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Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 14 Mar 2019, 18:09
1. Story Statement:
Two siblings must cross a war-torn, magical empire to find each other.
2. The Antagonist
Dengessen L’Te leads the military forces of the Drowning City. Although he is well dressed, well educated, and perfectly practiced in the battle magic that wreaks havoc on Val’s life, everything about him reminds Val why Flatlanders hate Cityfolk. Dismissive and cruel, Dengessen believes in a rigid social hierarchy. He is interested in Val only for her power, and sees her magic-less younger brother Tamar as nothing more than a bargaining chip to use against her.
When Dengessen invites Val to apprentice with him, he says that his goal is to unite all the peoples of the old empire. What he doesn’t mention is that he wants to unite them in subjugation—starting with the Flatlands.
Dengessen’s plan relies on winning the favor of the dirty gods, but his religious zeal follows the letter of the law, not the spirit. He prefers to take what he needs first—kidnapping Val and Tamar, cutting down a sacred tree, or torturing an orc for information—and ask for forgiveness afterwards. “The gods demand justice, not mercy,” is his motto. He believes divine favor can be bought with sacrificial blood, and it turns out that Val’s blood has particular value.
3. Breakout Titles:
The Broken Land
The Battle God’s Mistake
4. Genre and Comparables:
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
5. Conflict Line:
Val is brimming with battle magic, while no one is more ordinary than her brother Tamar, but each is determined to save the other after they are kidnapped by a foreign mage.
6. Additional Conflicts
After Val escapes from her kidnappers, she finds herself travelling with Dalton, a feckless Cityfolk prince. Even though Val knows that she should be focused on saving her brother—and only that—she comes to rely on Dalton’s wry humor and limitless enthusiasm. But if figuring out her feelings for Dalton is confusing in the wild, it becomes almost impossible once they reach the Drowning City. Val is shocked when Dalton slides seamlessly back into his carefree life of privilege, even though others are starving and her own brother is still lost. He seems like a stranger—unless she never really knew him in the first place.
Rage fuels Val’s power. The flames of battle magic wait inside her, and when she tries to push them away, they come out in other ways: her eyes light with coppery flames, her skin burns to the touch, and her temper flares. It’s this last one that drives everyone—even her brother Tamar—away from her. But Val’s anger isn’t fueled by the cruelty of the villagers or the frustration of taking care of Tamar. Instead, it stems from a dark secret about her parents’ death. In order for Val to control her magic, she’ll have to forgive the person she hates most: herself.
Krysatem Tor was a unified empire—home to humans, orcs, dragons, and other magical creatures—until the gods started vying for power. As each god fought to remake the world in their own image, the peoples, the magic, and even the land itself began to splinter. Now, as the Fourth Age comes to a close, the empire is broken and the harmony of the early Ages is little more than a myth.
For Val and Tamar, this means that they’ve never set foot outside the red sands of their dusty village in the Flatlands. Flatlanders focus on surviving in their isolated communities, where magical powers like Val’s and big dreams like Tamar’s are scorned as useless Cityfolk vanity. Not that they’ve ever met someone from the Drowning City. Between the sprawling, elitist metropolis and the Flatlands lie the dirty lands—forests, mountains, and rivers ruled by the gods who hate humans.
As Val and Tamar are forced into this wilderness, they discover the secret kingdoms where many magical creatures are hiding after suffering under the old human empire. But the Ages of mistrust have taken their toll on these peoples as well, and the last of the magical civilizations are on the verge of collapse. Divided, the peoples of Krysatem Tor face slow destruction, but entering the human lands means war.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 14 Mar 2019, 19:16
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Story statement
Come to terms with the alcoholism that threatens to destroy her relationships and potentially her life
SECOND ASSIGNMENT: Antagonist/antagonistic forces
The tension of mothers and daughters is central to both sections - the lack of communication around alcohol use, the ease in which characters lie to present an illusion of control and manageability, and the inability to face important issues.
For Leah, the 2019 protagonist, the strongest antagonistic force is her drinking, which threatens to destroy everything she’s barely holding onto. Anyone who questions her drinking steps briefly into the role of antagonist, including:
- Leah’s mother, Susanna, in the sense that Susanna has attempted to intervene in Leah’s drinking in the past, which Leah views as an invasion and completely unnecessary. Susanna has lived through her own mother’s drinking and sees the pattern repeating.
- Leah’s friend, Sarah, who drinks almost as much as Leah but manages to keep things together, at least on the surface. The friendship serves an important role in each girls’ life - they can avoid looking at their own issues and can point a finger to the other girl as the one with the real problem.
For young Susanna, the 1980 protagonist, the antagonist is her own mother, Babs. Babs is a dynamic, temperamental force, and Susanna feels obligated to watch over her instead of enjoying her own childhood.
THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Breakout title
The Girls of Hidden Lake
The Killjoy Girls
FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Comparables
Marlena, by Julie Buntin (2017) - This novel flows from the past to the present in alternating sections. It looks at female friendship through a lens of alcohol and drugs and examines how alcoholism and drug addiction can lead to specific consequences for young women. It also portrays strained family relationships involving an alcoholic mother.
Motherest, by Kristen Iskandrian (2017) - This novel portrays a different type of fraying relationship between mother and daughter. It features a young woman trying to find her identity outside of her mother and struggling to find intimacy in her relationships with other women.
FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: Conflict line
While a mother experiences the effects of alcoholism on multiple generations of her family, her daughter must confront her own drinking as it threatens to unravel her already unmanageable life.
SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Inner/Secondary Conflict
Inner conflict (Leah):
Leah attempts to maintain control over all areas of her life: her boring job, her struggling relationships, her rapidly-dwindling money. She even adopts a stray dog because it seems like the perfect opportunity to step up to the plate and become a responsible young adult. Attempts to stop or control her drinking have proved futile, and although she realizes she drinks more than most people, she’s in denial about the extent of her alcoholism. Her drinking has made maintaining friendships almost impossible. When Sarah, a new student employee at the library, asks Leah to hang out, Leah feels like the stakes are high. She’s desperate for a friend, but must maintain control and not let her drinking, or her selfish behaviors, ruin everything.
Sarah goes through a drug overdose and ends up in the hospital. When Leah visits, she’s terrified that the conversation will turn to Leah’s drinking. When that happens, Leah panics and withdraws, immediately changing the conversation. In Leah’s mind, if someone addresses her drinking head-on, then it would mean Leah has to do the same. And until the very end of the novel, she’s simply not ready to confront it. This is her go-to in times of conflict: avoidance. She avoids unpleasant conversations, and lies to control the image that other people have of her. Her deepest fear is that people will realize what’s really going on.
Leah also has conflicted feelings about her mother, and there’s an internal conflict as she wrestles with her mother’s presence in her life. Susanna wants to help, but Leah feels as though she can never be fully honest with her mother. It’s the same response: masking what’s really going on in order to present an illusion that everything is fine.
Secondary conflict (Leah):
Leah alternates between attraction and disgust for Sarah’s friend Ian. A bassist in a local band, Ian is an immature, self-centered young man who has no interest in a real relationship. Their attraction to each other only leads to drunken sex. To an extent, Leah fixates on her relationship with Ian to avoid looking at her own issues: wondering when she’ll see him next, obsessing when he doesn’t answer her texts, feeling extreme jealousy when she learns of his history with Sarah.
Inner conflict (Susanna):
As a nine-year-old girl, Susanna loves swimming at the pool and spending time with her best friend. At home, however, Susanna keeps constant watch over her mother, Babs. Although her brother Lee is technically the oldest, Susanna feels like it’s her duty to keep an eye on her mother. Babs’s drinking is shameful, and Susanna longs for an escape to a “normal” family. She loves her mother and is protective of her, but Babs’s sloppy behavior at their family’s lake cabin makes Susanna resent her. She also struggles with people-pleasing. Because Babs is so unpredictable and out of control, Susanna feels she must compensate by being an easygoing child and gaining approval from others.
