NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

A forum where New York Pitch Conference attendees post assignments related to their novel or nonfiction project. These assignments relate to conflict levels, antagonist and protagonist sketches, plot lines, as well as story premise.
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NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 05 Dec 2018, 22:39

Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

For the New York Pitch Conference Only

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

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

Quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind.

Michael Neff
NYC Pitch Conference Director
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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!


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THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT

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

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

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

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THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT

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).

CONTINUE READING ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: http://www.authorsalon.com/page/general ... iterature/

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.

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CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE

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

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

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

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

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DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES

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!

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT:

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


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CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT - COMING OF THE "AGON"

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

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

And now, onto the PRIMARY CONFLICT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

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

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

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


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THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING

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.

CONTINUE TO READ THIS ARTICLE THEN RETURN: http://www.authorsalon.com/craft/view/97/

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.

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jamesmagner1096
Posts: 1
Joined: 06 Dec 2018, 07:44

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#2 Post by jamesmagner1096 » 07 Dec 2018, 21:13

Post by James Magner, MD

Assignment 1. Story Statement(s)

My book is a collection of twelve short stories and four essays. To try to comply with this exercise I will provide a generic story statement first for the entire book, then for each of the twelve stories.

Story statement for the entire book:

Seeking Hidden Treasures: A Collection of Curious Tales and Essays (Draft title)
The quirky stories in this book are intended to be fun and thought provoking as they challenge readers to decipher clues or pick up on other elements that would allow readers to solve a mystery or foresee events in a given story.

Story statement for each story:

1. “Gold for the Taking.” An intelligent young farmer’s wife in rural Iowa must partner with her likable and hardworking husband to solve five clues published in the newspaper that could allow them to locate buried boxes of gold coins.

2. “Joe’s Mysterious Talent.” A small-town Texas grocery market owner must piece together clues to understand what his learning-disabled brother was doing when he bought an old cabin and traveled during the months before he was killed in an auto accident.

3. “Crazy Aunt Ruth’s Legacy.” A bright young woman in small-town Illinois must partner with her irreverent fiancé to locate money hidden in the house of recently deceased, 96-year old Crazy Aunt Ruth.

4. “The Combination.” A young doctor in small-town Illinois seeks out the adult granddaughter of an elderly judge who died leaving behind the combination of a safe scribbled in the margin of a book.

5. “Emerging from the Gray Twilight.” An honest but financially-strapped young man stuck in a dead-end job in Peoria is suddenly faced with the opportunity to take a large amount of cash, although he is not sure in this case whether it is unethical or even illegal.

6. “Miracle in Montana.” A hardworking young man travels to Montana to aid his sick, elderly uncle and discovers that he is literally living on top of a gold mine.

7. “Ends and Means.” A scientist devises a ruthless plan to kill 3.5 billion people in order to save the Earth’s ecosystems from unrestrained human population growth, but he feels that he must first discuss this with the local Catholic priest.

8. “The Best Policy.” (150 word story) A broke and lonely high school boy would like to have spending money and a girlfriend, and then he finds a wallet on the sidewalk.

9. “The Message.” A suddenly deceased young husband wants to send a forbidden message from heaven to his grieving wife, so he must find a way to deceive the all-knowing St. Peter. (This story won second place in the United States in 2 Elizabeths’ Love & Romance contest.)

10. “Homicide in Hartford: Nice Guys Sometimes Win.” A teacher of Criminal Justice classes tolerates the inconveniences of modern air travel, and his politeness allows him to discover a clue that may solve a murder.

11. “The Shoebox.” Two sons travel to be with their elderly father during his final illness, and make an important discovery when cleaning out a closet.

12. “Fooling the Devil.” A Jewish Austrian professor in Nazi-occupied Vienna invents a clever ruse that allows him to smuggle his financial assets out of the country as he and his family escape to Switzerland. (Based on a true story).

At the end of the book there are four essays which do not have “story lines” but their content is reflected in their titles:

“Jesus at my Backdoor: When Science Meets Religion”
“Was George Washington Aided by Miracles?”
“A Poker-playing Physician Reflects on Luck”
“Winning at Poker: Luck or Skill”

Assignment 2. Antagonists in the stories

Although Nazis play a role in story #12, they are basically faceless and nameless in this manuscript. This is intentional to achieve focus and brevity in the storytelling. All of the stories, including this one, were restricted in word count by magazine contest rules.

The antagonists in the other eleven stories are not actually people. Instead, the protagonists struggle to solve a concrete problem or overcome a difficult situation. They face not an antagonist who is a specific person, but an “antagonistic force.”

These stories reflect my view that people do not commonly have dramatic clashes with well-defined antagonists who are people, such as a vicious landlord or a bloodthirsty criminal who breaks into their home. Instead, they puzzle over unending day-to-day minor challenges that can drain their energy and spirit. And these chronic problems are punctuated by unexpected or special challenges (or opportunities) that may suddenly arise. Most people do have some degree of happiness, but they also are quietly frustrated. They may love their spouses but they recognize flaws and imperfections in them and in themselves. They have doubts and fears. They have suboptimal relationships, are short of cash, are affected by family deaths and illnesses, and work at jobs that after a while do not seem fulfilling.

In some of my stories the “antagonistic force” is actually a formal puzzle set by a dead person’s will (story #1 and #3), or precipitated by deceased persons who failed to completely communicate about important topics (story #2 and #4), or by a relative who invites a nephew to visit without disclosing information (story #6). A challenge can appear unexpectedly and with limited time to act (story # 5, #7, #8, #9, #10). Or one can experience an unexpected pleasant surprise (story #11), although I agree that this type of story line is probably the least interesting to readers.

