New York Pitch Conference - 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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New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 28 Aug 2018, 20:26

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, core wound, 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? Their goal? What must be done? What must she or he create? Destroy? Save? Accomplish? Defeat?

:!: 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.

:idea: 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).


:idea: 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.

:idea: 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 this comprehensive article regarding comparables on Author Salon:
- Develop two smart comps 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--pretty much basically related and going a long way to keeping the reader's eyes and thoughts fixated on your story. These days, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to post-slush damnation. You need tension on the page, and the best way to accomplish this is to create conflict and complication in the plot, and narrative as well.

Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to ensure interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of PRIMARY CONFLICT, involves the protagonist and the antagonist, corresponding to hero and villain. The outcome of their 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. Classic drama creates conflict with real stakes. It cannot help but do so. 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 (that would fall apart if Tom Buchanan were not a cretin). And the core of conflict can be expressed in a hook line. For example, let us consider hook lines from the following novels.

Note the following hook lines are divided into two basic parts--the CORE WOUND and the resulting dramatic complication that denotes and drives conflict towards climax and resolution.

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.

* The protagonist is scorned and tormented, thus the core wound, and as a result he seeks to fulfill an almost impossible task.

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 protagonist is betrayed by her friend and thus her core wound, and as a result she must take steps to reach a closure wherein conflict will surely result.

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.

* Humiliated into a core wound by an elder magician, the story line erupts into a conflict with the entire world at stake.


*** 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.

:idea: FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line following the format above that includes core wound and resulting conflict. Consider also, what makes your novel distinctive? Might elements of the setting be displayed to add color? Is the antagonist noted or inferred? What do you see in the three examples above?



Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present in the novel. First, the primary conflict (noted above) that drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and zeniths with an important climax (falling action or 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--which may or may not be directly related to the main plot line (but at least an important one should be).

:idea: 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. And relate it to the main plot line or primary conflict.

:idea: 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.


:idea: 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.


Joined:05 Mar 2020, 19:55

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#2 Post by IvoKisicP6 » 26 Jul 2020, 19:59

1. Story Statement.
Jack Zeleznjak must find the ultimate truth before he turns completely insane.

2. Antagonist/Antagonistic Force.
Mother Asherah. The time-traveling demiurge who controls all of reality. A creature bent on seeing her will obeyed and followed, notably the wayward species called humans. All-powerful and untouchable, her only desire is to make the universe into her image, forcing the natural process of existence in accordance to her mandates. Obsessed with control and power, she will stop at nothing to see her kingdom become a reality.

3. Title
A) Lost Icarus.
B) The Aftermatter.
C) Chronicles of Jack Zeleznjak.

4. Genre & Comparables.
Thriller, Weird Fiction.
A mix of Blake Crouch's "Recursion" and Phillip K. Dick's "Valis."

5. Conflict Line.
After he loses his wife, a psychologically disturbed man attempts to restart his quest for ultimate truth and the afterlife, pitting him against the powers of transcendental beings and his madness.

6. Inner Conflict.
Inner conflict: Jack Zeleznjak is torn apart by the choices in front of him. A deep flickering hope is the only thing he cares for -an answer for his existence and life itself- This forces him to push forward in his seemingly delusional and increasingly dubious quest. Filled with anxiety and crippling self-doubt, the unstable man tries to discern each step of the way if what he is doing is right or wrong, honorable or cowardly, enlightened, or insane.

Secondary conflict: Everyone surrounding Jack tries to make him go back on his quest and take charge of his life, not to mention his dead wife who's body awaits for him in the town's coroner office. All the people in Hollowville seem to attempt to reach Jack's better judgment, but the man has an endless stream of convoluted explanations as to why he must keep going with his unreasonable path. But even when the man himself doubts his own words, a shrouded voice in his head gains the upper hand of every argument and uncertainty he carries inside and forces him to carry on with this somber adventure.

7. Location.
The story takes place in three key locations.

The first one is Hollowville, NY. A small town not yet wholly transformed by the passing of time and the influence of the modern world, Hollowville serves as a symbol for the last remnants of the American imaginary of what a small town is. Surrounded by forests and lakes, Hollowville is haunted by eerie stories of missing people, strange deaths, and paranormal events that linger in the urban legends of the town. Unbeknownst to the main character, his choice of lodging is the center of it all, a wood cabin with a dark past. As the plot unfolds, he learns that the United States at odds with the spirits of its previous inhabitants and the entities that now control them. An invisible gateway, Hollowville sits at the core of a colossal cosmic drama that almost nobody seems to perceive.

The second location is South America. As the main character thinks back on the path that has inadvertently led him to Hollowville, he reminisces on his journey through the mountains of Peru, Bolivia, the valleys of Argentina, and the corrupt streets of Paraguay. Following a traveling shaman, Jack learns about the world outside the hectic metallic rhythm of New York City, and the secrets of the third world which still retains what he can only explain as ancient magic, and the difference between a citizen and a human being. As he follows the mysterious character called Porfirio, Jack begins to understand how much more exists outside the scope of normalcy. By the time that he arrives in San Marcos Sierra, a small rural town in the middle of northern Argentina, an alleged gateway for "the other side," the man is confronted by an impossible scenario.

The third location is called The Aftermatter. As the main character explains throughout the book, an entire hidden realm lies at the other side of the frail veil of our everyday reality. A world were dreams, the imagination, the afterlife, higher dimensions, and other universes lie meshed together by an incomprehensible logic. The aftermatter is a place where the mind serves a vault for all its characteristics. Using the imagery and information that all creatures have experienced, the aftermatter manifests according to the idiosyncratic contents of each person, and yet, it is a real place that not only different people can arrive at, but that other creatures, sinister and divine, live in. It is a world filled with questions and answers for the human soul, and where Jack is convinced the ultimate explanation for life, existence, and the meaning of reality exists.

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Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#3 Post by eanicholsP6 » 03 Aug 2020, 21:07

--------------- ASSIGNMENTS 1-7 NEW YORK PITCH CONFERENCE - SEPT 2020 ------------------
E. A. Nichols
UPDATED on 11 SEP 2020

1) Act of Story Statement

Cary comes of age as she fights to rescue her widowed 92-year old mother Marge from the clutches of her sociopathic brother Junior's physical and financial abuse.

2) Antagonist/Antagonistic Force

a) Primary:
Junior: On the surface, Cary's brother Junior is like the Pillsbury Doughboy, pale, round, soft and jolly. In actuality he is an undiagnosed and untreated sociopath. He stole over $2,000,000 from his mother's trusts, flagrantly defied the advice of Marge's doctors, and expected to get away with it.

b) US Civil and Criminal Justice System: Justice is more elusive than it should be.

c) Aging: It triggers a reversal of roles and a close up look at mortality and family obligations.

3) Title

a) Act III
To emphasize the coming of age of a woman entering the last third of her life.

b) Willfully Ignorant
To exposes willful ignorance as a failing strategy for family relationships specifically and life in general

4) Comparables

Women's fiction. Coming of age. The third act of life.

a) "Wild Game" by Adrienne Brodeur, a 2019 memoir about a daughter, as an adult, coming to terms with having been, as a teen-ager, a co-conspirator with her sociopathic mother who was engaging in an extra-marital affair.
b) "The Summer House" by Lauren K. Denton, A 2020 women’s fiction story about an endearing friendship between two women set in a small retirement village.

5) Conflict Line

Junior isolated and abused his vulnerable mother and Cary was out for both restitution and revenge.

6) Inner Conflict

Cary vs Junior:
-- Junior's goal was to isolate his mother Marge, exploit her vulnerabilities, and get away with it.
-- Cary's goal was to first to discover what was happening, identify the culprit, and exact restitution
-- Cary struggled to balance the constructive objectives of caring for her mother and the destructive objectives of exacting revenge.

Cary vs Her Mother:
-- Marge was irresponsible, unrepentant, entitled, impatient, but also helpless, impaired, vulnerable, and, well, her mother.
-- Marge made it difficult to balance Cary's temptation to just walk away against serious concern for Marge's welfare

Cary vs The US Justice System
-- Laws designed to protect the rights of the elders had to be overcome to discover the full extent of Junior's treachery. Once overcome, they became powerful allies.
-- Cary's desire for restitution and revenge had to be balanced against the cost and stress of litigation

Cary vs herself
-- As Cary increasingly gained control of her mother's life, she come of age and embraced her new role as the head, chief benefactor, and protector of her family

7) Settings

Primary Setting
a) Dorado Beach East, Puerto Rico:
Location of Junior's villa and neighbor to Plantation Village, the location of Marge's condominium
A gated 200-acre enclave of about 360 single-family homes with sweeping terraces and large landscaped back yards. Miles of trails facilitate travel via golf-cart to amenities that include sandy beaches, restaurants,
pools, fitness centers, tennis courts, and golf courses, as well as nature walks that connect to the ultra-luxurious beach-front homes in East Beach on the North and the condominiums of Plantation Village on the West.

Secondary settings:
b) Chicago, Illinois
The Daley Center - For litigation
The Chicago Magic Lounge - For meetings concerning crypto currency speculation

c) Great Falls, Virginia: Cary's home near Washington, DC before she relocates to Dorado Beach East to care for Marge

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Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#4 Post by CavisAdamsP6 » 04 Aug 2020, 00:39

1st Assignment, Story Statement.

To free the world from a looming techno-enslavement is to become the man he must be in order to do so, even to die trying.

2nd Assignment, Antagonistic Force.

At the first trip that the protagonist takes to the hi-tech laboratory, Doctor W. Bennett materializes on the scene. He is the quintessential dark and professionally charming scientist who begins the process of experimentation on the suspecting protagonist. Doctor Bennett, while not overtly hostile at first, is literally the forward hand of the larger clandestine entity known as Gentrix. Bennett becomes the technological gatekeeper that leaves it open, leading the protagonist down the proverbial foxhole where gravity is crushing, and no life ever escapes the same. Bennett, while forthcoming as to the life-changing nature of the experiments, also knows that his specimen is trapped within a web of intrigue that he himself has conspired to spin. Bennett knows that the protagonist cannot turn back just as well as he knows his own dubious intentions.

While he is certainly the chaperone to scenarios of death past and future, Bennett’s true motives are eventually revealed as those of one who has orchestrated the ultimate necessary evil. However, playing god for all the right reasons does not lessen the brunt of antagonistic forces.

To keep the world-changing technology out of the hands of the very entity by whom he is employed, Bennett must maintain a posture of strict professionalism in word and deed. Remaining the inside man means going against his own moral code and instinct, whilst ceremoniously carrying out a history of dirty work, the legacy of experimentation on beast and man alike. Bennett interacts with the protagonist from the standpoint of knowledgeable scientist versus unprotected subject, a role of which the doctor effectively convinces himself along with any reading witness, carrying out his deeply scientific duties beneath the auspices of that greater entity, until the time ripens to act on his true intentions.

Bennett comes out of the dark in stages, first revealing himself to be a force bent-straight on saving the world, then again showing himself willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, of another, in order to do so.

3rd Assignment, Breakout Title.
The current title is "A Novel Man." The 3 alternatives are:

White Lazarus. Black Death.

White Lazarus. Black Resurrection.

The Spirited Lives of Memory.

4th Assignment, Comparables.

The revived spirit of “Total Recall” (Phillip K. Dick) meets "Recursion” (Blake Crouch), at the pace of reverse “Memento” (Christopher Nolan).

5th Assignment, Conflict Line.

A self-inherited, white red-blooded American struggles to keep his identity amidst the effects of a mind-bending technology. What he once found an imaginative respite along the cutting-edge of role-play delves sharply into the real world. It is a world where even his innermost thoughts and memory turn relentlessly unlike his own.

6th Assignment, Inner Conflict.

Justin Wilder has inherited the long trappings of materialism along with the contextual culture and mindset wherein his position is couched within society. His world view is challenged, however, by several ongoing manifestations of dissonance. Firstly, as a child in one fateful moment, he gazes erroneously into the gravitational eyes of a hard-shipped black man, something that spurs his young mind into questioning, however inarticulately, the equality of socioeconomic conditions amongst the different people of the world.

Even after “growing out” of this childish need to question everything, he is followed by the same dark dream wherein he is still a child locked in a basement with the rest of the blacks. When a door opens a light from high atop the stairs, cuing them all to a hysterical and hopeless dash for that one, narrowing escape, he awakens to find himself at once that man at that top of those stairs. It is he who slams the door shut, locking-out those rising shrieks of pain and suffering from below.

While he never consciously admits to it, this underlying cognitive dissonance must be part of the worldview upon which his life is disconcertingly built, the world which he had questioned since childhood, and the bulk of the gravitational tide which ultimately impels him to volunteer as an experimental subject for a clandestine new technology.

This underlying dissonance with the world comes to rising conflict as some of the alternate realities that he experiences begin to eclipse his world views with those of their own. When he relives the last moments of a young black man, who is shot and killed by a police officer after attending a Black Lives Matters rally, the experience proves overwhelming for his own middle-aged normality, prompting the most salient and drastic personality change in the walking and talking while white investment scout.

