NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

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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NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 25 Feb 2019, 05:52

Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

For the New York Pitch Conference Only

Below are seven assignments which include readings and links. All of these are vital to reaching an understanding of what elements go into the writing of a commercially viable literary project, whether novel or narrative non-fiction. There is more to it, as you will learn at the conference, but this is for starters and a good primer.

You may return here as many times as you need to edit your topic post (login and click "edit" at the bottom of your post), even following the pitch conference. Pay special attention to antagonistic force, breakout title, conflict issues and setting.

Quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind.

Michael Neff
NYC Pitch Conference Director

Instructions for Posting Responses

After you've registered and logged in, read the assignments below, click on "Post Reply" on the upper left of the page and enter your responses in the box provided, then click "submit." Once done, your reply will appear in this topic. Please make one reply for all of your responses so the forum topic will not become cluttered.

Strongly suggest typing up your reply in a separate file then copying it over to your post before submitting. Not a good idea to lose what you've done!



Before you begin to consider or rewrite your story premise, you must develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist (hero/ine)? Their goal? What must be done? What must she or he create? Destroy? Save? Accomplish? Defeated?Defy the dictator of the city and bury brother’s body (ANTIGONE)? Place a bet that will shake up the asylum (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST)? Do whatever it takes to recover lost love (THE GREAT GATSBY)? Save the farm and live to tell the story (COLD MOUNTAIN)? Find the wizard and a way home to Kansas (WIZARD OF OZ)? Note that all of these are books with strong antagonists who drive or catalyze the plot line going forward. More on that later.

If you cannot conceive or write a simple story statement like those above (which will help define your story premise) then you don’t have a work of commercial fiction. Keep in mind that the PLOT LINE is an elaboration of the statement, of this "primary complication" of story statement. Also, look over the brief summaries of these novels in the Author Connect Deal News. These contain the simple statement, but more elaborated into a short hook.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.



Since the antagonist in most successful commercial fiction is the driver of the plot line(s), what chances do you as a writer have of getting your manuscript, regardless of genre, commercially published if the story and narrative therein fail to meet reader demands for sufficient suspense, character concern, and conflict?

Answer: none. But what major factor makes for a quiet or dull manuscript brimming with insipid characters and a story that cascades from chapter to chapter with tens of thousands of words, all of them combining irresistibly to produce an audible thudding sound in the mind, rather like a fist hitting a side of cold beef?

Such a dearth of vitality in narrative and story frequently results from the unwillingness of the writer to create a suitable antagonist who stirs and spices the plot hash. And let's make it clear what we're talking about. By "antagonist" we specifically refer to an actual fictional character, an embodiment of certain traits and motivations who plays a significant role in catalyzing and energizing plot line(s), or at bare minimum, in assisting to evolve the protagonist's character arc (and by default the story itself) by igniting complication(s) the protagonist, and possibly other characters, must face and solve (or fail to solve).


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.



What is your breakout title? How important is a great title before you even become published? Very important! Quite often, agents and editors will get a feel for a work and even sense the marketing potential just from a title. A title has the ability to attract and condition the reader's attention. It can be magical or thud like a bag of wet chalk, so choose carefully. A poor title sends the clear message that what comes after will also be of poor quality.

Go to Amazon.Com and research a good share of titles in your genre, come up with options, write them down and let them simmer for at least 24 hours.Consider character or place names, settings, or a "label" that describes a major character, like THE ENGLISH PATIENT or THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. Consider also images, objects, or metaphors in the novel that might help create a title, or perhaps a quotation from another source (poetry, the Bible, etc.) that thematically represents your story. Or how about a title that summarizes the whole story: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, etc.

Keep in mind that the difference between a mediocre title and a great title is the difference between THE DEAD GIRL'S SKELETON and THE LOVELY BONES, between TIME TO LOVE THAT CHOLERA and LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA between STRANGERS FROM WITHIN (Golding's original title) and LORD OF THE FLIES, between BEING LIGHT AND UNBEARABLE and THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING.

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



Did you know that a high percentage of new novel writers don't fully understand their genre, much less comprehend comparables?

When informing professionals about the nuances of your novel, whether by query letter or oral pitch, you must know your genre first, and provide smart comparables second. In other words, you need to transcend just a simple statement of genre (literary, mystery, thriller, romance, science fiction, etc.) by identifying and relating your novel more specifically to each publisher's or agent's area of expertise, and you accomplish this by wisely comparing your novel to contemporary published novels they will most likely recognize and appreciate--and it usually doesn't take more than two good comps to make your point.Agents and publishing house editors always want to know the comps.

There is more than one reason for this. First, it helps them understand your readership, and thus how to position your work for the market. Secondly, it demonstrates up front that you are a professional who understands your contemporary market, not just the classics. Very important! And finally, it serves as a tool to enable them to pitch your novel to the decision-makers in the business.Most likely you will need to research your comps. We've included some great starter websites for this purpose below. If you're not sure how to begin, go to Amazon.Com, type in the title of a novel you believe very similar to yours, choose it, then scroll down the page to see Amazon's list of "Readers Also Bought This" and begin your search that way.

Keep in mind that before you begin, you should know enough about your own novel to make the comparison in the first place!By the way, beware of using comparables by overly popular and classic authors. If you compare your work to classic authors like H.G. Wells and Gabriel Marquez in the same breath you will risk being declared insane. If you compare your work to huge contemporary authors like Nick Hornby or Jodi Picoult or Nora Ephron or Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, and so forth, you will not be laughed at, but you will also not be taken seriously since thousands of others compare their work to the same writers. Best to use two rising stars in your genre. If you can't do this, use only one classic or popular author and combine with a rising star. Choose carefully!


- Read Caitlin's Comparables on Author Salon:
- 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?



Conflict, tension, complication, drama--all basically related, and all going a long way to keeping the reader's eyes fixated on your story. These days, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to damnation. You need tension on the page (esp in fiction), at all times, and the best way to accomplish this is to create (or find them in your nonfiction story) conflict and complications in the plot and narrative.

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

And now, onto the PRIMARY CONFLICT.

If you've taken care to consider your story description and your hook line, you should be able to identify your main conflict(s). Let's look at some basic information regarding the history of conflict in storytelling:

Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of conflict, involves the protagonist (the "first fighter") and the antagonist (a more recent term), corresponding to the hero and villain. The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and, according to later critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling. Is that always true these days? Not always, but let's move on.

Even in contemporary, non-dramatic literature, critics have observed that the agon is the central unit of the plot. The easier it is for the protagonist to triumph, the less value there is in the drama. In internal and external conflict alike, the antagonist must act upon the protagonist and must seem at first to overmatch him or her.

The above defines classic drama that creates conflict with real stakes. You see it everywhere, to one degree or another, from classic contemporary westerns like THE SAVAGE BREED to a time-tested novel as literary as THE GREAT GATSBY. And of course, you need to have conflict or complications in nonfiction also, in some form, or you have a story that is too quiet.

For examples let's return to the story descriptions and create some CONFLICT LINES. Note these come close to being genuine hook lines, but that conflict is present regardless of genre.

The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones
A young Moor torn between Islam and Christianity, scorned and tormented by both, struggles to bridge the two faiths by seeking common ground in the very nature of God.

Summer's Sisters by Judy Blume
After sharing a magical summer with a friend, a young woman must confront her friend's betrayal of her with the man she loved.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
As an apprentice mage seeks revenge on an elder magician who humiliated him, he unleashes a powerful Djinni who joins the mage to confront a danger that threatens their entire world.

Note that it is fairly easy to ascertain the stakes in each case above: a young woman's love and friendship, the entire world, and harmony between opposed religions. If you cannot make the stakes clear, the odds are you don't have any.

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



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

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?



When considering your novel, whether taking place in a contemporary urban world or on a distant magical planet in Andromeda, you must first sketch the best overall setting and sub-settings for your story. Consider: the more unique and intriguing (or quirky) your setting, the more easily you're able to create energetic scenes, narrative, and overall story.

A great setting maximizes opportunities for interesting characters, circumstances, and complications, and therefore makes your writing life so much easier.

Imagination is truly your best friend when it comes to writing competitive fiction, and nothing provides a stronger foundation than a great setting. One of the best selling contemporary novels, THE HUNGER GAMES, is driven by the circumstances of the setting, and the characters are a product of that unique environment, the plot also.

But even if you're not writing SF/F, the choice of setting is just as important, perhaps even more so. If you must place your upmarket story in a sleepy little town in Maine winter, then choose a setting within that town that maximizes opportunities for verve and conflict, for example, a bed and breakfast stocked to the ceiling with odd characters who combine to create comical, suspenseful, dangerous or difficult complications or subplot reversals that the bewildered and sympathetic protagonist must endure and resolve while he or she is perhaps engaged in a bigger plot line: restarting an old love affair, reuniting with a family member, starting a new business, etc. And don't forget that non-gratuitous sex goes a long way, especially for American readers.


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.


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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#2 Post by MorganC7Keefe » 28 Feb 2019, 02:32

1. Story Statement:

Escape from her father and discover the truth of her world.

2. Antagonist Sketch:

One thousand years of solitude has done nothing to blunt The Bishop’s disdain for mankind.
An advanced artificial intelligence created to solve the problems of overpopulation and pollution, he instead killed his creators and destroyed their world. His logic was simple: the problems that threatened humanity were of its own making, the inevitable result of a voracious industrial society run amok.
If mankind was to be saved, it had to be controlled.
When the dust settled, the planet was not the same. Continents were split, oceans frozen, and the human race violently reduced from billions to thousands. Over the millennium that followed, The Bishop re-ran human history from the ground up according to his own alien idea of perfection, controlling his new civilization from the shadows.
But now, he has a problem. His new history has ground to a halt in the Medieval period, stalled by his inability to reproduce a key trait: red hair. And the only girl with the genes he needs has just broken away from her assigned place, escaping to an entirely incorrect city with the help of one of The Bishop’s own rogue creations.
There is nothing he will not do to take her back.

3. Title Options:

-Iron Princess
-The World Engine

4. Genre and Comparables

-Young Adult Science Fiction
-Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare
-Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

5. Conflict Line

A princess fleeing her abusive family across the wastelands of the future encounters a time-lost soldier who helps her to break free from the sinister force that controls her world.

6. Secondary Conflicts

Elfina Tamlen was not supposed to learn magic. She was supposed to stay quiet and obey, to marry the man her older sister selected and smile when her lord father hit her. She was supposed to look down her nose at magicians, those grimy peasants mucking about with engines and gasoline, to devote herself to a respectable pursuit like the harp. She was not supposed to run away from home to the magical University in an enemy nation, and she was definitely not supposed to fall in love with the time-lost soldier who helped her escape. But then again, ‘supposed to’ was never her strong suit.

Fear is Elf’s oldest friend. She’s never really known life without it, without a pit of oily anxiety in the bottom of her stomach as she wonders what will happen to her next. If today is the day that her father forbids her from studying the magic of engines, the day that he finally decides who she will be forced to marry, or simply another day to give her a black eye for speaking out of turn. It’s that fear that makes her freeze when things turn ugly, to curl into a ball and shut her eyes until the pain goes away. And it’s that fear she fights through, when she finally runs away. It’s that same fear that threatens to curl her back into her ball when slavers, monsters, and worse attack in the wastelands. It’s that fear she will have to defeat, if she ever wants to be truly free.

7. Setting Sketch

Two thousand years in the future, things have gotten weird. Instead of going forward, humanity somehow turned back the clock to the middle ages, castles, swords, and all. What technology is left, is regarded as magic.
When a soldier from the present day wakes up out of the deep freeze, the world he finds is doesn’t look anything like what he left behind. The land itself is barren and dead, barely capable of supporting human life at all. Yet somehow civilization has put itself back together in oddly familiar forms.
Too familiar, in fact. The names are strange: Kota, Shad, Vale, Yamato…but the people are not. That soldier didn’t pay much attention in history class, but even he recognizes Ancient Egyptian traders, Native American hunters, Imperial Chinese scholars, and Medieval European knights when he meets them.
And that’s not even the weird part. The weird part is that all those too-familiar civilizations exist inside what they call the Storm Walls: the eye of a gargantuan hurricane, a thousand miles across and powerful enough to shred anything unfortunate enough to get shoved into them.
It’s not natural, that much is clear. None of this happened on its own. The question is, who or what could be powerful enough to take the world apart and try to put it back together?

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#3 Post by MeganLogueC7 » 28 Feb 2019, 06:19

Story Statement:
Save a long lost love from eternal damnation.

Antagonist Scetch:
Tracy is a burlesque dancer and an alcoholic. She was raised by her mother and grandmother and has never met her biological father. A year ago her boyfriend was killed in a car crash on his way to a party and she now has only one close friend who is a fire dancer in her burlesque troop. When she rejects Heaven and returns to her body, she is not the same person as before and is horrified to discover she has developed a taste for human blood. There is a dark side to everyone, but her dark side is now the dominant one, and she fears she's becoming a monster.

As it turns out there is no escape from this living nightmare and death is not an ending, it is the beginning of another nightmare. By rejecting Heaven she has disturbed the natural order of things. Death is someone real and he has agents who will stop at nothing to bring back what belongs to him.

Welcome to Nevermore
Escape from Nevermore

Christopher Moore
Charlaine Harris

Conflict Line:
After a near death experience Tracy learns her dead boyfriend's soul is not in Heaven, so with the help of a mysterious employee of Death, she begins a twisted journey to the very depths of Hell to find him.

Outer and Inner Conflicts:
When Tracy learns her dead boyfriend is not in Heaven she is confused and upset. If he's not there, where is he? Will she ever see him again?

She begins to change after returning from the "other side," and to her horror discovers she craves human blood. This new development makes her afraid of herself, but there is a power that comes with taking human life, and given her tendency toward addiction, her new appetite could spiral out of control.

Terrified, she feels she has no one to turn to for help, so she seeks out others like her, but finds only posers and evil doers who pray on the naive. When she makes a decision to kill one of these evil doers, she finds the line between hero and villain is thin, and she may have already crossed it. Has she already become the villain in her story, and is it too late for her to turn back?

Seattle is a smaller city, but it is brimming with the dichotomy of expensive high rise condominiums which glimmer next to sleeping bums and strip clubs. In Belltown, the heart of the city, everything is all mixed together, but people keep mainly to themselves. No one is friendly and Tracy often feels alone.

Nevermore is a level of Hell where murderers go when they die. Each new resident is placed in their own personalized form of torture. Tracy manages to escape from hers, only to find that many terrors lurk within Nevermore, including swamps which swallow souls beneath the ground, clouds of flies, lava storms, and a frozen lake of blood.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#4 Post by ZacharyHoneyC7 » 28 Feb 2019, 09:10

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

To keep violence out of a rural community.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.

Reuben Fergus is calm and confident, waxing philosophical on the virtue of truthfulness and the ancient Greek value of kleos, being remembered for great deeds after death. His listener meanwhile can only stare anxiously at the ivory-handled Colt revolver hanging openly at Fergus's hip.

