JYCleaver - advance work for February 2019

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.
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Joined: 02 Feb 2019, 14:09

JYCleaver - advance work for February 2019

#1 Post by JOANNECLEAVERA5 » 05 Feb 2019, 06:18

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


The Best Places to Work for Men.


My favorite all-time must read titles:

Baby Teeth - cuddly & creepy in two words, and the book totally delivered. Terrifying.
Our Kind of Cruelty – the plot fizzled out and after a strong start I found it disappointing

Titles from my favorite authors

The Shakespeare Requirement – manages to pack in academic speak with veneer of pretension and the book totally delivered. Winner of the coveted Joanne Cleaver Christmas gift award, sent to my ten favorite people for Christmas 2018.

The Witch Elm – infuses a common tree with foreboding and evil.

The Suspect (anything by Fiona Barton)

Advice for Future Corpses

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.


A naïve, ambitious public relations staffer must choose between her own values and success as defined by her boss and her client.

The EXTERNAL conflict (plot driver) is the impossible challenge at work: somehow create a profitable event out of a wrongheaded, controversial attempt to create ‘best places to work for men” competition among local businesses. The drivers of the conflict are the PR agency boss (who demands profit); the client who has put his company’s reputation on the line as the sponsor of the project; and the opposition from the sorority of local women business owners whose stature is threatened by the project.

The INTERNAL conflict (character arc) is the main character (Jess)’s knowledge that that the project is a sham (values vs career success) and, on a deeper level, her drive to ascertain allies. Who is really on her side in this ludicrous, fraught process? What does professional loyalty really mean? Is it shaped by identity/affinity (women help women? Clients & professionals are on the same side for mutual success?) or is it deeper (the few people who really understand you and who want your success, regardless of what it does for them, are the ones who are really on your side).

Plot Brief Template// JYC COMMENTS

• Is this also “the epiphany?”
• Does it have to be forced on the character from outside circumstances?
• I assume it’s essential for the character to act, & react differently from that point on?

A. Confrontation between Kelly & Marilyn, representing the clash between the upstart woman biz owner/new feminist vs. the old school business owner/establishment in the community/ so it’s the power clash between the way things have been and the way that the younger generation think things should be, through a gender lens.

The scene where Jess & Kelly are having the ‘mentor walk’ and Jess realizes that Kelly is really not on her side.

B. 3 levels of conflict --?? Not sure where these points are
1. interpersonal – Kelly & Marilyn have been circling eachother foryears, competing for contracts and now, for “queen bee” of the woman-owned business community
2. Jess vs. her friends/esp Luciana/whose jobs/futures are enmeshed in the establishment business community
3. Theme of the book – who’s really on your side? What will Jess see at the showdown? How will her client Jack respond? At first, he sides with her but then when a huge error she has made on his account goes public at the showdown, he turns on her…(though in the end he comes through for her)

C. Setting – funeral home reception hall, meeting of the “boosters” i.e., Rotary

Posts: 5
Joined: 02 Feb 2019, 14:09

Re: JYCleaver - advance work for February 2019

#2 Post by JOANNECLEAVERA5 » 21 Feb 2019, 02:55

First pre-work assignment

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Who is really on your side at work? Your boss? Your friends? Your clients? Your co-workers? When a public relations project careens out of control, a naïve, ambitious young PR firm staffer finds support and betrayal in unexpected places.

Posts: 5
Joined: 02 Feb 2019, 14:09

Re: JYCleaver - advance work for February 2019

#3 Post by JOANNECLEAVERA5 » 21 Feb 2019, 03:02

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.

In “The Best Places to Work for Men,” the antagonist initially appears to be the demanding client, Jack, and his ludicrous expectations for easy, slavering media coverage and accolades. But the real antagonist is the PR firm boss, Kelly. She postures as an uber mentor/career coach/bossbabe, but in truth uses all her clients and staff simply to achieve her own goals. She desperately wants to be accepted by the reigning ‘mean girls’ of the business community (that’s how we feel empathy for her) but in every instance, she runs over all in her way to drive her own success. She is insidious because she uses the language of corporate feminism and enlightened 'success for all' management mantras, but shows her true self over and over.

Posts: 5
Joined: 02 Feb 2019, 14:09

Re: JYCleaver - advance work for February 2019

#4 Post by JOANNECLEAVERA5 » 21 Feb 2019, 03:58


- Read Caitlin's Comparables on Author Salon: http://www.authorsalon.com/craft/view/62/
- Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

“The Best Places to Work for Men”
Genre: Women's upscale fiction

Comparable #1: The Devil Wears Prada
It’s time for a fresh take on the time-honored formula of the neophyte mentored by a treacherous elder. “The Devil Wears Prada” won hearts and dollars by having the protagonist (Andy) overcome ever-higher stakes to ingratiate herself with her unreasonable boss (Miranda). The setting of the presumably glamourous world of fashion publishing added intrigue and great locations. However, it has been 16 years since Devil was published in 2003 and a lot has changed. Women are expected to advocate for eachother, especially on once-politically-taboo topics like pay equity and sexual harassment. Diversity is ascendant. Yet, the business world is still run by men, to the intense annoyance of advocates and quiet anger of many women, who have headaches from hitting the glass ceiling. Amidst these crosscurrents of politically correct claims, charges, countercharges, unreliable human resources departments and self-important bosses, it is impossible to know who is truly on your side. If you are a woman, you cannot take it for granted that other women are on your side. Allies come from unexpected places and in unexpected forms. It’s the person who understands you and your goals, and who is willing to take a risk on you, who is truly on your side. That is what the protagonist of The Best Places to Work for Men learns.

Comparable #2: Mean Girls. But that’s a movie. The Best Places to Work for Men is based on original research conducted by the author, over 20 years, of women’s workplace ambitions and frustrations. In the same way, Tina Fey was inspired by Queen Bees & Wanna Bes, by Rosalind Wiseman, to create a narrative from the sociological observations of that book. The Best Places to Work for Men likewise translates the complex and contradictory trends, expectations and cultures of today’s workplace into a narrative that challenges the protagonists’ assumptions about loyalty.

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