After going through this experience in the laboratory, he literally inherits the life memories of the young black man, a reality that initially manifests in his dreams only. But it is in the context of one pivotal dream wherein, from his traditionally privileged point of view, he sees that dark child that lays dying in the park. But then shifting within, it is from that newly inherited point of view—that high-school-aged, poor black male—that he sees himself suddenly for the privileged man that he has always been.

It is the acute stress of this memorable encounter with his own social archetype that, unlike the previous two alter egos that he has experienced, moves him irrevocably into another realm of self-awareness... even a persistently emergent character change from within, a thing both exciting and frightening for the world at large, a wife and daughter for example.

A secondary source of conflict within the novel is that which revolves around his 14-year-old daughter. She is one who, in spite of all that he has provided for her in terms of wealth and social status, insists on “pretending to be Black,” much to the embarrassment of the posh conservative that he is at the outset. Neither school-teacher nor psychologist can provide him a satisfactory answer as to why his little girl that has it all would envy those poor, black girls who have nothing to offer the world but sass. At one time he comes into his daughter’s room to find a thoroughly tattooed, half-naked (pants-sagging), black man hanging over her headboard. What she defends as just a poster of a gifted rapper, he sees as a stark herald of his daughter crossing into the forbidden exploration of that proverbial strange fruit.

The dynamic of this conflict between his daughter Gina and himself falls from one of a churning defiance, to begrudged acceptance between the two. Finally, a newfound respect for the world of his family grows, as he himself undergoes the changes of outlook because of his involvement with the ongoing experiments. Not so ironically, as his daughter sees the changes in her own father, she feels less the need to rebel, to paint the monotony of her own white picket inheritance with the hues of black stereotype. We see more of who is truly Gina, as she finds fulfillment in the increasingly colorful reality that her father brings home in tow of his cool decisions. He has bravely volunteered as a techno-Guinea pig for the gaming technology! The resolution of this secondary conflict is a peaceable one wherein the previous combatants rest in a warm, fulfilling embrace after so much egotistical wrestling.

7th Assignment, Settings.

The morning sun becomes the overarching illuminator to an otherwise stagnant downtown Minneapolis. From the glistening reflection of the dawns rain on the still wet streets, up past the rousing army of shuffling shoes, the rising slants of sunrise give movement to the angles of concrete and shadow--gleaming depths to the elsewise flats of steel and glass that rush to the highest stories.

Up where the sounds of a waking city follows through a thinner breeze, a window slides abruptly closed, shutting the outside behind that clear and impenetrable pane.

The world inside of the office occupies the vast half of the entire 27th level. Size withstanding, it would be typical, with its expanded array of blue and maroon cubicle, were it not for the youthful adornments of mostly female interns that grace the breadth and width.

Amidst it all rises the chatter of business; chimes of human, machine and keyboard that flourishes besides the sometimes-incessant conversation about winning the lotto, moving to Mexico, or the switching of the crooked skirt around that newest intern from India.

All of this is too much and too close to the frosted glass of the large office at the far corner. The sounds and shadows that snoop along the other side of that frosted pane is an intrusive distraction for the one who is inside. When time meets like one staggered collection of deadlines, as time here often does, he only wants to collect himself in this space, to visually escape out of the body-length windows at the 25th-floor sky. Besides the poorly renovated design of the opaque, wall-length partition un-between that floor at large and himself, his office is a place of welcome refuge and worry.

This corporate setting of building and sky-way, along with the occasional run-in with homelessness while en route to-and-fro, is the primary backdrop for the intrigue that the protagonist begins to feel concerning a mysterious, tech upstart.

The abode of the protagonist and family is amongst what the lesser percentages of society would consider more of castles than mere houses. The wealthy Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota is one of manicured shades of summer green, sweeping colors of fall and shimmering wintery whites tamed by the angles of heated driveways and the forces of the earliest snowplow. The house itself is a Victorian-risen style of a few earthen shades, a 3-story height crowned with multidimensional roof. The composite asphalt driveway opens welcoming to the street from whence comes the triple-burgundy Mercedes with leather interior. Inside the house it is notably drafty at times, unfulfilled space for protagonist and family to grow into home.

Somewhere in the state of Minnesota, there is a building set apart within the space of a wooded clearing. It is a tall, single story front with a warehouse sized addition that looms beyond the roof-line. The older brick construction, broken by a few, elongated windows along the face, is indicative of the 1980s. And once inside, the outdated marquis of black felt, spotted with white alphabet pieces, is an indicator of who’s who inside the un-extraordinary building.

It is after a short move down the hallway, past the plywood door and through a plain waiting room with equally passé artwork, that the scene opens with the space that is the outer laboratory.

Sleek, body-width podiums rise smoothly as if in host of the one who enters, elevating to various heights along the walker’s pace, until the restlessly deep gloss of their surfaces reach away into the dimness. Gracing that gleaming and silhouetted company of computer towers is the occasional, dim pulsation of redness in lightening linear. The intermittent throb of information sequences is like a winking beacon of the great, hibernating data-banks of memory here.

When stirred, at the command of Doctor Bennett, manifestations of said memories can be seen literally in the very air, the luminous streams of holographic symbology that swarm the warehouse of space, feeding into intelligent--if not quite conscious--clouds of glittery, articulating expression.

On at least one occasion the antagonist, protagonist in tow, walk through these dynamic mists of green as if they weren’t there, the same passing visibly through the two men that make their way to a far wall.

The inner laboratory is accessed by opening one of the large, obvious wall panels that is obviously not a hidden portal. Passing through this vacuum from the vaster outer into the smaller inner laboratory is moving from dimness to bright. This room is immaculately white, except for the metallic framing of a more traditional-looking computer console that is stationed above the lone podium near the center. It is next to what is at the very center of visual gravity here; a large, white chair. The chair appears with a design that mimics the familiar aesthetics—if not the comforts—of a huge recliner. From the expanded foot base and up along the extended armrests, one might imagine the sorts of bands or restraining devices that will emerge, at some point, to make some repentant subject to feel more secure. The surges of sequencing data flow through this room only during times of experimental activity, bringing to pulsating light the otherwise inconspicuously transparent cable lines that are hardwired to several key locations. There is an old-fashioned monitor above the white recliner--a cardboard-thin and flat rectangle of a thing that might oscillate automatically with respect to the eye of the beholder.

At a pivotal point the protagonist is surprised to learn that he must fly to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, somewhere in South Holland more precisely, to personally oversee an important offshore account there.

There is a taxi from the airport in Amsterdam, a ride into which asphalt weakens as it stretches between God’s vast organic blankets of country-side, the beautiful patch-workings of the busy locals, where mammoth windmills rove here and there faithfully. The drive eventually returns to tar however, the city of the Hague is where protagonist and ladies stay at The Den Hague, a 4.5-star retreat in South Holland’s quainter version of urban life. It is a place where the façade of a modern city breathes in the oceanic air of a far simpler county.

There are two days of exploration before the scheduled meeting with the business contact. These first days include the far-fetched protagonist tales at sunset about the fiercely bloody battles carried-out at the skyline. It is over a sparkling white wine glass on a high balcony, peering to the space above the restless shoring of the northern sea, that the protagonist re-envisions how the slave king of the blacken-elves disemboweled the high boogeyman of the Netherlands. Apparently it is this resurrected scene, right before the naïve young eyes of his daughter, that causes such spontaneous, crimson sunsets that spill far-reaching overhead.

The trio also explore some of the more local attractions, including a few quaint museums off cobblestone ways, a standing medieval prison with restored torture-room to boot, and even float on a noon-day water way that slips glistening past the shops, stirring the natives who gladly intercept with wines, cheeses and all sorts of oliebollen.

The days come to an end before the business contact, being in and of themselves an oasis of reprise grounded between 10-hour flights in a place known for its flatlands.

It is a ruse, however. When the protagonist goes to meet the business contact, stepping into the portly, euro-conic car with complimentarily accented driver, he is serpentined quickly above ground and then spirited below. There is a considerable length of tunneling where hollow passes with rushing dimness, the beams of the headlights like a movie projector that casts this dampening and surreal film.

It is much ado for a regular offshore account because it is not. After the drive ends at the cavernous opening, stopping before the underground entrance of a building that will extend high above, it is soon revealed that the antagonist himself is here for the greeting.

This building actually hosts a more advanced and expansive laboratory where the final experimental phase must be conducted. A few strings were pulled to bring him here, and the protagonist finds himself being guided down hallways, where at times information flows as incandescently as soundwaves… at times returning suddenly from around corners to pass over and away again like echoes throughout these chambers. Stopping before one expansive room, the luminous green smokes the floor impassively, stirring quickly as the two pair of high-end shoes pass into this one of the main sets.

In this space the antagonist gives a mood-altering demonstration of the theoretical beginnings of time and space, illustrated anew via the burgeoning glitter of articulating holographic tempests. The symbology swells to envelop the two bystanders in the far center, shrinking them in scale to a point where they can witness the intimate coalescing of molecules from a virtual insider's perspective, on down to the very threshold of quantum physics which overtakes this sky of special conjuring. There are several floors whereupon such dissimilar displays and technological functions are carried out.

This building, wherein the main laboratory appears to thrive like the vital organs and skeletal system of an otherwise concrete and steel body, is amazingly accessible to a limited public at the lower levels. There is a common museum on the 1st floor where rudimentary holographic technology is the highlight of traditional displays of art and storytelling. There is a deliberately mediocre cafeteria on the 2nd floor, where only the most inconspicuous seem to return. But it is from that subterranean entrance that the elevator bypasses all lower levels, even for those with the highest of security clearance.

Other mention-able settings that appear in scenic transition are those of a brick and mortar Minneapolis Firehouse with equally characteristic inhabitants, the churning-black guts deep within a fiery room that passes the skin-peeling point of explosion, the brashly intimate environment of a police station during roll-call and then the subsequent crooning insides of the patrol car… and last but not least, the incessantly uprising energy in the midst of a pressing crowd during a BlackLivesMatters rally. It is one that goes on into the deep night, eventually spilling into a terrifying foot chase that paints a tragic, crimson scene on the nightly canvas of a Minneapolis park.

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Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#5 Post by LaMarP6Going » 09 Aug 2020, 01:09

Assignment response from LaMarP6Going, re: 2049: 我们拥有你 (We own you)

1) Having been pressed into service as Global Media Director, Austin Kelly leads a group of techno-saboteurs to derail the plans of the Chinese Communist Party.

2) Antagonist Ling Gut Hing was groomed to lead the Chinese Communist Party. Ling respects three things: sex, money, and power. Now sitting at the right hand of his father, President Gou, Ling sets policies and charts the future of Global, the universal ruling body in Beijing. His twin sister Lilly enjoys a similar position, but they share little in their views toward humanity: Lilly seeks to uplift the Chinese people but Ling, narcissistic and insecure, lusts for power. His pet project is an acceleration of the existing enslavement, internment, and forced organ-harvesting program aimed at the eradication of religionists, political opponents, and other dissidents. Ling supports the choice of Austin Kelly as Global Media Director. It will be Kelly’s job to launch the upcoming Global initiative, One World. One World is Ling’s vision of hegemony, genocide, and a ramping-up of the organ-harvesting program, disguised as government largesse in the form of social programs. He recognizes Kelly’s skills, but more importantly, he relishes forcing Kelly to work in support of goals which Kelly vehemently rejects as cruel and inhumane. To achieve his goals he murders, connives, and plots the death of his father, sister, and Kelly.

3) My first choice for title is 2049: 我们拥有你 (We own you). Alternate titles are shown below:

*The Reluctant Mandarin
* The Liar of Beijing

4) Genre: Techno-thriller, Speculative Fiction, or Political Thriller. This book is a post-modern mix of BEND SINISTER by Vladimir Nabokov, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, by Taylor Caldwell, and THE ORGAN BROKER by Stu Strumwasser. The book will find audience with readers who enjoyed books such as DEAD TOMORROW by Peter James, and HARVEST by Tess Gerritson.

5) a. Conscripted as propagandist for the Chinese Communist Party, an American media titan leads a group of elite tech-saboteurs against The Chinese Communist Party’s planned pogrom of slavery, genocide, and involuntary human organ harvesting.

b. In the summer of 2048, Austin Kelly must accept the position of Global Media Director offered by the Chinese Communist Party. To refuse the assignment might lead to financial ruin or the death of himself and his family. The CCP came to worldwide power nearly twenty years earlier, with the complicity of American president Chao, whose campaign was Kelly’s client. Kelly has come to terms with his part in the downfall of America and the free world—he was played. Additionally, CCP killed his parents and two patriarchs in his wife’s family. But he accepts the position in order to safeguard his family—especially in light of the unplanned pregnancy announced by his wife. He feels trapped, the victim of a Hobson’s Choice. But being highly principled, he cannot in good conscience further CCP’s oppression. In his journey he must gather resolve and the strength to lead an elite group of resistance fighters, while balancing the needs of his highest stewardship: the safety of his family.