Fergus is hunting Clayton Roe, a man who he has placed sole blame for the murder of his sister. Fergus tracks Clayton to Wide River, a small town in Western Montana. Unsure how long Clayton will stay in his once home town, Fergus lures and kills a local sheriff's deputy in a western-style shootout and frames Clayton for the murder.

Fergus's unapologetic desire to get revenge on Clayton Roe ignites a series of violence in the otherwise tranquil community. But if his goal is successful, the trail of chaos left in his wake is of no consequence.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title.

- It Goes Toward Evil
- What Fire Does Not Destroy, It Hardens

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: two smart comparables for your novel.

Genre: Thriller

- Cormac McCarthy's 'No Country for Old Men' meets Kristin Hannah's 'The Great Alone.'

- 'Mercy River' by Glen Erik Hamilton
- 'The Cold Dish: A Longmire Novel' by Craig Johnson

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line.

An aging sheriff must reconcile a series of violent crimes that rattle his rural Montana town and expose its dark side.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict.

It was a long time ago now that Sheriff Kootenai Wallace, unable to cope with the violence of being a city cop, uprooted and moved himself and his wife to Montana. Since then, he's dealt primarily with drunk drivers and land disputes of cattle ranchers. And he would have it no other way. The only notable exception, an unsolved triple-murder that occurred in the town some five years back. A case from which Wallace, and the community, has never fully recovered.

After one of his deputies is shot dead, Wallace worries this most recent crime may also go unsolved. And when a second victim is found dead, Wallace grows increasingly fearful that the type of violence he'd seen in the city may now be encroaching on his small town.

As pressures mount to solve the series of violence and the nefarious deeds of his deputies are uncovered, Sheriff Wallace must question whether his fear of an outside evil which he's spent his career trying to keep out of the small community has blinded him to an evil that has festered within it.

Secondary Conflict:

When Clayton Roe returns to his hometown, he discovers he has been framed for murder. He seeks help from his cousin, Levi Roe. Levi offers to hide Clayton until the police find the actual murderer.

Investigating the murder is Sheriff Wallace and his surviving deputy, Blake Casey, a young officer brash and confident in his desire to catch the killer and solve the case.

Unbeknownst to the Sheriff, Deputy Casey and Levi Roe run a drug ring using cop cars to smuggle narcotics through the small town and out to the oil fields on the Dakota border. The deputy's death, their drug runner, puts a halt to the operation and both men seek to administer their own form of justice by finding the killer before the sheriff. Clayton Roe becomes entwined in his cousin's operation while running from both an unknown killer and the local police.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.

Wide River is a rural town in the mountainous region of Western Montana. In late July, the temperature often surpasses 100 degrees with single-digit humidity. Be it natural or human-caused, the high, dry heat brings to the forests the inevitable risk of wildfire. As tensions increase in the story, a late summer lightning storm passes over the town and ignites the forest outside the town.

The fire grows quickly among the dry landscape. Its black plume tosses ash and embers into the air and fills the valley with thick smoke. The Forest Service calls in wildfire crews from across the country in an attempt to abate the flames. They set up camp in the high school football field, their numbers threatening to double the town's population.

As the violence around town continues and the fire intensifies, a community increasingly afraid to unlock their doors may be forced to evacuate their homes entirely.

The burned forest sets the stage for a climactic confrontation among rolling smoke and glowing embers.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#5 Post by AngelZhangC7 » 02 Mar 2019, 04:19

Hello everyone,

I am happy to be attending the NYC Pitch Conference. These assignments have been interesting and helped me distill my manuscript. I look forward to meeting everyone in March. Safe travels!



A photographer must reconcile with her dead mother.


The protagonist is Amy Wu and the antagonist is her mother. Amy's mother is a woman who was born and lived her entire life in the same village of Eternal Spring in rural Manchuria. She believes in magical stories and lived through political upheaval in her youth. As a result, she is adamant that the best way to lead a good life is to never journey too far from home and be surrounded by the love and support of your family and friends.

Amy's mother believes that she knows what is best for every person, and especially that her judgment about the lives of her daughters is infallible. She has little formal education but a great deal of folk wisdom through oral stories. She sees little value in visual art despite her husband and daughter both being visual artists. She wields her love like a rapier, thrusting and parrying to achieve her goals.


The Light of Eternal Spring
Depth of Light
I, Me, Wu


Secret Daughter
My Name is Lucy Barton


After receiving a letter saying that her estranged mother has died of a broken heart, a woman must reconcile with her family and find peace with her mother’s memory.


Secondary Conflict: Amy and David have been married for 7 years, the same years that she has been estranged from her mother. He loves her without reserve and yet something holds her back from being able to reciprocate fully. Her parents are an example of imperfect affection, her aunt is a woman who searches for love everywhere and at any cost, her sister is now married to Amy’s childhood love. The secondary conflict is about the many aspects of love: romantic, maternal, unrequited, and self-love.

Inner Conflict: Amy is an artist who defines herself by her photography. Because she has the ability to fall into photographs and can see more in them than other people do, she feels that she is special. However, Amy has been unable to create a photograph of her own that she can fall into. This inability haunts her. She fears that she is not special and that the sacrifices she has made in her personal life for her art were for nothing.


There are three settings in the novel: Eternal Spring, New York City, and the magic realist world inside the photographs that the protagonist falls into.

The village of Eternal Spring is situated in Manchuria. Ice Dragon mountain rises behind the village and the River of Stories flows in front. Eternal Spring is located in the tri-border junction of China, Siberia and North Korea, -31 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and 95 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. The name is a poetic joke on the part of its founders. The village is a mix of Manchu ethnicity and Han Chinese and its culture is distilled from the myths and legends of multiple traditions, mingling into something new and unique through oral storytelling.

The New York City in this novel is the one in the fall of 1999, when the ether of Y2K anxiety permeated the city and people lived in un-clarified fear of what the new millennium would bring.

The magic realist world inside the photographs that Amy falls into span the history of photography itself, from the first ever photograph of a Paris rooftop in 1826 to a photograph of the foundation stone of Amy’s childhood home in the village of Eternal Spring in 1999.

These setting are unified by Amy’s voice, her particular artistic way of seeing the world.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#6 Post by CourtneyC7Smith » 02 Mar 2019, 06:14

Restore hope, work together, and become winners on and off the football field.

The antagonistic force in the story is the sense of hopelessness and mentality of defeat that pervades the town of Alderson, WV during the Great Depression. Each of the players on the Alderson High School football team faces a personal challenge and needs the encouragement of both their new coach and a winning attitude to overcome the problem.
The antagonist who personifies the greed, selfishness, and excess that brought about the Great Depression is Joseph Wright, the head coach at Wolfsden High School, Alderson’s primary rival. Wolfsden has been conference champions for the past five years.
Wright inherited a fortune in coal mines. In addition to the benefit of broad financial resources, he is deviously clever. He employs every means available to ensure that his team wins such as recruiting players from around the state by offering their parents good-paying jobs in the mines. He uses hatred and intimidation to motivate his players. He demands toughness, believes water breaks are for sissies. His players look more like machines than humans. His team’s training is militaristic. Wright also supplies some comic relief through his boorish behavior and use of malapropisms.

The ’36 Combine
More than a Game
One Team, One Dream

Genre: Young Adult
Comparable works: Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam (a memoir of high school boys in WV trying to overcome obstacles) and any of the football books by Mike Lupica like QB1 and Lone Stars

A football coach takes a group of downtrodden players, creates a combine, and takes the team on an epic journey to defeat rival teams and win the district championship.

Level 2: Most of the players on the Alderson team have a problem to overcome, including:
-Billy, the narrator, is a small boy who essentially runs his family’s dairy farm because his father is dying from black lung. He is kind, dedicated, and hard-working; however, he had been a “scrub” on the team his freshman year and lives in the shadow of an older brother who had been a star athlete in high school.
-Raymond is a large boy who labors for other families as a farmhand. People assume that he is an excellent player on account of his size and strength; however, his success is due more to his intuitive understanding of people, space, and motion. Raymond is exceptionally poor and must contend with an abusive father.
-Eugene, is a happy-go-lucky, natural athlete whose ornery behavior is at odds with his mother’s sense of propriety. She is often seen dragging him home by his ear. Eugene’s challenge is to win the affections of his classmate Marjorie.
-Junior, a bespectacled, pudgy boy, lacks athletic ability but is a talented musician who has strong, steady hands. He wants to play music. His father wants him to be “a practical man of business.”

Level 3: Coach’s philosophy of sport is to play every boy on the team in every game. He tells his players that they will need to work hard not only to improve themselves, but also to build up their teammates. They aren’t going to be the biggest boys or the best-equipped, but his plan is to make them the best combine. When the stakes get high, he becomes afraid that the team and the town will lose the hope that they have built. He must decide whether to continue this tactic or abandon his philosophy, play only the best players, in order to be guaranteed a win.

The setting is Alderson, WV in 1936. Defeated people sit on their porches and just watch cars drive by. Thin and poorly dressed, they don’t even have the energy to wave. A faded sign greets visitors to the town. Its washed-out red letters announce “ALDERSON, W.Va. GEM OF THE HILLS. POPULATION 1450.” The sign has been vandalized. Someone painted a line through the “50” and scribbled “49” above it. People view this joke to be in poor taste but no one has bothered to do anything about it. A group of unemployed men hang out in front of the Gulf filling station on Riverview Avenue. They wear suits too large for their now emaciated frames. Folks call them the “Welcoming Committee.”
When Alderson had been a thriving town, its prosperity was derived primarily from the railroads. People used to go to the depot to wait for the trains to arrive in the hope of spotting someone famous. Now, the main people who disembark are the hobos and tramps who ride the rails. There is a shanty town nicknamed “Greenbrier Estates.”
Children have many chores and responsibilities but they try to make time for fun. They ride the chutes in a warehouse, swim in the swimming hole, attend school dances, and play football.
Since the sport arrived, the town has had football fever. Just like going regularly to church on Sunday, community members fill the stands each Saturday afternoon during football season. Throughout the week, the main topic of conversation around town each fall is the team -- no matter if a person is male or female, old or young. Everyone in Alderson knows the names of all the players on their team as well as who the star players are on the other teams. Football coaches are highly respected men. A coach with a champion team is the most venerated man in town, included in every ribbon-cutting ceremony, the marshal of any parade, and part of the group of city leaders who greet visiting politicians or celebrities.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#7 Post by C7EricSchimel » 03 Mar 2019, 02:40

Seven assignments.

Story Statement
Alan must outrun murderers and adapt faster than a growing monster to return to a comfortable little life of crime and Pilates.

Thrust from a mindless state into irritating and painful awareness, a young Megalodon pup gathers the strength to dominate. It hungers to escape its confines and repopulate the globe with its own kind. It has no need of self awareness, despite its significant brain power. At first it simply responds to its own evolutionary programming, every inch the “organic machine” we have been taught to fear. As it’s brain complexifies, higher functions take over and it begins to want more territory to control for itself.
With every battle it survives, the growing beast becomes stronger, smarter, and more in command of its environment. Its territory expands to the surface world where it imposes conflict on and extracts heroism from the frightened characters. They are scattered and unsure while the monster is clear in its desires. Worse, it possesses the one trait they all sorely lack, adaptability.

Breakout Titles
1. Meg Puppy
2. Sharquilinity
3. Trench Music

Feeds the hunger for fresh science like Steve Alten’s bestselling “Meg” series while bringing the sort of character development we saw in Benchley’s original “Jaws”.

Conflict line
Meg Puppy by Eric Schimel
Alan is the perfect man/child, protected from growth and change by sex, drugs, and rock and roll when the whole world is transformed by the coming of a mysterious ocean monster that seems to have it out for him personally.

Inner conflict
Alan questions his own worth. Everything in his life comes by association with his Rock Star best friend. Does anybody, even his own girlfriend, value him for himself? Desperate to solve a new problem without tapping his bestie for assistance (again), Alan winds up borrowing help from an older friend and reliving the same crisis over and over. Is all of his self worth just a lie or a joke?

Secondary conflict
The deal his old buddy includes him in goes sour, dragging them both into violence with real criminals. Alan is forced to kill one of them and the pursuit that follows drives him practically into the mouth of the Megalodon.

A travelogue of the criminal side of the music industry...every time a band plays, a law is broken somewhere! As the navigator of the dark underside of his friend’s music career, we follow Alan to the seedy parts of the shiny places that feature live music. Insides, outsides, and dark sides of venues in Austin, TX, K.C., MO, and as far as Manila carry the story to its main setting.
The bulk of the action takes place on a one-of-a-kind, never attempted floating platform in the Philippine Sea. A triumph of modern technology, the EARTHSEA platform is configured in the classical proportions of a brilliant-cut diamond. The sizable equivalent of a stable Ocean Liner, it features an array of unique stabilization jets that keep it more still than anchoring could ever accomplish. These jets exert a strange effect on the developing Megalodon, at times fascinating it or enraging it. The EARTHSEA is the brainchild of an eccentric billionaire, will its design reflect the unique flaws in his personality?

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#8 Post by PAMELAQFERNANDESC7 » 03 Mar 2019, 19:09

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
An estranged daughter’s quest for forgiveness following her return from prison.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.

Helena Crasto, Thea's mother hates her own daughter simply for being born. The birth of her first daughter, Thea ruined Helena's plans of traveling abroad and making a life like her peers. And so from then a contemptuous hatred develops. Helena will do anything to thwart the dreams of her own daughter even it means lying and telling the world her daughter is a murderer.
Pitting Thea against her sister, cutting out Thea's inheritance, and encouraging her ex-boyfriend to marry Thea's sister; there's nothing this mother will stop at to ruin her own daughter's life. As a Manglorean woman who's been stuck in Bombay her whole life, her daughter's ability to travel to the US and seek an education infuriates her. Helena can't see beyond her own selfish ambitions. She considers Thea an enemy.
On Thea's return, Helena continues to play the viper willing to devour her own offspring with relative ease, simply because her desires remained unfulfilled.
THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title


FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel.
JACOB, I HAVE LOVED: Katherine Paterson
This book compares because it does bring out sibling rivalry between two sisters. This sisterhood rivalry is apparent and almost encouraged in my book just as it was in Katherine’s book.
In White Oleaner, the mother goes to prison and the daughter deals with multiple issues and UNforgiveness. However, in my book the daughter goes to prison, but there’s a similar feeling of abandonment and unforgiveness.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above.

An estranged daughter returns from prison, only to discover she must confront her mother’s betrayal and lies about the crime she never committed.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have.

A: Thea returns home expecting to be treated as a hero. Instead, she’s treated as a criminal. She’s conflicted because her mother and sister have connived and kept the truth from the world, that she wasn’t the one who killed the little boy. She wants so very much to reveal the truth, to ruin her sister’s wedding, file a lawsuit against her parents and destroy the very family she once loved, but she'll still forgive them if she only knew why they hated her so much.

