Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

A forum for writers in the St. Augustine Author-Mentor Novel Workshops to engage in writing assignments and further studies in the art of fiction writing.
Joined:20 Feb 2020, 00:13
Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#51 Post by JustinA5Pugh » 21 Feb 2020, 20:15

Algonkian Workshop Assignments

Story Statement
Investigate a terrorist plot, uncover the truth about the past, and learn to live in the present.

The Antagonist(s)
On a superficial level, the antagonist in this novel is Field Marshal Odysseus Fields, leader of the subversive revolutionary group S.P.E.C.I.A.L., which has designs on overthrowing the Ministry. The self-appointed Marshal wants to send a message to the Ministry, which he views as oppressive, invasive, and narrow-minded.

It is the protagonist’s responsibility as a Ministry operative, to investigate and attempt to thwart these plans. This investigation is hindered at every turn, not only by the secrecy of the organization, but also by forces within the Ministry and entities from the protagonist’s own past, both of which are antagonists in their own right. As the narrative progresses, the protagonist begins to suspect that his own relationship to S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and its enigmatic leader may not be as black-and-white as he initially assumed.

The Breakout Title
Current – The Science of Forgetting
- Everyone You’ve Ever Seen
- Mouths Made in Glass
- Perfect Shadows

Genre and Comparables
Speculative Fiction

- The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
o Like Phillips’ work, my novel functions at the outset as a sort of satire of monolithic bureaucracies, in the vein of Brazil but with some Kafkaesque tendencies. Phillips’ novel then goes on to explore broader and more existential concepts, something that I hope my own novel manages to achieve.
- 1984 by George Orwell
o This probably breaks the cardinal rule of not comparing your work to something well beyond your reach, but my novel does feature some similar ideas about government surveillance and totalitarian statehood. However, my novel generally presents these ideas as dark comedy and satire, and the society described in my novel is not a fascist/communist entity, but rather a rampant capitalist society not unlike our own.
- Brazil by Terry Gilliam
o I confess that as of this writing, I have never actually seen Brazil, but the opening sequences of my novel sometimes provoke readers to mention it, so I thought it worth noting.

Conflict Line:
An ordinary office worker must confront both a terrorist plot and his own crumbling recollections of the past.

Inner Conflict
The primary inner conflict in the novel occurs as the protagonist, Samuel Clay, begins to suspect that he may not be able to trust his own memories. In the second chapter, Clay touches his palm to a handprint scanner and sees another man’s face in the computer screen. This face, and the man it belongs to (someone Clay comes to refer to as the Trespasser), returns to torment him on numerous occasions, representing the tension between his past and his present.

Similarly, Clay is confronted with the problem of choosing between a multitude of unsavory alternatives. That is, he is placed in the midst of a power struggle between his employer, the Ministry, and a subversive, terrorist organization, S.P.E.C.I.A.L., with revolutionary plans. At the same time, he is presented with a third option: returning to the old life that he is beginning to remember in bits and pieces. Clay struggles with the notion of choice, and the idea that to truly escape his past, he must choose to live authentically for the first time.

Secondary Conflict
There are several secondary conflicts in the novel. First and foremost is the conflict between Clay and the Trespasser, who develops into a character in his own right. The Trespasser attempts to convince Clay to return to his old life, which Clay views as both cowardly and, eventually, inauthentic.

Another major secondary conflict occurs between Clay and Darcy, an escort who he meets in the City and believes he is falling in love with. Darcy ultimately comes to represent the fear and indecision and distraction that characterized Clay’s own life before he became aware of his past. She becomes not a love interest, but a sort of cautionary tale, a living warning to Clay about what his life could easily become.

The broad setting of the novel is an unnamed city (referred to as the City), which is likely somewhere in America.

In the heart of the City is the Ministry, a monument to bureaucracy comprised of thousands of departments, which range from Clay’s own office (the Division of Home Monitoring, responsible for in-home surveillance on an endless series of seemingly random individuals) to the Bureau of Dietary Propaganda, and across every conceivable subject in between. The Ministry is a place where all manner of surveillance is conducted, where ordinary office workers mingle with agents in dark suits and sunglasses, and where high-ranking operatives take orders from a sentient computer system with a penchant for literary classics.