6) (Kelly is compelled to negotiate uncomfortable questions; first, from his wife, then from his seventeen-year-old daughter, Summer.)
After I tucked her in, I retired to the living room. I was alone, and I wasn’t. My wife and daughter were only paces from where I sat, but I stood apart from them out of necessity, as my parents had shielded Dallas and me.
At that moment I felt terribly isolated, and I felt the weight of the commitments I’d made. I thought about Summer and her brother: What would the future hold for them? And what of their children, and their children’s children? What would freedom mean to them—or the lack of freedom? Was there any chance that we could change the trajectory of oppression? Or would we sacrifice our lives on the besotted and bloodied altar of the Global Mall?
I walked into the backyard and stood quietly, eyes closed. I inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, cleared my mind, and centered myself. Slowly my arms floated upward in Qishi. My body moved softly through twenty-four patterns of Tai Chi. My breathing was nearly imperceptible and my mind released present burdens in total acceptance of is. At the conclusion of Shoushi, I stood in repose with eyes gently closed, calmed by the magic of Chi.
I thought of the two conversations I’d had that night: One with my wife, in which I’d promised to withdraw from the commitments I’d made in the cause of freedom, the other with a bright inquisitive child who was quick to call me out and encourage me to honor the dangerous path I’d chosen.
I had given them both promises; promises that were diametrical, and which were both in support of holy objectives and principles. I knew I would be forced to break one of them.

San Diego County, California: Several locations within the greater San Diego area are integral to the story. Protagonist Austin Kelly and his brother Dallas live in Del Mar, an upscale seaside community. Kelly’s office is located in a non-specific location of the city. Several scenes take place in Tijuana, which is currently located in Baja California, Mexico, but as told in the story, borders have disappeared, so it is characterized as being part of San Diego. There is a scene set in the famous Balboa Park Friendship Garden. Two scenes occur in the nearby Anza-Borrego Desert. Another scene rolls out in Encinitas, a north county seaside town. Two other scenes describe interaction between characters as they sit on their surfboards, discussing conspiracy while waiting for waves. The rich and diverse geographical and cultural landscape of San Diego County offers a full spectrum of places and vibes in which to place the characters. The scene from Kelly’s office window recurs several times, serving as a graphic depiction of societal contrasts between upper and lower-economic cohorts. San Diego County was chosen as the primary location due to familiarity, and because of its vast array of diverse settings. The story uses settings to emphasize contrasts between social classes, customs, economic classes, and generational attitudes.

Hong Kong, SAR: Brief scenes and mentions are set in Hong Kong, where rebellion and subterfuge lurks around every corner. Much background and historical foundation is set here, both in the city, and in the outlying New Territories. Much family history is told in the setting of the New Territories, a rural area of Hong Kong abutting the border with mainland China. In this area, agrarian families adhere to more traditional mores and customs; life is slower and more rooted in family and the land. Scenes placed in the city of Hong Kong emphasize urban hustle and bustle, unrest, and the struggle for freedom against the forces of oppression. There is also a thread of family history set in Guangdong, China, a southern province that contains Hong Kong, SAR. Background and family historical themes play out here in small villages, family stockyards, and a military academy. A tale set in the Cultural Revolution is told in this setting, where Communists and feudal lords clashed for power at the expense of humble citizens and freedom.

Beijing, China: Beijing is depicted as the seat of worldwide-power and oppression. Global, the omnipotent ruling body, is based there and as Global Media Director, protagonist Kelly is compelled to visit the city several times. Also, antagonist Ling lives in Beijing. The dark underbelly and hypocrisy of Communist leaders is graphically shown in a chapter that describes the debauchery of a private night club in Beijing. Lavish offices, parties, and private residences are the purview of CCP officials, while the peasantry persevere through hardships and the drudgery of subsistence and pain. In the book, Beijing is painted as the seat of all worldly power: Big, bold, and unabashed. Using various settings, the story reveals the underlying treachery, hypocrisy, and greed inherent among Chinese Communist Party officials, and the stalwart perseverance of common citizens. Characters and settings showcase how the repressive communist system favors fealty and loyalty and punishes dissidents.

Oahu, Hawai’i, and Kauai, Hawai’i: The natural beauty of the Hawai’ian Islands frames the final chapters of the book, lending stark contrast to the horrific conclusion of the story. The joy of childbirth and family is decimated by murder, forced organ harvesting, and torture, within the paradise of Hawai’i’s splendor.

Joined:25 Jul 2020, 19:52

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#6 Post by DrewRossP6 » 14 Aug 2020, 22:27

Drew Ross

(Thanks for a great conference!)

Joined:18 Aug 2020, 04:30

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#7 Post by MikaelaKemsleyP6 » 20 Aug 2020, 04:58

1. Story statement:

Alora must become a successful seer to fulfill her divine purpose and serve her people.

2. Antagonist:

The Master of the Goreshen Board, Keistug, is aging. He knows his time is running out, and he’s determined to make use of every day he has left. He has a divine mission to fulfill before he passes: to strengthen and expand his nation, and to leave it under the united leadership of seers serving the Element. When Alora proves she can’t serve the Element, Keistug decides to kill her and find her rebirth.

Master Keistug’s right hand, Chal, doesn’t share his beliefs. To him, the Element is nothing more than a myth he used to gain power in the theocracy. But he’s not satisfied with his power, and he won’t be until he’s Master of the Board. So, Chal cuts a deal with someone, someone influential enough to offer him more power: as long as Chal eliminates the seers, he will become the new Master of the Board. Chal rapes Alora. He does everything in his power to break her and make her appear incompetent so the theocracy will kill her.

3. The current title is Elements. Some alternatives are:

Visions of the Wind
Servant of Snow
The Element’s Emissary

4. Genre and comparables:

My novel is young adult fantasy, with a tone similar to that of Marissa Meyers’ work. It’ll appeal to fans of Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen and Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes.

5. Primary conflict:

When a misguided theocracy decides to kill her, a teenage girl must escape and fight against the government she’s served all her life.

6. Inner and secondary conflicts:

Inner conflict: Alora struggles with self-doubt. She believes she’s a failure: a disappointment to The Goreshen Board, to her people, and to her god. She’s obsessed with redemption, with proving herself to the very people who are trying to kill her.

Alora experiences a lot of confusion and anxiety as she re-invents her beliefs. She loses faith in the god she once worshipped, and loses trust in the people she once served. As she learns more about the theocracy’s cruelty, she wrestles with the guilt of knowing that she once supported them.

Her guilt and confusion exacerbate her anxiety attacks. She’s convinced that her “fits” are a weakness, another sign that she’s a failure. At times, they’re debilitating. It takes time for her to accept her anxiety and embrace it as a defining part of her identity. She progresses to channel her anxiety positively and transform it into a strength.

Secondary conflict: Alora’s relationship with Ryas, another seer, also adds conflict to the novel. She cares for him, but feels too scarred from her sexual abuse to be with him romantically. She battles with conflicting desires to be closer to him and to make sure she’s never touched or abused again.

The fear from her rape also permeates Alora’s relationship with Darina. Darina is kind to Alora, even motherly. But she’s a reader. After being raped by a reader, Alora struggles to trust any readers, even one who’s trying to help her.

7. Setting:

Overall setting: Goresh is an antarctic nation in the Northern tip of Dunya. It’s also the most powerful nation in Dunya. It’s allied with the nation to its east and conquering the nation to its west. Much of Goresh is an arctic wasteland with nothing but snow dunes. Along the shores, however, are frozen beaches. Glass facilities dot the beaches, where captured Goreshens melt the sand from the beaches into glass.

Sub-setting 1: Alora lives in the capital building of Eisk. The sprawling building-city houses almost half of the Goreshen population. And Alora has never been outside of it. She’s never even been outside the government chambers of Eisk. She’s spent most of her life trapped in her glass room, able to see everything outside but unable to go anywhere.

Sub-setting 2: After Alora escapes Eisk, she enters the Goreshen tundra. The tundra is a polar wasteland with nothing more than snow and the occasional rock. There, she battles against blizzards, ice burns, hypothermia, and frostbite.

Sub-setting 3: Alora travels with a nomadic tribe to the Drifts: a perpetually shifting maze of snow, ice, and water. There, Alora navigates ice floes, glaciers, and half-frozen rivers. At points she’s literally living “on thin ice,” which is terrifying for a girl who can’t swim.

Joined:15 Aug 2020, 18:43

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#8 Post by ConstantinosKoumontzisP6 » 20 Aug 2020, 19:28

1. Story Statement
Ann Bonny Must keep her twisted double life a secret at all costs.

2. Antagonistic Force
Main Antagonist: Angela Greene.
Although Ann Bonny faces several challenges, Angela Greene poses the greatest threat. She is manipulative, cunning, and out for her own personal gain. Greene is suspicious of Ann’s strange behavior and is constantly out to expose her. Ann threatens Angela’s position in school and poses as a rival when the job opportunity for vice principal comes down to the two of them. Angela will do whatever it takes to ensure her power in the small kingdom of Pearcey K-12.
Other antagonists in the story include Ann herself. Since she is an antagonistic protagonist, she gets herself into trouble due to her bloodthirsty addiction to killing and her unstable nature. She is an unreliable narrator, taking the reader in opposite ways throughout the novel. We learn as an audience that she is not always trustworthy, and because of her insanity, she delivers events and situations from her flawed, somewhat deranged perspective.

3. Titles

a. Cross-Eyed Mary
b. Bloody Teacher
c. Mad Beautiful

4. Genre/ Comps
Thriller, Crime, Suspense

“Killing Eve” by Luke Jennings – The main character has similar obsessive tendencies. A brutal killer, yet still somehow becomes a sympathetic, rootable character that incorporates dark, gritty humor into her worldview and voice.

“You” by Caroline Kepnes – Another sociopathic protagonist who is flawed, yet likable and sympathetic for a readership. A character that catches your attention and leaves you wanting more.

5. Primary Conflict
An elementary teacher by day, prostitute by night who gleefully murders the men who hire her struggles to maintain her sanity and keep the secret of her twisted double life.

6. Secondary Conflict(s)
Conflict – Angela
Her manipulative rival. Angela makes Ann anxious; threatening her hidden life when she begins to suspect Ann has something to hide. Not only does this affect Ann’s exposure as a serial killer, but also puts her job as a teacher in danger.
Conflict – John
One night she realizes that her newest “client” is the father of her favorite student….
When Ann meets John as a client, his real identity is hidden. Upon arrival at his apartment, Ann discovers that he is the father of Danny Hilton, her favorite student. John’s survival jeopardizes her anonymity as well as opens the door for people at Pearcey, like Angela Greene, to find out her secret.
Conflict – Kitty
Haunted by the death of her ex-girlfriend, Ann is tormented by her unstable mental state creating anxiety and irritability within Ann’s cognizance. Kitty acts as an invisible force throughout the story, establishing confusion for Ann and a vehicle to illustrate Ann’s dwindled sanity.
Conflict – Kate
Ann’s neighbor and new crush. Kate and her boyfriend Roger are the typical bad neighbors. Ann’s growing obsession with Kate gets her into trouble when she should be keeping a low profile. Bringing dead bodies in your apartment only winds up bad when you have nosey neighbors across the hall in a high rise.
Ann is conflicted between pursuing Kate and keeping her low profile.
Conflict – Officer Blake
After one of Ann’s killings goes wrong, police are involved. Officer Blake interrogates and suspects Ann, posing yet another obstacle. Suddenly Ann’s world is threatened, but also her freedom and life.
7. Setting
School – The majority of the novel takes place at Pearcey K-12. It functions to build Ann’s world – at least one of them. Here she performs the persona of the “Innocent Teacher.” She must deal with the real-world struggles and challenges of being a teacher, but also juggles her second life. Ann occasionally uses the school as a vehicle to get rid of bodies, which makes the school a platform for tension. At school, she must handle the stress of work, get along with the other teachers, and deal with her students. Pearcey K-12 is home to an ensemble of faculty and students, all with their own characteristics and personal drives. This works to create the world of the school, but also adds to the conflict in Ann’s day to day. Within the teacher-body, there are cliques, social tensions, personal vendettas, and of course, scandals that set the beams for this world’s foundation.
There is familiarity and safety with the concept of school. This universal location grounds the story in a relatable, almost comfortable setting, situating the reader before sending shock and terror. It is this simplicity that adds to the terror of the story – what if your teacher was in fact a cold-blooded killer? With the perspective and dash of a new look, the school offers a fresh twist on what is commonly a place of learning and student drama. School transforms into a playground of tension and unnerving reality.
On top of the nest of school drama, Ann must continue the façade of a young teacher with nothing to hide while offering her own criticism of school life. The story’s unique narrative from Ann’s point of view allows the reader to catch a glimpse of what school life entails for someone like Ann. Instead of seeing through the eyes of a student, which is the typical standpoint for novels, we have a front seat in Ann’s perspective, granted a viewpoint that is seldom seen and rather critical of contemporary public school life.

Apartment – Ann’s residence is where she is most vulnerable. This is mainly because she is always alone. Here we see Ann at her most raw – her truest, burdened self. Ann operates her online escort profiles from her apartment and never brings home a client, but occasionally a body to dispose of. This builds suspense and conflict when her neighbors pry into her affairs.