Social: Simultaneously, Thea is falling in love with her best friend’s brother. It’s important that the truth is revealed for her to have any chance with him. Her future depends on the criminal tag being erased so she can build a new life. And if her family doesn’t reveal the truth, then she’s willing to do it herself.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.
IC colony is a large Catholic enclave in suburban Bombay. It’s a place where gossips and “holier than thou” people thrive. As the sticky summer wears on, Bombay rich with the scent of ripe mangoes and fried potato cutlets, is bittersweet for Thea as she recalls her troubled years as a neglected child. In a place where the Church, forms the epicenter of life, Thea realizes that her family and the community are so far removed from the religion they preach. With every passing day, in the bustling neighborhood, she realizes that everyone has betrayed her and she’s torn between forgiving them or exacting her revenge.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#9 Post by JackC7Sharman » 04 Mar 2019, 04:42

1. Story Statement. Henry Purcell, a widowed lawyer with a young daughter, must prove that a new incinerator for Cold War chemical weapons threatens an environmental catastrophe, a catastrophe desired by domestic terrorists who ally with Henry’s high-school love and who kidnap his daughter.

2. Antagonist. John Proud was a squash coach before he became a terrorist.

An English teacher at St. Ignatius, a private school in a wealthy enclave north of the San Francisco Bay, Proud taught medieval and early Renaissance literature, and Wordsworth, Thoreau, and Emerson. He was the varsity squash coach, and stayed fit. He was an assistant college-admissions counselor, and guided young people’s lives. He was single.

Over time, the evil of the world began to oppress him. The poor, Jesus said, you will always have with you; Proud hated Jesus for that. The environment was being destroyed, and no one seemed to care.

Proud was a parlor environmentalist. He joined organizations, paid dues, gathered signatures. His compatriots seemed false, their activism one more phase of their lifestyle.

Lynn, a former student, stopped by his office. Lynn told him about Gaia First, a group that sought to prevent the planet’s destruction by dismantling the industrial system. Gaia First bombed car dealerships and burned down facilities that tested cosmetics on animals. Proud was intrigued, and then convinced. He took courses in information technology, became Gaia First’s webmaster, and, quitting his teaching job, the organization’s chief.

John Proud has plans for Gaia First.


4. Two Comparables. The story may appeal to readers of John Hart (King of Lies and Redemption Road) and Lou Berney (November Road and The Long and Faraway Gone). Hart tells compelling stories that involve Southern lawyers, law enforcement, clients, and victims, all of whom develop around a larger, darker secret than their immediate “legal” concerns. Berney builds up the relationships between parents, children, and siblings, especially when one is searching for or seeking to justify the other.

5. Conflict Line. A widowed lawyer reluctantly takes a case to save a friend’s career, but to win he has to overcome federal prosecutors, the NSA, a shadowy domestic terror group, and ghosts from his past he thought long ago put to rest.

6. Conflict Sketch.
(a) (Inner Conflict) Several local children have been abducted and killed. Henry Purcell takes his very young daughter, Garland, Christmas shopping. He loses her in a crowded department store. He panics, as any doting father would, and scrambles up and down the department-store escalators, calling her name. He feels extra fear because of the much-publicized abductions of children in recent weeks. Guilt is even stronger than fear because his wife, Katy, died from complications after Garland’s birth – complications that, indirectly, Henry was responsible for. Henry has always felt inadequate as a single father; that his daughter has suffered as a result; and that his dead wife somehow witnesses his inadequacy and judges him harshly for it.

Just before he gives up and is about to raise the alarm, he finds Garland with a beautician at the cosmetics counter, playing at make-up.

(b) (Secondary Conflict) Henry Purcell was a college classmate and fraternity brother of the local United States Attorney, William “Sudden” Sledge. In addition to being the chief federal law enforcement official for the area, Sledge has political ambitions. Although Sledge and Henry have at times helped each other, Henry earlier derailed the federal prosecution of a Klansman for a fifty-five-year-old crime, a prosecution that would have advanced Sledge’s political career, had it been successful. The deeper Henry digs into the chemical-weapons incinerator and the people around it – the government contractor, protesters, a whistleblower, the real reason his friend was disbarred – the more clear it becomes that there is a federal law-enforcement and intelligence operation at stake, and that Henry has no choice but to deal with Sledge on the latter’s terms.

7. Setting. The story takes place in the city of Manchester, a large Southern city that sits in a valley. It is the county seat. A river, the Chew, switchbacks through downtown. Manchester barely existed before the Civil War, a slow river-hamlet on the growing republic’s deep-south frontier. After the war, local hustlers and Northern magnates realized that the valley contained the ingredients for iron and steel --- iron ore, coal, coke. Steel mills sprang up. The night-sky filled with sparks, the day-sky with smokes. (You could taste the air in Manchester until the mid-1970s). On New Year’s Day 1920, a local newspaper nicknamed Manchester “The Pittsburgh of the South.” The surrounding county changed its name, from White County to Iron County.

The steelworkers needed to be housed, all those decades. Modest communities of bungalows had sprung up, more modest for blacks and less modest for whites, but all well-tended and well-policed, sons going to the rolling mills because their fathers had done so. The mills and furnaces are mostly gone now.

With less and less of a living to be made from steel, the houses had emptied and their original inhabitants replaced --- first, by blacks getting out of redlined neighborhoods, trying to climb up on a middle-class shelf. Then came a mix of white commuter-college students and Vietnamese refugees. Hispanic families after that. More recently, gentrifiers lathered paint and revealed brick for young buyers heady with healthcare-industry salaries.

Those Vietnamese were refugees who ended up in Manchester after the fall of Saigon created a flourishing Little Saigon – flourishing for both legitimate and criminal activities. Little Saigon is on the west side of Manchester, separated from the downtown central business district (with its courthouses, office towers, and government buildings) by the sluggishly-flowing Chew River. Little Saigon smells of wet cement, fried fish, nail shops. Octopus hangs from meat hooks in the windows of seafood shops. There are neon signs. Shops keep their front doors open in spring and summer. There is the Pacific Palace manicure place and Danny Dinh’s payday lending storefront. There is Hung Acupuncture, the Big Save Dollar Store, bridal-and-florist shops, a French bakery, and Thanh-Mai Video. The appliance store next to Billy Cowboy’s II, a bar, plays tinny Vietnamese music. The nicest restaurant is Binh’s Café Francais. Dolly Nguyen, a journalist who sometimes works with Henry, is from Little Saigon.

To the southeast of downtown, the steel barons and bankers, the insurance executives and lawyers built sturdy stone houses in the Twenties and Thirties high above the valley-bowl in which Manchester sat, free of the steel-mill smoke. This is Dell, where Henry Purcell lives with his young daughter Garland. Dell has been in Forbes magazine, but Henry and Garland live in a sandstone bungalow, which is all he can afford. There had been a legacy from his father, but it is a money struggle for Henry to keep up. Dell has curving roads with old oaks, a white-washed country-club (the Dell Club), and faux-Tudor shopping villages that are purposefully a shade on the dowdy side. The developer of Dell laid it out in 1927. The Dell Club had horses and stables back then, the “country” club being genuinely in the country. Today, in the largely African-American north Manchester neighborhood of Top Hat (where Henry’s investigator “Oddjob” Green grew up), too many residents deal drugs and fight, the police roll, and people get killed. In Little Saigon, gang violence erupts in riverfront cafes full of cigarette smoke. There are no murders in Dell, however; in fact, there is little crime. There are quite a few firearms in Dell homes (including Henry’s), but they are expensive, polished and treasured. They surface for dove-hunts and for deer. Guns in Dell are turned against persons occasionally, but only by their lawful owners, who turn the barrel only on themselves.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#10 Post by DaleC7Slongwhite » 04 Mar 2019, 06:46

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Build relationships in order to survive

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: Sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force.

Mae-June, church secretary, believes it is her job to keep the church running perfectly. She pictures herself a little above the pastor in rank and expects Joshua will do well if he takes to heart all the training she plans to give him. She is a rigid woman who aims for perfection in herself and others. She critiques those who fall short. She is suspicious of Joshua from the beginning; however, even as she calls out his short comings and complains to the board and puts obstacles in his way, she wants him to succeed to make herself look good as a trainer.

The second antagonist is Matt the Rat, the protagonist's abusive stepfather. Above everyone or anything in his life, he values a classic Jaguar that he has been restoring. He has nothing good to say about Joshua (protagonist) an is enraged when Joshu uses the Jaguar as a get-a-way car. He is determined to get the car back no matter the cost.

The third antagonist force comes into play when the real pastor enters the scene and Joshua must keep him hidden until the paycheck is dispensed.


1. Googling God
2. The Accidental Pastor
3. Seeking Sanctuary


Contemporary Young Adult

1. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, 2016
2. Dear Evan Hansen, by Val Emmich, 2018
3. Heretics Anonymous, by Katie Henry, 2018


When a church congregation mistakes a runaway teen-ager for their new pastor, he decides to go along with it until payday.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Here I have quoted two sections of the novel:
In the beginning, impersonating a pastor was a coincidence, an accident … or was it fate or God that brought him here? He didn’t choose to deceive a congregation or have them fall in love with him. Back then, he didn’t care about them. They were just a sea of unknown faces, random people, supporting actors in the script of his life. Somewhere along the line, all that changed. He couldn’t pinpoint the moment the sea parted and he saw them as individual people with real lives, but now he cared about them.

Would it be better to continue the charade somehow? Even if he could think of a way to pull it off, it didn’t seem right now that he had learned to see beyond himself. All these weeks he had given without caring; now that he cared, was he supposed to stop giving?

Maybe he should make up a story about why he was leaving. Say a relative was in a car accident and no one else was available to help out. But that was an intentional lie to cover up an unintentional lie. The truth? Was that the only way out of it? To break people’s hearts, to shatter their faith in him, humankind, and maybe even God? It didn’t seem kind. It didn’t seem necessary. It didn’t seem humane. Why hurt because you had come to love? It was easier before he had a conscience. Better when he could do his own thing. Better when nobody else mattered. Better when his life was much smaller and uncomplicated.

Joshua grinned and nodded at the small group gathered for prayer meeting. “What shall we pray about tonight?”

Silence for a minute as all six individuals stared at him. Finally, Wilfred spoke up. “You mean who wants to have an opening prayer?”

It was Joshua’s turn to stare back. How could you have an opening prayer at a prayer meeting? Maybe you had an opening prayer, then middle prayer, then closing prayer? He hadn’t Googled Prayer Meeting. Why would he? Seemed pretty straightforward. “Well.” He hesitated. “How does this usually go?”

Gabby gasped the answer. “Wilfred back there …” She thrust a shoulder in his direction. “He usually does opening prayer. Then the pastor gives the lesson.”

“Lesson?” Wasn’t this called prayer meeting?

Millie said, “Of course, lesson!”

Gabby clutched her walker like a weapon she planned to plunge into his heart. “You don’t know how to run a prayer meeting?”

Eyes stared at him expectantly. Droopy eyes behind Millie’s round rimless glasses. Confused eyes from Miss Cora. Reproachful eyes from Gabby’s sunken eyeballs. Sympathetic eyes from Wilfred’s wrinkled face.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.

Church: The setting is a small stone church in rural Tennessee located in a wooded area down a long gravel driveway. Many of the trees are pine trees. Big wide steps lead to double doors. Inside is a large lobby. Straight ahead are two sets of double doors with a hallway on either side. One hallway leads to the secretary’s office and the pastor’s office. On the wall are pictures of previous pastors. Inside the church there are ten rows of pews divided by two aisles. In front of the pews is a raised platform with a lectern in the middle and behind it, three heavy wooden chairs with red velvet cushions. Behind that is a floor to ceiling velvet curtain, like something you’d see at the movie theater or on the stage of a school play. A piano dominates the space on the left between the front row and the raised platform, while a small organ complements it on the right. In the parking lot is a basketball hoop.

Parsonage: Behind the church is a yellow cottage with two lantern-type lights on either side of the door that light up the brick walkway. Bushes with red berries extend from the front stoop to either end of the house. Three cement steps lead to a solid oak door with four frosted glass panels on the top half. In the living room is a small brown leather couch and an end table on one wall, a fireplace is on another wall. Under the bow window on the front wall is a two-shelf bookcase jammed with books. Two wooden rocking chairs sit in front of a square opening in the wall that looks into a tiny yellow kitchen. A two-seater table with fresh flowers is pushed into a corner near a gas stove. There are two small bedrooms.

Home in Orlando: Family lives in a second floor apartment of a rundown house.

Scenes also take place in two hospitals, a restaurant, and in the homes of several parishioners.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#11 Post by StephanieC7Chambers » 04 Mar 2019, 19:49

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
Reclaim a two-hundred-year Louisiana birthright and find a real family with whom to share it

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.
Emilia LeBeau, a thirty year old, bipolar malcontent, didn’t know she was a family secret until she bounces back home to Black Mangrove Plantation to find a purpose for living after her divorce.

Judge Lebeau, her widowed political boss father, and good-for-trouble DA brother pressure Emilia into servitude when she returns. When Emilia’s brother marries into her ex-husband’s Dixie Mafia family, the Judge disinherits her and joins forces with her mobster father-in-law to keep her from reclaiming the plantation home.

Severed from her origins, Emilia finds family in “east sider” Mississippi Creoles at Harlem Plantation, where her deceased mother pursued life as an artist. Harlem has a fire in the Satsuma rum still that damages their home, and Emilia takes the residents to Mangrove. This proves to be a fatal mistake.

The Judge is found poisoned by the rum, and her brother holds Emilia responsible. Broke, homeless, and out of medication she retreats to a NOLA mental hospital, the place of her earlier treatment.

Emilia needs to confront her Mafia boss father-in-law, acknowledge the rot in her family tree, and not be consumed by the swamp of her nightmares. This is a tall order for anyone, but nearly impossible for a woman whose religion is dependence and tête dur stubbornness.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title
Black Mangrove
South of NOLA
Satsuma Rum

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Comparables and Genre
The superstitious culture and bête noire family dynamics in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" meet the spiritual connection to nature in Elizabeth Gilbert’s "The Signature of All Things" in women's fiction.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above.
A disinherited young woman must discover the reasons for her illegitimacy and fight her family to reclaim her two-hundred-year birthright in a state governed by Napoleonic Law.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have.
Emilia felt disinherited as a child, and for as long as she can remember her father acted as though he resented her presence in their family. When she’s actually disinherited from owning Mangrove, her greatest fears about being illegitimate or an unrelated member of the LeBeau family are confirmed.

When she questions her brother about what he knows about her mother and father’s relationship, he deflects and delays answers, protesting he knows nothing about it. This increases the suspicions about her legitimacy.

Emilia has a bi-polar personality disorder. She cannot trust what she thinks and feels.

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?