After a drinking episode puts Susanna’s young cousin Caroline in danger, Babs retreats into herself to avoid dealing with the shame of almost killing her niece. When a decision is reached to leave the cabin early and bring Babs to the hospital, Susanna struggles with how to react. The repercussions of her mother’s behavior are simply too great for her to understand. She doesn’t want to make things any more difficult for her father, but the idea of leaving her beloved cabin is painful.
Secondary conflict (Susanna):
When Susanna was younger, each summer at the lake was a chance to bond with her cousin Betty. But this summer, Betty is more interested in hanging out with a local boy and sneaking sips of vodka in the woods. Because Betty is several years older, Susanna longs for her approval. At first, Betty wants nothing to do with her young cousin, and Susanna feels rejected. Eventually, Susanna has her first drink with Betty and the girls manage to hide the evidence from other members of the family. Susanna hates lying to her mother, but the idea of sharing a secret with her older cousin is exciting.
FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.
1. Orlando, Florida - Leah moved here several years ago to make a new life, hoping that things would be better for her in a new environment. The settings here include:
- the community college library - her place of employment. The circulation department is mainly staffed by students - a reminder to Leah of both her lack of friends and her dropout status.
- her messy apartment - a lonely, undecorated place where she drinks alone. Full of empty wine bottles, pizza boxes, piles of clothes
- Harbor Bar - a local dive bar that Sarah and Leah frequent. It smells of stale beer and cigarettes, and the neon signs give the interior a reddish glow
2. Hidden Lake - the Ramsey family has had two cabins on this lake outside Nashville for decades. For young Susanna, it’s a place to escape the seriousness of her life in Lexington and do the thing she loves most in the world: swim. The warm water blocks out unwanted distractions; beneath the surface, everything is silent, peaceful.
There’s a sense of stability on the lake. The same families come every summer, the same parade occurs on the 4th of July. But Babs, because of her drinking, sends ripples through the stability of the lake environment. A rift occurs in the family after baby Caroline is almost killed, and in the decades between Leah and Susanna’s stories, the cabins have become neglected.
For Leah, as she reunites with her family at the lake for Thanksgiving, it’s a stifling place. The late-November rain makes the cabin seem even more suffocating as she’s forced indoors with her mother, her sister Ashley, her uncle Lee, and Ashley’s son Parker.
The lake itself draws both Leah and Susanna in - after Leah is finally forced to confront her own self-destructive behavior, she goes to the edge of the water for a moment of truth. Susanna, still drawn to the lake after all these years, joins her.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 15 Mar 2019, 15:57
1 – STORY STATEMENT
To unearth the inevitable darker truth of influencer culture.
2 – SKETCH THE ANTAGONIST
After Detective Winters’ log cabin burns down and a sharpshooter takes out a missing girl the day she returns home on her balcony – and just when her mother brings her a cold glass of lemonade – the detective and his partner-gone-rogue, Agent Tracy Carr of the FBI (or formerly of the FBI, depending on the hour), begin to suspect some “mythical They” peeking over the Catskill mountains, watching their every move.
Mysterious, cloaked in blood and fire, ominously absent, this mythical They is watching the detective/agent duo as they slog their way through the filth of influencer culture, trying to nab some entity or purported cult that is kidnapping young, impressionable boys and girls with the alluring gift of internet clout.
As they spiral into a bleaker world than they could have even imagined, the villain takes on the mysterious evil of a serial killer, and they come face-to-face with derelicts, drunks, media magnates, shady influencers, low-level hoods, dubious creative directors, and other eerie forces all in pursuit of this man taunting them, who continually renders as a vague white man as depicted by every sketch artist based on witnesses.
3 – BREAKOUT TITLE
4 – COMPARABLES
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
5 – CONFLICT LINE
In an attempt to infiltrate what they believe to be the darker underbelly of influencer culture, Agent Carr and Detective Winters are faced with evil forces that even they couldn’t anticipate, with unhinged violence directed right at them.
6 - INNER CONFLICT
Tracy Carr desperately wants to have a family, but because of past trauma (she was raped in college) and a busy schedule that may perhaps be her way of avoiding it, she has a hard time accessing or finding time for love. As a State Trooper – following her rocky career in the FBI – she is first responder on a deadly crash on the Thruway and is faced with a horrifying scene that brings all her inner fears into the carlit night.
She is confronted with similar demons when investigating a popular influencer who she believes has gone missing out in Cabo, the location of the influencer’s final post on social. In a tourist town, she is faced with the quiet, soft life she can’t seem to find for herself, Disney cruise ship out in the Sea of Cortez and everything…
When she first got out of the Academy with Detective Winters and started police work in the region, she bought herself a split-level with money saved from her own parents’ deaths, but just can’t seem to find the time or power in her to fill it.
A suicide note, a gun, and no body – what opens the novel becomes a rather mundane task for the semi-legendary and local wunderkind detective, Evan Winters. He realizes after canvasing the facts that he’s essentially looking for a rich twenty-eight-year-old who had been living with his grandfather, Riggs, up in the Catskills, the son of media magnate Mickey Maybin, who now runs Maybin Marketing Solutions in Manhattan and is getting ready to retire. This local case gets the town interested – not least of which the Ulster County Sheriff and the entire Carlyle Police Department (who Detective Winters is working with, on assignment with the New York State Police).
As time goes by and Detective Winters and Agent Carr go down the rabbit’s hole of influencer culture and modern marketing, the seemingly small though unique case of the missing Xander Maybin starts to connect with their own immersion into the influencers.
7 – SKETCH OUT THE SETTING
“This part of New York has an identity crisis,” Detective Winters says at one point. “The commuters are all in Jersey or Westchester. Who are these people out here? What sad story has befallen them? It’s like a black hole.”
The modern day Catskills. Ulster and Sullivan Counties. Naturally beautiful, and also something of an existential wasteland, a ghost town with abandoned hotels and a vague promise of the future. Amidst it all, the Neversink Reservoir still supplies Manhattan its immaculate and mythical water, with the DEP on 24-hour surveillance of it like it some holy grail.
Agent Carr works out of the Stewart Airport FBI field office and Detective Winters works with the fictional Carlyle Police Department, a town set around several others in the Catskills, including Ellenville, Wurtsboro, Wawarsing, Roscoe, Liberty, Loch Sheldrake, White Sulphur Springs, and, of course, the town of Neversink. Their rogue investigation also takes them periodically into Manhattan, as well as stops in New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Cabo. Through it all, we see the ramifications social media has on the world but also on the sleepy towns upstate.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 16 Mar 2019, 17:13
1 STORY STATEMENT
Receive the vision and sacrifice whatever it takes to fulfill it.
The initial antagonist in my memoir is my dad, a charming sociopath who distrusted mainstream Christianity. After gaining a small following that included my mom, Dad left charismatic Christianity to practice witchcraft. When Mom contradicted his disturbing teachings, Dad threatened to kill her for questioning his leadership. Mom remained in the marriage several more years out of duty while he routinely abused her in front of me so that, in his words, “when our daughter grows up to be a f***-up, you can know it was your fault.” The resulting rage and despair colored my childhood, along with a deep-rooted fear that I would someday go insane and turn into Dad. It was this fear, coupled with the observation of many unhappy and dysfunctional marriages around me, that eventually led me to view the institution of marriage as evil in itself.
While antagonistic elements like misogyny, racism, religious oppression, poverty, and dark spiritual forces run thematically through the memoir, it is a doomed sense of fatalism, birthed by personal and systemic abuse, that I had to overcome in order not to self-destruct.