Assignment 3. Create a Breakout Title

Current draft book title: Seeking Hidden Treasures: A Collection of Curious Tales and Essays

Alternative draft titles:
Wits for Windfalls: Tales of Riches Gained by Careful Thinking and Reflection
Windfalls: Tales of Savvy Solutions that Secured Wealth and Well-being
Brainy Bonanzas: Use of Cleverness and Reflection to Find Riches and Inner Peace


Assignment 4: Comparables

I have been looking for comparable writing, but I am having some problems and this will take more time.

My manuscript could be considered a collection of brief “cozy mysteries.” But I do not have a connected series of stories featuring, say, the same detective. It appears that modern mystery writers, attuned to the market, invent a detective with a unique personality and then write several novels using this person to solve cases. I suspect that this formula develops an audience which grows as more books in a series are published. Patricia Cornwell wrote a series of novels with the character Kay Scapetta. Jo Nesbo wrote a Millennium series. Laura Lippman wrote a series with eleven books.

Even modern authors who have written short stories tend to have a character that recurs. Janet Evanovich has a series of stories using the character Stephanie Plum. Andrea Camillari used Montalbano. Craig Johnson wrote novels but also stories and used a sheriff named Longmire, which has become a TV series. I have names of some other short story writers that I am now investigating: Megan Abbott, Sarah Cortez, Frankie Y Bailey, Daniel Jose Older, Andy Weir, Mary Kay Andrews (writing as Kathy Hogan Trocheck).

Note that my twelve stories (and four essays) are stand-alone unique pieces with no shared characters. I made the puzzle or the mystery or the unusual circumstance in each unique story the “main character” in that story – better phrased, a given story was written to showcase a particular set of clues and their solution, for example. I suppose that someday each story could be expanded into a full novel by adding additional antagonists and complications. I actually have imagined that each of my unique stories might be converted to a 30 minute TV program, and the several stories would comprise a TV series analogous to the Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

The two comparables I choose today are as follows:

Andy Weir: His debut novel was The Martian, which was adapted into the Ridley Scott film. He has good knowledge of science and has worked as a computer programmer. I also have a strong background in science. He has written a number of short stories, the most popular of which is “The Egg.” He is comparable in style to me because his short stories are particularly thought provoking and do not share characters.

Edgar Allan Poe: With some trepidation I choose this classic writer as a comparator. After I completed one of my early stories, “Gold for the Taking,” I searched for other treasure-hunt-type stories to get ideas for a title and to avoid any overlap. I was stunned when I stumbled onto Poe’s classic story published in 1843, “The Gold Bug.” I had no knowledge of Poe’s story when I wrote mine. It turns out that Poe had an interest in cryptography and he used “The Gold Bug” to showcase how a treasure could be found by deciphering a code. My story almost could be seen as the modern version of Poe’s tale, as I chose a bright young woman as a key protagonist, and I use a more sophisticated coded message (not to speak ill of the master, but Poe used a simple letter substitution code, a method known since before Roman times). Poe’s other stories are quirky and memorable, which are attributes that I also sought as I created a story, although to date I have been limited by word count as I eyed specific magazine contests to enter.


Assignment 5: Conflict line for story #1 in the collection, “Gold for the Taking”

An intelligent young farmer’s wife partners with her loving husband to try to solve five clues that could lead them to the gold coins buried by the elder Simms, who was disappointed in his wayward son. Upset that he has not inherited the coins, the younger Simms has already grabbed a head start to search for the coins before the will was read publicly. Published in the local newspaper, the clues have drawn wide attention; citizens of Cass County, Iowa have flocked to the Simms’ property with shovels leaving hundreds of empty holes, and tension is building in this normally quiet rural community.

Assignment 6: “Inner Conflict” and “Secondary Conflict” in “Gold for the Taking”

My book is a collection of short stories, and each story is quite brief. I could not dwell at length on secondary or inner conflicts.

The primary conflict in “Gold for the Taking” is the struggle to decipher the five obscure clues, which must be solved or the opportunity to win the gold will be lost. A secondary conflict exists between the protagonists and the younger Simms who remains angry and aloof because he did not inherit the gold; he has jumped the gun to search for the coins before the public contest was announced. An inner conflict of the male protagonist is a sense of anger at the behavior of the younger Simms, although he makes efforts to dismiss these uncharacteristic feelings.

Assignment 7. Details of the setting of the first story in the collection, “Gold for the Taking”

Main setting:

Two flat farms in Iowa separated by a two-lane blacktop highway (the elder Simms lived south of the highway while the protagonists live on the north side). The rural scenery includes barns, sheds, farm houses, corn stalks, islands of woodlands, a small creek lined by head-high brush (home to red-winged blackbirds and many other small animals) and trees of all ages including some giants more than a century old. The Simms’ farm has a small private cemetery with a dozen gravestones.

Scenes:

Cluttered well-worn living room in the Simms’ home. Visually interesting with chess board and chess pieces, books on shelves about farming and the Bible. Importantly, books on mathematics (the college major of the elder Simms).

Kitchen table in the protagonists’ home. Visually interesting with cozy details of a typical farm kitchen including cheerful curtains, sunny windows, potted plants.

Friendly, talkative mailman (with small, white and blue mail-delivery truck) who has stepped out of his vehicle into the front yard of the protagonists’ home to briefly converse. Large mailbox on a post near the highway. White gravel driveway. Slate sidewalk with cheery flowers on both sides. Well maintained grass.

Blacktop highway separating the two properties with several signs/markers along the road such as speed limit, highway number, mile marker, etc.

Small private cemetery on the Simms’ property; most gravestones flat and rectangular, some gravestones are vertical slabs with rounded tops. Visually interesting to have a small graveyard near a barn and tractor. One gravestone has a large, stone, winged angel with a sword and shield, while another gravestone has a few Greek letters on it.
END

Traceykathryn
Posts: 1
Joined: 08 Dec 2018, 02:07

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments (TK Shefchik)

#3 Post by Traceykathryn » 08 Dec 2018, 20:58

Greetings, All.