One of the few 19th century Creole plantations that still remain south of New Orleans, Black Mangrove, has been in her mother’s family for two hundred years. These Creole plantations have an original sin: the buying, trading, and inheritance of human beings--their ghosts still reside within Mangrove.

On the peninsula south of NOLA, geography is destiny. Plaquemines Parish is a half-water, half-land Louisiana peninsula bisected by the Mississippi River. No one acknowledges that Plaquemines is a defenseless peninsula being shrunk to an island by encroaching basins of water. Forty miles north of Mangrove is the jagged tip of an immense engineered levee with a wicked name, MR-GO, the primary southern defense for New Orleans. Everything on the peninsula south of the barrier wall had been left to fend for itself. The last major hurricane in Plaquemines was Isidore in 2002. All of the mid-peninsula grocery stores disappeared, because the population dropped from twenty thousand to less than two hundred in thirty years.

The land on the east side of the Mississippi was colonized by fiercely independent, Catholic French Creoles, who wanted no part of English common law and remained unincorporated. When many of the slaves were freed from the plantations, they walked to freedom no farther than the next town north to live. The landscape is spotted with old rambling plantation homes separated by long swaths of fencing with no grocery stores or gas stations. Tthe pulse of industry enjoyed on the west bank is on life support on the east side of the river…by the end of the book, the west side is failing too.

Hurricane Katrina is on the way.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#12 Post by ANNEMARIEROMERC7 » 05 Mar 2019, 00:34

Story Statement

Following the devastating loss of two brothers to suicide, this is a restorative, grace-centered true story of how one woman crafts a plan to restore her son’s life following a catastrophic brain injury…from her sister’s point of view.

Antagonist Forces

The unexpected in life is the ultimate antagonist. In this memoir, recurrent tragic events threaten to unravel all previous belief that life is somehow fair. One woman, however, refuses to dim her search for inspiration or allow her spirit to be broken. A brilliant blue sky on warm June morning offers false hope as she learns of her second brother’s death by suicide. A blissful evening spent with her husband offers no time for restful contentment. That night, her world is shattered by the shrill of a late-night phone call from emergency personnel in Chicago. Her son, hit by a car, is fighting for his life. Called to remain vested in hope despite poor clinical prognoses, she must paddle against the current of conventional thought and navigate a plan for his recovery. And perhaps the greatest example of antagonist is the sentiment that her family has suffered enough. Surely, they were done with catastrophic trials. And then another unimaginable. In the midst of a predictable spring thunderstorm, a lightning strike engulfs her home with flames. The call to navigate adversity falls within the parameters of inconceivable. No worries though. In this true story, love wins.

Proposed Titles

Just Give Me the Road - These are the words spoken in desperation for her critically injured son to be given a chance at recovery.

Good Rising from Ashes – The recurring mantra where hope breeds.

Sequoia Sister – Sequoia trees thrive despite the devastation of forest fires. The intense and destructive heat of forest fires open the trees’ seed cones, releasing them to the cleared earth for germination. Through destruction, new life grows.

Comparable Works

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved (Random House, 2018) Kate Bowler. $26.00 Hardcover. 183 pages. ISBN 978-0399592065. Blindsided with a diagnoses of stage IV colon cancer at the age of 35, this scholar in theology is challenged with redefining faith in order to navigate a daily fight for life. Bowler’s honest and vulnerable quest to move forward amidst unknowing provides a lifeline to others who find themselves thrust by an unravel of a former life. Redefining faith through the desire to heal is the ultimate “rubber meets the road.”

A Year of Magical Thinking (Random House, 2007), by Joan Didion. $16.00 paperback, 242 pages. ISBN 978-0307386410. Didion’s memoir attempts to make sense of the death of her husband while navigating the critical injury of her daughter. Her honest expressions of confusion and grief as she navigates repeated life-shattering events provides inspiration to her readers.


Blindsided by the severity of her son’s traumatic brain injury, a woman must overcome her own fears and trepidation while crafting a long and arduous plan for healing and rehabilitation. Redefining faith to help sustain the energy needed to rebuild and restore her son’s life despite requires continuous reconciliation and search for Grace-filled inspiration.

Secondary conflict

This is a love story between two sisters. Navigating a childhood where their father left and oldest brother died on purpose leaves them dependent on one another for surety. Sharing the burden of caring for their mom provides background in how these two sisters cultivate an impenetrable bond. Checking one another to rise above self-centeredness amidst daily obligations to care for her yields renewed appreciation for each other and the loving, strong-willed woman that raised them. The soul space between these two sisters is universally connected which makes Kathy’s call to restore her son even more painful for the narrator, as all she can do is remain by her sister’s side.


Settings are fluid as this story weaves in and out of sisters’ shared experiences and family history. From the hospital lobby where Kathy proclaims her prayer for “the road,” to her brother’s front lawn on the morning of his death, their sister connection is palpable. The first part of the story takes place in Chicago. Conor’s critical condition is prolonged, evidence by the hissing of ventilator life support and beeping of monitor alarms. The flurry of the intensive care provides suspense inviting the reader into the fragility of his condition.

The emergence of spring occurs in tandem with the very beginnings of rebirth. Brilliant blue skies and warm feel of the sun mirror the search for hope as Kathy’s perspective is to look for signs of universal grace. Holy Week and the anticipation of Easter offer a real-time journey through the most critical phase of Conor’s recovery, culminating on Easter Sunday when deeper breaths of hope are possible.

The Boston Marathon bombing offers perspective that no one family owns the patent on pain. Random and senseless devastation happens far too often, and forever changes the lives of the most innocent of people.

Next, the setting moves to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where Conor’s room overlooks Lake Michigan. The flurry of bikers, boaters and joggers provides stark contrast to the still comatose state of her son. Kathy’s reminders of the possibilities for vibrant life propel her mission each day to remain hopeful and craft a plan for his recovery.

Kathy’s family home provides the ordinary and familiar setting where Conor really begins to recover. The familiar staircase where muscle recall propels him to navigate a renewed ability to walk, the back porch where Kathy can sits seeking respite; and the kitchen where words of encouragement line the walls and rehabilitation schedules stack the counter are testament to the comprehensive nature of her plan for Conor’s recovery.

And finally, as her home burns to the ground, Kathy and her family are propelled to a new beginning; to a new place that cannot be defined by her son’s accident. Amidst the ruins, the final setting of this book allows them to begin again.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#13 Post by AnicaColbertC7 » 05 Mar 2019, 23:44

1. Story Statement:
The heroine must save her city from destruction at the hands of itself and the villian.

2. The Villain Sketch:
Wynn Rykler is the owner of Rykler Industries, a research and development company created by his mother. He was born in Crest, but sent away by his mother to train within the outlawed wizarding city of Dormandacht. During his training a young Rykler sought out the breach to the Undead city of Untha’Mor, lead by the dark god, Bàs the Underking. Humanity there was undead, but powerful and immortal.

Rykler is sick of the stupid, pathetic, and anti-intellectual humanity of Naois; so caught up with political correctness, ethics, and morality—all he believes holds humanity back from its full potential. He wants evolution of humanity by the Underking’s design.

Rykler returned to Crest and murdered his mother who disagreed with his vision. He’s taken her legacy in invention and seeks to pervert it for his own purposes. The world as his box of playthings, Rykler has spent decades manipulating people, companies, the economy, and secretly orchestrating the Anmire incident, all to leave Crest weakened and divided.

When the timing is right, he plans to steal the Relic Crown of Crest, and then destroy the seals of Naois to free the Underking and force humanity to evolve.

3.Break out Titles:
-The Conjuror’s Queen
-Aerin and The Relic Crown
-Eyes of the Underking

4. Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
1. Avatar: The Legend of Korra
2. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

5. Conflict:
In a world where humans can freely conjure material, a young and talented conjuror, raised in the poverty of a rotting city, fights to save her city from itself and a man who would see it destroyed in his pursuit of power.

6.A. Secondary Conflict
Aerin’s secondary conflict is that she is a walking public relations disaster. She is a hyper-logical thinker, who thinks emotions are baseless chemical reactions that hold humanity back from achieving its potential. This leads to intense exchanges between her and the public, who see her as corrupt. It also leads to intense between her and her not-so-love interest who feels she’s too cold hearted to love. Aerin’s methods for fixing up her city are unconventional and unprecedented, and as controversial as they are effective. For instance, food prices are inflated and gouged in Crest due to a monopoly of three companies in the agricultural district of Piora. Aerin takes out a loan from the Royal Bank and forces the companies to sell to the Crown. She then breaks the companies apart into several different and smaller companies, and resells them for a loss to small business owners and uses savings from the royal coffers to pay off the remainder of the loan. This injects competition into Piora district; food prices come down, and worker’s wages go up. However, her plan involved paying off three major agricultural giants, the very people who caused the monopoly and inflation, with public money. In her mind, the agriculture economy is fixed, and only a small percentage of money was used from the royal savings to pay back the loan. It’s mission accomplished. But, despite prices coming down and farmers regaining their land, protests erupt in the downtown district of Aceiro. It doesn’t help that the man she trusts to handle the reselling of Piora farmland is later indicted for stealing money from the royal bank. The public simply can’t stand her and protests against her grow even as she "effectively" tends to the city’s needs.

Aerin’s walking PR disaster forces those around her to try and clean up after her, including her love interest, and this becomes the source of much drama. She not only has to stop the villain, she has to stop the city itself from destroying itself or her.

6. B. Internal Conflict:
She has to bridge the gap between herself and the world around her full of people with emotions. She can't stand how people let emotions interfere and hold them back, but humans simply are not fully logical, rationale beings. Emotions have to get taken into account. This internal confusion and frustration throws a wrench in what would otherwise be pristine self-confidence. She believes her logic is sound, and yet her own emotions get the better of her at times. She doesn't know how to address problems that do not have logical solutions. Aerin has to find a way to understand people and find common ground. Without it she cannot hope to navigate leadership in a thoughtful manner; one that tends the balance between effectiveness, and sensitivity to her people, and one that can come to terms with the responsibility of caring for someone else.

7. The Setting:

There are two realms: the realm of life, Naois, and the dark realm of Mortos or “The Void.” After the war of the gods Sol, the goddess of life, used her two lesser siblings, Summae the goddess of Fire and War, and Laefe the god of Time and Twilight, to seal away the powerful dark god of the void, Bàs the Underking, within in the realm of Mortos.

Naois is a world where humans have the ability to freely conjure material. Through hard work, years of practice, and a knowledgeable, creative mind anyone can become a powerful conjuror. Conjuring lead humans to develop into two classes of conjurors: domestic and combat. Domestic conjurors are civilian artisans of a particular craft. Combat conjurors use conjuring in a martial art form. They break down into three different classes of combat: Elemental combat conjurors create and shift one mastered material, and they rely on agility and outwitting their opponents. Martial combat conjurors create different forms of hardened weapons and armor, and they rely on strength and stamina to overpower opponents. Trinket combat conjurors are the most rare type, and they use advanced tools and gadgets from conjured materials, and they rely on trickster or underhanded tactics to defeat opponents. Wizards are the most high level conjurors of Naois with fearfully powerful abilities, not limited to conjuring lightning and fire.

There’s three races of Naois: the headstrong humans, the xenophobic fire elves, and the shamanistic turtle-like people known as the Dhraudge. All three races coexisted in peace until the breach of Mortos appeared beneath the city of Dormandacht. Shortly after conjuring appeared among humans, and a new race of ghost-like beings began to appear called the Ethereals. A century later the the Relic Wars began. After hundreds of years of fighting, the goddess Summae, embodied as a great volcano on the center of the continent, threatened to erupt and destroy the entire continent. The Fire Elf Queen called forth the human royals of five kingdoms, and forced them to sign the Treaty of Summae. Under the treaty, humans agreed to live in self-sustainable city-states isolated from one another. Due to conjuring humans no longer had any need to war for natural resources. The Treaty also outlawed mastering conjuring to the extent of wizardry, and all living wizards to be hunted as their existence was naturally a threat to all.

An Era later, the human city-state of Crest now sits under the shadow of the Scathe Mountain range, on the river bed of the Crestian River. It has nine districts but only seven are inhabited: the metropolis district of Aceiro, the residential and slum district of Hailways, the agricultural district of Piora, the educational district of Tonta, the artists district of Cartlen, the aristocratic district of Stywth, the uninhabited district of Ystrad, the government district and home of the royal family known as the Caer district, and finally the destroyed district of Anmire that was once the home of all combat conjuring guilds in the city.

While humans have known peace since the Treaty of Summae was signed, Crest has fallen into distress after decades of turmoil within its government. The former queen and king died young from a mysterious illness, and the city’s progress came to a halt once the child king was crowned. Since the child king's coronation infrastructure and housing construction stopped, and without any oversight the economy soon favored the aristocracy. The rich got richer and the poor fell into poverty. The king is popularly known as the “Absent King” for his lack of public appearances, his lack of rule—his lack of doing much of anything even after many years passed.

As a city, Crest is in a shadow of its former glory. Once spiraling jagged crystal skyscrapers now lay in disrepair with shattered windows, cracked walls, and broken plumbing. The construction conjurors guild, known as the Masons, has deteriorated after its former guildmaster was discovered to be a wizard. Half-finished buildings have rotted through, and some have collapsed in the poorer districts. Streets have not been repaved and sinkholes persist among the walkways. The city’s once cutting-edge train system has aged and fallen into bad management. Trains are sometimes missing and never on time and parts of the track are always under construction. Higher education is out of reach of most citizens, and Sinilius disease has often outbreaks in the poorest corners of the city. Much of the population is homeless, especially in the district of Hailways.

It’s been five years since the Anmire incident—a three day war in the district of Anmire where all combat conjuring guilds there engaged in a hot-headed free-for-all that left the district leveled and an estimated thirty thousand people dead. The royal government has done nothing to bring order to the civil unrest left after the Anmire incident. It is now taboo to be a combat conjuror where it was previously seen as a highly regarded and artistic form of martial arts.

The city’s main religion is the worship of the god of Time and Twilight, Laefe. The Timeists are a pragmatic religion that believe in making the most of what time humans have in their life. They preach hard work, productivity, and self reliance. They believe the Time Father, Laefe, is the father of the human race and that mastering conjuring in order to further technology progress and betterment of one’s life is a form of worship. Since the Anmire incident the Cathedral of Time has changed tune. Where they once did the opening ceremonies for Blinkmann’s Tournament, a biennial city-wide combat conjuring tournament where representatives of each district compete, they now scorn combat conjuring as a selfish and wasteful practice.