3 BREAKOUT TITLE
The Reclamation of Havilah
The Reclamation of Havilah: A Memoir
The Gospel According to Hobbs
Like Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God series, my memoir includes real-life revelations from conversations with God that have shaped my everyday decisions and worldview.
In her memoir, Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae explores the cultural dynamics and pressures of a minority perspective with anecdotal humor. As a fellow woman of color, writer, and actress, my memoir has similar themes, but through the double-vision of a biracial perspective.
Nadia Bolz-Weber's memoir, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, is a deep dive into the gritty reality of human darkness and redemption. Like Nadia, I seek to share both holy and harrowing experiences with irreverence and hope.
5 PRIMARY CONFLICT
An abused young mystic promises herself and her love to God, vowing to fulfill any vision he gives her until God calls her to the one act she has forsworn: marriage.
6 SECONDARY CONFLICT
A battle of identities lies at the heart of this memoir. Am I white or black? A victim of abuse or a burgeoning abuser? An otherworldly mystic or a delusional idealist? A frigid celibate or a target for sexual molestation? A Lover of Souls or a proselytizer for a dead religion?
The ability to uncover and hold these seemingly conflicting truths in tension, instead of living an “either-or” existence, creates a path toward resolution by the end of the book. For example:
Daughter of a white mother and granddaughter of one of the first black women ever to attend Harvard, I felt I was too privileged and hadn’t suffered enough to be truly “black.”
While walking with two friends from Botswana in Melbourne, Australia, a group of drunk white men stopped at a light and began screaming things like, “Go back to Africa you f***ing n**gers!” They didn’t get out of the car, but no one in the nearby shops acknowledged or reacted to the event.
More disgusted by the willful ignorance of pedestrians around us than by the drunk haters, I began ranting until one of my African friends threw back her head and laughed, “You colored people are so angry—you da angriest of all!”
Long accustomed to racial insults, my friend mistook my American outrage for an emotional by-product of my light skin. I initially took offense at being called “colored” until I remembered that in her home country, the term was fully accepted; I realized my definition of “black” was too narrow.
The intersection of various “worlds” produces secondary conflict in this coming-of-age memoir, e.g.:
Living with one foot in the spiritual realm and the other in the material world
Struggling with the unfulfilling promises of a broken America while discovering that life for women of color is often harder abroad
Pledging to “Love my Neighbor” only to realize that “love” means vastly different things to different people
Juxtaposing my birthplace, Atlantic City, NJ, and Charlottesville, VA, my childhood home, highlights tensions between the American north and south. It also parallels cultural and Catholic traditions extending back to my white and black families’ origins in Naples, Italy, and New Orleans, Louisiana. My conservative Evangelical prep school sets a sharp contrast to the mystical view of Christianity bestowed by my blind godmother, a former Buddhist and hippie.
My work as a high school missionary in Hungary, Serbia, and Ukraine reveal how differently my appearance, gender, and faith were judged in developing European countries, and made me see living in the United States as a woman of color in a different light.
Attending Columbia University, with all its classicism, rationalism, and influence, forced me to question the value of privilege. A year abroad studying at the University of York in England was where I formed my most lasting connections. I also met Gabriel there, the man my friend had a vision of six years earlier and said would become my husband.
After graduating I interned at Koinonia, an intentional community centered around social justice, in Georgia before embarking on my own version of a spiritual walkabout in Australia. I hoped to learn more about The Dreaming while working with Aborigines, and instead ended up befriending Muslims and teaching Sudanese refugees in Melbourne.
The final twist comes in the last chapter, where my calling as a writer is revealed, and a friend has a vision of me moving to California.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 16 Mar 2019, 19:26
1. STORY STATEMENT
Stop Thomas, The Architect of Time, from rebooting human history.
2. THE ANTAGONIST
Thomas has altered the timeline through many, many iterations, trying to prevent the demise of the human race. He prevents the births of demagogues. He curbs the rise of violent religions. He steers technology away from the means of mass annihilation. But humanity has course corrected toward self-destruction every time.
His last attempt went especially awry: a half-millennia long dark age beginning in the 500’s, nuclear war in the 1940’s, catastrophic climate change in the 2050’s… He was always able to find a bit of hope and humor in his failures before, but this one has convinced him to be pragmatic: He can time travel, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t growing old. He loves Annabel, even though she’s too young and a fool. He’s tired of the struggle.
So he builds Good Hope, a self-sufficient, ultramodern city in the Late Cretaceous, -75M years in the past, during a long, stable geological period. He endeavors to populate it with the most talented, intelligent, moral people humanity has produced. Once he’s brought them all there, he plans to prevent the evolution of hominids (turns out mitochondrial Eve wasn’t much of a looker, so he doesn’t feel that bad taking her out). If mankind never evolves, there’s no chance of invasion or sabotage from the future. The new era he’s devised will have the chance to progress without all the uncertainty and meaninglessness that plagued its natural origin. Then he can lay down the reigns and do the one thing he’s never done in all his life: pursue his own happiness.
3. THE TITLE
The Architect of Time
A Song in the Darkness
The Magicians (Lev Grossman) - Emotional damage plagues the protagonists’ high-fantasy adventures.
His Dark Materials / The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman) - Kids in over their heads in an adult world with vying philosophies.
4b. A FEW DRINKS IN AT THE BAR COMP
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) meets Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon) - This comp is obviously a desperate plea for help.
5. THE PRIMARY CONFLICT
When Sam’s wild, deadly magic is revealed, he’s enlisted by Thomas to help save humanity from its eventual self-destruction, but he discovers that Thomas’s real goal is to reboot human history, which will erase any trace that his life and family ever existed.
6. OTHER CONFLICT
Inner: Sam’s father Butch has always been hard on him. He’s always told Sam he won’t amount to anything, that he doesn’t even try. But lately, Butch has been angrier. Meaner. When Butch beats him up for the first time, Sam’s faith in the essential goodness of the world is wrecked. He runs away, falls into a frozen pond, and dies. Harold, a boy from the colored neighborhood, wakes him. When Butch’s anger erupts that night, Sam discovers a powerful magic at his command. He tries to use it to help others and to save his friends, but no matter how hard he tries, Butch’s criticism turns out to be true.
Social: Brazil, a small town in Indiana, is typical for 1962. When Sam and Harold become friends, it’s frowned upon but tolerated. When they’re attacked by bullies, Sam loses control of his powers maims Gil Johnston’s son, stoking his racist posse’s vendetta against Harold’s family. In retaliation for his son’s injuries, Gil abducts and tortures Harold’s brother. Sam saves him, only to draw Gil and his posse to Harold’s doorstep. Sam forces Harold to kindle his own magic before he sneaks away, but Harold decides not to use it and his grandfather is killed.
Brazil, Indiana, 1962: A coterie of sweet, amiable townsfolk populate Sam’s life, but their classic American values and incessant petty gossip belie a web of corruption, adultery, and violence. When Sam and Harold discover that the rash of missing children in town has something to do with Sam’s new powers, their investigation inadvertently exposes the worst of this. Sam leaves his cozy little neighborhood and his comfortable routine at the family grocery store to spend time with Harold in Stringtown, the cruel name whites use for his neighborhood, the hideout they build in the woods, and the alleys, junkyards, and train tracks where kids are kids.
Good Hope, -75 million years in the past : A gleaming, ultramodern city in the Late Cretaceous, waiting to be populated. Only a few thousand reside there when Sam arrives. Mostly the agents responsible for acquiring the target populace, teachers and students of magic, and the staff necessary to sustain them. The city is surrounded by a massive wall to keep the teeming jungle at bay, but the empty streets are haunted by echoing roars and caterwauls. Thomas’s dizzying tower spires over the empty gardens, museums, campuses, and facilities that will someday be the home to a better humanity.