I'm posting all of the responses to the assignments as directed. I'm looking forward to the conference. Briefly, I am working on a light suspense mystery that takes place in southwest Wisconsin. The main character, Vanessa Grove, is recovering from a divorce and has begun a position as a news writer in a tiny TV station. She and her new boyfriend, Greg, take part in a community theater production for fun, but it turns into a disaster. The star of the production doesn't get up after the final scene, and Vanessa is thrust into an investigation to discover who killed Yolanda York -- and who is buying up local farmland with access to water, the new oil.

My answers to the seven questions are below.

Safe travels, everyone!

~TKS

1) Story Statement

Newbie TV reporter Vanessa Grove protects the quaint town she adores by finding a killer and investigating who is buying up picturesque farms with access to water in southwest Wisconsin.

2) Antagonist and Antagonistic Force

Antagonist:
Antagonist Sheila Blackman is introduced in the first page. She’s main character Vanessa Grove’s competitive co-worker; Sheila is a social-climber who built her career on attending parties with influential people and gossiping about them on her TV talk show. Like the over-confident, bumbling Nick Bottom in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," Sheila believes she’s a reporter who can do it all, including investigating, but Sheila has never investigated anything except the menu at the latest trendy restaurant.

Sheila views all new reporters as her competition. According to Greg Kellen, sports anchor, she sees every new face as an intern and she treats them accordingly. “All the same. Like dogs,” Greg says, quoting a Green Bay Packer player.

Vanessa Grove fights back when she gets the intern treatment from Blackman. Ultimately Sheila’s diva-like behavior gets her transferred to a TV station in Dubuque. Like a true narcissist, Sheila refuses to see her role in the demotion and blames Vanessa. The incident forever cements their relationship. In other words, Sheila is determined to send Vanessa’s career down the river in a can of cement.

Antagonistic force:
Main character Vanesa Grove questions her judgment while learning a pressure-filled new TV job. She recently ended a train wreck of a marriage, divorcing her college sweetheart. It was a devastating change that left her exiled on her farm for six months. Now, she’s re-entered the workforce as an uncertain, newbie reporter in a small-market town.

3) Breakout Title Suggestions

The Dairyland Mysteries: Cozy Suspense
Vanessa Grove Cozy Suspense Mysteries by TK Grove

Pumpkins, Passion, and Murder
Iron and Ore, a Festival to Die for
To Die or Not to Die
Community Theatrics

4) Genre and Approaching Comparables

TK Grove writes mystery books with the charm of the Archy McNally series (Lawrence Sanders/Vincent Lardo) and the heart of the Goldy Bear books (Diane Mott Davidson).
The Dairyland Mysteries offer a mix of the independent Chloe Ellefson (Kathleen Ernst) meeting the determined, dry-humored Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton).
If James Herriot were to live in Wisconsin and write mysteries, the Dairyland Mysteries would be the series.

5 & 6) Primary, Secondary, and Inner Conflicts

Something is rotten in the state of Cheddar: A newbie TV reporter confronts the future and a killer. Vanessa Grove investigates a murder while discovering who is threatening bucolic southwest Wisconsin by buying up farmland with access to water, modern-day oil.

Something is rotten in Vanessa Groves’ love life: Vanessa Grove recently divorced her college sweetheart, a guy who was her first relationship mistake. On the rebound, she’s begun dating a co-worker and longtime friend, which could be her second mistake. Her third mistake (bad things always come in threes, right?) is being attracted to a rugged local cop who isn’t yet divorced.

Something is rotten inside TV reporter Vanessa Grove: She divorced her college sweetheart and fled her safe corporate communications job to live in exile on her tiny farm for twelve months. Now, she’s remerged to work in a demanding new position where murders keep happening. She's uncertain and insecure, but she’s compelled to investigate to protect her favorite local village and her beloved state of Wisconsin.

7) Setting

The Dairyland Mysteries: Discovering the Land and People Behind the Cheddar Curtain

The state of Wisconsin is unique. It could be due to its Norwegian and German heritage. It could be due to its excessive intake of dairy products and willingness to laugh at the phenomenon by embracing the nickname of “Cheeseheads.” But most likely the state’s wonderful individuality is due to its weather. Cold weather—the state’s temps often sink below Alaskan climes in winter — is a great leveler. While Father Time may be considered the great healer, cold weather is the great equalizer. Chilly temps have lessened the dilution of Wisconsin’s culture. In essence, the place is frozen in time.

Wisconsin is a proud member of Flyover Land, USA. It’s a place where cows still are milked by hand, churches (or taverns) occupy every street corner, and front doors can remain unlocked. There’s a problem with the unlocked thing, however. Murderers keep taking advantage of it.

Vanessa Grove is a born-and-bred Wisconsinite who adores her home state, specifically the southwest portion of it. She resides on a small farm, her sanctuary, where she lives with two rescued equines and a couple of protective border collies. Her crumbling farmstead, tiny red barn, and few acres are where she has retreated after fleeing her corporate communications job to recover from the wounds of a divorce.

Vanessa needs her place of protection, which is located at the base of Blue Mounds State Park. In times of trouble — which include murders, relationship problems, and a co-worker who is determined to sink her new career before it starts — Vanessa can saddle up and ride into the park. She can soothe her mind by watching over the southwest Wisconsin farmscape. On a clear day, she can gaze across the green fields and cow-dotted hills to the Mississippi River. And unlike Minnesota, land of ten-thousand lakes, Wisconsin has fifteen-thousand—with actual fish in them!

Protecting the people and the state she loves is embedded in Vanessa’s DNA. She travels the winding country roads from Madison to Mt. Horeb to Mineral Point, enjoying the scenery while watching out for deer who tend to leap in front of vehicles. She indulges in the local cuisine from Cornish pasty to deep-fried cheese curds to figgyhobbin — and she embraces every friendly stranger’s advice steering her toward the best diner or local restaurant. Vanessa has a great appetite and she’s fortunate to live in an agricultural state that features fabulous places to eat.