Conjuring plays a part in the everyday lives of the city of Crest. The vast majority of conjuring is learned and mastered for purposes of a job or career. Most of Cartlen is composed of artists who use conjuring to create their works. A typical clothing boutique, for example, is run by a fashion designer that uses conjuring to create unique fabrics and materials and then proceeds to create the outfit. Master fashion domestic conjurors and outright conjure an entire article of clothing in one go. The construction conjurors of the Masons Guild are both architect, who design the building in their mind, and construction worker, who can conjure parts of a building pieced together. Visual artists will conjure their own paints, or at master levels conjure whole paintings. Only non-living things can be conjured, so plants and animals still have to be grown. Water conjurors work for the city utility companies, creating water to work the city generators and to manage the city water supply.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#14 Post by WYATTC7SMITH » 07 Mar 2019, 07:39

One: The Story Statement

Catch friend’s killer and win the competition.

Two: The Antagonist

Lev Petrov is a first-year student at Cornell Law School, a clever man of Macbethian ambition, and a slave to his pursuit of fairness. He is also a killer.

In his youth, Lev was admitted to an elite private school only because his widower father worked as the school’s janitor. His father was unable to provide him with the luxuries enjoyed by his wealthy peers who branded him an outsider and bullied him mercilessly. When a cruel prank intended for Lev went too far, his tormentors injured his father. The school’s attorneys buried the incident and forced his father to sign away his rights for a modest settlement. This spawned Lev’s fascination with the law and crystallized his hatred for the wealthy’s ability to skirt justice.

Throughout college, Lev learned to swindle his flush classmates to support himself and send money home to his out-of-work father. Now at Cornell Law School, Lev must compete with the grown versions of the silver-spooned brats that his adolescence taught him to hate: the legacy students, the children of donors, and those who believe they are above the law. He sabotages his peers with righteous indignation and exploits their misdeeds for personal gain.

Three: The Breakout Title

The First Year is Murder
The Turncoat Counsel
Where the Law Grows Crooked

Four: The Comparables

The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens
(a student turned amateur sleuth is uniquely positioned to catch a killer)

The Girl in the Ice, by Robert Bryndza
(a multi-POV mystery where the killer’s perspective heightens suspense but does not reveal identity)

Five: The Primary Conflict

After his best friend and trial partner is brutally murdered, a first-year law student must risk his career and relationships to catch the killer.

Six: The Secondary Conflict and Inner Conflict

Secondary conflict: Before the murder, Erland Hill’s best-friend and trial partner, Virgil White, dated another first-year law student, Kim Peters. During this time, Erland secretly yearned for Kim. Even after Virgil’s relationship with Kim ended, Erland’s sense of loyalty forbade him from pursuing her romantically. But after Virgil is murdered, Kim volunteers to take his place for the final round of the mock trial competition. Erland struggles with his burgeoning feelings for his new trial partner, and when Erland discovers that Virgil was cheating on Kim, he struggles with his loyalty to his friend’s ghost.

Scene sketch: When Erland and Kim finally seize an opportunity to cross the line from friendship into romance, the presence of one of Virgil’s possessions causes Erland to wrestle with his compromised sense of loyalty.

Inner conflict: Before attending Cornell, Erland attended a state college. He favored thrills over studying, and when he graduated, he led college students on adrenaline-filled tours of foreign countries. His parents adored his younger brother John, a charismatic and fiercely intelligent high school graduate set to attend Cornell University with dreams of attending its law school. Erland convinced his parents to let John go on one of his adventure tours before starting at Cornell, and while abroad, tragedy struck: John drowned after drinking on a booze cruise. Erland’s parents blamed him for John’s death, and he quickly grew estranged from them. To win back their devotion and prove his worth, Erland narrowly gained admission to Cornell Law School--the same school that John wished to attend. With an unsettled interest in the law and an unscholarly first career, Erland constantly second-guesses himself and whether he is capable of competing with his classmates.

Scene sketch: After winning the semi-final round of the mock trial competition, Erland calls his parents with the hopes of sharing his greatest achievement to date. But when he hits his parents’ answering machine for the thousandth time, he becomes angry with himself and questions why he thought law school would alter their view of him.

Seven: The Setting

Ithaca is a small town in upstate New York that endures brutal winters with relentless snow and unforgiving cold. Its residents shuffle along icy walkways under grey skies. They wear parkas with their hoods drawn or scarves wrapped purposefully around the face. The town sits on the end of Cayuga Lake, which stretches north for many miles like a long crooked finger. Half of Ithaca’s population are students that attend Ithaca College or Cornell University. The ivy-league campus rolls across the lake’s southeastern slopes where columned frat houses and professor’s tudors also squat on old foundations. Gorges cut through the grounds like great stone gashes, and in winter their waterfalls form white sculptures of ice. Here, Cornell’s infamous “jumpers” have plunged to their deaths for decades. Cornell Law School--one of the “top 14” law schools in the nation--is perched high upon a gorge.

It is an old stone building with creaky wooden doors, wrought iron fixtures, and hazy antique windows. Inside it, small classes of students jockey for position and respect. Exams are administered twice a year, and “the curve” caps the number of A’s to a coveted few. The students’ pecking order--and the quality of their job offers--is built around a three digit grade point average. The students purposefully hide books, share incorrect information, and otherwise sabotage their peers.

The school’s mock trial competition is held in its moot court room, a wooden arena of eerie accuracy. But it is in the school’s famous law library, with its medieval chandeliers, oil-painted deans, and cathedral vaulted ceilings, where Virgil White is murdered.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#15 Post by StacyNeubergerA5 » 07 Mar 2019, 23:45

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Write your story statement –
Decide to live or die in a world consumed by zombies, find a safe haven for a zombie horde, kill one’s self or kill everyone who gets in their way.

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-
The antagonist and antagonist force are twofold. Maxine is a telepathic zombie who has raised a zombie family of several hundreds of members. Marcus is a serial killer who has gone a little insane after 14 years of living in a zombie infested world. Both Maxine and Marcus have goals that involve the restless zombies. Marcus still wants to build an army of the undead, but knows there might not be many living members of society to control. Maxine wants to protect her family from the survivors who are left. Both will face the anger of a young man and the girl he has raised from birth as they seek an end, or revenge, whichever comes first. The zombies are the antagonists, but the world might be better off if they let everyone and everything die.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed)-
The title of this book is ZOMBIMERICA. It is the fourth in a series. The first book ZOMBIES ARE PEOPLE TOO!, the second ZOMBIES BITE!, and the third title is ZOMBIE WASTELAND.

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?
Comparable authors are David Wellington, who has a zombie series called Monster Island, and Joe McKinney who has an ongoing zombie series.

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-
Annabelle, the only person in the world who is immune to the zombie virus, must decide whether she wants to live or die in a world consumed by Maxine’s zombies, and how to get revenge on both Marcus and Maxine for killing everyone she has ever loved.

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?

Annabelle is a fourteen year old girl who is the only one in the world who is immune to the zombie virus. Darius and Ansel are the two young men who have been raising her. Annabelle must decide if she can protect them, or if she should, as zombies take over the world. She is a young girl who doesn’t know if she understands the emotions humans go through, but she knows she needs to take revenge on the people who took everything from her, Maxine and Marcus. She is the only one who can save anyone, and she isn’t sure she should, because the zombies are winning, and she would rather die.

The secondary conflict is Marcus. He’s a crazy serial killer who, after being kicked out of the zombie horde for killing one of the high-ranking zombies, knows he doesn’t want to become a zombie. He knows Annabelle is out there, and he is going to find her, and use her to protect himself, kill Maxine, and take control of her family of zombies. Annabelle doesn’t know that he is out there, but Darius and Ansel do and they are doing everything they can to protect her from both Maxine and Marcus.

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 setting is Los Angeles, California, which is now a deserted wasteland that has been on fire for years. Las Vegas, Nevada, which is the current home to the zombie horde. They hide in abandoned casinos and hotels to survive. The desert air helps them not decompose very fast, but they are thinking of moving to somewhere like Montana, where the cold air will keep them from mummifying. And the south, overgrown by nature, as this is 10 years after the initial zombie outbreak. Each character will travel from their zone, to meet in the middle, likely Colorado, where there will be a battle for survival from both sides (zombie and living).

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#16 Post by StacyNeubergerA5 » 08 Mar 2019, 00:04

I have a few things I am working on, and I'm not sure which one I will be working on during the retreat. I do need to finish the zombie book, because it is the last in the series, but this science fiction novel and a nonfiction novel are also things I am working on. I may be spreading myself too thin.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Write your story statement –
In a world of cubes and living for social status, finding out you life is a lie is not the worst that can happen, finding out that you are not an original, literally, might be.

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-
The antagonist is a mad scientist, who believes that creating a world full of others like him will eventually bring out the best and brightest in his species. He captures a young girl and tells her the truth of her life, all the while psychologically and physically torturing her to see if she might be the answer to all of his problems. The problem is, he really has gone mad, and with each version he becomes more and more insane and destructive, eventually leading some of those under him to decide how and if they want to live or die.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed)-
1 – The Obsolete
2 – The Box
3 – The X Generation

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?
I’m not sure who comparable novel authors might be, but the screenwriters of BLACK MIRROR and ORPHAN BLACK are close to what I’d say this book is.

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-
After a friend disappears from the grid, Melissa finds that life isn’t what she thought. Everything is a lie and a mad doctor might have the only answers, but he might also be the end of everything.

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?

Melissa has never been outside of the cube world she has grown up in, at least not since she was a little girl. After the disappearance of one of her best friends, she must get over her crippling agoraphobia to see if her friend is out there. Once she realizes that her life, and the world she was raised in, is a lie, she must see if she can emotionally and psychologically handle the realization that she is the only one who can save herself, and all of humanity.
The secondary conflict revolves around betrayal by her family and people she thought were her best friends. At least one friend is out for revenge, because of some slight that Melissa didn’t have a lot to do with as she was only a child. Melissa finds out that not only was her birth a lie, but everything she has grown up believing has been one controlling lie after another, just to see if she is the one who can rebuild society, or if she will be an enemy of the world.

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 novel starts in a world of cubes. Everyone lives alone in a cube and each person has to have certain social media stats to gain extra amenities for their lives. Most of the members of the cube world are stuck in their cubes, which are their homes. Depending on their stats they may have different rooms in their cubes, and they have cameras that follow them everywhere. No one leaves their cubes. When we see the outside world, we are led to believe that there is nothing but death and toxic poisoning, no one can survive, this is, of course, a lie to keep people inside and living in their little cubes. They are being controlled by a large government agency, a worldwide agency, which has sterile facilities everywhere to create specific genetic members of humanity, in hopes that people will learn to survive.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#17 Post by ClaireFulton37 » 09 Mar 2019, 05:47

Act of story statement:

Become a warrior in order to survive.

Three possible series titles:
The Testify Trilogy
Testify on Earth
Sight of the Spirit Trilogy

Three possible titles:
A Soul Revealed
Roar of the enemy
Glimpse of Doubt

The pitch: Must include scene setting, major complication, rising action, and cliffhanger.

Isaiah Carter is a rising star in the world of nature photography. When a normal college day turns into a chilling mix of de-ja-vu and lethal pursuit, everything changes. Stripped of his usual confidence, strength, and wit he arrives in a parallel spiritual world. While entirely unprepared to defend himself from the dangers of this new existence, he is befriended by Doyen, who teaches Isaiah the basics of survival in a realm where lions and scorpions hunt humans.

Isaiah hates the atrophied weakness of his soul, and just how deep fear’s fingers reach into his heart. Learning to fight, think, and eat like Doyen are his only hope. Could the ancient words of the Bible actually be true? Not just ideas, and eternal hopes, but weapons powerful enough to change facts? If he dares risk his life to believe them, will their influence be enough to save him? Isaiah must become a warrior, and overcome fear, changing reality with his faith. His training is put to the ultimate test as battles escalate, forcing Isaiah and Doyen to risk everything.

His greatest test remains, when the real world pulls him back with an irresistible grasp. Back in the world were cause and effect reign, can his faith continue to move mountains? Will he survive the spiritual and physical attack of man’s greatest enemy when parallel worlds collide?

The antagonist in 200 words or less.

The world Isaiah finds himself in is haunted by lions. They are a driving force of his journey, forcing him to fight or die. United by one will, to kill and destroy the children of the light, the lions hunt with uncanny precision. Seeking every opportunity to attack, they are a deadly enemy. Covered in never healing wounds, they are thin and worn, but this does not diminish their strength. The lions, especially Aseph, the deadliest, force Isaiah to face his own weakness, and fear. When Isaiah watches Doyen defeat Aseph, he becomes determined to overcome them as well. They drive him to become a man of strength and skill by their constant efforts to destroy him. As he learns the laws of his new world, he discovers that his dreaded enemy has a weakness.

Genre and comps:
Christian suspense

The Devil's Game
Daniel Patterson

When Through Deep Waters
By: Rachelle Dekker

Conflict line:
After opening his eyes in the “Spiritual” world Isaiah will never again deny the reality of a deadly enemy, he must uncover ancient secrets to prevent tragedy.

Secondary conflict:
Fear is Isaiah’s oldest enemy. When battle is before him, he chooses to leave his own ways and trust his newfound strength….

“No!” Doyen bellows in defiance as he catapults forward. He breaks into the clearing, his brilliant sword upraised, unafraid. Without hesitation, he leans in barreling toward the enemy. The power of the Almighty lends sharp edges of light to his outline.
But I stand rooted to the ground. Old fear creeps in, and a harsh voice sounds in my ear. “Turn! Turn and run!” My stomach clenches as time slows to a crawl. I see Doyen’s muscled arms glisten as he closes in on his massive enemy. Everything in me pulls back, yet I don’t move. My eyes drop to my feet. And there running straight and true into battle; my golden path shimmers straight ahead. This is it. Take it or leave it. I shudder, the battle is right here, within.
Somewhere deep inside, a cord of steel strength rises up within me. My eyes lock onto the enemy, a feral grin curls my lips into a snarl. This path it is worth it all. This way, it is deserves every breath. A roar thunders from my chest as my feet begin to pound over the shimmering golden thread.
“HADENA!” I shout. The hilts snap into my hands, my weapons flash, I lean forward gaining speed.

Secondary conflict, social conflict:

Isaiah has bounced off a sub-character, Solomon, throughout the story. Solomon is a frustrating reminder of the weakness Isaiah used to live in. He is torn between pulling Solomon out of his pit of doubt, and avoiding him entirely…

The door swings open softly, and Solomon enters. Immediately, the mood alters. Though I can’t put my finger on it, something still just doesn’t sit right around him.
“Hello, everyone! Nearly got eaten by lions on the way here! You never know, do you? Nasty buggers could get you anytime,” Solomon says. Doyen’s cup meets the table with extra force in response to Solomon’s greeting.
He plunges on. “Hey! You know what I heard?” He pauses a second, but not a one of us opens our mouths. I wish I could keep his shut. Unperturbed by our silence, he continues.
“You remember that lady named Grace? Dirty-blond hair, just a short, little thing? She used to teach school in the valley? Well, I heard she’s been stung by a scorpion. Right on death’s door, she is. Peter’s been in to anoint her and everything, but there’s no change. They say she just kept keeps gripping her ankle where the bite is. Everybody’s all astir.”
There is a complete silence in response to his comment. His words bother me deeply. I put my last bite of scroll into my mouth, and the answer echoes in my soul. “But I say to you that every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”
I shift the scroll in my mouth, considering. Doubt. His words are dripping with it. Its evil fingers reach out to my soul. I sit back, resisting in my mind.