Mission Points in this and other Timelines: Sam and his friends’ adventures take them to near-apocalyptic Houston 2122; 1770’s Ingolstadt, Germany; an alternate, futurized Dickensian London; and elsewhere.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 16 Mar 2019, 21:03
The Act of Story
An emotionally scarred girl with terrible secrets evolves into womanhood, succeeding professionally but making personal choices that hurt herself and others, haunting her for decades before she finally deals with her past and reunites with her first love.
The Antagonist Plot Points
The handyman rapist who destroys the physical and emotional wellbeing of the five-year-old Liliane Schneider at the start of the book is the main antagonist of the novel, though he is in her life only for a short period of time. His brutality sends her on a long and torturous path of shame, self-loathing and duplicitous behavior, which creates in her a fundamental inability to fully trust anyone. Other antagonists include Liliane’s narcissistic and ambitious father who withholds all emotional support from his daughter after his wife’s death; Liliane’s alcoholic mother, Delphine, who abandons the child and commits suicide; and her wealthy Swiss relatives who distance themselves from the shame of their daughter’s death by ignoring the daughter she leaves behind.
Another antagonist is the brother of Liliane’s housekeeper, Hilde Hausmann. Horst Hausmann is a violent man and an ardent Communist in East Germany who blackmailed his sister into giving him her illegitimate son, Rudi, at the end of WW II and now faces her unexpected return to Berlin after 30 years –and the possibility of her revealing his secret.
1. Yesterday’s Snow
3. Buried Shame
Genre and Comparables
My book falls squarely into the Women’ Fiction genre, with a historical fiction underpinning. The two recent novels that I think target the same audience as mine, women readers interested in a strong female lead who overcomes significant challenges and adversity, including to find love with an unusual male character to whom they bond deeply are:
1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
2. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Like Owens and Hannah, the setting for the novel is also a character in the book. Kya’s North Carolina swamp and Leni’s Alaska are every bit as central to the novel’s feel and development as the characters themselves, and that is true for my book. Cold War West Berlin in the 1970s is key to the development, maturation and growing self-acceptance of my protagonist, Liliane.
A brilliant but emotionally scarred woman must heal from and reveal her abusive past in order to accept herself and reconcile with her first love in Berlin.
Two More Levels
Liliane’s inner conflict is always that of feeling shame, which results from her abuse and her abandonment by her family, and leads her to conceal her past, quash her true desires, evade real intimacy and trust and behave in ways that are destructive, not only to herself, but to her relationships with others, especially with Daniel, the male protagonist; her eventual husband, James, her best friend, Emma; and with Rudi, an East German man with whom she becomes physically and emotionally entangled. The most important conflict that comes about occurs during a scene between Liliane and Daniel on his 18th birthday, when they begin to make love, but Liliane is overwhelmed by the shame that she feels at her desire for Daniel. That sets into motion the eventual betrayal of Daniel with Rudi, and results in Liliane and Daniel’s decades-long estrangement.
Another conflict occurs later in the book, after Liliane has married James, a man she met while they were both Harvard undergrads and who goes on to become a U.S. Senator. As she has with Daniel, she conceals her past from James for many years; it is only when she is attacked by a mugger in Washington, D.C. twenty years after they marry and nightmares haunt her again, that she is forced to tell James about her past. Her betrayal of his trust ultimately ends their marriage but finally compels Liliane to get the help that she needs, which ultimately brings about her reconciliation with Daniel.
1970s Cold War West Berlin is gray and cold when Swiss-American Liliane Schneider arrives there as a deeply emotionally scarred sixteen-year-old. Forced to move from New York because of her father’s job, she is thrust into an unfamiliar city that mirrors her own divisions and imperfections and is still coming to grips with its ugly legacy of Nazism and the physically ruinous aftermath of World War II. Rather than repel her, the divided city, girded by the Berlin Wall, filled with spies and Allied forces stationed to protect it from Communist invasion on one side, and East Germans living a very different life on the other, offers Liliane a safe space and shows her many other figures of complexity, disfigurement and survival. When, decades later Liliane returns to a vibrant, reunited Berlin for her own job, we again see the parallels her own journey of growth, self-forgiveness and triumph.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 17 Mar 2019, 06:47
Posting for the novel Bolero by Raquel Puig Zaldivar
1. The Story Statement
The protagonist Attorney Natalia Armand must find out the identity of the corpse found in the rubble of the explosion and its subsequent fire.
2. In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.
There are two antagonists in the novel: the cartel and the Cuban security forces.
The cartel is well-informed, powerful, omnipresent force that believed the explosion/fire would hide all traces of Alberto Maciel. It had no idea that Natalia Armand would surface and have such a personal interest in the truth that she would be willing to risk her and her family’s safety for it. The Cartel follows Natalia everywhere and hides all traces of Maciel. It threatens and finally even kidnaps to dissuade her from pursuing her goal. All it does, however, is fuel her curiosity and strengthen her desire to find out the truth. The Cuban security forces become Natalia’s antagonist in the second part of the novel. They are wary of Natalia’s arrival in Cuba, sure that she is pursuing counterrevolutionary objectives. Their presence, more than intimidating, add certain unexpected comic relief to the story since Natalia’s objectives have nothing to do with the Cuban Revolution and all to do with the internal turmoil caused by the possibility of never meeting Alberto Maciel and the disappearance of her kidnapped children.
3. Create a breakout title:
My Father, The Corpse
Kidnapping Became the Decoy
At the Cartel’s Trail
Identity in 90 Miles
4. Develop two smart comparables for your novel:
The Wife – like in Bolero suspense builds from an innocent beginning. The unraveling of the story reveals unexpected truths about the driving forces, in the case of The Wife, the husband; in the case of Bolero, Alberto Maciel. These discoveries cause internal seismic effects on the main characters, the wife and Natalia Armand thatdirect the action of the novel.
The Lost Girls of Paris This novel begins with an unexpected discovery that catapults the narrator into a world she had no idea existed. Their plots also navigate between two countries with quite different idiosyncracies and the need for the characters to adapt and tread unknown territories.
The news that her real father was a man she had never met together with the possibility of his sudden death placed Natalia Armand against the cartel’s plan of circumventing the law and sent her into a frantic search that put her and her children’s lives in jeopardy.
For Natalia the phrase “is it worth it?” had never seemed so relevant. Was it worth it to follow the lead to Alberto Maciel? Was it worth it to ignore
multiple signs of danger for her and especially for her children? Was it worth it to give her presently most vulnerable heart again to love?
7. Sketch the setting:
Miami is a city in constant motion. The city is awake 24/7 and within its boundaries one can find an interaction of numerous forces. Miami natives go from hard-working, honest, peace-loving individuals and families to gangs, drug cartels, and delinquents trying to camouflage their dishonesty in the multicultural nature of this busy cosmopolitan area. In this novel the reader moves from the protagonist’s office in a busy street in Coral Gables, to the seashore in Key Biscayne, to the ocean surrounding Elliot Key, to a elementary and middle schools, to a homeless camp and a public hospital in the middle of the city. Natalia Armand, the protagonist, moves from one corner of the city to the other simultaneously trying to live her life and search for the truth. Miami and its surrounding areas are not the only setting of Bolero.
Midway through the novel, the plot takes the reader to Cuba, from Havana to Nicaro, in the island’s easternmost province of Oriente. Thus Natalia traces the cartel’s steps to find both the truth that she has been seeking and the children she has lost to the cartel’s kidnappers. Nicaro is a quiet, sleepy town full of reddish soot from the nickel factory which houses factory workers who take care of the production. Nicaro faces the Atlantic Ocean and has an enclosed bay called Levisa Bay which hosts the cargo ships that distribute the metal. During World War II, Americans built the few houses that one sees from the road leading to the factory. The houses, time-worn and dilapidated, still stand, faded versions of their old serves. The Nicaro Nickel Company of the 1940’s has given way to the Empresa de Miguel Rene Ramos Latour. Nicaro is the perfect place to hide an old, fugitive engineer from the American legal system.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 17 Mar 2019, 17:15
One: The Story Statement
Recent law school graduate Joey Galway tries to maintain his moral compass at an ethically questionable and comical New York City matrimonial law firm.