Meetup Locations Throughout Chicago – Ann never goes to the same place twice, under the same name, or with the same person (the latter a result of every client dying). Her meet-up spots range from motels, to bars, to low profile restaurants. These sub-settings develop a greater stage of the city of Chicago. Each creates a unique atmosphere for the date, which she decides on the spot whether or not to end rapidly or draw out for her own amusement. The meet-ups usually end in death, so there’s plenty of action and suspense to go around. It is at these locations we get a glimpse of the contemporary world outside of school. It is darker, grittier, and showcases a side of life far from suburban. It is a slice of life that people like to watch from a safe distance on their television screens, on a reality TV show, or in an HBO drama … far too relatable, yet so deliciously distant to many.

Joined:16 Aug 2020, 09:39

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#9 Post by JustinKurianP6 » 22 Aug 2020, 07:34

1. Story Statement

John needs to find his way through esoteric and hidden Ibiza in Spain in order to locate his estranged and missing friend and mentor Gunther.

2. Antagonist/Antagonistic Forces

In order to reunite with Gunther, John must be able to overcome the island of Ibiza itself. The landscape is rural, much is unmapped, with hidden communes, artist colonies, and wild natural landscapes, and most people live off the grid. They do this for the lifestyle, and often to keep their pasts secret.
John must also deal with his newfound friend Angela, as he slowly learns, despite her words, that she does not have his best interests in mind.
And John must deal with his own inner demons, as he must overcome his shame for abandoning Gunther years ago in his time of need, and his embarrassment for how he has spent his last years of his life, working in high finance making wealthy people wealthier, while ignoring his early philosophy and theology career .

3. Title

The Boundless Sunset
Seeking Gunther
Eternal Sands of Ibiza


Genre: Literary Fiction, Upmarket/Book Club fiction
Comparable: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, Less by Andrew Greer

5. After a disillusioned John quits his vapid but successful financial career and rejects an offer of marriage, can he find his estranged friend and former philosophy mentor Gunther on the mysterious island of Ibiza and hopefully find meaning and direction in his life again.

6. Inner Conflict

Although John wants to find Gunther, he is ashamed to see him, as he must overcome his guilt for abandoning Gunther is his time of need 15 years ago.
John also is embarrassed at what he has become in the last 15 years, as he has spent all his time making rich people richer after beginning with a highly successful academic career in theology and philosophy. He is thus reluctant to see Gunther until he feels better about himself.

Secondary Conflicts:

John meets Diana, one of the first international female deejays, who lives a secluded life on Ibiza. They share adventures on Ibiza together, and begin to grow close. But can John overcome his shame of himself, and his fear of close human relationships, and profess his love for Diana? Also, will John's newfound friend Angela, who claims to be supportive of John, try to destroy this possible love?

John gets to know Andre, an impoverished artist who attempts to sell his sculptures in the hippie markets of Ibiza. Andre was formerly a successful worker in Amsterdam. He is now abandoned by his ex wife after she convinces him to move to Ibiza, she gets a boyfriend, and then takes his apartment and keeps his daughter from him. Andre now lives alone in the forest. Can John help Andre learn some assertiveness, and find success and a relationship with his daughter?

7. Setting

The setting is the island of Ibiza off of Spain in 1988. This legendary island was one of the landing spots of the original 1960's hippies who fled the United States. It attracted many bohemian types from Europe as well. Thus the island is a cross section of religions, philosophies, cultures, and ways of life, with an emphasis on the hedonistic.

Quiet cafe on a side street of a town before high season begins.
Various settings visited on Ibiza include parties held at private villas with all sorts attending.
A hidden buddhist temple found in the hills.
Secret marijuana farms in the northern coast.
Artist colonies on the eastern side of the island.
Nudist beaches found northeast.
Hippie markets with hundreds of vendors in various locations on Ibiza.
Parties held at the homes of wealthy residents.
Exploring some of the jagged and dangerous coastlines of the northern regions.
The smaller islands off of Ibiza

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Joined:29 Jul 2020, 10:13

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#10 Post by P6BillCook » 25 Aug 2020, 19:09

Deliver material to a dark god so that he can construct a doomsday device.

Book One
Pathosis, the Dread God, chooses the seeress Freyja to deliver a store of iron from which he will forge the Mighty Lantern. Then he will kidnap his ex-wife, the goddess Aetheir, and use the lantern to imprison her.
Arngeir, “the Vangr”, will rule the Ice Islands as king.
Haeflethnir, the dragon, devours all cavern interlopers. When it learns that Ørkrith stole its gemstones, it offers the sons of Kor'vetoth a payment to recover its treasure. Also, it mines ore from an underground lake for Freyja to deliver to Pathosis.
Dozni, the giant, flies into a murderous rage when he wakes to find half his mustache shaved.
Ørkrith, the dwarf, was lost at sea by misfortune. After washing ashore in a whale's belly, he promises treasure to sons of Kor'vetoth to return him to the Glimmervein. But first, they must kill the dragon, Haeflethnir. In truth, he doesn't expect them to prevail and is only using them to distract the dragon while he steals its treasure.

Hagen takes advice from an outlaw and orders a cattle raid against Svøldenheim. When his son Veirel is defeated in an honor duel to settle the dispute, he requires blood price from the shield bearer and claims weregild for greater losses of men.
Dark winter arrives with a thunderstorm, washing out the bridge to Jarrowfjord, killing Brandt, among others. Arek's slave gang are threatened by drowning and exposure.

Ulf, Harvester of Discontent, was exiled from the Brekkadair temple order by Eileifr, Freyja's deceased grandfather. He suspects treachery from the visiting adepts. He haunts the marsh, waiting to harvest the Grain Berries of Discontent.
The Stain on the Land is a world-seed skin that persists in the av de Gamlen marsh. It consumes the ungrateful and produces the Grain Berries of Discontent.
Odioss, the giantess, is a hermit with a farmstead in Vesikal, the Valley of the Giants. She mistakes the trespassing egg thieves for garden voles and chases them into the woods.
The Golden Boar is a legendary creature who eludes skilled hunters with speed, trickery, and brute force. He is quite perturbed by the hunting band until Arek charms him.

Book Two
Sidia was a founding member of the doomed expedition to Blightland, generations ago, and became seeress. She conspires with the Wild Wind and a water spirit named Lulu to wreck expeditionary ships in order to replenish Havenshire's population—for eternal summer carries weariness. At first, she is relieved that Vaak—a Kor'vetothian priest—has come to transplant the life-giving snow blossom. But when he betrays her people, she threatens to kill Freyja if he doesn't complete the ritual.
Lulu is a water spirit, native to Blightland, angry with the human settlers for past timber harvesting. As amends, snow maiden Reinja tends a sapling. Lulu wrecks ships and spies on Havenshire for the seeress Sidia.
The shags are a remnant of colony founders, deformed by cannibalism into abominable savages. They prey on villagers, castaways, and each other, either spreading contagion or adding their fellow's strength to their own. But they cannot bear the light of the god flower, so Havenshire has become a refuge.
Blightland chiefs, Fasel, Jáni, and Pøke are a trio of feckless althing heads. They have forgotten the personal nature of sacrifice, inured to eternal summer, and bicker and blather till every crisis has blunted itself.

Garnison du Palais Fontaine defend Tourivet against Ice Island raiders.
Garnison du Pays des Vignes were originally Freyja's brother Magni's raiders and defend Montefaire Abbey and Méandre de Fleurs from Duc Plusqueboi's forces and Ice Island raiders.
Duc Charles Erebrit rules Pays des Vignes and wars with Duc Plusqueboi when he is not serving Roi Furchard at la Capitale Chanti. When he learns that Ice Island raiders attacked Montefaire Abbey and abducted la Duchesse Marguerite Erebrit, he sails to Îlot Sinui to ransom her.
The Bidean Navy defend the coast from Ice Island raiders.

Prince Equi, the Golden Rider, is the commander of forces for his father Roi Furchard. He gathers reports of Ice Island raiders traveling up la Rivière Sinui and confronts them at Broken Finger before making a final stand at la Capitale Chanti.
Les soldats de la Capitale Chanti defend the city and the crown.
Roi Furchard defends Chanti and the nation state of Dublis from the Ice Island raiders. Unfortunately, les ducs Erebrit et Plusqueboi are too busy quarreling to help defend the capital city.

Book Three
Ice Island raiders pillage coastal dwellings, showing no regard for foreign gods or innocent non-defenders. They seek a relative martial challenge with good prospects for livestock, fine goods, and noble abductees.
Aumônier du manoir Hilaire serves Comte Mathis and seeks to impress Burqan bishops from Xanci. He is a religious leader to the noble family and their estate; and he tortures poachers and layabout peasants. When Mathis' guards deliver the foreigner Vaak and disclose his heretical perfidy, Mathis applies himself cruelly.
Comte Mathis sanctions Vaak's execution for heresy and attends.
Bur∂en, the Great Shag, may have consumed his last fellow. Now, only New Havenshire villagers are left to prey on. But Arek, Dmitri, and Fri∂rik have laid a trap for Bur∂en.
The Great Bear arrives to deliver death to Ulfric, as it did his birth father. But it is interrupted by Ulfric's son Uffe.

1. The Mighty Lantern
2. The Ice Island Raiders
3. The Seeress of av de Gamle

The genre is adult fantasy.

1. Neil Gaiman's NORSE MYTHOLOGY.
2. Robert E. Howard's CONAN OF CIMMERIA.

A young acolyte is named seeress and chosen to fulfill a prophecy of world destruction. Though obedient to the dark god, she agonizes that what she loves most in the world will also be lost: the temple order and her sacred homeland.

So she exiles and finds new purpose in family life. But when fate calls, what she may lose is only compounded.

Inner Conflicts
Arek – He wishes to make his way in life, avoid reliance on his father's offerings, and establish his own farmstead and livelihood. He is troubled by losing his friend Brandt, losing his stake in a failed expedition, and being injured in a raid and left for dead. He reacts by helping temple servants to steal an egg from a giant and tame a mythic boar, joining the raids to win back his stake in plunder, and convalescing at the Burqan priests' temple before stemming their slaughter by raiders.

Einar – He wishes to escape the endless work at his father's forge, join the raids, and become a blacksmith himself in a new, promising land. He is troubled by being devoured by a dragon, washing ashore in an untamed land after surviving a squall, and laying siege to a riverine fortress. He reacts by seeking the seeress' wisdom, fending off a savage attack by a horrible snow beast, and cutting down the defensive commander of forces after scaling the city wall.

Freyja – See V, above.

Ulfric – He wishes to honor his heritage while navigating the second people's customs, find a love and raise a family, and face a great bear like the one who killed his birth father. He is troubled by a scheming dwarf who uses him for bait, a terrible curse that robs him of a model love, and the unfair treatment by his adoptive countrymen who undermine his progress. He reacts by racing after the dwarf in a minecart train and spearing him, languishing in grief before murdering his neighbors, and taking a captured slave for a wife and returning with her, her daughter, and their newborn son to her home village.

Vaak – He wishes to faithfully prosecute his duties as law speaker, offer service to the god he serves, and preserve the religious practices of his people. He is troubled by chiefs who feud over cattle, a vision of a fellow priest calling for aid as he dies, and being tortured and executed for honoring native funerary rites in a foreign land. He reacts by settling the chiefs' claim in a hearing at the temple and officiating an honor duel, joining an expedition to an unsettled land and consecrating a grove, saving the remnant of a failed colony, and defending his purpose while defying his torturer.

Secondary Conflicts
Will the Hingen jarl Arngeir become king of the Ice Islands? Who will prevail in the cattle-theft feud: Hagen or Kort? Will dark winter destroy Kort's unwanted Lodnese slaves? Will the goddess Aetheir be pleased with the adepts' extraordinary provisions?

Will Havenshire be swallowed in snow and ice and her people devoured by shaggy snow beasts? Will Gunnolf plunder deeply at the Dublise temple only to suffer misfortune at sea? Can an Ice Island coalition of raiders hope to break the walls of the Dublise riverine fortress? If the victorious Ice Islanders accept deeds of land as spoils of war, will the Dublise ever accept them? And if they do, what will the assimilated Ice Islanders become?

When the heroes meet their fate, will their valor distinguish them?

The Ice Islands were settled in a tapestry. The snow deer nomads came with the land, or perhaps they formed a splinter tribe when the sea rose and separated the islands from Lodni. The first settlers built the round towers in Isøya av de Gamle. Their fate is unknown. The second people are whom we call Ice Islanders. They appropriated the round towers and spread across the islands, from av de Gamle to Memna to Hingen.

Av de Gamle is actually a collection of islets, shrouded in mist, seeming to shift position on the sea. The tar pits are to the north. And we learn that the Glimmervein is accessible by a crag in this system. The temple at Brekkadair is here, devoted to the Dread God Pathosis, who sees with the World Mother's eyes as unremarkable shades collect in his Stew of Souls. The seeress dwells here.

It is the soul of the Ice Islands. Its people are excellent ship builders, fishers, and sailors.