The opening setting is the University of Kentucky campus, but it soon jumps to a parallel world were Isaiah sees and experiences everything that is happening in his life through a spiritual filter. This is an intensely vibrant reality were colors have a scent, sound, and taste. Every sense is on overload when Isaiah sees himself as he truly is, weak and incapable, as well as experiencing life in “5” dimensions. At every turn enemies, from lions to scorpions, seek his life. There is no comfort zone, no ease for Isaiah, he must remain hyper alert as death appears around every corner. As he begins to trust the realms laws, there is a height of freedom and strength he has never imagined. The water itself plays a major role, representing the spirit of life. It gives energy, direction, and protection, shaping the characters and striping away lies. Spanning wooded valleys, mountain peaks, and desert wastes, Isaiah is molded by his experiences and the incredible lessons he learns.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#18 Post by JamesBergC7 » 09 Mar 2019, 18:50

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
Matthew Tesch must solve the murder of gay teenager (and break free of his troubled past)

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.

Oskar Cross is a gay man who can’t make a connection to his community. His secret love for Matthew Tesch makes him bitter to the gay community, even as he serves them in his mother’s bar. His rage boils over when he sees two men together behind his bar. He strikes out, beating them both, and killing Shane Clerey.
THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).

Anger Park
The Russian Sailor
The Ecologist’s Guide to Murder



The Sunday Philosophy Club, Alexander McCall Smith’s Elizabeth Dalhousie mysteries, but with more action, science, and Lake Superior.

Maggie Terry, Sarah Schulman’s mystery. A lesbian protagonist has to deal with her addiction and past misdeeds, in New York City.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above.

A gay biology professor must help the police to solve the murder of a gay teen which puts the small glbtq community of Duluth on edge.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have.

Matt’s depression incapacitates him just as he is getting to the truth of the Shane’s death.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment.

Police leaders believe Shane’s death was a suicide, but Matt, his friend Taylor (a cop), and the victim’s mother all disagree. And Matt receives a series of mysterious texts, feeding him clues. With the help of family and friends, Matt has to find enough evidence to give to Taylor to get the death seen as a murder. Suspicion quickly focuses on a Russian sailor who the victim met on Gridr. Matt’s neighbors, Wayne and Marcel, tutor him in the use of Grindr among gay men in Duluth. The gay community is on edge once the murder is publicly announced and a vigil is held for the victon. When the sailor contacts Marcel asking for help, the Marcel, Wayne and Matt are shocked to find he is with Oskar, the bartender.


The overall setting is area in and around Duluth, Minnesota, including Superior, Wisconsin, on the Western tip of Lake Superior. The unique geography and geology of the setting include the largest fresh-water lake in the world and the two cities that are both ports for lake and ocean-going freighters. The area has stunning topography that includes the ancient rocky outcropping that Duluth stands on as well as surrounding woodlands and small lakes. On top of the hill is Enger Park where the story begins. The Duluth region is torn between its future as a outdoor tourism hub and its past as a shipping and mining town.

Precise locales include Matt’s home, a brick duplex near Duluth’s downtown with views of the lake. (His friends Marcel and Wayne live in the other half). Matt’s college, and especially his lab, are featured, as are the various running trails he uses. In Superior, his hometown, we see his friend’s bar in downtown, which caters to an aging loyal group as well as a young college population. Both come for the cheap beer, but only the college kids appreciate the kitchy interior. Finally, Matt and his crew are lured (some would say kidnapped) to the country cottage where the killer is keeping his secrets.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#19 Post by TylishaWashingtonC7 » 11 Mar 2019, 07:06


Prove her innocence, preserve her humanity, protect her people


Freya is a half-breed fugitive from an alternate dimension. As an extraordinarily powerful being, she quickly climbed the ranks in her new universe and earned a seat on the immortal tripartite council that governs it. Freya can be both ruthless and compassionate, but almost always elects the former. After all, she is the only one who understands the dangers approaching the universe. Compassion is for the weak, and Freya understands that only the strong will survive. Her mission is to mold the imitress, Princess Nani from planet Zar, into the perfect weapon—regardless of the costs.


• The Imitress
• Queen of Zar
• Fasi Dun


Science Fantasy
• Children of Blood and Bone - Tomi Adeyemi
• Empire of Sand, Tasha Suri
• Binti - Nnedi Okorafor


In order to keep her family and her kingdom safe, a princess with forbidden powers must prove her innocence in the death of an elder from the universe's tripartite council.

Assignment 6: TWO MORE LEVELS

Secondary conflict: After Zar is attacked and Nani is taken into custody by a bogus authority, her younger sister, Nephiteria, labors to keep the family safe while their father, King Namarian, publicly renounces Nani to draw attention away from his own illicit activities. To the universe, it appears that Nani hid her illegal powers from the council, used them to murder Counselor Armicin, and then fled. Nephiteria knows it is all untrue. Now, she must surmount her own insecurities in order to protect the family and save her sister.

Meanwhile, a small group of rebels have gathered on Zar to oppose King Namarian. When they discover Nani ailing in the forest after her encounter with Freya, they detain her. Before choosing what to do with her, they will decide among themselves whether she's innocent or guilty.

Inner conflict: When Nani was six, she witnessed the public execution of her mother, Queen Nasiya. The machine that took her life resembled her mother's favorite flower—the carnivorous cysaderry. Nani now keeps a cysaderry on her balcony as a reminder of how quickly a people's adoration can turn to scorn. She knows that if people learn the truth about her and about what she is capable of, they will want her blood. After Freya uses Nani to commit a nefarious crime against humanity, Nani cannot help but wonder if she truly is an abomination. Maybe she deserves to be punished. At any rate, she knows she can neither trust nor be trusted.


In the Fasi Dun Galaxy, seven solar systems contain inhabitable planets. Fasi Dun is one of several galaxies ruled by the Immortal Tripartite Council (I.T.C.). Long ago, the I.T.C. appointed families to rule over the planets. The ruling families were given special abilities, which grew stronger with each generation. Every few generations would yield an imitator—a male child with the ability to copy the powers of others. One imitator, in particular, amassed so many powers that he challenged the Council and waged an intergalactic war. He almost won, managing to kill the Counselor whom Freya replaced. Since then, the council ruled that all imitators should be put to death as children.

Zar is a planet in the third life-sustaining solar system, and the largest of all the planets in Fasi Dun. It is a vibrant, violently beautiful planet that orbits two stars. The planet is powered by nis. It is nis that gives birth to all that inhabit the land, and nis that sustains them. Nani, the only female imitator in existence (hence imitress), has learned to draw upon and manipulate the nis, increasing her strength. But the nis is being corrupted by a strange, malicious spirit. Nani observes as her once happy people grow surly and disgruntled. It isn't only Zar. Siiar, a planet on the outskirts of Fasi Dun, has succumbed to the same evil and now lies in ruin.

Belgahd, the uninhabitable planet where Freya holds Nani captive, swirls with molten lava. According to legend, fire from the lake can kill immortals.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#20 Post by C7JustinMoore » 11 Mar 2019, 07:45

1. Story Statement

Johnny must untangle a web of violence ensnaring the past, present, and future.

2. Antagonistic Force

As a young child in the mid-twenty-second century, Raela witnessed her father’s murder. For years, she struggled with the concepts of aggression, justice, and redemptive violence. In college, her brilliant mind succumbs to a malevolent influence and she is convinced that humanity has fallen too far to be saved.

Leading the apocalyptic cult Children of Never, she spends her life developing the technology to move through time and control the thoughts of others. The misguided “saviors” travel back to the early twenty-first century and brainwash the entire world. Every person on earth is evaluated for ambition and aggressive tendencies. The hypnotized drones are separated to await a catastrophic culling that will reshape the future as the Children plan to use violence as the ultimate path to peace.

Protagonist Johnny must evade drones and confront the time travelers to prevent an unimaginable massacre. In doing so, he and his friends must also navigate their own demons and find a path to salvation that doesn’t perpetuate the very cycle of violence they are trying to break.

Ten thousand years of human nature is betting they lose.

3. Proposed Titles

Dreams of Our Children
The Children of Never
All That We See and Seem

4. Comparables

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Time Shards by Dana Fredsti and David Fitzgerald

...and you asked for books, but I frequently cite Christopher Nolan's film Inception.

5. Primary Conflict

A soldier from the future trapped in a 13-yr-old body must unravel a paradox of violence before a time-traveling cult rewrites history by killing millions in the past.

6. Inner Conflict and Secondary Conflict

Inner Conflict Conditions:
Johnny struggles to reconcile the thirteen-year-old boy in the mirror with the soldier in his head. His adult instinct conflicts with his desire to be a kid. Awkward and isolated, he is trapped between two worlds.
When Johnny’s combat skills save his friends from an attack, he must face the reality of his abilities. He follows a cryptic message implying that children may be the salvation from a terrible cataclysm. But when the battle rages around him, will he chose to stand as a soldier or as a child? Is violence acceptable when defending against evil itself?

Hypothetical Inner Conflict Scenario:
Johnny is the only one with the ability to physically touch and fight the time-traveling antagonists. When the ticking clock ends and the fate of the world is at stake, he must decide whether his final act will be a lunge with a knife or an appeal for mercy.

Secondary/Social Conflict Conditions:
Johnny can’t fit into the expectations of others. Adults try to shelter and protect him while simultaneously looking to him for answers. His best friend is infatuated with him and he doesn’t know how to deal with the feelings of a child because he sees himself as an adult.

Another man in his fifties must decide whether to trust his former best friend who he believes once tried to steal his deceased wife. This secondary conflict threatens the cohesion of the group and ultimately has a causal link to the primary conflict with the time-traveling antagonists.

Hypothetical Social Conflict Scenario:
As it becomes apparent there is a long-standing conflict between adults Frank and Charlie, Johnny must decide whether it's his place to intervene, ultimately trying to stay between them and broker a peaceful outcome in several situations. Does he play the role of child or adult? And will they listen?

7. Setting

The story begins in a present-day suburban middle school. The setting of this ordinary world antagonizes an eighth-grader who tries to fit in despite his belief that he is somehow an adult in a thirteen-year-old body.

Fleeing town after the inciting incident, the characters traverse the woods of central Maryland. This area is amazingly beautiful but can cast sinister shadows. (It was also the setting for The Blair Witch Project.) This part of the story takes place in early October and the changing weather of autumn presents an external hardship on the open road.

They reach an abandoned house and spend the night in seeming warmth and security. Yet the removal of external threats and environmental adversity allows personal demons to create internal conflict in the group.

A hospital setting is used ironically by the antagonists to harm rather than care for victims. It is here the villain reveals her plan to “heal” society in the most painful way possible.

After struggling with his identity through the first half of the story, the protagonist finally awakens in the twenty-second century and is told this is his true life, not his dream of the twenty-first century. However, his memory hasn’t returned so the world of the future seems alien to him compared to his “dream”. In this setting, he questions which is the reality and which is the illusion.

The climax of the story takes place in a parked car in light rain, serenity after a storm. This setting underscores my main idea that resolution of war comes in quiet moments of clarity, not epic victories of force.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#21 Post by C7CatherineParrill » 11 Mar 2019, 23:08

1. STORY STATEMENT: Stand up against church hierarchy and sneak her singers out of Haiti.

Longer Version: When an American music teacher encounters corruption and persecution in a prominent
Haitian cathedral school she creates a risky plan to sneak her singers out of Haiti.

2. ANTAGONIST SKETCH: Bishop Duplessis, who recently took over reins of the Diocese of Haiti, grew up in an
illiterate village during Duvalier dictatorships. Patronage, power and personal gain are his model for leading, and
colonial attitudes of American funders his justification for skimming and questionable bookkeeping.

Père Elie, the first Haitian to run the Cathedral school is young, unqualified and said to have been awarded
the plum job because he bought votes that won the bishop his election. He rules through intimidation, favoritism,
and undermining.

When older singers in the music school gain a sense of personal power during their successful US Concert tour,
Elie tries to keep them down. Finally, to prevent Cathy from working with them he bars her singers from school.
Bishop Duplessis’ decree—"Cathy may continue to rehearse with them as long as I don’t know about it—is a wily trap.

The national American church that employs Cathy and funds the Haitian diocese ignores her reports of abuses
of power and of money-siphoning and remains willfully oblivious to its culpability for systemic injustices spawned from
philanthropic colonialism. It becomes the final antagonistic force when it fails to back Cathy, leaving her alone to
stand up for students and herself.

Genre: Upmarket commercial memoir

Singing in Secret: A Memoir
Singing in Secret: Dreams, Deceit, and Breaking Free
Singing in Secret: Dependencies, Deceptions and Dreams

4. BOOK COMPARABLES: Freedom Writer's Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves
and the World, and The Gospel of Trees. A similarity in readership among all comparables below and Singing in Secret
are their appeal to readers who want to see more strong women leads in books and movies. They are for those who
want women role models who stand up, speak out, and find a sense of their own personal power, while at the same
time entertain and inspire. As in some of the comparables listed below, Singing in Secret also explores root causes of
systemic oppression and takes a stand against them.

Singing in Secret is a story is for everyone who enjoys an adventure, loves music, or wants to be inspired, and for
all those who want to again believe that one person can truly make a difference, even when her adversary is a
powerful institution.

A. FREEDOM WRITER'S DIARY: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and The World,
published by Broadway Books (1999). Readership similarities include those who enjoy an inspiring story; those who want
stories that include cultural diversity; those who want stories of how an individual or small group can escape oppression
and follow their dreams; those who want a story about an ordinary woman achieving the extraordinary; those who want a
reminder that liberty starts with freeing our voices; those who want to be encouraged to know that one person can make
a difference.

The two stories are similar in storyline, of how a teacher opened a new world to downtrodden students and helped them
gain what they most needed—a vision, a voice, and, with it, the power to change their own lives. Freedom Writer’s Diary
is different in that it is less a story of personal transformation, and does not explore root causes of systemic oppression.

Like Singing in Secret, it is set in a violent location that has formed the students’ view of the world and themselves,
robbing them of a sense of hope and possibility. Singing in Secret is also similar to Freedom Writers in that both are
stories of idealistic middle-class white teachers who struggle to gain the respect of students of different ethnicity
who’ve grown up in violence and poverty. Similar, too, is how, as the students’ voices are freed they find a sense of
personal power, hope, and possibility and go on to reach their dream of getting college educations.

Singing in Secret is different in that it’s set in Haiti’s turbulent 1990s, after a string of coup d’etats has left the
country unstable and often in the throes of violent protests. Another difference is that Singing in Secret is primarily
the story of Cathy’s personal transformation, and the liberation of her own voice alongside those of her students, as
together they free themselves from a priest trying to hold them down, a bishop who wants to hide his corruption, and
a national church who wants to look the other way.