Two: The Antagonist
Saul Paul Epstein, an old time, prominent Manhattan divorce lawyer, runs his small and chaotic firm by one guiding principle: “If we get paid, we won. And if the client wins too, all the better!” Saul’s a publicity hound who readily violates attorney/client privilege to get his firm some press, and at 4:00 p.m. every Friday, he gathers his troops together for a toast to the Sabbath and a rousing rendition of Sunrise, Sunset, which, to Joey’s mortification, he quickly finds himself singing.
Saul has trouble keeping new attorneys – one took the window – and is worried that his current associates, including his lame brain nephew, will never generate enough business to buy him out so that he can retire to South Beach. He’s therefore thrilled to hire Joey, “a diamond in the rough”, “our token goy”, “our Harvard man who graduated at the top of his class”, and “our newest die-hard Yankees fan”. So what if Joey graduated near the bottom of his class and is a life-long Red Sox fan? Saul Paul has never been one to let the truth get in the way of his version of the facts.
Three: Breakout title
The Last of the Bombers
Four: The Comparables
Fans of workplace fiction will enjoy this mainstream novel’s insider’s look at a small, hilarious, New York City matrimonial law firm.
The Devil Wears Prada
Free Food for Millionaires
Five: The Primary Conflict
Joey wants to succeed as a lawyer, but there are challenges. Saul Paul’s incompetent and jealous nephew tries to sabotage Joey and Saul Paul faults Joey for not being on top of a case when the client disappears and is presumed murdered. Even Joey’s mentor at the firm, long-time associate Steve Ludlow, takes advantage of Joey when doing so benefits Steve.
Six: The Secondary Conflict and Inner Conflict
Joey befriends eleven-year old Chubbs, whose father stopped seeing him when he was two years old, after Chubbs’ parents divorced. Chubbs desperately wants to meet his father, but his mother opposes a reunion, his father is reluctant to see him, there’s no money in the case and Saul Paul would never approve of Joey getting involved. Still, Joey forges ahead.
Just before Saul Paul hired him, Joey’s fiancé, Jennifer, left him at the altar for a successful, orthopedic surgeon. Joey is crushed, owes $35,000 in wedding costs and isn’t sure he can ever recover from the break up. Through the course of the novel, he moves past Jennifer and becomes open to a new relationship.
Seven: The Setting
Manhattan. Joey lives in his best friend’s maid’s room, with its air shaft view of the apartment across the way. He commutes to work down Central Park West on the crowded, M-11 bus where he never gets a seat. He arrives at Saul Paul Epstein’s shabby law firm on Central Park South where he has a windowless, oversized supply closet for an office. This is not the glamorous Manhattan Joey anticipated.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 17 Mar 2019, 23:53
Fourteen-year-old Susanna must singlehandedly lift her family out of their impoverished circumstances in early Renaissance Florence.
Antonio Nucci burns with an unforgiving desire to avenge his family’s tarnished name and reputation. After living in exile for decades, Antonio finally returns to Florence, his beloved home from which he was banished as child for crimes his late father committed against the state. He immediately begins establishing himself as an upstanding Florentine citizen, rebuilding the family business, joining all the right clubs, and soon marrying the right girl. But he is still smarting from the shame and humiliation of exile, a punishment nearly worse than death for any proud Florentine, and the stigma of exile remains, for the proud city of Florence has a long memory that does not easily forget the crimes of the past. Antonio perseveres, but his restored wealth, new friends, and beautiful bride are not enough for him. Rather than embodying the upstanding citizen he set out to become, he makes a series of reckless, nefarious decisions that ruin him and his family irrevocably, damaging their reputation far more than wrongfully accused father ever did, and destroying all of their lives.
-The Imitation of Love
-The Ancient Lily
-The Lily, Lost and Found
The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain
When a spirited young girl from an impoverished, yet cosseted childhood marries a man of considerable wealth in early Renaissance Florence, she struggles to maintain her identity or else she risks losing herself among the cold pretenses and rigid expectations of her new family’s lifestyle.
-Internal — Susanna is only 14 years old when she is forced to marry Antonio, a much older, wealthy man. The daughter of an immigrant in early Renaissance Florence, Susanna understands that marriage to financially secure, well-connected Florentine man can improve her family’s life, bringing business opportunities for her beloved father and her older brothers and illustrious marriage prospects for her young nieces that they may otherwise never have. Her marriage has the very real potential to put food on the table for them all. But she is only fourteen, and she wants love and happiness for herself, too. And when she realizes that her new husband, Antonio, is not the financially secure Florentine he pretended to be, but a man living beyond his means, and that her new family expects her to live a cloistered life to keep up appearances of a traditional, upperclass Florentine family, she tries to better everyone’s life on her own. But when the young girl meets Giovanni, who inhabits an echelon of society of which Antonio can scarcely imagine, she cannot help but recklessly becoming involved with the avant-garde world of the Renaissance, and embarks on a dangerous path of enlightenment, out of her league and ahead of her time.
-Social — In 1430s Florence, avant-garde ideas vibrate through the uppermost classes of society, giving rise to the works of art and philosophy that have come to define the early Italian Renaissance. But for many, life remains as it always has, with clearly defined gender roles and class distinctions. Antonio seeks upward mobility by trying to ape the established norms, as he understands them, of his social superiors. But he does not understand that the world around him is changing. Giovanni throws himself into epicenter of artists and philosophers, but ultimately does not have the courage to defy the traditional expectations of his family. And Susanna tries to assimilate herself in both worlds, only to find there is no room for her in either one. She becomes shunned and discarded, caught between the traditional lifestyle of her husband, Antonio, and the avant-garde lifestyle of her lover, Giovanni. The Renaissance offered many opportunities for many people, as long as they were brave enough to entertain the new ideas behind closed doors, and as long as they were not women. For all of the progressive modernity for which the Renaissance is known today, Susanna’s story tells one in which progress was an available avenue strictly for men.
In 1430s Florence, avant-garde ideas vibrate through the uppermost classes of society, giving rise to the works of art and philosophy that have come to define the early Italian Renaissance. For a lucky few, unprecedented levels of prosperity leads to a wealth of leisure time, and the elite of Florence begin to read, study, and replicate ancient works of art and philosophy. The philanthropic among them start rebuilding the city at rapid speed, and the whole city sees and feels the civic restructuring of their world and the new ideas fueling it. But under the shadow of Brunelleschi’s dome, climbing ever higher in the skyline, life continues for many as it has for generations, with women cloistered at home, covered and masked if they have to leave their apartments, while men carry on centuries-old vendettas. And one family, by the name of Medici, seeks to control the dangerous city from behind the scenes. The nouveau riche Medici rankle both the old guard and the new, but their wealth and political acumen reshape the world of Florence irrevocably. Under their auspices, a system of organized crime develops alongside a method of artistic production, one as violent and unforgiving as the works of art for which the Renaissance becomes known are beautiful and unmovable.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 18 Mar 2019, 05:40
1 Story Statement:
This is an erotic romance that offers believable characters triumphing over true-to-life drama and conflict.
2 Antagonist Sketch
Samantha (Sam) was raised by a single mother and taught to stand on her own two feet. She is a strong, beautiful, independent young woman trying to finish her last semester of college. She is loyal and lovable to her friends and family. She can have a bit of a wild side. She has secrets too, but who doesn’t? Usually, she gets good grades; however, she can’t seem to pass Principles of Sociology. A class, she should have had as a freshman, not a senior. She isn’t looking for love, but she will have to choose just how much she can give and just how much she can take.