Memna is the middle island. It is the bountiful harvest basket, having fertile fields, flashing rivers, and plentiful woodlands. In the upland, the Kreisgard mountain range has one part, separated by a fjord to the east. And the Eldask river empties into a delta in the south; Svøldenheim is situated there.

In the center is the temple at Thiffokor, dedicated to the Beast God Kor'vetoth. Harvest festival is celebrated here each year, and karl and jarl alike make the journey to brag, fight, and commit acts of passion. The law speaker resides here.

Vesikal, the Valley of the Giants, is situated in Memna. But the vale does not reveal itself to an eager seeker. Also, the snow deer herd cross the ice in white winter, follow the Memnan Kreisgards, and shelter in the upland needle woods.

Memna is the heart of the Ice Islands. Its people are like roots in a cellar.

Hingen is the last Ice Island before the vast Far Sea. The Kreisgards continue in the north, to a fuller measure. A plateau below the highest crest is called High Table, where the goddess Aetheir may attend a banquet, if she deigns, held every year in her honor. It is attended by the Heavenly Court who wander down from the sky like falling stars, while the Bright Lady's arrival is marked by the flowing luminescence of her gown.

A certain number of snow deer nomad guides remain at a camp below High Table, when the rest have followed the herd to Memna, and lead pilgrims to a safe vantage, where they may glimpse the Heavenly Court's shadows against the higher crest.

Most of Hingen's forests have been harvested for long ships and the narrow shop buildings of Jøtergild, to the south. It is the main trading port of the Ice Islands. The jarl Arngeir hosts his fleet here, as well as a small army of guards and raiders.

Hingen is the crackling mind of the Ice Islands. Its people demand much as they gather greater strength.

There is a clandestine maritime outpost—also Ice Islandic—called Udveksling. The raider captains know it and go there to recruit, ally, and share stories. Each captain is expected to take a turn at guard duty to protect from pirates and naval forces.

Dublis is the land of fruiting vines. It has verdant fields and lazy rivers. The Dublise have a proud history of royal lineage. Their building mastery is peerless. And they craft the finest weapons and armor. Dublise food is savory and delightful, particularly the berry ale. They are a dusky and reverent people, fawning at the god Baruq. Though their soldiers are highly skilled, they are not possessed of the Beast God's vigor. To the point, their men often cry and run helplessly until a jarl's soldiers arrive and provide defense.

Their ships are as strong as towers, but also stupidly slow.

Bidea is the land of an ancient empire. Though its power is waning, the land is still majestic, with tall mountains and river gorges. The crown is Xanci, an incomprehensibly layered city, almost a state unto itself, with river flows about its sides and island wards, extending into adjoining fields.

Its people are olive-skinned with thick, dark hair. The women are tall, and the men are paunchy. Their food is exotic to a fault, though the golden-fleshed fruit is wonderful. Their sloping foothills are home to a rounded, spotted great cat; and they breed the finest horses of any people.

Bidea is the site of the Burqan religion's origins. The land is dotted with temples, and the greatest in Xanci is its own ward. Its priestly order extends beyond borders and is ordained by a Bidean authority.

The Bidean navy is a deadly foe. Their ships are stacked twice and include an impossible count of rowers. And the prow spits fire that spreads on the water.

Lodni is the land of the great bear. Its vastness exceeds the other foreign lands, with a range including grasslands, woodlands, and frozen mountains. Its plenty is spread so widely that it cannot be measured, yet its people remain close to the river.

The Lodnese are the most like the Ice Islanders in appearance, though they dress more colorfully and are more ribald, given to festering squabbles. Nor do they defend with distinction. The Hingens find them to be particularly easy marks for slave capture.

Their winters are proper, like the Ice Islands; and to their credit, they provision adequately and show the required hardiness to endure. They worship Venita, the God Complex, and take several wives for each man.

Though they have ships, they use them mostly for fishing, and seem more interested in their inland rivers, ending their journeys at the first flat-tail dam.

Blightland is the true name of an untamed land, which is called Havenland in Far Sea fisher tales. And they describe a flourishing colony, settled by Ice Islanders, though it has not established trade. They say there are bountiful stakes and that plunder has a far reach there. And that their daughters would not dare be refused to any man able to work the land.

So expeditions gather every few years. When they don't return within the same count of years, there are always explanations of how establishing a farmstead may take time or that fortune is so great that the motherland has become uninteresting. But there are darker suspicions, also, as to the explorers' fate.

Joined:19 Aug 2020, 21:12

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#11 Post by SandyZelka » 25 Aug 2020, 23:06

Assignment 1: The Act of Story Statement
Poppy must reconcile her psychotic dual personality.

Assignment 2: The Antagonists Plots the Point
Poppy’s mother is the epitome of antagonist. Just present enough throughout and shielded by her own puritan persona, she is the thorn in the tiger’s paw. Devoutly Catholic, she finds sadistic ways to punish her daughter. To keep the scaring penance from the rest of the family, her mother threatens her repeatedly on what she would endure should she tell her father or brother. This is heightened by her mother calling her Emily in her fits of rage leaving it seem that it is Poppy’s “real” name. The continued emotional beatings finally drive Poppy to beat the family pet to death and eventually sink into a din of heroine. It isn’t until she returns home as an adult that Poppy proves that her mother hasn’t broke her.

Assignment 3: Conjuring the Breakout Title
Battered Not Broken
Poppy’s Tears
As the Flower Grows

Assignment 4: Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables
Fiction: Psychological Thriller
“Truths I Never Told You” (Kelly Rimmer). This is a very current comp with the similar basis of covering and unwinding a family’s dark secrets.
“The Child That Never Was” (Jane Renshaw). Also, a very current comp that deals with the same feel of ‘gaslighting’ between Poppy and Emily.
Overarching and not current, a real blend would be “Sybil” (Floreta Rheta Schreiber) and “My Sisters’ Keeper” (Jodi Picoult) with the backdrop of “Mommie Dearest” (Christine Crawford)

Assignment 5: Considering the Primary Conflict
A young woman, battered by psychological trauma inflicted by her mother, develops a dual personality of serial killer and innocent sufferer.

Assignment 6: Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels
Inner protagonist conflict
Poppy develops a dual personality to rationalize her mother’s psychological and physical battering. This sets the stage for a dual primary conflict. Her first is her desire to inflict pain to lessen the physical pain she has endured. She knows the reason it exists but struggles with rationalizing how she reconciles it. Although not studious by nature, she is not foreign to the use of the town library. It is there that she seeks solace and answers to her deepest questions; and so, begins her studies of the mind-brain intersection. The information she gleans from the books brings forth her dual self (Emily) that she begins to hear as a sounding board of her actions. Through this period, she befriends the local pharmacist that broadens her ability to self-manage by the study of herbs. Later, she uses her complied teachings to inflict mental anguish on others.
While her turmoil stems from her mother’s cruelty, there is an underpinning level of guilt that she feels by her increasing disregard for life. She is aware of this and manages her inner disturbance that manifests itself into destruction of life by developing her Emily-side. As Emily, she can feel what she can’t as Poppy, she can reconcile the significance of the abandonment of her best friend by having Emily’s best friend die a traumatic death and she cope with the rejection by her mother by Emily’s mother deserting her to be with Emily’s long lost twin, Penney, who is the final recognition and reconciliation of the dual personality of Emily and Poppy.

Hypothetical emotional conflict
Holding Sam in her hands, his bloodied fur beginning to dry on her hands, an overwhelming feeling of guilt washes over her in the form of chills and blushing heat. As the cold sweat runs down her spine, Poppy’s heart begins to race again, not because of doing the act but from having done it. She remembers her mother burning her hands as a child for no reason and living with blister scars for years. What will her mother do now if she confesses to the killing of her beloved cat, Sam?
She sits back on her feet, now cradling Sam’s body that is becoming rigid, and begins to rock him. Poppy hears Emily’s voice sing lullabies and cooing to sooth him while Poppy’s anger begins to crush his body with the strength of her anger. After all, the only way to inflict pain on her mother is to kill what she loves.

Hypothetical social environment – secondary conflict
Calla stands in absolute fright, not moving, barely breathing; her only movement is the uncontrollable shaking of every inch of her body. She watches as Poppy holds the remainder of the family cat in her hands, shaking the fur from her bloodied fingers. Poppy growls, guttural noises that seem to come from deep within as she tries to rid herself of the dead cat’s body that has attached itself via its lost organs and liquids.
Poppy hears one twig, just one, break, and turns, her face constrained with pain and joy together by the sight of Calla. Her pulse quickens again. She hears Emily’s simple voice from within ask how she could let herself be caught and of all people, by her only friend, Calla. As Calla begins to slowly back away, Poppy rises quickly, and steps to her with two large steps, catching her and holding her by the shoulders before Calla as able to run away.
Poppy pleads with her to understand that it was an accident. That she found the cat hurt and tried to mend it but was unable to stop the bleeding. That she found it dead and was going to bury it for her mother. Calla rips her arms from Poppy and tells her she knows the truth and will never be her friend again. Once free, Calla runs for her car and lock herself inside. Poppy reaches the car and pounds on the windows yelling that she, Calla, will never escape her grip.

Assignment 7: The Incredible Importance of Setting
Setting the book on the background of rural, mid-America, nowhere special allows the reader the ability to imagine the farm, where Poppy’s killings take place; the library, where Poppy befriends her only friend and assumed soulmate, Calla; and the hospital that is pinnacle to the beginning and ending of Emily’s relationship with her mother.
The Farm: A farm setting provides the ability for Poppy’s mother’s infliction of trauma to go unnoticed. There are no visitors in the book, there is relatively little interaction or visiting in town and the only people the family truly comes in contact with are each other. Poppy’s father is pre-occupied 24 hours a day with managing the farm, her brother Bobby is busy trying to live up to the ideals of their father and their mother portrays herself to the family as the good little home-town housewife. She doesn’t set traps to act as a martyr, but instead, seems to love embodying the farm life. This leaves Poppy cutoff from interacting with anyone save for school where she is basically ostracized as a simple tom-boy farm girl As such, not only can Poppy’s mother get away with her physical and mental abuse, Poppy can get away with her animal trappings, dissections and killings. Additionally, leveraging the farm as a disposal area, anything Poppy kills can just get dumped into the pig sty for them to devour without any trace of wrongdoing.
The Library: This provides the most unlikely place for Poppy’s growth. Basements are especially creepy. Adding the stench of old abandoned books gives the reader a way to feel Poppy’s mental degradation. This is where Poppy learns from outdated reference books about the mind, the brain and anatomy. It is where Calla is introduced as a vibrant, teenage girl with dark secrets of her own that fertilize Poppy’s growth. Here they become an unstoppable force that Poppy misleads as being her “partner in crime.” In the end, when Poppy has the opportunity to escape her life and her mother, she uses the library as a sanctuary to develop and execute her plan.
The Hospital: A hospital is a symbol of hope and/or deep pain. It is used three times in the book, all with a backdrop of mystery. As a 4-year old, Emily is brought to the hospital to medically assist her twin sister Penney (the emerging Poppy). As a teen, Emily has a dream-sequence where she is bearing her sole to her best friend that previously died of a traumatic accident (an attempt at reconciling her relationship with her mother, who in her eyes, should be her closest ally). Finally, Emily is abandoned by her mother to live with her twin sister, Penney. Each of these provides a level of hope, i.e. helping her sister and believing her friend has recovered, as well as the pain of loss and abandonment. By using this setting, it portrays of the roller-coaster development of Poppy’s damaged psyche.

Joined:02 Mar 2020, 12:36

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#12 Post by BrentEwigP6 » 26 Aug 2020, 19:26

by Brent Ewig

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

An aide to an elderly Senator becomes the target of an army of shadowy lobbyists and their dark money.

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

When a well-meaning Senator proposes to ban nicotine from all cigarettes and vaping products, an array or special interests frantically mobilize to kill the bill. Tobacco companies lead the charge, represented by an arrogant and opportunistic lobbyist named Terry Cranston. He is the typical DC type who profits obscenely by exploiting the revolving door between government and K Street. A less visible coalition also forms including gas station owners who sell tobacco, tobacco farmers who grow it, and even state governors who benefit from tobacco taxes. They all could potentially lose billions, but don’t necessarily want to be seen in league with Big Tobacco. And then there is an even more shadowy group who call themselves The Syndicate and stand to lose more than anyone. They are willing to play hardball and do anything to protect their profits. They all begin to focus on Scott Akatelli, the key advisor to an elderly Senator who is the last undecided vote, placing him at the center of a battle where hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake – and more than a few lives.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title

The Last Smoke-Filled Room
How Some Men Quit Smoking
A Bundle of Burning Leaves

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: two comparables for your novel.

The Last Smoke-Filled Room is a political thriller. It will appeal to readers of books like The Zero Game by Brad Meltzer and Killing Faith by David Baldacci.