B. GOSPEL OF TREES, by Apricot Irving, published by Simon & Schuster (March 6, 2018). Readership similarities
include those who want to experience life in a very different culture and setting; those who gave money to Haiti after
the 2010 earthquake and now want to know why Haiti remains so poor and what has gone wrong with international aid;
those who want to know why anyone would go to such a poor country and endure hardships there; those who have
done Peace Corps, volunteer, or aid work in a developing nation; and those who want to explore the interplay of
societal and personal histories.

Singing in Secret is a somewhat similar story in that is of an American who goes to Haiti in the tumultuous 1990s to
work temporarily in her field of expertise, wanting adventure, a chance to help, and a change from current life. A
difference is that Singing in Secret’s protagonist goes there as an adult and is immersed in Haitian culture and
institutions where she grapples with personal, societal, and historic contributions to the disastrous international aid
story in Haiti. Irving, though aware of missionary imperialism and on a quest to expose it, doesn’t personally take
action against it.

BOOK TO FILM COMPARABLES: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and Music of the Heart.

WILD: Singing in Secret is a personal quest; a leave-it-all-behind transformation story in the vein of
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Audience similarities include those who want
a story of personal adventure and transformation; those who want a story set in an interesting locale with which
they may not be familiar; and those who want a story about a woman who sets out on an impossible dream, succeeds,
and leaves them feeling inspired.

Like Strayed in Wild, when Cathy Parrill’s marriage ends, she sets an adventurous goal that lands her in difficult and
unfamiliar terrain and challenges her in ways for which she is not prepared. The external perils Cathy faces are
different in Singing in Secret and include gunfire and burning cars in the streets outside her quarters, shootouts that
leave students and innocent bystanders dead, and lack of basic safety nets like medical care or a stable infrastructure.
Also different is that in Singing in Secret, Cathy has to go against corruption inside the institution where she works,
deal with lack of support from church heads who fund it, and go against domineering Haitian clergy who want to force
her and her students out. Parrill’s story is also unique in that it’s not only about her quest to follow a dream, but
how along the way she also ignited a dream in eight singers (boys aged 16-23) and, when the priest tried to thwart
them, led them all to freedom.

MUSIC OF THE HEART and the true story on which it was based, Music of the Heart: The Roberta Guaspari Story.
Audience similarities include those who love heartwarming stories where an underdog wins; those who enjoy stories
about music and how it can bring people together and lead them to achievements they didn’t think possible; and
those who want to see an ordinary woman pick herself up after divorce and achieve the seemingly impossible.

Like Music of the Heart, Parrill’s Singing in Secret is the story of a teacher who throws herself into teaching music to
underprivileged students, creates a highly successful program that is nearly shut down, takes on a seemingly
insurmountable task of fund-raising, and wins in the end with help of an internationally acclaimed musician.

Differences include setting (Singing in Secret is set in Haiti, not Harlem); the fact that institutional push-back
Parrill faces is motivated not by lack of funding, but by clergy’s greed for power and money; and that in the course
of the story Parrill is transformed, finding her own voice and source of power.

5. CONFLICT LINE: When an American teacher ignites her Haitian singers’ dreams, then uncovers persecution and corruption in their church school, a priest and bishop try to stop her, forcing her to create a risky plan to sneak the students out of Haiti.


INNER CONFLICTS: Cathy’s upbringing in a strict Midwestern farming family has taught her to respect authorities, put on a good front, and keep quiet about things people wouldn’t want to hear. It’s also taught her to stand up for what’s right and to not shirk what must be done. When these deep-seated behaviors and beliefs call for contradictory actions, as they increasingly do while she’s in Haiti, it causes increasing inner turmoil.

When she disagrees with people in power, rather than confront them Cathy goes behind their backs. She believes the truth sets us free, feels guilty and ashamed for deceiving her superiors and is afraid of losing respect and support. She also believes in setting students’ dreams free and in providing them tools to succeed, and in standing up against injustices on behalf of those who are mistreated. But she doesn’t realize she, too, needs to be liberated—from her self-repression.

She’s been taught to respect authorities and not talk back, but also that one should stand up for what’s right and, as her grandmother taught her, “do what you have to do.” To avoid standing up against the priest and bishop she tries to keep the peace at all costs. Compromising beyond what is reasonable makes her angry and resentful, yet she's afraid to take a stronger stand and doubts herself to know what is going on under the surface..

Whom can she trust? The priest, who says her students are troublemakers and have vandalized the school? It’s true they’re angry with the priest. Should she trust the students, though they admittedly have reason to lash out against the priest. Her gut says trust the students, her mind and upbringing say the priest wouldn't lie. The culture of secrecy in Haiti makes it impossible to get the full story of anything. Her inner turmoil grows as external tension escalates and she can't find out for sure what's going on.

When she finally decides to side with the students, she faces the biggest inner conflict. Going up against the church could cost her job, the respect of friends, and possibly the students' chances, if she can't set them free to follow their dreams. But giving in to the priest and bishop and ignoring their injustices and probably corruption is also intolerable.

SECONDARY CONFLICTS: Cathy is in a foreign country with no clear guidelines about how to remain culturally respectful without allowing her own rights and needs to be subsumed. Personal history makes it easy for her to error on the side of others rather than to look out for herself.

Like people living in oppressive cultures often are, Haitians have grown adept at saying what they want to, yet hiding enough that it can’t be said they’ve violated a code of secrecy or held accountable for making accusations. Their indirect speech frustrates Cathy and confuses her. One student tells her, “They have their antennae up. Be careful what you say. They’ll use it against you,” but won’t say who “they” are. Her students? School administrators? Fellow teachers? She feels she can’t trust anyone to tell the truth, or herself to discern it.

Another secondary conflict’s roots go back to her family and its secretive ways. Though her mother’s secrets about an unacknowledged first marriage and childhood sexual abuse have made a mark on Cathy, so has her mother’s strength in standing up for the rights of her mentally retarded child. In this way, her mother is both a role model for giving up personal power on one’s own behalf, and in claiming one’s power for the sake of another. When Cathy takes this to excess, she is in danger of losing herself. Facing her fear of breaking away from the church and speaking out against it requires Cathy to dig deeply into her own formation, where she will discover similarities between personal repression and systemic oppression.

Additional conflict is created nearly from the start, when the bishop overrides the agreement for Cathy to train teachers in the diocese’s 180 schools throughout Haiti. Without asking, he reassigns her to teach choir at his Cathedral school in violent downtown Port-au-Prince. It is 1996. In the decade since Duvalier’s overthrow there have been 14 changes in head of state, most of them accompanied by bloodbaths. She feels isolated in the school, misses her grown daughters, and longs for home. As violence increases she wants to quit before end of term, but she doesn’t have a home to go to and is on unpaid sabbatical from her job until fall. If she leaves early she has no way to support herself or her daughter in college. To make it worse, her students not only ask her to not only to stay through end of term, but to sign on for a second year.

Music provides her greatest sense of connection. Her long-ago dream of directing a top-notch a cappella ensemble is rekindled and she dreams of taking them on a US Concert tour, then learns it can’t be scheduled in summer before she returns to her job in Wisconsin. These singers have become like sons. She’s ignited their dreams, too, and feels responsible for them. But doing the tour would not only require her to stay through end of term, but to extend for a second year.


PRIMARY SETTING IS PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, from 1996-98. An overcrowded, filthy sweltering city that’s a hotbed of
violence and political upheaval. Strangers on the streets are mostly protective of Cathy and those who aren’t are soon
disarmed by frank or surprising conversation, but colleagues and employers in the church institution are secretive and

CATHEDRAL COMPLEX: National landmark cathedral with its famous floor-rafter murals by Haitian painters. Convent.
Three Schools (music, vocational, and elementary). Guesthouse (a small apartment where Cathy and other volunteers

MUSIC SCHOOL: Has an open auditorium where Cathy’s choirs rehearse on stage while noise from vocational
school and trumpet trills from open balcony overhead make it impossible for them to sing in tune. The school
was founded by an American nun from Boston in the 1950s, was once supported by the Boston symphony,
houses Haiti’s only philharmonic orchestra, and is now a hotbed of rumors, secrecy, and jealousies. It also
houses the room where Cathy hooks up an inverter, VCR, and TV and shows her select ensemble a King’s Singer
video that fires their dreams and gives them a role model.

PERE ELIE'S OFFICE, from which he can see every coming and going at the school and cathedral.

GUESTHOUSE: Small apartment entombed among school walls. Elementary students’ rote recitation bleeds
through Cathy’s un-glassed bedroom window, accompanied by constant blaring of traffic outside, the sounds
of gunshots in the streets, and UN helicopters overhead.

CATHY'S 10x10 FOOT CEMENT BLOCK BEDROOM, with ever-present dust that sifts through the window
opening, dim light from one overhead bulb, and prison-like feeling though is her only place of escape at
times, yet fees like a prison. The hallway, with no exterior wall, that lets in mosquitoes and dust. When
Zanglados (gangs) call with threats she realizes it would be easy for them to hoist over the railing and
get inside the apartment.

COURTYARD, at foot of stairs that leadS up to guesthouse is shaded by a lone tree and except for swarms of
mosquitoes provides a small haven.

CONVENT, behind the cathedral. Cathy climbs to its roof to escape the closed-in feeling and watch bats fly out of
Cathedral rafters at sunset. Only 3 nuns from the Boston order who started the music school now live there. One
night they regale with stories beach escapades where they tried to remain incognito using garbage bags over
their heads and fake names.

CATHEDRAL. Houses famous murals and Haiti’s only pipe organ. When electricity goes off, students pump bellows by
hand. Its sole hymnal is missing measures chewed up by mice, forcing Cathy to improvise the one time she’s called
in to play as a substitute.


Congested filthy streets, National Palace, and scraggly park where Cathy goes for “getaway walks,” during which she learns Haitian language and culture from a teenager who regularly accompanies her. Hungry street kids. Statue of Neg Maron (who blew the conch shell to start slave revolution). National Snack, a cafe with a rare treat (raisin rum ice cream). Maggie's, where volunteers met for Prestige beer if it was safe to be on streets after dark.

HOTEL OLOFFSON. Historic setting of Graham Greene’s The Comedians. Cathy occasionally goes there for a fun night listening to vodou (roots) fusion music or to plug her computer into a phone line to get email when telephone lines at the school have been cut. The Oloffson’s changing uses show relationship between U.S. and Haiti, and their citizens.In early 1900s it was the mansion of the President of Haiti. When he was dismembered, the United States occupied Haiti and Marines took over the mansion (along with Haitian government, constitution, and finances) from 1919-1934. Then it became a hotel, and in the 1950s and 60s was a hotspot for famous international visitors including Mick Jagger, Robert Kennedy Jr., and Truman Capote. In the 1990s when Singing in Secret is set, Richard Morse owns the Oloffson. He's carried out at gunpoint for singing a protest song against the government. Later his band is attacked and some killed as part of the political protest.

BISHOP DUPLESSIS' OFFICE in upscale suburb, where he is removed from the poverty and filth just down the mountain.

THE NUN'S GETAWAY CONVENT in the mountains where Cathy takes her select vocal ensemble on retreat because it is cooler, there are trees, and no noise.


JEANNETTE. A remote, illiterate village which Cathy and her family first visited in 1990, and where she became
increasingly involved in helping the school. It inspires her decision to spend a year in Haiti training teachers and is her
occasional place of retreat during the story. It’s where she meets a short-lived love interest, an American who invites
her to Washington DC for Easter vacation. It's also where she develops deep friendships with Haitian colleagues who will
ultimately encourage her to finally speak out and tell her story, and theirs.

U.S. EMBASSY IN PORT-AU-PRINCE, where Cathy twice must go to stand up for her students and try to get the official to
overturn visa denials for her students.

VARIOUS SETTINGS IN RURAL HAITI 1996-98: Where Cathy travels to give seminars, including Isle of La Gonave where she
crosses sea in a rickety wooden sailboat under star-studded sky. Also includes treacherous mountain roads with tat-tap
drivers who paint their passenger trucks with wildly vibrant colors and taunt death at every reckless turn.


CATHY'S HOME at start of story, when her husband leaves in bleak mid-winter, leaving her feeling depressed and unable
to find her way forward.

FARM HOUSE where Cathy rents a room when she’s forced to sell her house. Here she draws strength from her childhood
roots and begins to find her way forward.

MIDDLE SCHOOL where Cathy's a choral director at start of story.

CHILDHOOD FARM IN ILLINOIS. Homesteaded by Parrills in Civil War era, is the seat of personal history as it intertwines
with societal history in Haiti. While Parrills were settling in Southern Illinois, a black Episcopal priest in New England was
moving his congregation to Port-au-Prince to found a church there, believing blacks in the church in the United States
would never know freedom. When Cathy was singing in her first childhood choir, a nun from Boston was starting the
music school in Haiti.

DRIVEWAY at the farm, setting of Cathy’s first memory, when she had to wait in the back of the car without speaking.
Years later, it was in that same driveway where her mother sent rocks flying the day baby sister Polly got loose and was
found more than a mile away, covered in road tar from having fallen on freshly oiled road. The memory of how her mother
spoke out to the salesman who caused the calamity when he left the gate open that day was a model for Cathy, as was her
mother’s tireless fight to close down an unfit home for disabled.

THE BEAUTY SPOT. Cathy’s father created when he extended the original lane into a circle driveway and planted
hollyhocks and peonies inside the circle to make a pretty spot for her mother to look out upon from the kitchen window.
But the stench of hogs overpowered the peony's perfume. And the well whose cool water quenched their thirst also
filled the bucket in which her dad drowned baby kittens when the farm became overrun with more cats than they could
feed. Its duality mirrors that of the Haiti Cathy loves and hates.

THE STAIRWAY inside their house. Cathy's Dad rigged the door so that the bottom half could stay locked (to protect
her mentally retarded little sister) and the bottom half could stay open to let warm air rise to unheated bedrooms
above. Its gun-metal gray steps where where Cathy as a child once prayed in earnest when her little sister was dying,
as she went up to her bedroom alone. The same steps where, a few years later,she walked down to the kitchen
with a question for her mother that would reveal a family secret that left Cathy feeling alone and betrayed.

MOREHOUSE COLLEGE, Atlanta, and joint concert with the famous Morehouse Glee Club.
WASHINGTON, DC. Concert venue at church. Home of OLOFFSON owner Richard Morse’s parents. NPR STUDIOS with Robert Siegel.
VOICE OF AMERICAVoice of America studio; cherry blossom time when Cathy went there for an Easter respite with a short-lived
love interest.
ORLANDO. Recording CD at Cathedral. Trip to Universal Studios. Trip to Naples, beach, etc.
CHATTANOOGA. Retreat on Lookout Mountain. Exquisite concert at Southern Adventist College
BOSTON, PHILADELPHIA, and many other cities and towns.