Vanessa cautions her audience to refrain from spilling the secrets of her wonderful home state. “Don’t spread the word,” she asks. “Let everyone fly over and let’s keep this beautiful land of fields, farms, and lakes to ourselves a while longer.”

SFFFemaleProtag
Posts: 1
Joined: 09 Dec 2018, 01:41

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#4 Post by SFFFemaleProtag » 09 Dec 2018, 02:20

THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT: RT must learn enough at Talatrics to survive her first gauntlet run and prove she isn’t the unifier from the prophecy.

THE ANTAGONIST: Thomas Thorn, the most feared man in Regions One and Two of the 5000 Universe. Thorn is RT and Avi’s father. A convicted felon, religious radical, and a terrorist. Guilty of kidnapping, murder, statutory rape, and incitement of the First and supposedly Final War in colonized space. Thomas Thorn’s goal is to push RT into fulfilling her destiny as the unifier. No trick is too low, no cost too high, nothing is off limits for Thorn as he vows to make the prophecy true and Unify the Multiverse, which would have deadly consequences for all life in the 5000 Universe.

BREAKOUT TITLE, 3 OPTIONS: TALATRICS Book One The Gift, TALATRICS Book One The Gauntlet, TALATRICS Book One Surviving the Gauntlet.

DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES: GENERATION ONE by Pittacus Lore (Lorien Legacies Reborn Series) The similarities stem from a school for young people with powers as they struggle to hone their skills and deal with the complicated political implications of their abilities.
THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman. The characters are the same age and the school is for magic, which in the future in TALATRICS we see it as psi-abilities. Unlike The Magicians, TALATRICS has a female protagonist.
DUNE. The prophecy about a savior/hero/unifier, that the protagonist resists, but is ultimately true. Also because of the Space Opera Quality, the long arc over several books, and the family drama-sagas spanning generations and entrenched in politics.
NEMESIS RISING Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Similar in many ways and written for a YA audience. The complicated relationships, sexual tensions, family history of abuse and political infighting with characters that have extraordinary strength and power. In TALATRICS they learn those skills they already have in Nemesis Rising, and there’s less overt sexuality since it’s for a YA audience.

PRIMARY CONFLICT: RT heads off to join her brother at Talatrics, the spaceship college for psi-abilities, where she must learn enough to survive the gauntlet and discover if she is the unifier of prophecy as her father, convicted felon, Thomas Thorn claims, but if she is the unifier it would mean the destruction of the 5000 Universe.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have:LOVE INTEREST: When RT is up on the rope and strangling Jonathan in combat class, she pulls back from her own strength afraid that it will confirm she is the unifier, and that exactly when she is attacked by the spies on the ship. This triggers her needing to fight, which Jonathan sees. He comes to her rescue and sees how strong she is, but he keeps her secret. RT gets a massive crush on him and him on her, but his father doesn’t want him anywhere near her, because RT is the unifier. This drives a wedge between them and is only reinforced every time RT has to fight off attacks, which draws her closer to Jonathan since he is right by her side to help in the fight.
FAMILY: RT’s brother Avi is in a relationship with a Half-Dayth Talatrics student Velaina, whose family is convinced they can mold her into the unifier by marrying her to Avi. RT suspects something is up, but the more she suspects the more strain it puts on the one relationship she can trust, her brother.
FRIENDS: RT’s cohort of students has its own hierarchy established by tests of strength over the first few days at Talatrics. Their placement determines their training partners, but their training partners are at odds with their romantic interests.
POLITICAL: The start of a political plot tied to ungifted rights begins to unfold. RT’s family is for the equalization of the cloud for ungifted, but Dayths appose all form of government dictated equality. This is the beginning of the plot that will be born out fully in the TALATRICS Series.

INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING: We begin the story on Mars, Matlantia Capital City, where we meet our protagonist RT short for Rosalyn Thorn, daughter to Mars Representative Carina Cohen and head of Web Systems the creator of spider steel technology, the tech used for creating livable habitats on hostile planets and for flexible spaceships with “Dark Speed” technology.
Next chapter we zoom off to M21SagSupermax Prison, prison space station in the Messer 21 System, Sagittarius Arm, Milky Way galaxy, on the edge of Region One of the CN ruled Territory, where RT’s father, Convicted Felon Thomas Thorn is held in the Gifted Wing.
From there we holochat into the TALATRICS Spaceship, where Genovar is the head professor. She receives the holochat with Thomas Thorn agreeing to give him updates on RT and brother Avi’s progress while they are students.
The Talatrics spaceship is kitted out with the best dining facilities, combat training facilities, (VR) Virtual Reality Gallery for parties and events, medical suites, and interfacing tech for riding the cloud.
During Book One Talatrics makes its annual stop on KN (Planet Keplar Neptune) for the students to run the Gauntlet, a massive 3D Olympic ring with challenges in the five elements of fire, earth, water, air, and lastly dark matter. The students, swim, dive, run, leap, fly, doge, weave, scorch, dance and defy the odds to survive… most of them do anyway.

liz2point0
Posts: 1
Joined: 08 Dec 2018, 18:29

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#5 Post by liz2point0 » 09 Dec 2018, 06:06