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

Everyone in Washington knows that Scott Akatelli’s boss, Senator Gerald Coppet, is showing signs of dementia. Scott will be making the decision on how his boss should vote on a legislative proposal that would save millions of lives, end the tobacco business in America, and eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits. Scott is being targeted by an army of lobbyists and their disinformation campaigns fueled by dark money. As the critical vote approaches, he is unsure if he can trust his friends, colleagues, and even his girlfriend. Will he give in to the pressure or can he retain the idealism that led him to a career on Capitol Hill?

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: inner conflict your protagonist will have.

Scott loves working on Capitol Hill, but feels he’s approaching a career crossroads where he will have to decide: does he continue to endure the long hours and lower pay of the Hill or does he cash in in by taking his insiders experience to lobby for the private sector?

Inner conflict: Scott’s best friend has left a career in public service for a more lucrative position lobbying for a national hospital association, and is urging Scott to join him.

Secondary/Social conflict: Also, Scott and his girlfriend Ashley are beginning to talk seriously about getting married, but Scott is worried his Midwestern working class upbringing is no match for Ashley’s upscale East Coast expectations.


The Last Smoke-Filled Room takes place in and around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. It begins in the cluttered offices where most of the standard Congressional work takes place. The story takes you through the corridors of power and behind the scenes, into the Dome of the Capitol itself and behind the hidden doors of secret hideaway offices where deals used to be sealed over cocktails and cigars.

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Joined:19 Aug 2020, 03:57

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#13 Post by ColleenMurphyP6 » 26 Aug 2020, 23:52

Trauma Foxtrot 5395; When Life Gives You Lemons, Apply Fresh Lipstick


Ignoring the medical facts in front of her, Colleen Murphy finds a way to transform her severely brain damaged, non-verbal daughter from lifeless existence into a highly sought after inspirational public speaker.


Lauren’s brain injury and physical and mental deficits are the main antagonist throughout the story.

Her injuries were catastrophic, part of her brain had been removed and she was on life support. The shell-shocked looks on the faces of everyone caring for her, made it highly unlikely Lauren would make it out alive. Forty-Four days later, she was stable enough to fly to Chicago on a private medical jet to begin intensive rehab.

Once settled, the doctors and therapists delivered the devastating prognosis. Lauren would never walk, talk, feed herself or understand spoken words. She would remain in a semi- vegetative state for life, non-verbal, and never regaining independence.

6 months later Lauren was discharged and back home in St. Louis trying to function at home. She began to demonstrate odd behavior, obsessions with the attic, climbing into display beds at department stores, hiding open canisters of yogurt in her underwear drawer, crying episodes, the list was endless. With each new accomplishment came a whole new set of problems. Lauren was infantile and trapped within her own brain. Would her life always be this way?


Trauma Foxtrot 5395: When Life Gives You Lemons, Apply Fresh Lipstick
Down but Not Out in Beverly Hills
The Art of Nailing Jell-O to a Tree
Knocked Off her Feet


Genre- Memoir

It's Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too)
Nora McInerny

Nora’s book is based on the tragic death of her young husband, her book is heartbreaking, inspiring and funny.
My book does the same, it can make you laugh and make you cry (often on the same page). The clever humor sprinkled throughout my book helps make light of the heavy subject matter

Breakthrough: The Miraculous True Story of a Mother's Faith and Her Child's Resurrection
Joyce Smith

Breakthrough is the story of the incredible recovery of 14-year-old John Smith. John fell through an icy lake and was submerged for over 15 minutes.

Joyce’s belief in her son and inability to believe what the doctors told her is a familiar theme throughout my book. Both stories are rooted in hope and show the strength of a mother’s love and determination.


Faced with the impossible task of returning her brain damaged, semi-conscious daughter back to the land of the living, Colleen charges full speed ahead focused solely on Lauren’s recovery.

Inner Conflict
Colleen feels as if she is failing miserably, she is mentally and physically exhausted. A seizure caused by a forgotten dose of medication has her questioning her ability to safely care for Lauren. As Lauren continues to become more awake, bizarre fixations and erratic behavior begin. Will Lauren ever get better and does Colleen have the mental stamina to keep going?

Secondary Conflict
Colleen has been away from home for months, for the first time in over 23 years of marriage, her husband Dave is suddenly a single parent, muddling his way through the grocery store, carpools, school supply shopping, helping with homework, and most importantly keeping an eye on the teenagers. Do they even have a curfew anymore?


Los Angeles

In the first part of the book, most of Colleen’s time was spent within the confines of Lauren’s dismal, Beverly Hills ICU room. The shrill, out of sync, beeping and hissing sounds echoing from the various machines became the new soundtrack for Colleen’s life. June Gloom was upon them in more ways than one, on days when Colleen could no longer take the thick, suffocating negative energy floating around the room, she would seek comfort from the warm air outside. The hazy, polluted Los Angeles sky acted as a beautiful metaphor, like the gloomy sky above, Lauren’s brilliant, bright light was still there, buried deep beneath her lifeless, broken body.

St. Louis, MO

The Murphy family home was always a source of comfort, the heartbeat of the family, everyone’s soft place to fall. The large brick colonial house sat in the very back of the subdivision, the driveway flush against the main road leading in. After 167 days in the hospital, Colleen and Lauren were finally coming home. Colleen had tears in her eyes when the rented SUV approached the top of the hill revealing the peak of her roof, seconds later the tall white columns and the rest of the house were in her sightline along with over 200 people cheering loudly holding welcome home signs. Once Colleen and Lauren made their way inside the house, the interior changes were hard to ignore. The comfy olive-green couch in the sitting room had been replaced with a hospital bed, the adjacent wall held a dresser stacked with medical supplies including, adult diapers and cans of tube feeding adult formula. No longer would Colleen be able to sit and drink her morning coffee as she watched the neighborhood kids waiting for the school bus. The couch had disappeared along with the normalcy of Colleen’s old life.

Omaha, Nebraska

Lauren moved to a transitional living facility in Omaha, Nebraska. Colleen requested room dimensions and photos weeks before Lauren’s arrival. She was determined to find a way to transform the dormitory style space into a cozy retreat. Colleen scoured the aisles of Hobby Lobby and Home Goods to replace all of the wall art with pieces that better fit Lauren’s personality. Transforming the bedroom was a challenge, but the half bath attached would be impossible, the current motif was ‘Early American Nursing Home’. The square porcelain sink was supported by skinny chrome legs and exposed pipes. A commercial grade paper towel dispenser hung to the right of the sink and the toilet was surrounded by bulky metal safety bars. After hours of searching Pinterest boards, Colleen came up with a plan. In order to hide the legs and drainpipes Colleen made a floor length sink skirt out of trendy fabric to attach to the perimeter of the sink. The facility allowed the Murphys to come a day early to decorate Lauren’s new room. Attaching the skirt to the sink wasn’t easy, the plan was to use self-adhesive Velcro but the adhesive backing wouldn’t hold because the porcelain held moisture. Through trial and error and a lot of extra industrial strength glue, the sink skirt was finally in place (probably for life). Colleen tied decorative baskets with color coordinated ribbon to the safety bars surrounding the toilet. The baskets served as functional camouflage holding Lauren’s toiletries, cosmetics, magazines and her own personal stash of Charmin. One ply toilet paper was out of the question, Colleen had standards and made sure Lauren had all the comforts of home, including the toilet paper. She covered the ugly paper towel dispenser with an inspirational message written on high quality thick craft paper that matched the color scheme.

A few miles away, in stark contrast, sat Colleen’s furnished apartment. The furniture was drab, the couch was scratchy, the walls were blindingly white, and the decorative shelves were empty. Colleen knew that the ugly brown comforter covering her bed would provide very little comfort to her upcoming cold and lonely nights. Life at home, back in St. Louis, would move forward without her, Omaha was home for the next 7 ¬months; the silence was deafening.

Joined:05 Mar 2020, 06:47

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#14 Post by JenniferP6Singleton » 30 Aug 2020, 21:02

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Write your story statement.

Melanie is fascinated by a small town she believes is or was inhabited by “gifted people” with special powers and wants to tell their stories — if they let her.

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

Curton is a close-knit town whose residents take pride in their quiet way of life. Melanie arrives to learn more about the town’s connection to the spiritual world, but meets a woman named Marie who insists there is nothing there to see and that Melanie is wasting her time trying to find people with special powers. People may have believed in that stuff a long time ago, but not anymore, she tells Melanie. The antagonistic force is Marie’s disbelief, and ultimately, her interference in Melanie’s quest to share her thesis research that gifted people did live in Curton and influenced the town’s way of life.

A third character, Ms. Carlette, emerges in opposition of Marie and is forthcoming with Melanie about Curton’s special people. But as the story develops, her sinister motivations emerge, and she becomes a second antagonist.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Create a breakout title

My chosen title:
“All the Gifted People are Gone”

Other titles:
“The Gifted People are Gone”
“Off Highway 15”
“Gifted Folks”

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables.

My story highlights life in a rural, predominately black town and the spiritual beliefs that have shaped their views. Themes in my book include spirituality, Christianity, and the belief that the physical and supernatural world co-exist. A theme of my book is respect and reverence for spiritual practices, and the importance of keeping these things out of reach of outsiders.

Another theme in my book is the spiritual connection between humans and cats.

There are a number of authors who have written on spirituality in black communities, however I would compare my work to three authors in particular who have also touched on paranormal activities:

• Ta-Nehisi Coates: “The Water Dancer” (2019). The protagonist in this story is a slave who is born with special powers, which he uses to try to save his family.
The protagonist in my story is on a mission to learn if the town of Curton is indeed a place inhabited by people with special powers.
N.K. Jemisin: “How Long ‘Till Black Future Month?” (2018). A collection of science fiction and fantasy stories with a spiritual theme, several of which are set in New Orleans, Louisiana.
My story, which also has a spiritual theme, takes places about two hours away from New Orleans in north Louisiana.
Toni Morrison: “Beloved” (1986). This book tells the story of a former slave who is haunted by the ghost of her daughter, whom she killed to prevent her from living a life of bondage.
My book also deals with the presence of ghosts and one woman’s ability to see them when no one else can.
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.

Melanie, a graduate student gathering research on African-American folklore, travels to Curton, Louisiana after learning that residents there believe in “gifted people,” and finds that an eccentric older cat lady, who seems to know everything Melanie is looking for, is becoming possessive of her.

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

Melanie is torn between wanting to uncover the truth of Curton and share this special place with the world through her thesis and possible book, and wanting to preserve the culture of the town. As a sociology student she understands the importance of preserving a culture and the dangers that come with attention. She imagines that once word gets out about a barely on the map town with supernatural occurrences, it would be overrun with people seeking to capitalize off of the residents.

In one scenario, Melanie learns of a woman who has hands that can heal the sick. The source is a “crazy old cat lady” so whether the woman exists is debatable, but because the possibility exists that this woman can do such supernatural things, Melanie isn’t sure what the ramifications would be.

Melanie was raised in a single parent household from a young age after her parents’ divorce. Her mother is bitter toward romantic relationships and marriage and instilled in her daughter the importance of education and career over everything else. Melanie loves the idea of being married and settling down with a family, though she’s been met with disappointment for expressing her value of love and comfort to her mother. She is drawn to southern culture because in her mind it represents what she wants her life to be: Peaceful living. Not the work, work, work, climb to the top environment of her hometown Washington, DC.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.

Washington, DC
Melanie thinks back on her life in DC throughout the story. She thinks about riding the crowded Metro to school; the brownstone her parents live in near Capitol Hill and seeing her neighborhood begin to gentrify.

Baton Rouge, LA
Melanie is introduced on the campus of Louisiana State University, a sprawling campus with lush greenery, oak trees with long stretched branches and lakes. She enjoys the peace she finds there. She lives in an on-campus graduate apartment, alone, and focused on her studies.

Curton, LA (a fictional place)
Curton is where most of the story takes place. The rural community is off Highway 15, a throughway that bisects the town. Curton’s largest employer is a meat packing plant on the outskirts of town that employs workers from surrounding areas in the northern part of the state. Curton is a mixed community of older, wood shotgun homes that sit on blocks to avoid flooding; newer manufactured homes and trailers; and multi-generational homes with porches and porch swings for the occupants to sit out and stare at passersby for entertainment.

Joined:14 May 2020, 23:00

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#15 Post by katieschuessler » 03 Sep 2020, 23:23


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


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

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


Between the Raindrops
The Walls We Build

4. Comparables:

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

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

5. Primary Conflict:

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

6. Inner Conflict:

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

Secondary Conflicts:

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

7. Primary Settings:

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

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

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

Secondary Settings:

An American kibbutz in south Israel; an oasis in Ein Gedi; the gloomy, cool walls of Katie's childhood home in Seattle.

Joined:25 Feb 2020, 01:50

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#16 Post by CraigP6Brownlie » 06 Sep 2020, 23:40

First Assignment (The Act of Story Statement):
Prevent F.E.A.R. from completing the launch of their satellite telecommunication system.