Giveth & Taketh
4 Genre and Comparables
Losing it By Cora Carmack (Having a relationship with your professor)
Fifty Shades of Grey (Due to the sexual content)
5 Conflict Line
When one angry night with her professor turns into a heated one, she is left waiting, wanting, and watching.
6 Secondary Conflicts
Is the professor playing mind games with her heart, or is his love real? In the meantime, her best friend, Jeremy, tells her she is more than just a friend. But when secrets are revealed about the professor and tragedy strikes, Jeremy is there to pick up the pieces.
However, there are more ups and downs in Sam’s future and no one knows when her roller coaster ride will end.
Are lies really lies, if no one gets hurt? Is not telling the truth the whole truth, a lie?
7 Setting Sketch
Giveth & Taketh offers a believable story with depth and emotional intensity. This story takes place at a college in Indiana but could take place anywhere. It has realistic people, not someone having a crazy lavish lifestyle.
This is a love story, plain and simple. If you want to remember what it’s like to fall in love, read this book. If you want to remember what it’s like to be young, sarcastic, sexy, secretive, and stupid, read this book. If you believe that good triumphs evil, read this book. If you believe in happy endings, read this book. If you don’t want to miss the characters when they are gone, buy this book. This book will leave you wanting more!
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 18 Mar 2019, 06:32
Assimilate into expectations of future human society while defining your own identity.
The pressure put on the characters to assimilate into the future human society make up the antagonistic force of my novel. The characters must quickly learn 20,000 years of history when they arrive while also trying to rectify their own individual pasts with making their new homes.
Bry Wills, the malicious leader of the rebel forces, exemplifies this struggle. He forces the main protagonist Gordon into his role by purposefully making him a hero. By forcing Gordon into the role, Bry forces Gordon to fight between what Gordon wants for himself and what others want for him. Bry’s rebel forces would gain a large advantage in the conflict if Gordon fails in accomplishing what the people want from him.
The other characters of the book come under this pressure to different ends. Elise completely leaves her old life behind and joins a group which secretly control the society. Ting comes to terms with his past and grows into his new home. Scias falls back on his old ways which leads to his downfall. Amira sacrifices herself for her new home.
Reference Frame: Skeletons
Ghosts of Time
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman, 1974
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson, 2015
Six Wakes, Mur Lafferty, 2017
Homeless humans ready to begin a new society find one already established and must balance the pressures posed on them from this society with their personal identity.
Inner Conflict of Protagonist
Inner Conflict: Gordon is told that he was one who was prophesized to lead the coming of a new age of humanity. However, he has never been one who leads from the front. Thrown into the forefront of the conflict, he tries to distance himself from the role but eventually gives in as old memories from Earth create resolve in him to stop the leaders of the rebel forces. He must build his new home while balancing what is expected of him.
Secondary Conflict: Gordon finds himself growing further away from his longtime girlfriend, Elise, as he begins to pick up his designated role. Before they realize it, their relationship has become stagnant and more friend-like than romantic.
A terrible disease released on Earth at the height of a global war has killed almost all life on Earth. The last healthy humans gather and set off on the C.F.A.N. Ark to start a new society on Tarres – a close replica to Earth. The lightspeed travel technology the ship uses makes the journey take only four years. But due to relativistic effects of lightspeed travel more than 20,000 Earth years pass.
During these 20,000 years, the sick humans left on Earth discovered the cure for the disease. A new society, called the One Earth Republic, was started. However, all information on the crew leaving for Tarres was lost in the dark ages that immediately followed the discovery of the cure.
Wormhole travel technology is developed on Earth around year 5,600. This technology allows for instantaneous travel between locations. The jump stations that are formed from this tech require an enormous amount of energy to sustain limit the them to colonize only two other planets, Nubays and Tarres.
The One Earth Republic falls in 13,870 after the Novosapien Rebellion. This event caused a large upheaval in the society which led to the establishment of the Interplanetary Council (IPC). The IPC effectively makes the planets their own colonies while Earth only the central governing location.
The Novosapien Rebellion also brought the creation of a religion called Mensulism. The central ideology of this religion focuses on a prophet, named the Mensul, who is one of the “Origins”, that will come out of time to lead society into the age. Many take this to mean the downfall of the IPC.
The society under the IPC flourishes. Two more planets, Yanis and Ultimeta, were colonized during this time. The IPC jail is placed on the Ultimetan moon, Carc’rem.
The IPC on Earth established the “Sustainable Colony Edict” thus capping the number of colonized planets. This edict claims to be a means to preserve resources for the colony although it is thought that it was enacted so that the central IPC governing force on Earth could maintain their control of the entire human society.
The ruling family on Nubays, driven by a horrible economic collapse resulting from an embargo put on them during a war between Ultimeta and Yanis, colonized another planet in secret. They named this planet Secre’Petram. Secre’Petram is a dangerous, poisonous planet and is rich in an energy dense rock, klostermyte. The Nubays family begin to sell the klostermyte at high prices. The ruling family on Nubays tells the IPC that the rock was found deep within Nubays’s crust.
The Nubays ruling family became very hostile to the colony on Secre’Petram, lying to them about the promise they gave for giving them a more hospitable planet and enslaving them for mining of the precious rock.
Tarres has had a relatively peaceful history through all of this, the only main war leading to the founding of an offshoot religion of Mensulism. This religion is named Gladism. It focuses around the same group of “origins” but instead points toward one prophet Gladio who will lead humans to a new age.
There was a small uprising on Tarres in the year 24,657. The leader for this uprising claimed that the Origins would arrive soon and that it was time to fight the now gluttonous IPC governing body. This movement gained traction throughout the IPC. It was rapidly quashed by the Tarren forces before it could threaten the IPC.
Then, in 24,678, after only four years of travel in their reference frame, the C.F.A.N. Ark arrives at Tarres. At this same time, there are whisperings of a follow up Civil war to the one that was just recently stopped on Tarres. The crew of the Ark are claimed as the prophesized “Origins” who are to lead this dawn of the new age of society.
Tarres itself has a climate and ecosystem very similar to Earth. Its economy is dependent on its agriculture and tourism. Wiki berries, the planet’s most popular export, cause a random sweet flavor and an instantaneous recollection of a happy memory. The eastern hemisphere is sparingly populated, mostly in small cities and farmland. The western hemisphere is where the main industry is as well as the planet’s capital, Tarreb.
Tarreb, located in the Eban continent, was built along the cliffs of the large sea Adriel Sea. Tarreb’s architecture was highly influenced by ancient Arabic buildings with high towers capped with large domes. Technology is sparingly integrated into the city as the ruling Tallon family has always prided itself on Tarres’s ability to stay true to the original human civilization. There is a high wall surrounding the city which has been there for millennia, the original intent of it is unknown, many suspecting it had to do with the Tarres Revolution from 14,375 – 14,377.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 19 Mar 2019, 04:21
1. Act of Story
Discover the hidden truth about his life before his most cunning rival destroys the town’s magic.
2. The Antagonist Plots the Point
At the age of thirteen, Melanie Roybal has seized full control of the small town of Ashburn, ruling through an intricately documented system of debts, threats, and favors. She grew up wealthy in one of the most respected of the town’s old families, and yet she is lonely, bored, and worst of all, cut off from the source of wish magic in town. She uses younger children to grant wishes when she needs to, but they always come out just a bit wrong. She wants to win competitions, impress her parents, and build a new life for herself, but despite her efforts, nothing ever comes out just right, all because of the magic. For years she’s watched the corrupting influence of wish magic on everyone around her, and she has grown wary of the unpredictability of magic and the lesser purposes to which it has been put to use. Only when the magic is destroyed for good will a true meritocracy reign and will she be able to prove herself. She’ll use everything in her power to make it happen.