<r>Guess I'm up first for the seven assignments.<br/>
<br/>
1.STORY STATEMENT<br/>
<br/>
A preacher’s daughter must navigate—or succumb to—the dangerous undercurrents of the apocalyptic cult she’s always called home.<br/>
<br/>
2. THE ANTAGONIST<br/>
<br/>
Among the young people of the tightly knit apocalyptic religious cult known as the First Fruits Company, Levi Keaton is the undisputed leader. But he has aspirations of greater power; he wants to depose the head apostle and take full power of the church. A lifelong sufferer of migraines, he spent his childhood isolated and angry. Discovering as a young teen that his illness also made him highly sensitive to upcoming changes in weather patterns, he used the phenomenon to his advantage and the cult members assumed God was giving him visions of the future. The group’s leaders, believing him to be a prophet, granted him special concessions. Now a cruel and cunning 21-year-old who demands utter loyalty among the small faction of teens he calls his disciples, Levi leads the group in clandestine and increasingly dangerous nighttime excursions he calls trials, during which they must practice defeating death. Micah, his betrothed since childhood, does not love him—but neither is she afraid of him. That is, until she discovers he is hiding something far more sinister than she ever dreamed, and he puts her through the ultimate trial.<br/>
<br/>
3. BREAKOUT TITLE OPTIONS<br/>
<br/>
Beneath the Peace<br/>
The Apostle’s Daughter<br/>
<br/>
<br/>
4. COMPARABLES<br/>
<br/>
The Great Alone (Kristin Hannah) (Dysfunction, quietly growing danger, isolation, and wilderness setting)<br/>
The Girls (Emma Cline) (cult, belief, mind control, must break free to gain autonomy)<br/>
<br/>
<br/>
5. PRIMARY CONFLICT<br/>
<br/>
The daughter of an apocalyptic cult leader must defy her family, her faith, and her fiancé to expose a terrible secret and find her own place in a world she doesn’t know how to survive.<br/>
<br/>
6. OTHER CONFLICT<br/>
<br/>
<B><s></s>Inner conflict:<e></e></B> For years, Micah has been hiding a secret; she occasionally slips away from camp and paddles miles up the isolated, dangerous and forbidden Canadian river valley to visit a mute hermit she has befriended, whose library of books opens her eyes to what life is like outside the commune. When Chicago native Sam Dare later arrives in camp—presumably for salvation but really, she later learns, to investigate a possible kidnapping that will incriminate her own father, she is further conflicted about what kind of life she wants: the one she is expected to assume as the wife of future leader Levi Keaton, or the one she is increasingly drawn to, the one that includes the boy from the world? She sees in front of her the beauty of the religion her father teaches, she feels firsthand what it is to be loved by other church members. Will she forsake everything she’s ever believed? Is the perfection her father espouses even possible?<br/>
<br/>
<B><s></s>Secondary conflict:<e></e></B> As a young betrothed woman and the daughter of the head apostle, Micah is trusted with numerous responsibilities. One of these includes helping watch over Eve, a mentally unstable woman who has been sent to the commune for salvation. As Eve’s behavior grows more and more erratic, she is restrained—out of love, of course— by being forcibly tied to a bed with a headset over her ears, through which she must listen to sermons. Micah is also the substitute mother to Eve’s infant daughter, Vivi. Micah becomes increasingly uncomfortable with how Eve is treated—and when Sam returns to Chicago and reports what he has seen, she is faced with a terrible choice that will place her as the linchpin in a scenario that threatens everything she’s ever known. <br/>
<br/>
<br/>
7. SETTING<br/>
<br/>
The commune is hidden along the banks of the isolated Peace River as it carves a deep trench through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Here, nestled at the base of Mount Selwyn and near the yawning Cave of the Winds, the group expects to ride out the coming apocalypse and defeat death. They believe this is where God has told them to remain as the natural world comes to a cataclysmic end. They are unaware that 100 miles downriver, the Canadian provincial power company has seen in the mighty river the lucrative potential for hydroelectric that can be sold as far away as San Francisco; the municipality will build the largest earthen dam in North America, flooding out the few residents scattered along the upper reaches of Peace. When they are eventually made aware of the dam’s construction, Micah’s father and the cult leaders proclaim that God will stop the flood and protect the church. Will the members believe the evidence of their own eyes as they visit the river’s edge and note the water level gradually rising, or will they believe what their faith and their apostle tells them to—that their God is big enough to protect them?</r>

LauraWinter
Posts: 1
Joined: 08 Dec 2018, 18:59

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#6 Post by LauraWinter » 09 Dec 2018, 08:27

Ok, I really hope I'm posting this in the correct forum, so some kind soul please let me know if I'm not!

1. Act of Story Statement:
Teenaged Wren Stone must discover the truth of her origins in time to prevent the awful fate she was designed for.

2. Antagonistic Force:
Abused and discarded in her youth, quiet but cunning Adaria learned the value of power early on and how to cut throats in the night to seize it. Having already stared evil down, she wasn’t afraid of the darkness and soon looked there for the hidden strengths no others dared seek. Eventually, she developed an unrivaled means to power and potential immortality (for those willing to do what it takes) and, for a moment, she held the ultimate triumph in her hands. But her one big mistake (the one she still hasn’t realized she made) was believing that another’s will could always be bent to her own. By this oversight, she lost her greatest creation, the one that should have made her truly invulnerable, and became trapped between reality and the nothingness beyond (known as the Void). Now, as her tie to reality withers, Adaria risks being lost to the Void forever. She has only her wits, but that’s all she’s ever truly needed. With that, she’ll lure back her lost prize, a hapless teenage girl, by dangling the one thing her unwitting victim wants most (answers) like the light at the end of a slaughterhouse tunnel.

3. Title:
1-The Void Walker ( I came up with this one a while back and I'll admit I'm quite attached to it, but I will continue working on alternatives! -Back to edit soon)
2-
3-

4. Comparables:
YA Fantasy
I know these examples are both far too successful to use together as comparisons for my manuscript, but I am still working on others. So, for the time being, I took tonal inspiration from Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co series and also Ransom Riggs’s Peculiar Children series (both of which I began reading in their infancy). I think my book shares the dark and quirky nature of these books and also that my protagonist has a similar self-deprecating attitude, gradual journey of self-discovery/acceptance, and endearing (I hope) awkwardness to Jacob Portman and Lucy Carlyle, the respective protagonists of the two series mentioned.