Second Assignment (The Antagonist Plots the Point):
In 1993, after reunification and peace swept through the former Soviet satellite states, the subsequent power vacuum created space for villains to flourish. The defunct German Democratic Republic had just such a vacuum on its Polish border. Viktor Stimme was once a minor apparatchik. He found a powerful ally in Ernst Klug, a physician. Then, Fédération pour Èlimination, l’Anarchie et la Ruine (F.E.A.R.) found them. F.E.A.R. set Klug and Stimme up in the North Sea on the island of Reinsdyr Skjøtliming. They constructed a launchpad from which they put satellites into orbit. Stimme and Klug had one remaining satellite before initiating the first secure, private global telecommunications system, an idea that pleased no intelligence agency on the planet.

Third Assignment (Conjuring Your Breakout Title):
Casino Senile
F.E.A.R. Itself
Senior Espionage

Fourth Assignment (Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables):
The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor
• Globe spanning adventure with worldwide implications
• Courageous though imperfect protagonist(s)
• Heroes running to the danger
• Unexpected allies

The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer
• International intrigue complicates the expectations of the protagonists
• Unusual, entertaining locations
• Humor arising from character

Fifth Assignment (Considering the Primary Conflict - Coming of the "Agon"):
The retired operatives of St. Joshua’s have been put on the shelf until this moment when their agency has been compromised and their traditional enemy initiates a new plan for global domination.

Sixth Assignment (Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels):
Prior to retirement, Julius Thalberg was a top field agent, though always second to Blade Sexton. Once Jules reactivated while living at St. Joshua’s, he became top dog at their facility, receiving the plum assignments. Then Blade arrived, ostensibly on a temporary basis, and relegated Jules to second choice once again.

Constance oversaw St. Joshua’s food services with an iron hand, controlling seating assignments for meals and enforcing diets. She dictated less pleasant tables and food for our protagonists before Blade’s arrival. Once the debonair agent appeared for his first sit-down dinner, Constance was smitten. She sat him alone at the best table by the windows and had the kitchen prepare whatever he wanted. The budding camaraderie between Blade and the rest of the team led him to rebel against Constance’s treatment of the other agents.

Final Assignment (The Incredible Importance of Setting):
St. Joshua’s retirement community for spies houses Agency senior citizens. Originally, Youngstown, Ohio, was chosen as out of the way and easily secured. When funding decreased through the 1980’s, the Agency decided to reinstate former agents still able to perform on missions. Paired with recent graduates of the Agency training program, St. Joshua’s evolved into a hub for missions. All in on these less expensive resources, St. Joshua’s expanded below ground with offices and an R&D operation.

St. Joshua’s is home to a variety of conflicting interests. A generation of former employees have brought their antagonisms and history with them, now under the same roof 24/7. As operatives have aged, so have their counterparts. St. Joshua’s houses captured villains too valuable to eliminate and too ill to tolerate any sort of prison. This includes at least one former head of F.E.A.R. under care in the Alzheimer’s ward. The intern program places young agents into nearby housing where they must pretend to be grandchildren of the residents since not all the support staff at St. Joshua’s is aware that the facility is an active player in international espionage. It might be a little easier on the residents if they could keep track of who knows what.

Joined:15 Aug 2020, 01:01

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#17 Post by SueP6Russell » 11 Sep 2020, 22:54

1. The Act of Story Statement:
Sam Hampton, a young law graduate must rethink her life’s path to prove her Attorney General father’s innocence and rescue underaged girls and other young women from a sex trafficking ring.

2. Antagonist:

Egor Menshikov, aka, Max Saunders, the antagonistic force in the story, is a Russian thug who climbed his way to the top of a drug and sex trafficking ring by using fear, intimidation, torture and murder against his enemies and superiors. He loves the American way of life, refers to his elicit enterprise as EVM, presides over a board of directors, holds corporate meetings at expensive venues and calls sex slaves “product”
As President of EVM, he is ruthless in his dealings with anyone who challenges him, investing in law enforcement moles to protect his organization and keep himself safe from scrutiny while controlling his California-born “manager” son with physical threats and credible promises to have him sent to his Russian sister if he disobeys.
It is this force that Sam is up against after Saunders frames her father to keep him quiet about his criminal enterprise and threatens his family to ensure his silence.
3 Titles:
Working title is Deception

(a) If Evil Has a Name
(b) The Strip Club Front
(c) The Other Side

4 Comparables:
(a) Chris Bohjalian, the Guest Room
Comparable in that the author uses the thriller genre to write fast paced suspense about timely social topics
(b) Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series
Like V.I. Warshawski, Sam is an attorney turned sleuth – in this case an undercover FBI informant – who is unafraid to take on and solve tough cases.
(c) Stumptown comic books and television series
Dex Parios, a former marine turned PI, is a young woman who uses her brains and her brawn to ensure a just result in the cases she takes.

5. Conflict Line:
A young attorney about to embark on a legal career in a top New York law firm must abandon her lifelong dream, restore her family’s reputation and thwart a Russian mob run sex-trafficking ring.

6. Inner Conflict
The Protagonist, Sam has several inner conflicts beginning with the struggle between her duty to her mother and an urge to flee when her Attorney General father’s reputation, and that of the family’s, is destroyed by Max Saunders.
The hypothetical: Staying home and taking care of her mother and trying to weather the reputational storm or leaving to begin a new life where she has only herself to depend upon.
Social conflict: Making the decision to fake her death so she can uncover the sex trafficking ring and free her father while knowing how much pain she will cause to her loved ones.
The hypothetical:
If the only way to free your father and take down a sex ring is to become invisible by faking your death and breaking the hearts of your loved ones, do you do it?

7. Setting:
(a) The story opens in New York Attorney General Jack Hampton’s Albany office. Usually a safe space for the AG, it is intruded upon by a Russian mobster who slips past security and gains entrance into his inner office.
(b) House in private exclusive New York City neighborhood is overtaken by reporters and invaded by a mob soldier who forces the Attorney General to watch a live stream of Max, the antagonist, torture and then kill his friend Andy.
(c) Chesapeake Bay crab house where Sam trades in her law degree for the physically demanding job of waitressing and begins an unexpected love affair with a blue-collar bar tender.
(d) High end New York City Strip club where a secret basement holds girls and young women as sex slaves.

Joined:24 Jul 2020, 07:16

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#18 Post by RoyQuallsP6 » 12 Sep 2020, 05:50


Julien Lyons, an elderly Frenchman living in New Orleans, must disprove decades-old accusations and find redemption for his troubled past.


Rene Johnson is a journalist with a vendetta. He’s attractive, with dark eyes that hint of melancholy—like his dog died last week. His mother was a professional ballerina injured in German-occupied France in a trap set by Julien Lyons. Her injuries left her maimed and ended her ballet career, an emotional blow that led to her eventual suicide. While Julien claimed the trap was intended for an enemy officer, his apparent collaboration with the German Army suggests otherwise. Rene’s anger at Julien has consumed him for years.

Eventually, Rene finds a measure of peace in the probable notion that Julien had died. Then Rene sees on television an elderly Frenchman that resembles a photo of Julien snipped decades before from a French newspaper. The man had killed an intruder bent on harming a neighbor, and the locals are lauding him as a hero. An anonymous donor is building a community center to honor the man’s heroics. When the camera pans across an artist’s rendering of the center, Rene sees the name Julien Lyons over the entrance. He’s found the man he blames for his mother’s death, and intends to expose Julien as the Nazi collaborator Rene believes Julien to be.


Anything but Champagne
The Frenchmen who Won’t Drink Champagne
Forgetting to Remember


The Winemaker’s Widow, by Kristin Harmel
The Tuscan Child, by Rhys Bowen

Both novels are framed stories which switch settings between World War II and a later era.
Like The Winemaker’s Widow, my novel features an elderly character with a troubled past and explores the themes of sacrifice, resistance, lost relationships, and ultimate redemption.

Like The Tuscan Child, my novel has a protagonist that must untangle decades-old events to reveal a startling truth.


After saving the life of a neighbor, nonagenarian Julien Lyons finally finds redemption from a troubled past until a journalist with a vendetta and evidence of Julien's role as a Nazi collaborator threaten to destroy his newfound peace.




Julien’s innocent mistake on a childhood hunting expedition in German-occupied France during The Great War leads to a German officer killing his parents and disabling Julien for life. When World War II erupts twenty-one years later, Julien is rejected for military service because of that disability. Desperate to serve his country and avenge his parents’ deaths, Julien helps finance a local resistance network, but is determined not to put his wife and daughter at risk. As the war continues and atrocities mount, Julien must decide between assisting the resistance and keeping his family safe.

New Orleans
June, 2000

Fifty-six years after fleeing France in 1944, Julien still struggles with guilt for his role in the deaths of his wife and daughter during the war. He is also saddled with shame at his French hometown’s misconception that he collaborated with the Germans. Unable to shake the guilt and shame, he searches for redemption in the incognito acts of kindess he performs on his nightly strolls in the Marigny, a quirky New Orleans neighborhood.

When a journalist announces he is writing a story that will expose Julien as a Nazi collaborator, Julien must either confront memories he’s suppressed for decades or face the destruction of his reputation


The Girl

A neighbor’s granddaughter, Kate, has delivered meals to Julien’s house three times each week for the last five years. Julien has maintained an aloof manner with children since the death of his family in World War II and continues this self-isolation by avoiding Kate, whom he refers to simply as “The Girl.” Julien wants to return her kindness, but The Girl’s physical similarity to Julien’s deceased daughter is remarkable—and therefore, unbearable. When Julien learns The Girl can’t afford college, he must decide whether to pay her tuition and acknowledge her years of kindness, or use the money to bribe a journalist whose story will destroy Julien’s reputation and all hope he has to live his last days in peace.


This novel is a framed story set in New Orleans in the year 2000 and France during World Wars I and II.

New Orleans
June, 2000

The Marigny is a quirky New Orleans neighborhood downriver from the French Quarter. It’s close enough to walk to Café du Monde for beignets but far enough away so the smell of stale beer and fresh piss doesn’t overpower the fragrance of the jasmine vine that covers the neighborhood’s brick walls and wrought iron fences. The Creole cottages and shotgun homes range from dilapidated to newly renovated. Many feature pastel shutters, reminiscent of Key West or the Caribbean. Frenchman Street, which runs through the middle of the neighborhood, is lined with restaurants, jazz clubs, tattoo parlors, and a music store that sells only vinyl. There are historic buildings, ramshackle bars, and telephone poles plastered with flyers advertising live bands and lost pets.

Versailles is a local watering hole for residents of the Marigny. It smells of tobacco and beer—vaguely yeasty—like someone is making bread. Vinyl-topped stools, crisscrossed with duct tape, sit beside a long, wooden bar. Behind the bar, rows of liquor bottles front a cracked mirror. The cement floor is littered with peanut shells and stained with spilled drinks. French movie posters cover the walls, and women’s underwear hangs from the light fixtures. Beyond a handful of tall, round tables surrounded by wooden stools is a shuffleboard table, two pool tables, and a dart board against the back wall. A jukebox flashes neon colors and blares music from a scratchy speaker.

The National D-Day Museum is a three story, olive-drab building that takes up a city block in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. Planes hang from the ceiling in the cavernous main room. Military jeeps, trucks, and a tank line the walls. Throngs of visitors meander among the exhibits, and voices echo in the open space. Old men coming to remember that they are the greatest generation wear baseball caps with military insignia. A few wear camouflaged jackets or pants and point out exhibits to slack-jawed grandchildren. From the entrance, stairs lead upstairs to other exhibits, and an exit sign shepherds customers past a gift-shop teeming with souvenirs.


Julien’s rustic French countryhome is located ten kilometers from town on a large tract of land. Gently rolling hills surround a copse of trees. A stream runs parallel to sheer limestone bluffs. Beside the house is an immense garden, its precise rows filled with vegetables. The nearby chicken coop, rabbit hutch, and goat pen all teem with livestock. Rocking chairs sit on a front porch bordered with lilac bushes. Storm doors lead to a cellar lit by a single bulb where long, wooden shelves are crammed with jars of canned food. Green beans. Bright red tomatoes. Pale yellow corn. White cauliflower. Purple and orange jams and preserves. Wire bins are filled with onions, beets, and potatoes. Spiderwebs span shadowed corners where beams meet stone walls that smell of wet leaves.

In town, where Julien practices law in a second-story office, the streets hum with German military vehicles. Tanks. Trucks. Armored cars. Barricaded checkpoints lined with sandbags bristle with machine guns. Nazi flags hang from prominent buildings and drape down the sides of the clock tower that once flew the now forbidden French Tricolore flag. The tower’s clocks have been set forward one hour to match Berlin time. Light poles and store windows are plastered with flyers informing citizens of curfews and other restrictions. The town square, once pulsing with pedestrians, is oddly quiet. Many storefronts are shuttered, out of business due to lack of merchandise. At German headquarters, a line of cowed citizens wait to hand in firearms or pickup ration cards.

Joined:12 Sep 2020, 22:21

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#19 Post by AndrewCowenP6 » 14 Sep 2020, 19:33

1. Story Statement:
Alexander the Great’s mother, Olympias, must counter character assassination by vicious misogynists to save her grandson’s throne and her family.