The Realm of Wishes
The Price of a Wish
The Wishmaker Saga
4. Genre and Comparables
Young Adult Adventure Fantasy
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
5. Primary Conflict
Winning the science competition made Ezra a target and also revealed the wish magic that holds his town’s fragile reality together. To stand up for himself he must learn to wield wish magic before his rival destroys magic’s source.
6. Other Matters of Conflict
Inner conflict: When Ezra’s friend is wished away, he panics and sets about doing anything it takes to bring him back, at any cost. His friends try to calm him down and slow his efforts, but Ezra discovers that he can’t handle loss anymore, despite not knowing why.
Social conflict: When Ezra finally confronts the truth about his life that he’s worked so hard to bring to light, he learns hard truths about his family and friends. He then has to choose whether to accept that reality of things or to use wish magic to replace the layers of forgetfulness that made his life and quest possible in the first place.
Ashburn may seem at first glance like an idyllic small town, but a closer look reveals it to be a place where wish magic has run rampant for untold generations. Things in Ashburn therefore are always a little off, subject to large changes. In his den in the heart of the town, an impish creature named Uncle Fennikel grants wishes, for the right price. Adults can’t remember him anymore, likely due to a wish someone made long ago. But everyone else knows, and they use the wish magic to their advantage. The oldest club in town is the Young Ones, a group of zealot-like enforcers who protect Uncle Fennikel and do his bidding, or at least what they assume to be his bidding.
As the children of Ashburn age into teenagers, they graduate out of the Young Ones and become more aware of the town’s wishes and the power they might be able to wield. They also become both more conservative in their wish making (not wanting to lose much more) but more dangerous when they do (expanding in imagination). Luckily, they’re kept busy. The biggest event in town is the Ashburn Science Fair, a yearly competition where kings and queens are crowned. Winners of the science fair are treated as celebrities for a year and are given everything they could want to reward their brilliance. With such a large prize, the youth of Ashburn are busy putting their projects together and advancing science.
When they need a break, Ellsworth forest is a brisk and easy walk from town. And what a diverse forest it is! Ellsworth contains extremely different trees, depending on which path you take. There are rumors of other magical paths through the forest, but people don’t share those if they find them. There are also rumors of little sanctuaries there, where magic can’t reach you, where you might be able to be safe from someone making a wish against you.
Surely there must be other towns around Ashburn. The maps show them. But people very rarely leave. And whenever a new family moves in, they tend to stick around for generations. There are rumors that anyone who tries to leave might end up somewhere desolate, but you’d have to ask the teenagers about that. The adults can’t seem to remember, and they’re simply too busy to think too much about it.
But the thing everyone knows about Ashburn is the music. Uncle Fennikel’s song is the song that everyone sings, that everyone hears all around town. It has countless verses, and everyone loves to sing. A visit to Ashburn means immersing oneself in the song and the poetry of its words. There are rumors about the song too, that it might be the key to something.
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 19 Mar 2019, 18:42
1 - STORY STATEMENT:
Overcome heartbreak to save humanity from ATLA’s twisted use of a brilliant technology.
2 - ANTAGONIST SKETCH:
Tristan trapped Lena in the VR and leads the powerful company, ATLA, but Wendy is the artful antagonist really running things. Just like watching sunsets, her beauty and brilliance is attractive to all people and it shields what drives her (control), which is just as toxic as the pollution that augments the beauty of sunsets, too. The best way for her to control people is through their emotions and she does this in insidious and incredible ways to get what she wants-- complete control of ATLA and, therefore, the world. Wendy’s still human, though; she thinks she loves her husband, Seth, more than control, so she controls his love for her and sometimes reveals her jealousy to Lena, who Seth really loves. Lena is oblivious to Wendy’s true nature and plans for ATLA, until she’s finally not, at which point, it could be too late for not only her or Seth, but the existence of everything that matters most to humanity.
3 - TITLE OPTIONS:
THE ATLA SERIES: PURPOSE
THE ATLA SERIES
Book 1 = PURPOSE
Book 2 = PREPARATION
Book 3 = PANDEMONIUM
4 - COMPARABLES:
(compare to 2 other similar novels)
“The Book of M” by Peng Shepard
“Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami
Both are similarly dark and dig into the importance of memories, connection and what it means to be conscious or human with emphasis on the influence of emotion and power of love in how we live and make decisions.
5 - CONFLICT LINE:
A young city woman overcomes heartbreak to learn that the true plans of her romantic rival will destroy humanity, these plans are already proceeding, and only she can save the world from the pernicious ploy.
6 - INNER & SECONDARY CONFLICTS:
Lena struggles to accept herself despite eventual validation that she tried to kill herself before entering the VR. Before the VR, Lena lived in reality and dated Tristan, the man who traps her. In reality, Tristan ended the relationship and left the city for graduate school, per dictation from his big-wig father, Simon, who Lena later learns is the original creator of the VR. The day Tristan left, Lena decided to take some of his leftover acid, but took too much. Propelled into illusory manic depression, she jumped off her roof. She thinks about this experience often as pieces of the memory return to her in dreams.
INNER CONFLICT - HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO
While sleeping in 2050, Lena receives a “memory file” from someone anonymous and has “the roof dream” as she often does, but it’s a little different. This file exposes something that was hidden before: when she jumps, Tristan pulls her back onto the roof. He saves her from falling, but severely injures her in the process. When she wakes up from this dream, she has firm confirmation that she tried to kill herself and Tristan returned to save her. She confidently decides she’s the most important thing she owns, so she could never do that again. She also softens toward Tristan, who, though trapping her in the VR, also saved her life. Unfortunately, ATLA is tracking all her thoughts and feelings during daylight hours and she can’t control what her mind thinks about, so she makes a strategic decision to hide the memory from herself because, though she wants to remember it, she doesn’t want ATLA to know she knows about it-- they hid it from her for a reason she has yet to discover.
Lena and Wendy are both in love with Seth, but different copies of his consciousness. Lena struggles to determine whether “her Seth” is real and tries not to be distracted by jealousy during many difficult decisions she makes.
SECONDARY CONFLICT - HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO
Wendy is tasked with chaperoning Lena and explaining the world to her while she transitions back into reality. She shares a “memory file” with Lena to explain why Lena remembers seeing Wendy in the VR. It’s a romantic memory of Seth and Wendy together. At one point, Wendy was Seth’s girlfriend in the VR, but she ultimately left it and deleted her “consciousness copy” so that she’d only exist in reality. Wendy claims to show Lena this memory to explain why she was in the VR to begin with, not to make Lena jealous, but, of course, it does. Lena interprets the act of sharing this memory as an attempt by Wendy to prove that “both Seths” love Wendy more. Lena must resolve this jealousy so she can decide whether to believe everything she’s learning about reality, how she should act in it and whether it’s even real-- all more pressing matters then.
7 - SETTING IN DETAIL:
(scene by scene quick outline/significance)
Settings in the VR
The Street: Lena has a surreal experience while having an irrational manic episode on a large, crowded snowy avenue in lower Manhattan. Just by wishing it to happen, she clears all cars, people and even smoke exhaust from the street, and just for a moment, is completely alone standing in just the club clothes she wore out the night before. She can hear the snow. However, she’s not alone-- Seth did not disappear and saw it all happen-- his perspective fills the air with awe like she’s a superhero.
The Roof: Lena has a recurring dream, that we learn is a memory from her past. It occurs on the roof of her prior apartment in the Upper East Side. It’s a cold, moist November night, but the sky is lit up by planes and the city itself reflects off the cloudy sky. Lena is on acid, but unaware of it while dreaming-- she has several hallucinations and is clearly emotionally unstable.