5. Conflict:
Haunted by the tragic consequences of an accident she caused, a teenage girl must confront her dangerous and unprecedented abilities to escape the terrible fate a dark-magic cultist created her for .

6. Secondary and Inner Conflict:

Inner Conflict: Wren is already tormented by guilt over the death of her mother, which she believes she caused. When this is confirmed to be true, the fragile progress she’s made in therapy is shattered and her guilt re-doubled. She associates her powers (which are, by their very nature, hazardous) with this guilt and therefore believes she is inherently and hopelessly flawed. Because of this, she doubts herself at every turn and initially seeks to suppress her powers rather than learn about them. For example, when first confronted with the truth of her abilities, Wren clings to a specially-designed suit that helps to dampen the strength of her magic. Its like her safety net and she feels like it’s the only thing that allows her to be “good” and “ok”. Small triumphs and lessons learned throughout the book gradually teach Wren to trust and forgive herself. She also learns that a trait (such as her powers) is not inherently good or bad, but rather defined by what you choose to do with it.

Secondary Conflict: Wren’s unique abilities give her enough to worry about, but as she tries to move forward with her burdened life she finds her way further impeded by Edward Essex, research mogul whose sights seem to be set on profiting from her abilities, whether it benefits her nor not. He initially compounds her fear of her own abilities by threatening her with a law that allows him to enroll those whose power is deemed “dangerous and out of control” into an involuntary experimentation program. As the plot progresses, it becomes clear that Essex’s connection to her goes much deeper than that, and that he may have even caused her wayward abilities in the first place. He repeatedly gets in the way of her eventual goal (finding out the truth of her origins), even attempting to kidnap her at one point. For a significant portion of the book, he appears to be the primary antagonist/source of conflict, but as it turns out he (like Wren) has simply been trying to uncover the truth this whole time, believing Wren to be at the center of his ongoing problems. In truth, he and Wren share a common enemy, a Shadow Walker (cultist) that has covertly infiltrated his company and commandeered it toward her own goal of finding and retrieving Wren, whom she created.


7. Setting:

There’s a nuclear power plant in Wren’s quiet hometown of Hedgewood that isn’t a really nuclear power plant at all. The locals only think it is because their non-magical brains can’t make sense of it in any other way. All they can say for certain is that there’s something very strange about it. This is the typical response when magic appears inside normal communities and it’s the reason magic exists in isolation. Normal people can’t perceive it properly. Their mind overwrites the extraordinary with something ordinary they can understand and all they’re left with afterward is a sense of confusion and paranoia.
That’s why the people of Hedgewood don’t realize the Eclipse building is really a magical research facility dedicated to studying the mysterious realm beyond reality known as the Void. Its also why Wren Stone has never heard of Aurora, the vast Alaskan city and capitol of magic, until she is transported there upon the discovery of her unprecedented Void-related abilities.
But despite its separation from the normal world, the magical community has not eschewed technology or modern society, but rather embraced and integrated them into their magical ways. This makes Aurora a place unlike anything Wren could have imagined, where Target has an alchemy aisle and the Waffle House waitress can produce a dozen holographic duplicates to run the restaurant while she naps in the back. It is also a fast-paced world made even faster by the rapid magic-technological advancements produced by Eclipse, the company run by Edward Essex and which lies behind Hedgewood’s non-power-plant.
For Wren, Aurora becomes a safe haven, too, as the corporate giant of Eclipse fixes its monstrous eye on her and whatever lucrative secrets her powers may hold. The protective enchantments surrounding the city will keep her safe, but only for as long as she can survive them. Because Aurora is also the sort of place where losing control of her magic, as she’s apt to do, could label Wren dangerous and land her in an involuntary experimentation program at Eclipse’s mercy. It’s the sort of place where everyone secretly wonders (but is too afraid to ask) what Eclipse has really been doing for the past two decades and why so many unexplained deaths surround them. And it’s the sort of place where even Essex doesn’t have these answers, no matter how much he pretends to.
And see that’s the other thing about Aurora: it’s the kind of place so enamored with its own sparkle that no one notices a shadow slipping through the backdoor or poison seeping up the roots from the soil until it’s too late. That’s the sort of world this really is: the kind where dark things fall into the void and never come back out, except when they do.

nancysungyun
Posts: 1
Joined: 06 Dec 2018, 01:52

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#7 Post by nancysungyun » 09 Dec 2018, 18:52

1)THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT

To find her true happiness, the protagonist has to learn to face her fear of pain, the very thing that she gained from her traumatic childhood.



2)THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT


My adoptive father and mother are the antagonists of this story.

My adoptive father has an overwhelming need to control and inflict pain. In addition, his spy training gave him in-depth knowledge of mind control and emotional subjugation techniques. He has an insatiable appetite to look bigger than life to the world.

The adopted mother is a helpless and needy child in an adult’s body. She has a desperate need for love and attention from others, especially her husband. When he hurts her feelings with rejection or when anyone hurts her feelings, she would inflict emotional and physical pain on her adopted daughter to give herself an emotional respite. She lacks the ability to empathize with others giving herself carte blanche to do and say whatever she wants in an attempt to feel better.


3)CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE

Memoir of a Pain Runner


4)DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES

“Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls
“Breaking Night” by Liz Murray

Both books are New York Times bestsellers. These two memoirs tell stories of people who turn their childhood pain into gold. They are commercially successful by being compelling, moving and inspiring for readers in the same way my book will be.


5)CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT - COMING OF THE "AGON"

After horrifying childhood experiences that seem to never end, the protagonist struggles to heal and make herself whole as an adult. When she runs into a very dark situation that reminds her of her childhood, she hits her bottom and she finally sees a way to set herself free from the demons of her childhood.