The novel visits several other locations across the City, including:
- Clay’s apartment, where he lives a double life as a participant in a secretive online chat room community.
- The City Jail, where the Ministry conducts mind control experiments on political prisoners.
- The Church of Jesus Christ the Physicist, which is a neo-modern religious group that also serves as the counter-intelligence arm of S.P.E.C.I.A.L.
- The hideout of the disgraced head of the Unified Society for Scientific Research, which has become a cult, because of the former’s experiments with mood manipulation
- The headquarters of ForniTech, a data analytics firm that also plays host to S.P.E.C.I.A.L.

Joined:20 Feb 2020, 20:44
Location:Philadelphia area

Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#52 Post by ShereeA5Richnow » 23 Feb 2020, 19:30


The discovery of a rare cache of historical ensigns from the 1800s challenges Juliette to question her motives for wanting to keep one of the flags for herself.

A priceless cache of historical flags is discovered, coveted, stolen, then sold – perhaps not to be seen again for another 200 years.

Miranda Benedict, is the COO of Pegasus Auctions in Philadelphia. Raised by her wealthy, absentee father, Miranda is left to navigate the world on her own. At a young age, she learns to make the most of her influence through her sexual prowess. As she matures into a lovely teenager, she quickly ascertains that in the business world, sex equals power.
Miranda is educated and classy, ruthless, conniving, and a master of manipulation. She uses her power to negotiate with the protagonist, Juliette Larkin, over her compensation for the discovery of a priceless cache of famous flags. Co-workers don’t respect Miranda – instead, they fear and resent her for the way she ascended to her position at Pegasus.
A 20-year affair with the company’s owner, Martin King, has provided Miranda an inside track to advancement. All comes to an abrupt halt when Martin’s wife issues an ultimatum, and he calls it quits with Miranda. Being spurned by Martin sends Miranda over the edge. She sacrifices her career and her freedom for vengeance.

• SwallowTale
• Forgotten in Philly
• From Whence it Came
• Saving the Swallowtail

In a blender, place the film, The Thomas Crown Affair, add Myles Connor Jr.’s book, The Art of the Heist, and blend in a couple of steamy sex scenes that would make Lady Chatterley blush, and there you have it! Precisely what that is, I confess, I do not know. Maybe, upmarket fiction?
I have been focused on my writing, researching, storyline expansion, and character profiles that I haven’t had time to read or study much of anything else. No notable comps at this time. I’ll work on that. (I could use your advice.)

The premise of the book is based upon the historical account of a cache of ensigns that flew onboard the USS Constitution, ‘Old Ironsides.’ They were lost, recovered, stolen, and ultimately sold at auction. Fictionalized accounts of the original flag-maker take the protagonist back in time to an unexpected personal connection to a distant relative who made the actual Swallowtail flag. A fleeting moral dilemma arises when Juliette considers keeping the Swallowtail for herself. She’s uncertain whether the client even knows about the flags. After all, they weren’t found and tagged by the original auction house. Juliette’s conscience gets the best of her and, for the sake of her reputation and the value of the flag to American history, chooses to leave the collection in-tact. No matter how attached she is to the Swallowtail, being dubbed a thief isn’t the legacy she wants to leave behind.

Intense negotiations between the protagonist, the owner of the flags, and Miranda Benedict fuel tension in the storyline. Miranda adds pressure to sell the collection as soon as possible. She minimizes Juliette’s role in the discovery, lies about the deal, and double-talks the client.
Miranda plots to have the flags stolen and sold to a private buyer for over a million dollars, which she intends to pocket. She vows revenge by alleging the auction house is responsible for the theft. Miranda knows her boss’s Achilles heel – security at the auction house has always been lax. Things have been ‘stolen’ before, claimed on their insurance, and mysteriously ended up in Martin’s private residence, or in the hands of a wealthy private buyer.

HADLEIGH’S ESTATE - The story begins in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, at the deceased collector’s estate. It’s a late summer afternoon. The attic over the multi-car garage is darkly lit, dusty, and stiflingly hot. Antique farm implements are hanging from rafters, all are marked with auction house inventory tags. Silverfish and spiders scurry beneath Juliette’s feet. She is by herself when she discovers a large, dusty trunk on the far side of the attic among drooping insulation, scraps of wood, and random cardboard boxes.