Seth’s Apartment: Maybe too clean, ginormous street-sized loft filled with windows. Seth lives alone and he and Lena spend time here together. His two friends, Aaron and Tala (they date each other) live in the same building, so they are often nearby.
First date bar: Dark and sophisticated cocktail lounge that could host burlesque performances and is primarily frequented by people on dates. Lena eludes to the atmosphere as the persona she wants to have. Lena and Seth go on their first date here.
VR River footpath: This is just like the downtown Manhattan portion of the Hudson river footpath, with views of New Jersey. Lena and Seth walk here together twice. They both like to “think things through” while walking.
Club: Loud, large, beautiful NYC club full of young people dancing and drinking at tables while watching others dance. Lena brings Seth here to meet her friends for the first time. This is where we meet playful Adrianna and the grounded Jim/Axel, two of Lena’s friends who play small but integral roles in the story.
Meet up bar: Narrow basement bar with a few leather booth-tables, but also room to dance. Aaron, Tala and Seth spend a lot of time here during the days drinking and planning how they will get out of the VR. Lena is usually there alone with Aaron and Tala who she admires-- they remind her of an outrageous and glamorous 1920s couple, straight out of a Fitzgerald novel, stuck in the wrong decade.
Train station: This is one of the largest subway stations in NYC (modelled off Union Square Station) and it’s rush hour when Lena takes Aaron and Tala there. It’s her least favorite place in the city, but she wants to try out her power to see if she can find real people with it. The energy is anxious until Lena clears everyone out of the station. All are in awe when Adrianna suddenly walks out of a train, she wasn't “cleared” like the others. This is how they learn that Adrianna is a real person like them.
The VR itself-- It exists as a completely immersive and seemingly separate universe, stuck in 2020 with the following rules that Lena becomes aware of for all “real people” trapped inside it:
- It blocks specific random memories
- Your dreams are memories
- You repeat the same month, and when it resets, all memory of what happened the prior month disappears
- The VR reacts to surface whatever you truly want, as long as the “want” is authentic
- You can only be hurt by other real people
- The VR can’t control what other real people do, even if you want them to
- When real people are near each other and want different things, the VR reacts only to the person who’s “want” is strongest or most authentic
The following rules Lena is not aware of until near the end of the novel:
- It accelerates the healing process for people physically and psychologically
- Every month in the VR = three in real time
- Only one copy of any one consciousness can live in one world (either the VR or reality) at any given time
Settings in Reality
The glass box: This is the portal that Lena’s biological body is hooked up to while she’s in the VR. It’s all glass and when she’s conscious in it, it has a thin layer of slime at the bottom that would fill the whole thing when she’s unconscious. The technology of the lab the box is part of is modern and she can’t tell what any of it really does from just looking at and hearing it.
The “other glass box”: This is the room Lena stays in while in reality. It seems to be at the penthouse level of an almost cloud level high building and all windows. There are no visible doors in it, but entry ways appear silently whenever people enter or exit and screens and mirrors appear on the walls when needed. She can’t exit it without a chaperone. Lena spends most of her time in this room with Wendy, Seth’s real world wife.
The dining room: This is the dining room in Tristan’s home, which is in the same sky-high building as Lena’s room and also, ATLA’s headquarters. It is large, but cozy with a fireplace, and decorated much like the typical dining room of a well-to-do 2020 family. Lena has dinner here with Tristan, Seth and Wendy. She learns that people no longer need to eat (or consume anything) in reality-- all things consumed have been digitized and one can ask their brain profiles to manage nutrition for them. Eating, like at that dinner, is a luxurious activity people partake in if they’re wealthy or for fun. This is also where Lena sees “real Seth” for the first time after escaping the VR and leaving “her Seth”. She evaluates their differences.
The boardroom: This looks a lot like a modern lecture hall. There are tiers of desks set up in a semi-circle focused on a pedestal where one presenter stands. The Board consists of Tristan, Seth, Wendy, Aaron, Tala and Simon. Here she sees Aaron, Tala and Simon for the first time and realizes the dynamics between board members. Primarily, the little power that Simon now has, despite having created the original VR technology and being Tristan’s father.
Real world river footpath: Tristan and Lena go for a walk along the same footpath Lena and Seth would go for walks on, but during this walk it is 2050. The footpath still exists, but everything looks different. She sees people dressed perfectly and that all cars are now self driving— they even transport people through what used to be the subway system tunnels underground. Noise and advertisements are non-intrusive if noticeable at all. It looks like the ideal future city. Tristan seems to take her on this walk in an attempt to gain back her trust or affection.
The coffee shop: A biergarten transposed into a coffee shop with decor like a hip “coffee shop meets bar” you might find in present day Brooklyn. When Lena nostalgically enters it alone, The Beatles plays in the background and no one is there until suddenly, Jim/Axel appears. He’s an older version of her friend from the VR and he remembers her. She learns that he’s one of the few people who hasn’t uploaded his mind to ATLA and is hiding from them. He used to be Jim, but now goes by Axel.
Reality itself-- When Lena ultimately escapes on her own, she’s still in NYC, but it’s 2050 and the world has changed beyond anything she could have anticipated. The following is now true:
- Almost the entire world population has uploaded their minds to ATLA’s servers and trusts them to manage their brain data
- There is a World Government that governs all countries, which Wendy has high influence over
- People don’t need to consume anything to survive, all food/drink/drugs have been digitized so you just have to ask your “brain profile” to manage your nutrition or chemical brain make up. Because of this, even psychological disorders are seemingly extinct. People now indulge in consumption of all kinds for fun.
- Lena is a Virtual Reality TV star and everyone in reality recognizes her as such
- Self driving cars are the only cars and they now even drive through the old subway system tunnels to get to where they need to go (sort of like what boring would allow)
- There are older copies of Seth and his friends from the VR in reality, but they aren’t the same people and this Seth is married to Wendy, who used to be “VR Seth’s” girlfriend, too. All of them work for ATLA.
- There is a small presence of nostalgia cafes, which are just like the cafes of 2020
Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Editor Assignments
Posted: 19 Mar 2019, 22:58
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Write your story statement.
Mia Bishop, struggling with the torment of her own mind after being held captive in the deep woods of Maine faces suspicion from the town whilst desperately trying to find the one responsible before it’s too late.
SECOND ASSIGNMENT: Sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.
Penance is a respected and admired member of the close knit community but is also a ruthless hunter of those he feels has done him wrong. Jealousy and rage are directed at the slightest perceived wrong doing but, so as not to unmask his veiled mystique, carried out in a surreptitious manner. Having underestimated Mia’s resilience it becomes his obsession to thwart her in uncovering his true character and malevolent personality.
THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Create a breakout title.
FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Two smart comparables for your novel.
Genre: Suspense Thriller
1. Angels Fall by Nora Roberts
2. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: Write your own conflict line.
A young woman is thrust into a world of distrust, anger, fear and confrontation as the lies and secrets of many in a small New England town are uncovered.
SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict.
First conflict: 24 year old Mia Bishop, after escaping from the clutches of a mad man out for revenge, tries desperately to remember the events that lead up to and during her capture. She then begins to doubt her own beliefs of reality. Not knowing who to trust she creates more suspicion by alienating herself and seeking outside help for answers.
Secondary conflict: While she was being held, her father (her only parent since her mother disappeared under suspicious circumstances when Mia was four) suffers a massive heart attack and remains in a, hospital induced, coma as Mia tries to reconstruct her life.
FINAL ASSIGNMENT: Sketch out your setting in detail.
The stunning backdrop of vibrant hues during the crispness of autumn, starkly contrast the chaos and darkness of the town’s locals when the body of another female college student is found near the area Mia was rescued. What was once a quiet, picturesque town in Northern Maine is turned upside down as it becomes the focal point of a major criminal investigation. The lives of many in this unassuming countryside are exposed, leading to suspicion and resentment among its residents.