6)OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

Living life in fear of pain keeps the protagonist in the mindset of a victim and she experiences events and people who affirm those beliefs. For a time she becomes convinced that she is a victim for life. She has to own power by facing her fear to learn that she is not a victim of life.


7)THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING


The story starts in the year 1979 at a psychiatrist's office in Walnut Creek California for a page, then it goes back in time to 1963, Pusan Korea.

“My grandparents knew first hand all that the Noodle House saw. It saw the blood and tears that people of its land had shed. It felt the tyranny of the power-hungry neighboring country. Occupiers had rampaged through our land scarring and stealing more than her soul and resources. The ghosts of prideful dead men who jumped off cliffs to their deaths refusing to cut off their hair, women forced into sex slavery and peace activists tortured to death roamed the land blown around by the howling salty wind. Our people and our land were left in helpless poverty. Everyone and everything was discombobulated. Families worked perilously to pick up the pieces with their weakened bones and weakened hearts. My family was no exception.”

The protagonist then travels to Seoul Korea by way of adoption then eventually immigrates to America, to LA then to San Francisco in 1975.

Another backdrop would be the lives of new immigrants in San Francisco and then the protagonist getting a second life in Danville California and experiencing a real slice of Americana.

As she goes through teen years then to adulthood, the strong backdrop would be the psychological journey that she goes through attempting to study and heal but not quite waking up until something so intensely dark (similar to her childhood) happens in the adulthood that shatters her awake to become free.

TriciaCris12
Posts: 2
Joined: 09 Dec 2018, 23:11

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#8 Post by TriciaCris12 » 10 Dec 2018, 00:34

From Tricia Crisafulli

1. STORY STATEMENT
Overcome distrust and shame to find self-worth, while discovering the mysterious provenance of a medieval cross.

2. ANTAGONIST FORCES
Antagonistic forces that have beset the art world for centuries are writ small, but powerfully, in Ohnita, New York. These forces are personified in Don Andreesen, a local attorney and president of the library board of trustees, and in the Ohnita city administration, led by Mayor Iris Sanger-Jones. Their greed is a small-town version of a far greater thirst for wealth and treasures found a century ago among American industrialists. J.P. Morgan, in particular, was obsessed with European medieval treasures, and wealthy European collectors bought antiquities from supposed owners who had no right to dispose of them. In the Cross of Siena, more than money is on the line; power and political position are up for grabs. Battling these forces will compel the main characters to overcome mutual distrust and forge alliances in a battle over rightful ownership of the cross.

3. TITLE
The Cross of Siena
Catherine’s Cross

4. COMPARABLES
Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls, Nobody’s Fool, and Everybody’s Fool, for his keen eye on fading industrial towns of New York State and characters who must overcome self-defeatism to claim their place in the world.

Anne Tyler, author of Saint Maybe, which explores personal tragedy and second chances, and her portraits of ordinary family life, as in her latest, Clock Dance.

5. PRIMARY/SECONDARY CONFLICTS
Librarian Gabriela Oliver and custodian Mike Driskie must overcome mutual distrust as they seek to establish a provenance for a small, odd-looking cross, which may have once belonged to Catherine of Siena. They must help determine what the artifact might be worth, while keeping it out of the greedy hands of the library trustees and city administration. Ultimately, this leads Gabriela and Mike to resolve secondary conflicts within their families: for Gabriela, clashes with her mother, now ailing, the loss of her father, and forgiveness of her ex-husband; for Mike, facing his abusive father, reuniting with his brother, repairing his marriage, and protecting his two teenage daughters.

6. INNER CONFLICTS
Divorced and struggling financially, Gabriela Oliver returned to her hometown of Ohnita, New York, where she mourns the loss of her “dream job” in New York City. Defeated, without any hope of reviving her career, she is now circulation director of the town’s library. Pressures mount as Gabriela’s ex-, now living in California, is chronically late with child support for their ten-year-old son, Ben, who rarely sees his father. Plus her mother, the demanding Agnese Domenici, is facing a second cancer recurrence that she’s determined to “cure” with her religiosity. Despite these heavy burdens, Gabriela avoids asking for help—not from Mary Jo, her friend and boss, or from Daniel Red Deer, the roofer who tries to befriend her. To survive, Gabriela must overcome shame over her lost life in New York and her lack of trust of people in her new life.

Mike Driskie’s was told he was stupid so many times, he thought “dumb ass” was his middle name. So Mike never showed teachers and, later, co-workers that he has a brain and is capable of many things. The only thing he’s good at is hiding: avoiding work, skirting his chronically unhappy wife, and covering up the scars on his right hand from an abusive childhood tragedy. Mike’s latest secret is his self-education, hiding out in a small space off the library’s boiler room where he reads Augustine’s Confessions, Maya Angelou’s poetry, and Annie Dillard’s essays. But Mike must confront his hidden shame and secrets when he touches a small, odd-looking cross that burns his hand—causing blisters on top of the scar tissue. His job in jeopardy and his family in crisis, Mike must rise above self-defeatism and unworthiness to seek the truth about what happened to him in the past.

7. SETTING:
Ohnita, New York, is a small city on the shores of Lake Ontario, where the rounded eastern hip curves upward toward Canada. A settlement since the mid-1700s, Ohnita has a natural harbor that made it a bustling port for trade: furs, salt, lumber, and coal. Commerce plied the Erie Canal, connected with the Ohnita River that flowed into Lake Ontario, and then out the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Atlantic. Then came the railroads that crisscrossed the state further south, making Ohnita a backwater. Now, its best days are far behind. Factory after factory have closed since the 1970s, shrinking the employment base. In the tiny, six-block downtown, the names of long-ago retailers are literally etched in stone above the lintels, but the stores are long gone. Holy Apostles Church has combined with Our Lady of Hope, which had to close after being declared structurally unsound. Whatever its official name, everyone calls it Peter, Paul and Mary.

