHTAP6 » 18 Jun 2020, 00:28

1. The Act of Story Statement

Three Italian siblings, two magnificent villas, and a bunch of lies.

The Foscari Family must hide the truth to save their wedding empire on the Lake of Como.

2. Antagonist

Vito, Liv, and Letta Foscari are the Kings of Forever but things are not what they seem.

The sisters have not spoken in a year, in a mysterious feud that Vito only knows has something to do with the marriage of Liv and her estranged husband, who is on a constant quest to win back his wife’s attention.

With only a week until the big wedding of a beloved American "TV host" and her Italian soon-to-be wife, a secret wedding which will peel the panties off Italy and make history, temptations and obstacles arise that the siblings must face, and resist. An old boyfriend of Liv’s returns, while Letta falls in deep conflict with one of the newest members of their staff, all while Vito pines for the love he’s seen at their villas since he was a boy. Anticipation heats for the arrival of the siblings’ parents who will return to the Lake for the big wedding, to play pretend homage to their own marvelous love story that is actually not a love story at all.

3. Breakout Title


On This Lake of Como

4. Comparables

THE FRENCH EXIT by Patrick Dewitt - for its quirky dark comedy and magical realism

BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter - for its “villa on the water” setting and revolving door of guests

LESS by Andrew Sean Greer - for its humor and coming of age

LEADING MEN by Christopher Castellani - for its setting: classic 1950’s Italy

5. Primary Conflict

The Foscari Siblings must find a way to mend all their secret family conflicts before attending the The Wedding Make History as honored guests. If their lies are exposed, they will lose their famous business and their good name.

6. Inner conflict

Liv, a hopeless romantic, cannot forgive. When an old lover shows up to claim her heart, she must decide between this man of the past and the man she has wed.

Letta is also seeking her sister’s forgiveness but in more subtle ways than her brother-in-law. She is the “believer” of the three, the one who senses magic around every corner, and suspects that the Lake is up to something. She becomes obsessed with watching their new gardener across the water and nearly wrecks a very important plan.

Vito is worried about everything as he tries to fix their secret problems before the Big Wedding, while desperately missing a much happier time when they drank wine instead of whiskey.

Secondary conflict

Rosita and Umberto Foscari, living in separate cities, have not spoken for ten years and just like their children, are worried about attending the Big Wedding when they must pretend like no love was lost.

They do not know their daughters are in a feud, or that the marriage between Liv and her husband has been greatly jeopardized.

7. Setting

Here at the Foscari Family Villas, on the most beautiful Lake in the world, the glamour of 1950’s Italy has survived to present day. The grounds are breathtaking, the scenery glorious, and all those Roman statues could be considered ancient but were made only yesterday. Here, the Lake knows everything.

The Foscari villas are the most magnificent, directly across from each other on the water because across the water is how Umberto and Rosita Foscari first fell in love, married and raised a family and a wedding empire, and then ran away together to “live by the sea”. Their story is why everyone wants to marry on their grounds. If only it were were true.

Each Foscari Villa Wedding has a special nuance of its own, remembered forever by the marrying couple’s oddest behavior, or how they got engaged. (e.g. The Couple Who Rolled the Dice.) And yes, weddings can be dangerous places — people behaving in never-before-seen ways — but to the Foscari siblings these moments never got old, happening right before them under a sky of stars and a zillion bottles of champagne.

And, of course, the People of the Lake play small but integral roles, each on their own quest for love — such a funny, finicky, very strange thing that behaves in the oddest of ways.

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Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#50 Post by Jfingersh2534 » 18 Jun 2020, 02:44


1. Story statement.

A woman on the eve of 50 struggles to make sense of her life and the hidden cost of childhood trauma as her daughter prepares to leave the nest.

2. Antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them

Set in the present day, Unbound: A Memoir is the story of how, faced with an empty nest and an existential free fall, I turned my 50th year into a search for the meaning of life and a liberation from the blueprint of my past. Just days before I set off for a Montana writer’s retreat to battle my decades-old creative block, my daughter, JESSE, is diagnosed with a crippling chronic illness, one week after her college drop-off. As I struggle to assuage the pain of my daughter’s new reality, I begin to unlock the puzzle of my own childhood—and the hidden, cellular cost of my futile attempts to save DANNY, my mentally ill younger brother, decades before. With Jesse and Danny as my teachers as the year unfolds, I encounter sign after mysterious sign that the universe is watching.


On the eve of my 50th birthday and an empty nest, I sat in a Target parking lot and sobbed onto my steering wheel. I was flooded with grief, shame and envy: grief for the mysterious and secret darkness that had frozen my professional ambitions and shame for being envious of my own child’s blooming success. Right before setting out to try to uncover the truth at a Montana writer’s retreat, I got the call. My daughter had been rushed to the hospital with a new and crippling chronic illness. As I struggled to assuage the pain of my daughter’s new reality over the course of the next year, I unwittingly begin to unlock the puzzle of my own childhood—and the hidden, cellular toll of the trauma of my futile attempts to save my younger brother decades before.

3. Create a breakout title

1. Unbound: A Memoir of Midlife, Trauma and Freedom
2. And Then What: A Memoir
3. Listening for Danny

4. Genre/Comps

Genre: Memoir

1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle.
 My book offers a similar mix of memoir, humor, pathos and a story of liberation and listening to the call of one’s own life. 

2. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. A story of love, loss and healing that follows Kelly and her father's simultaneous battle with cancer. This was Kelly's breakout book. She is now a NYT best selling author.

Question — My writing seems to resonate most strongly with fans of writers like Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron. But I can’t cite books that are true comps. Is there some way to draw those connections to our writing styles without sounding absurdly over-confident?

5. Conflict line. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist(s) must be noted or inferred.

Unbound: A Memoir of Midlife, Trauma, and Freedom explores the conflict that permeates the lives of the 46 million Generation X women who have entered mid-life: Can we really "have it all" as we have been taught to believe?

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?

My primary conflict is trying to overcome a mystifying, decades-long creative and psychological paralysis in the face of my next chapter as my daughter prepares to leave the nest. I discover that I have been living in the dark of my own life for the last 35 years. I pledge to spend my 50th year fighting to recover the life I left behind three decades before when I tried — and failed — to rescue my suicidal brother.

My secondary conflict is that just as I prepare to make a fresh start at a writing retreat after dropping off our daughter at college, she falls ill with a crippling chronic illness. I spend my 50th year navigating my own re-launch into life with trying desperately to assuage the pain of my daughter’s new reality.

In the process, I get a second chance — this time not as sister, but as parent — to learn how to stop myself from giving my own life away to someone I love. I wrestle with questions that have plagued women for all time: Is it really possible to save the people we love from their suffering? How do we liberate ourselves from the traumas and relationships of our past that have unwittingly defined us? How do navigate the tension between our roles as mothers and individuals to rise up to the possibility of our own lives?

7: Setting

My setting flashes between present and past, from the golden hills of Northern California to the woods of Montana, and from my childhood stomping grounds of Kansas City to hospital rooms in Chicago and San Francisco.

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