2. Antagonists
Antipater and Cassander. The misogynist father-son duo. Antipater hates Olympias yet maintains the trust of her husband Philip and son Alexander. His initial jealousy of Olympias stems from her marriage to Philip. Olympias suspects that Antipater lusts after Philip himself and covets her proximity to him. This jealousy metastasizes to hatred when Philip entrusts Olympias with political power, which Antipater believes no woman should hold. The rivalry simmers through the years as Antipater poses an ever-larger threat to Olympias and her family. Antipater’s evil son, Cassander, grows up as a concentrated version of his father’s antipathy. Olympias raises the alarm about them to Philip and Alexander to no avail. Eventually, Alexander recognizes the danger, but does not protect himself enough. After Philip’s assassination and Alexander’s mysterious death, Olympias must counter her antagonists’ ruthless quest for power in a final struggle to save her family.

3. Title
Raising Alexander
Forging a King
The Victors Write the History

4. Genre and Comparables
Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
The “Other Boleyn Girl” set in Ancient Greece. Like Mary Boleyn, Olympias is a largely forgotten character eclipsed by her more famous and notorious contemporaries. Any recognition afforded her is usually negative despite the trust she enjoyed from her husband and son. My writing style compares to Philippa Gregory’s as both are very readable and not over literary, yet well written and paced.

5. Conflict Line.
After Alexander the Great’s death, his strong and savvy mother moves to protect her young grandson’s life by countering the misogynistic and power-crazed forces besmirching Alexander and her to delegitimize the boy’s claim to the throne.

6. Inner Conflict
Olympias is orphaned at a young age. After suffering a venomous sister and lecherous uncle, Olympias strives to build a safe and stable family of her own. As the wife of Philip of Macedon, safety and stability mean ensuring her immediate family stays in power. She faces many hurdles to this goal: surviving an erratic husband and his other wives, ensuring her son Alexander becomes heir and then finally convincing him produce an heir himself. This fear is reinforced by Philip’s assassination in front of Olympias. Her worst fear is assuaged when Alexander succeeds his father. Unfortunately, after conquering the world, Alexander dies without a clear successor and before his son is born. His generals fight over his empire, using Olympias’ young grandson as a pawn.
Secondary Conflict
Olympias also struggles with the misogyny she attracts as a competent, trustworthy, strong woman who her husband and her son relied on to govern in their absences. This misogyny and the enemies it spawns only adds to her plight to protect her family.

7. Location

Ancient Greece 360-316 BC

Much of the book takes place in the palace in the ancient Greek Macedonian capital of Pella, a massive, marble-columned edifice on a hilltop. Tile mosaics decorate the floors and scenes from mythology cover the plaster walls. The throne room, a large high-ceilinged square anchored by a central fountain, hosts scenes of political intrigue with foreign dignitaries and many of Olympias’ battles with Antipater. Her personal suite is airy, comfortable and feminine with a large balcony overlooking Pella. There she raises her small children, appeases her husband and seduces her lover, the fierce warrior, Cleitus. The palace is spotlessly maintained while Olympias remains in charge. She fills it with the treasures and great artworks that Alexander sends back the conquered Persia. She also transforms Pella from a former wild outpost into a center of learning and culture.

The temple of Zeus in Dodona is the other primary location. Olympias retreats here among the tall oak trees, rolling hills and vast valleys to find peace and closeness to the gods. She believes her connection to Zeus is so strong that he fathered Alexander through Philip on their wedding night.

Joined:15 Sep 2020, 02:23

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#20 Post by SamanthaDraytonP6 » 16 Sep 2020, 00:47

Assignments 1-7 New York Pitch Conference

1.Act of Story Statement

18-year-old Sidney Stone (anonymous to the readers) tells her story from the confines of a psychiatric ward about how she is wrongfully accused of killing her classmate Ethan Wyatt.

2) Antagonistic/ Antagonistic Force
Ethan Wyatt her racist classmate who harrases Sidney and her friend Cris through a stream of text messages, then sends a mass text of Sidneys senior photo altered with the N-word across it.

Seconday: Alexis Stone her overly hypersexual alter ego and other personality is reckless and wants nothing more to be in full control of the narrator completely. (Alexis is a result of the narrator’s split personality(she has Dissociative Identity Disorder) Alexis has always lurked in the background of the narrator’s mind but comes out after the narrator is introduced to sex. When Alexis comes out she often causes the narrator to lose significant memory loss, do things she wouldn’t normally do, and may have even been capable of killing Ethan Wyatt.

3) Title
The title is a symptom of one of the main character’s mental disorders. The main character, of course, doesn’t have a correct diagnosis so she refers to her mental issues as Mania, she then cleverly takes a word that she looks up (Hypomania) which explains her random heightened moods and turns it into Hypo-maniac. She calls herself a Hypo-manic in some of the poems as a joke(a play on words) and I felt like it worked perfectly for the title.

2) Confessions of the Patient in Ward 3A
The narrator does spend a significant amount of time in a psych ward, she tells her story to the readers from the confines of this ward.

4. Comparables

My book isn’t written in a traditional novel format but written in free verse poetry format with quintet style and utilizes blank space style format to tell the story. With this being said I would compare Hypo-Maniac to
Ellen Hopkins Author of Crank, Glass.. etc
The hate you Give.
Movie: Girl Interrupted

5. Primary Conflict Line

Slighly insane 18-year-old Sidney Stone is wrongfully accused of murdering her classmate Ethan Wyatt.

Two-part- Conflict

The Inner Conflict
the narrator(Sidney) has conflict within herself is something of a nightmare. She hates herself for being different, she has another darker personality due to her(DID) and she struggles often with the inner split states and personalities. A resolution in the book can’t happen until Sidney forgives herself for past events and accepts herself as she is mental illness, and all.

6. Two more levels of conflict
Sidney vs. Justic system
Sidney is an African American teen accused of killing her white classmate Ethan. While her fingerprints are found on the gun near his body, there is no solid evidence that sidney killed Ethan. She avoided him like the plague until prom night. Then she is drugged and locked in a room(and not by choice) with him and his best friend Derek, her prom date. She isn't the only one in the room the night of her murder, why is she singled out? Sidney quickly realizes that the justice system does nothing to protect people of color.

Sidney Vs.The World
Since Sidney struggles with mental illness she struggles to understand herself, teachers, counselors, the world, her friends, and family at times. Sidney also finds conflict with the psych ward she is in, she sees herself as crazy but doesn’t understand why she needs time to heal there and sees the experience as purely negative. Her outlook is pretty dark and this is vividly portrayed through poetry. Hypo-maniac definitely gives readers a looking glass into the mind of someone with serious mental issues/disorders.

7. Setting
3 parts to the setting
The narrator moves from the small populated town of Berkley to a bigger city in
Durham, North Carolina. The narrator experiences culture shock because she went from quiet suburb scenic suburbs to a comparatively bigger city with more people and bigger buildings. Then again she's used to sudden changes because this is her 13th time moving.
The narrator spends most of her high school days(development/coming to age stages of the book) In Durham, NC.
Berkeley, California: Oceans, greenery, mountains
Durham, NC- City backdrop, more trees, further away from mountains

Psych Ward
She describes the psyche ward as a floor of a hospital back home in NC. She describes the ward to have bland Whitewashed walls and white sterile beds. Bars on the windows and nothing extravagant about it.

Joined:15 Sep 2020, 02:23

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#21 Post by lucindasweazeyP6 » 16 Sep 2020, 06:53

Assignment 1: Story Statement
A young girl must wield a magic only men have possessed and not lose herself in the process.

Assignment 2: Antagonist
Salacio Vulcan has nothing against women. Black light – the only magic that can push back the Ether that eats at their world – is what he values most. Only a few in every generation can wield it, making it the most coveted magic in the realm of Lux. Salacio trains each wielder at The Forj, the ancient school for the magic, where no one knows more of the dark light than he. In Lux’s centuries of existence, only men have been able to wield it. There were never enough wielders, which was a dangerous constraint to their world.
When a girl of seventeen stomps to the outskirts of The Forj, brought by a formidable healer of the West, and casts the black light successfully, Salacio is intrigued. He cares less for the girl herself, but what she could represent for their world. But his impatience grows when the girl cannot master the magic and fails in his classes. He refuses to yield as she struggles, determined to mold her into a wielder that could upend the world as they know it.
If she dies in the process, that is a price he is willing to pay.

Assignment 3: Breakout Title
Girl of Light and Shadows
Shattered Crowns
Island of Bones and Dreams

Assignment 4: Comparables
Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard – a sweeping high fantasy centered on a girl possessing a magic she shouldn’t have
Divergent Series by Veronica Roth – a heroine who can’t disregard the drive she has to be different than her childhood, but still bound to her family

Assignment 5: Conflict Line
A young girl shatters history by wielding a magic only men can use, but struggles to master her magic and retain her sense of self underneath the eyes of both friendly and malicious trainers.

Assignment 6: Conflicts
Inner Conflict – Aurora was a girl raised in a town of nothing, who wanted to be something much greater. But when greatness comes in the form of wielding a magic no other woman has possessed, she must wrestle with what it means to be the only one. Her magic makes her an outsider, and it takes the voices of her brother and an enemy-turned-potential-lover to remind her of who she is underneath the power.

Secondary Conflict – Aurora is accepted into The Forge, the ancient school for training black light and those who wield it. However, it is a school of men. Centuries of history, traditions, and beliefs come into conflict with the young girl as she navigates a school built to train the dark light. Instructors are curious, students are fearful, and, over all of them, watches a Commander who despises Aurora’s very presence at the school. Tests come in the form of a bitter classmate, a manic instructor, and a Heir to a kingdom who comes to train the infamous girl.
Aurora quickly becomes an outsider – when she fails, she is despised, but when she begins to rise, she becomes a pawn in a larger game she doesn’t know how to play.

Assignment 7: Setting
The realm of Lux is set in an unending war. Surrounded on all sides by the Ether, a black fog that eats at the realm and destroys any life that it touches, Lux prizes one thing above all else: Black Light Wielders. One of the six essential forms of magic, black light is the only magic capable of fighting back the Ether and the horrors that it unleashes on the realm. Only a few hundred in any generation possess the power to wield the light; all are sent to The Forj to train their magic and then shipped to the Front to fight against the Ether that blankets every kingdom’s borders. Yet the Ether is just one of the realm’s enemies. To the West lies the dark realm, a collection of kingdoms that seceded centuries ago. Led by the most vicious family ever to rule in Lux, the West is held in check only by their own battle against the Ether. Now led by Kaine Threicia, their darkest of kings, they are ever watching for a key to unlock their quest to conquer the realm.

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Joined:10 Sep 2020, 02:21

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#22 Post by LillyGannoneP6 » 17 Sep 2020, 07:20

Act of Story Statement

Ana attempts to discover what self acceptance means in the face of adulthood.

The Antagonist Plots the Point

Death and the cavity it leaves behind in the living. Friendship and connection are the defining elements of the human experience. Relationships with others help us shape who we are and how we see ourselves. When we lose those closest, we’re left to pick up the pieces and determine who we are without them.The closer that person is, the more significant the loss. Refinding ourselves in the shadow of grief is tumultuous at best. Death is a guarantee, but dying at 30 years-old is not normally a part of that guarantee. When death comes too quickly it can turn a difficult grieving period into an impossible feat.

Conjuring Your Breakout Title
  • I Remember You
  • Here, Without You
Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney - similarly depicts the growth of a friendship through the trials and over the course of early adult life
  • The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver - also approaches the transformation of a person following the sudden death of a close loved one
Considering the Primary Conflict

After ten formative years of close friendship, Ana is left to decipher herself and her life without Josie, her closest companion.

Other Matter of Conflict

Primary Conflict

Formation of identity in early adulthood and the secondary act of self acceptance create the underlying conflict in this story. Ana struggles to come to terms with and accept herself. She desperately wishes to be relatable, but continuously struggles to understand what society deems normal and “grown-up”.

Secondary Conflict

Francesca, the verbally abusive mother of Ana’s best friend Josie, is the personification of cruelty and catalyst for Josie’s mental health struggles. The reader sees what happens to an otherwise strong and independent young woman, as she is torn down repeatedly by the person who gave her life.

Inner Conflict

The main point of conflict in Ana’s story is the loss of her best friend. We watch Ana grow into a stable and confident woman, but the earth shattering death of Josie turns Ana’s world upside down and she is forced to rebuild her life and herself.

The Incredible Importance of Setting

The story begins in a college town. We visit outdated and unglamorous campus facilities, as well as dingy dive bars and hipster cafes. Campus life bleeds into post-graduate apartment-living in the city. From there we travel to Rome and spend time walking amongst the ruins and cyprus tree-lined streets. Back at home in the city a bright and airy apartment becomes dark and lonely as the lead character struggles with severe depression.

Joined:23 May 2020, 02:09

Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

#23 Post by DEQUAINAWASHINGTONP6 » 17 Sep 2020, 16:10

**Previously Posted in March 2020 Seven Assignments Forum**

1. Story Statement

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

2. The antagonist plots the point.

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

3. Conjuring Your Breakout Title

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

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

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

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

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

5. Primary Conflict/Agon

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

6. Other Matters of Conflict

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

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

7. Setting

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

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

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