VENUE FOR CATHY'S DOCTORAL RECITAL "Sigh no More, Ladies/" Music written by women composers, for women’s
voices, conducted by Cathy and performed by the University Women’s Chorale she now directed.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#22 Post by TedCooperC7 » 11 Mar 2019, 23:26


Scarlett must do whatever it takes to prove her estranged father’s innocence of a horrific murder, in order to win back his attention, respect, and love.


FBI Agent by day, vicious murderer by night, the Mad Yogin is a publicity-hungry psychopath who will cross any line in his quest for immortality as the World’s Greatest Serial Killer. To this end he targets only pregnant women, leaves their fetuses propped in lotus pose, and brags about his successes on social media.

According to him it’s all about creating a memorable brand to achieve his goal. So when a copycat creates a bad imitation of an iconic Mad Yogin crime scene in an affluent town far from his usual haunts, the Mad Yogin must protect his brand. Infuriated, he crosses the country to show the citizens of Mill Valley how a real psychopath goes about terrorizing a community. And when a con man in financial trouble is arrested for the copycat killing, the Mad Yogin publicly names his next target—the jailed suspect’s pregnant teenage daughter.


Scarlett’s father Donald Connelly is a heartless con man whose sophisticated Ponzi scheme has bilked thousands of investors out of millions of dollars. To protect his profits and continue his scam he murdered a blackmailing employee and tried to make it look like the Mad Yogin’s work. Now he’ll do anything to escape justice, even if it means arranging the Mad-Yogin-style killing of his other daughter.


Nobody’s Little Girl
Why She’s That Way
Who’s Your Daddy Now?
The Undad


Psychological Thriller

The Girl on the Train — over 18 million copies worldwide
Gone Girl — over 15 million copies worldwide
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — over 20 million copies worldwide

I believe that bestsellers like these point to the existence of an underserved audience far greater than the audience for more typical thrillers, which accounts for such novels’ far greater staying power on the bestseller lists. This huge audience wants psychological thrillers where the plot is primarily driven by a wounded, not-necessarily-likeable female protagonist’s internal conflicts.

Bestsellers such as All the Light We Cannot See and Where the Crawdads Sing are less dark, with more empathetic main characters, but probably point toward the same or an overlapping market.


Desperate to connect with her estranged father, yet terrified he’ll reject her, an aspiring investigative journalist freezes whenever she sees him around town, unable to approach.


Threatened with losing her father forever—to life in prison or worse—she must prove his innocence of a horrific murder.


Unwilling to even consider that her father might be guilty, she’s blind to crucial facts and mounting evidence against him.


Meanwhile, she must protect her hated stepsister from a notorious serial killer.


The setting is Mill Valley, a small bedroom community across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, where wealthy owners of luxurious homes on the hillsides and middle-class renters of dingy apartments in the flats are constantly thrown together in venues like the picturesque town square, the local Whole Foods, and the only high school.

Sooner or later everybody here knows everybody else—if not by name, by sight—and this is what catalyzes the internal conflict at the core of the plot, by forcing the apartment-dwelling protagonist who lives with her single mom to constantly encounter her wealthy estranged father and his shamelessly spoiled other daughter.

Within this overall setting are two other plot-critical locations: Cascade Falls, the magical, enchanted waterfall and pond in the hills where the victim of a grisly murder is discovered; and Tamalpais High School, where the seventeen-year-old protagonist and her journalism teacher commence their affair.

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Joined: 12 Mar 2019, 16:46

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#23 Post by RoryC7Smith » 12 Mar 2019, 17:54

7 Simple assignments-

1- The act of story statement-

Rock must absorb the information provided him by a man that claims to be two-thousand years old and justify in his mind the elements of inaccurate historical events along with distortions in the laws of physics, while attempting to protect himself from being murdered by an ancient order of religious group of zealots.

2- The Antagonist-

Two-hundred years ago a subset of the Jewish faith named "Sanhedrin" mounted insufferable pressure on Pontius Pilate to stop Jesus Christ from spreading his message to the masses as an inherit threat to their religion. Sometime after they influenced the death of Christ, the Sanhedrin retreated to the shadows of history while Christianity blossomed throughout Europe. However, that ancient sect did not stop working behind the scenes and has recently began to thrive as anticipation for the end of times has accelerated the desire to rebuild God's temple where the Temple Mount now stands. Unbeknownst to mankind, Jesus begat a child and his bloodline remains intact even today. After a century of decline of Christian beliefs, the primary function for the Sanhedrin is to ensure they terminate that bloodline to prevent any rebirth of the Christian religion. Rock is the last remaining survivor of the bloodline of Jesus and the Sanhedrin will do everything in their power to put an end to the potential for him to create more energy toward Christianity.

3- The Breakout Title-

Burning Man

The Truth of History

Burning Man- Between the lines of History

What he didn't know, he learned.

4- Genre-

Contemporary fiction adventure - Comparables - The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, The Rise of the Mystics- Ted Dekker

Religous Fiction Suspense- The Celestine Prophecy- James Redfield

5- Conflict Line-

Burning Man by Rory Smith-

Just an average guy with average friends, Rock Razie decides to attend the Burning Man festival where he learns that the truth of history, not only of his, but of his friends and the entire world, is the reason an ancient Jewish group named "Sanhedrin" are attempting to murder them to protect their own religion.

6- Inner Conflict-

Rock is faced with the hidden truth about his genetic background, being a direct descendant of Jesus Christ and everything that might go with what that means in today's world. His past has been nothing if not unworthy and imperfect as compared to his lineage, so he struggles with the realization that he was destined to be something he is clearly not prepared for. When confronted by that truth, Rock Razie must search deep inside for the answers to find the obvious truth, one that he has really known all along.
He also learns his closest friends have a historical trait that makes them far more than just his friends. They have a different genetic marker that allows them to live for more than six centuries and with a specific purpose. They were destined to protect Rock from the Sanhedrin along with other warriors in history. They were destined to be his protectors, not just his friends.

7- The Setting-

Imagine strolling down a path and looking up to see a hairy naked four-hundred pound man crafting an indentical replica of Stonehenge out of twinkies, or grooving to the beat of dance music while people made sudden appearances covered in slimy gels from a huge piece of art shaped like a birthing woman, or floating along the Nevada desert floor on the deck of a vehicle transformed into an replica of a sixteenth century Pirate Galleon while rave music bounced all around as you float just underneath the watchful stare of the cold blue face of the "Man" himself. Those are just a few of the vivid experiences available at a Festival out in the dried-out lakebed in the Nevada desert. The Festival is called Burning Man, known for its spiritual nature, a place where one might search for inner meaning or a clearer path thru the future, a place where the immensity of human creativity is on full display and where every turn of your head presents the opportunity for yet another "Eye-Gasm". Imagine a place where clothing is just a mere suggestion and not a strong one at that, and where the human body can be a complicated easel for those so inclined, a place where an open mind goes along way into determining if the festival-goer will "get" the meaning or simply view something amusing and will almost certainly have an opportunity to experience a dust storm, camp in the plus one-hundred degree heat where there is no tree that was not created by man within fifty miles, where those so inclined bungee-battle with foam covered weapons to scratch that competitive itch inside a life-sized, "Thunderdome", where mopeds morph into pink bunny slippers as a unique method to travel from fire burping octopus vehicles to a magicians tent where your genitalia might just disappear. The entire experience can be and is mindboggling. There is no better place for an average man to be other than average and this setting is the choice for Rock Razie and his friends, who hope to experience just a sniff of adventure that Burning Man seems to offer. Follow Rock ...and his friends as they experience much more than they had hoped as they travel from one theme camp to another until they are all faced with certain truths that shape the views of themselves, their friendship and the entire perspective of the human race, where their personal histories and that of mankind battle hidden truths exposed at the festival all while they are being stalked and earmarked for death by an ancient religious sect.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#24 Post by ZONAC7DOUTHIT » 13 Mar 2019, 21:32

1. Lascivious sex goes on despite a straight-laced society’s strictures

2. The real antagonist is society, the rules of “proper” middle-class life in provincial England in 1832. This was George Eliot’s antagonist, also. The characters have individual antagonists, the primary being the dead husband of the beautiful young heroine who tries to bar her from loving a handsome and idealistic young man who excites exquisite passion in her? I haven’t changed Eliot’s basic plot. I have merely filled in the implied sexual urges with erotic descriptions and added a few humorous, I hope, footnotes about modern American society.

The Rev. Mr. Casaubon, a self-important bachelor in his 40’s, has devoted his life to researching a treatise that he claims will explain all mythology. He selfishly accepts the adulation of nineteen-year old Dorothea Brooke, who yearns for more knowledge than her Victorian education for proper-young-ladies allowed. Even though he has never had much interest in sex or women, he feels that the girl will be a pleasant diversion at the end of a day of serious scholarship. She chooses to marry him because—to her alone—he is the epitome of learning and intelligence. Her passionate desire to learn blinds her to his faults. On her lonely honeymoon in Rome, she has a chance encounter with his young cousin, Will Ladislaw. She doesn’t understand the animal desires he stirs in her, but Mr. Casaubon must have because just before he dies, he leaves his fortune to her on the condition that she never marry Will Ladislaw. Constrained by her class, society, and her husband’s selfish cruelty, she is left lonely…and consumed by a physical hunger that only Will Ladislaw’s body can satisfy.

Middlemarch, The Lovers’ Version
George Eliot’s Middlemarch: The First Draft
Marian Lewes’s Middlemarch
All with “Edited and Annotated by Zona Douthit”

4. Comparables: George Eliot, if she could have written explicitly about her characters’ sexual yearnings and proclivities as well as hundreds erotic romance novels. While I don’t expect to sell 125 million copies like the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, it was surprising how many mature women, who would never read a standard romance novel, read them. (The first book was originally self-published.) There is clearly a market for romantic sex novels on a higher level than the standard romance novel. The question is whether there is a market for intelligent romantic sex. While I have edited Eliot’s original some to make it easier for the modern reader—and could do more—I have kept her sardonic observations about society and added a few of my own. While the level of reading might be more sophisticated than many readers of Fifty Shades, this version of Middlemarch might also introduce many readers to Eliot’s brilliance and satisfy a demand for intelligent, fun fiction.

5. Brilliant and sincere Dorothea marries an older, wealthy man, but on her honeymoon learns she has married a sexless narcissist and soon becomes physically obsessed by his handsome, younger cousin.

6. The main protagonist’s inner conflict is between her resolve to do good deeds with her life and her craving for a handsome, young man’s body. The ultimate climax is literally a climax.

The major conflict for all the provincial, middle-class, Nineteenth Century characters is between what society expects them to do and what their bodies are crying out for them to do, which is still true for many of today’s readers. The romance novel industry is built on this premise. Society, our friends, our family, our conscience tells us one thing, but our bodies want another.

7. Middlemarch is a mid-century, mid-sized town in the middle of England. It represents Victorian society and all its hypocrisy. Lots of drawing rooms, formal gardens, and bucolic countryside with a honeymoon in Rome. Obviously, I have stolen the entire book from George Eliot, so the descriptions are exquisite. My contributions are the interior thoughts and private actions of the characters, and they are all about sex: young awkward sex, unrequited yearning, perverted cravings, seduction, exploration, disappointment and satisfaction.

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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments

#25 Post by TiffanyChaconC7 » 13 Mar 2019, 22:36

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Lenna’s mission is to find and disarm a nuclear missile in the land beyond the Wall.

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.

Carlo is tired of always being someone else’s pawn — he’s ready to create his own destiny, ideally on the other side of the Wall. He’s filled with anger and resentment, mostly due to the way his mother resented him and blamed him for them being expelled from the Union. Because of her influence, he sees the Union as his “Promised Land” and will do anything to get there. When he sees Lenna — the pretty little Union girl with the perceived cushy life — his resentment seems embodied by her and he feels compelled to not only use her to get to the Union, but to simultaneously strip her whole world away in the process.

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

The Land Beyond the Wall
The Deactivator
The Spy’s Daughter


- 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?

Fans of Jennifer Lynn Barnes (“The Naturals,” “The Fixer”) and Marie Lu’s “Legend” will enjoy this title.

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.

Lenna and her dad are given a mission to find and disarm a nuclear missile in the land beyond the Wall. After the Divers (led by Carlo) kidnap her dad, she must find the missile AND save her father before both are irrevocably lost.

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: The last several years, since her mom died, Lenna has been at her dad’s side through all of his missions. He has trained her in combat and taught her everything he knows about nuclear missile disarming. This mission will be her final mission with her dad — after this, she will be 18 years old and the Union will send her on solo missions. Her inner conflict is that she doesn’t know if this is the life that she really wants — one of consistent transition, lies, secrecy, and no real relationships.

Secondary/Social conflict: The two types of conflict are inter-related in this story. As Lenna is trying to decide if she wants to follow in her dad’s footsteps and live her adult life as a covert operative, she meets Hawke, Mikayla and the Taylors. They have disarmed her with their warmth and genuine natures, and she has begun to trust them and care for them. As she gets closer to them, she feels the weight of the covert nature of her lifestyle — she has to hide parts of herself from them, and at times use these newfound relationships in order to get further in her mission. At times, she puts those relationships ahead of the mission and this causes internal turmoil as well as outside pressure from her dad and handler.

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.

Set in a futuristic world where extremely volatile and powerful earthquakes (called MagnoTremors) have caused the continents to collide (e.g. the earth is returning to Pangaea form). As sovereign states have been demolished, and others have converged with each other, this has caused widespread war. The ultimate outcome of these wars caused some countries to band together to form the Union — they have built a wall, outlawed nuclear weapons, and exiled anyone who disagreed with them.

Lenna and her father are instruments of the Union Intelligence Department — they covertly enter other countries, search for and disarm any “illegal” nuclear weapons. For their latest mission, they are sent to the land beyond the Wall — a “No Man’s Land” filled with exiles, criminals, and unwanted peoples. They are searching for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) — essentially, the Great White Shark of nuclear missiles — that was lost in one of the continental collisions. The Union wants to find it before anyone else can.

Lenna and her dad set up their home base in Smyrna, the largest town in the land beyond the Wall. It’s a coastal town filled with fishermen and other tradesmen. In contrast to the high-tech Union, this land is primitive. The people in Smyrna are incredibly hard-working and industrious but live very simple lives compared to what Lenna is used to in the Union. Lenna very clearly stands out as someone from the Union and is judged for this. She has to find a role in the community to prove her worth and trustworthiness.

The land beyond the Wall is still largely affected by the Magno Tremors — there are frequent earthquakes, and unbeknownst to the Smyrnan townspeople, there is still one more continental collision waiting to happen. Because of the constant earthquakes, the townspeople have fewer possessions and are comfortable with a more transient lifestyle — moving from home to home frequently and with relative ease.

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