JULIETTE’S OFFICE - Juliette unpacks the trunk, and discovers a rare and priceless collection of ensigns from the USS Constitution, ‘Old Ironsides.’
(BTW - The words’ flags’ and ‘ensigns’ are used interchangeably throughout the story.)
FLAG FLASHBACKS – Boston, other ports, and at sea. The Swallowtail flag looks down on the deck of the ship and recants events throughout history from the early-to-mid 1800s. Several scenes from different times in history occur throughout the book. Each accounting is different.

JULIETTE’S BEDROOM & HOME OFFICE – Juliette is lying in her bed among shades of taupe, gray, and slate-blue bedding, a bevy of coordinating pillows, and her robe. The nightstand lamp is dim, the flat-screen television in the corner of the room is off. Faint neon light from the alarm clock beams in the darkness. Pictures of her recently deceased husband sit on top of the dresser alongside a handmade wooden urn. Several scenes take place in Juliette’s bedroom and home office.

HADLEIGH’S ESTATE/OUTSIDE – A long driveway flanked by mature trees, perennial bushes and flowers line the path leading past the considerable barn and carriage house. Stone pavers interlace in a herringbone pattern leading to the front door. The aroma of thyme wafts upward as Juliette walks to the oversized wooden door anchored by thick metal strappings. The door creaks open, Lillian welcomes her inside.

INSIDE HADLEIGH’S ESTATE – Juliette and Lillian meet. (Describe the inside of the house.) Several scenes take place both inside and outside of the estate.

CARRIAGE HOUSE – The walk-through with Juliette and Lillian continues to the Carriage House, where her father’s collection of vintage automobiles and small watercraft are stored. The vehicles are all described in detail in the book.

GRACE GADDY’S UPHOLSTERY SHOP, Philadelphia – Backstory. Juliette’s ancestor makes the Swallowtail flag.

JULIETTE’S HOME – Ben, Juliette’s husband, learns he has lung cancer, and a couple of months later, dies. This is part of Juliette’s backstory, and it explains why she comes off as a bit of a loaner. There’s a sadness about her that to the outsider seems contrary to the woman they once knew.

PEGASUS AUCTION HOUSE – Negotiations take place at the auction house that was built in the late 1800s in Philadelphia. Heavy glass front doors grace the entry off of Market Street. The elevator attendant, who’s been there for decades, is dressed in a tux. The upstairs conference room and executive offices have a stately look about them. Antique furniture, famous paintings, and artifacts are displayed throughout the main gallery.

WEST RITTENHOUSE/LA CROIX RESTAURANT – The meeting between Miranda and the thief, Jackson Q. Honeyford, takes place at this upscale restaurant.

MIRANDA’S HOME AT LIBERTY TWO – The encounter continues in the living room where a steamy sex scene takes place.

MIRANDA’S FATHER’S HOME – Miranda’s backstory takes place at her family home in Chester County. An unexpected visitor at poolside gets more than he bargained for when teenager, Miranda, seduces him.

NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA – The scene commences at the home of Gordon Douglass, the Vexillologist who is also Miranda’s new love interest, and the likely purveyor of the stolen collection. Several scenes take place here and toward the end of the book when the stolen flags are found in a hidden room behind a false wall. Several scenes take place at Douglass’ home.

LIBRARY FLOOR – Backstory of Jackson Q. Honeyford as a child. Young Jackson, age 6, is at the local library, surrounded by towering shelves of books – not in the children’s section. He is submerged in books about art history & antiques, those intended for those much older than he. The old librarian shuffles over, scolds him for being in the adult book area, takes his little hand, and ushers him to the children’s section.

PEGASUS AUCTIONS LOADING DOCK & ALLEYWAY – It’s just after 1:00 AM. Someone has left the alleyway door ajar for the thief to enter. Intended for delivery the following day, the collection is packed and ready to go –but not secured in the company vault. No alarm has been set. A black van sits in the receiving dock out in the back of the auction house shipping dock.

NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA – The commissioned thief, Jackson Honeyford, delivers the cache of flags to the home of Gordon Douglass. The police have been tipped off by none other than Juliette, Lillian, and Edgar Weiss, VP of Pegasus Auctions. Miranda and Gordon are arrested for the theft. Jackson is given immunity for his cooperation in the investigation. The flags are returned to the auction house to be sold.

PEGASUS AUCTIONS MAIN GALLERY – The six flags are beautifully displayed in the main gallery. All are unfurled to their actual size, mounted behind glass displays surrounding the expansive gallery. Muskets, bayonets, knives, and swords from the same period, locked in glass display cases. The middle of the room is set up with rows of chairs for bidders and onlookers. A lectern and microphone are placed at the front of the gallery for the auctioneer. Tables covered in white linen are positioned off to the side with computers, telephones, and monitors. A half-dozen attendants are ready to accept phone and online bids. Large overhead monitors are positioned around the room where pictures of the flags are shown in a loop.

ANNAPOLIS NAVAL YARD MUSEUM, MD. Denouement – A public showing of the Swallowtail flag and other rare artifacts from the War of 1812 is on display at the Annapolis Naval Yard Museum. The buyer of the Swallowtail flag, Thomas Jeffries, is hosting a private preview party and invites Juliette to speak. Over 100 people come to hear the true story of how the flags were rescued from near obscurity. She shares the special connection that existed between Juliette and her ancestor, Grace Gaddy, the flag maker. When the evening festivities end, Juliette and Thomas, break away for a congratulatory glass of champagne at the Annapolis Yacht Club. A brilliant orange sun sets on the crystal water in the harbor. Darkened silhouettes begin to form as the boat masts sway gently in the breeze.
This could be the beginning of a budding romance.

Joined:16 Feb 2020, 18:19

Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#53 Post by AmyLouiseKoko » 24 Feb 2020, 02:36

Newly divorced Liza Fieldstone reluctantly leaves behind her small town of St. Petersburg, Florida and beloved fire damaged home and heads to Manhattan for a year to dog-sit a friend’s maniacal labradoodle.


Antagonist #1: Beautiful model Cassie is the dog walker every celeb wants to hire. Now that her modeling career is on the decline her dog walking business is more important to her than ever, though she is more concerned with how she looks in her thigh high boots, walking in Central Park then she is about taking good care of her dogs. It is when Cassie accidentally lets a dog loose in the park and Liza saves it from what would have been a horrific demise, that Liza becomes the dog walker of choice for Cassie’s clients, who insist that she take over. Cassie sets out to make Liza’s year in Manhattan a painful one.


Off Leash
Hair of the Dog
How Long in Dog Years


I would compare my novel to the great novel turned horrendous movie, “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” by Maria Semple. Although the story is told through her daughter, it is really Bernadette’s story. I find a similarity in that, though there is a minor antagonist in form of the snooty neighbor, it is really her own demons that are causing crisis in Bernadette’s life. She is a woman in midlife as is Liza, my protagonist, who has lost herself and is seeking something to give her purpose, even though Bernadette goes looking for hers and Liza comes to hers through chance of circumstance.

The other comparable I find is the hilarious, Fleishman Is in Trouble, by Taffy Brodesses-Akner. The main protagonist, Toby is also dealing with divorce as is Liza, and the story is told in a humorous voice with moments of laugh out loud prose. I am hoping the humor is strong enough in my novel to carry the reader through. There is also the dog Bubbles who is a character in himself and dogs play a major role in my novel.


After her beloved home becomes temporarily uninhabitable, newly divorced Liza Fieldstone must overcome her intense dislike of dogs and phobic fear of big cities in order to accept her friend’s offer of a free year in her Manhattan apartment in exchange for dog sitting her maniacal labradoodle, Orzo.


Liza Fieldstone has no idea who she is now that her husband of 25 years has moved on to blonder pastures and she is officially a divorcee. Her friends have cast her by the wayside lest her bad luck rub off on them, her parents are deceased and she has no children to help give her life a purpose. She must come to terms with the fact that her life has changed, she can no longer define herself by the term “wife” and try to figure out her next chapter.
Julian Kremer is the brother of her new friend Fern and a world renowned celloist. Unfortunately he and his dog Elton seem intent on making sure Liza’s year in New York is a miserable one, with Liza being the one person in the world that Elton seems to intensely dislike while Julian is a witness to Liza’s missteps like her sweaty butt print on Fern’s slipper chair and her entrance to the apartment lobby covered in dog poop after a bad experience in Central Park.


Off Leash has two main settings: 1. The small town of St. Petersburg, Florida where newly purchased boats bob along the waterfront and new sprawling homes made of glass line the old brick streets. Cafes and restaurants dot thriving Beach Drive where millenials sit outside feeding arugula and feta salads to their children who are dressed like little yacht captains.Life is in rhythm with the swaying of the tall palms.

Setting 2 is New York City and Central Park. The streets are teeming with New Yorkers dressed in black, walking like they are heading to a marathon finish line and not making eye contact. Every few feet there is a Duane Reade drugstore and a Mister Softee cart. When Liza finally makes it to the park with Orzo she finds a whole new world where dogs outnumber people, some dogwalkers walking four or five dogs at a time. She sees a lake surrounded by children and dads mainly, where little sailboats are floating and everyone is drinking bubble teas or soy lattes. It is through the change in Central Park throughout the seasons that helps Liza keeps track of her days in the city.

Joined:17 Feb 2020, 23:16

Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#54 Post by AnjaBoersmaR5 » 24 Feb 2020, 22:05

I thought I had posted already but I couldn't find it so I'm posting again:


1. Story statement:
Herman Hill wants to lose his virginity.

2. Antagonist:
Dmitri Vorontsov, former KGB agent, now a pimp posing as a philanthropist in Istanbul. He traffics women from Russia and Ukraine and sells them for sex as well as as human guinea pigs for Big Pharma. He is the bastard son of an aristocratic father and a gypsy mother, able to maneuver in two opposite worlds. He is in trouble when a vegan activist blew up the lab of old Dr. Pavlov Jr., with the doctor in it. Dmitri’s boss, The Investor, needs the new disease and medicine ASAP.
Dmitri craves the post-communist life. He moves in elitist circles, eats the finest caviar and drives the biggest Jaguar. He has no sexual fetishes but loves everything English and has written letters to Princess Diana to warn her but to no avail.

3. Create three titles:
Herman Hill tries to get lucky
Istanbul For Virgins With Harem Fantasies
Herman Hill and the temptations of the Topkapi Palace

4. Travel adventure a la Romancing The Stone …
Who compares to me? And why? This is so difficult! Most adventures are about heroic ex-Navy SEALS, not about self-conscious mother’s boys. I guess I could say: Lee Goldberg’s “Monk” Meets Robin Cook and gets caught in a web of blackmail, lust and power in this lighthearted medical mystery with a clumsy amateur sleuth and a domineering mother as his sidekick.

5. The antagonist must be named …
Herman Hill investigates the murder of the woman who deflowered him. Her alleged killer attempts first to blackmail Herman into working for him, former KGB agent, then uses seduction by fulfilling Herman’s harem fantasies with a troupe of young Russian beauties.

6. Inner and secondary conflict
Herman needs to become a man instead of the mother’s boy he’s been all his life. He hates himself for being shy and suffering from overactive sweat glands when interacting with women. At times he feels guilty about hating his mother. She raised him singlehandedly as best as she could but she is so dominant that she practically drives him into the arms of Dmitri Vorontsov, the charismatic and manipulative antagonist.
Secondary conflict: his interactions with the Turkish police are most embarrassing. Their interrogation humiliates him and his tendency to blush, mumble and sweat do not make him look innocent.

7. Setting
The story takes place in Sultanahmet, the historic district of Istanbul. The streets are filled with cobbled stones and shoe shining men with contraptions that look like giant Aladin’s lamps. Smells of shish kebab waft through the air almost like shimmying belly dancers. Turkish street dogs lie in the streets and everybody steps carefully around them. The melodic call to prayers can be heard through speakers from every mosque. Carts with grilled corn on the cob are a common sight.

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