The townscape is dominated, though, by one building: incongruously, a Norman Rival-style building built 160 years ago by a wealthy Abolitionist to serve as the Ohnita Public Library. “A Castle for the Written Word, a Beacon for Learning,” the library has the notched battlements and arcaded windows that resemble the real thing. But its crumbling façade, dusty and drafty interior, and code-violating third floor make it more of an architectural albatross than a treasure.

Yet there is no denying the spectacular natural beauty of the place: the fiery sunsets over the lake, the bluffs rising steeply from the shoreline, rolling glacial hills, and an abundance of open space and woodlands. There is something about this land and its long history that gives Ohnita grit and perseverance, a willingness to stand up for the underdog—but, perhaps, not before kicking it a couple of times.

KathyS2018
Posts: 1
Joined: 10 Dec 2018, 06:37

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#9 Post by KathyS2018 » 10 Dec 2018, 06:52

1) Story Statement: To find a soulmate and make partner at her law firm
2) Antagonistic Force: Colette is a law firm colleague, also trying to make partner, who thinks that only one female associate will be promoted to partner, so it’s either her or Audrey. She maneuvers to work for Audrey’s nominating partner in an attempt to switch his allegiance, because she believes that hurting Audrey at the source of Audrey’s support will help her. She was raised by a divorced single mom, so she is dedicated to succeeding at her career as she intends to rely only on herself. Audrey does not want to criticize Colette because she strongly believes that’s the wrong approach. Audrey sends her chapters from Lean In, The Feminist Fight Club and other articles as evidence that women get ahead if they support each other. Colette rejects that approach. But Audrey then invites her to a business development lunch with two successful women who believe in that approach. Preparing for the lunch forces Colette to work with Audrey. They succeed in bringing in a business deal to the firm. Colette pushes Audrey to be more assertive and Audrey pushes Colette to be more trusting of other women.
3) Breakout Title:
a. Partner Pursuit
b. (not) Having it All
c. Fishing for Trouble
4) Two Comparables: Sophie Kinsella (funny, quirky, substantive commentary but light touch, same heat level), Sally Thorne (funny banter, riveting plot, two professionals, office hating game, not same heat level)
5) Conflict Line: A young woman torn between her legal career and her love life struggles to maintain her romantic relationship with her fun-loving soulmate, who hates the 24/7 demands of her career, while also trying to be promoted to a partner at a NYC law firm—if she doesn’t get derailed by the other woman up for partner who is trying to undermine her because she thinks that the male partnership will promote only one woman.
6)a. Inner Conflict: Audrey is torn between career and love life and is not sure that the 24/7 demands of her chosen career are worth not having any personal life.
She answered the phone and said softly: “Jake.” She thought she was going to cry.
“Audrey! Are you packed? I just got off the phone with one of my friends down there and he’s going to pick us up and take us to this treetop restaurant. How’s that for a romantic start to our getaway?”
“Jake,” her voice was like a croak, she felt like her throat had been stuffed with cotton, “I can’t go.”
“What!?”
“I have to fly to London for another case tomorrow night,” she whispered. There was silence on the phone.
“Are you joking? Because I’m not finding this funny.”
“No, I wish, the senior partner called me into his office and said that I was needed to go to London to figure out the strategy and do some witness interviews. The client requested me. It’s a client I worked for about 18 months ago. They just got hit with a lawsuit.”
“Really? You’re like a slave and you can’t say you already have plans? Or just push it back?”
“I said I’m going on vacation and I scheduled a trip to Costa Rica with my boyfriend and I couldn’t do it, but the partner said that they couldn’t push it back, although normally they would try to accommodate me, and that I was expected to do this and I should be happy that the client requested me. And that sometimes plans have to be broken—especially in the year that you’re up for partner.”
“And that’s what you want? I’ve been through this drill before – my father always missing my games, missing vacations.”
“I don’t want this,” replied Audrey, “But I can’t just give it up—I’ve worked so hard.” Her voice broke.
There was a brief silence.
“Fuck, I’m not doing this. I just can’t do this. I can’t believe I fell for a fucking corporate lawyer.”

b. Secondary Conflict: She has a conflict with Colette. Colette seems determined to undermine her and she doesn’t want to be pitted against another woman. She believes in supporting other women. And just from a purely strategic viewpoint, she believes that undermining each other is not going to work and that if they support each other then that will increase their chances of both being promoted.

“Maybe I should close the door,” said Audrey.
Colette raised her eyebrows. “If it is going to be that kind of discussion. . .” she replied. She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. She stared at Audrey impassively.
“Well, yes,” replied Audrey, closing the door and turning to face Colette. “Hunter gave me a copy of your strategy memo. And I have to say that I was a bit shocked given that that area was assigned to me. I feel like you are trying to undermine me.” There, she’d said it. She could feel her face start to flush.
“I’m your level. We’re both up for partner. Why do you get to determine our entire approach to the case and I just do defensive discovery? That puts me in a junior position. I should be able to give my opinion,” Colette shot back; it seemed as if she had prepared for this meeting. Her eyes and voice were hard, and her body seemed coiled and alert in her chair. “Maybe I should’ve approached it differently, but it seemed to me that my best tactic was to show my ideas as to how to win this case.”
Audrey stepped forward to respond: “You have two other cases that you direct as the senior associate. And I had two cases, this being one of them.”
“I’m asking to share strategy, not to take it over,” she rebutted. “That’s an important distinction. You have to be able to see these nuances.” She straightened the paper clips on an Alessi magnetic stainless-steel paper clip holder in the shape of a bird. “I doubt anything could hurt your standing with Hunter. It’s awkward for me—Hunter favors you, the team loves you and I feel like an interloper. It would’ve been much better for me if I had gotten my own case with Hunter rather than joining your case as a second to you.”
“Yes, it’s not ideal.” Audrey acknowledged, nodding, but then she continued, making direct eye contact with Colette, “But I don’t think the solution is to try to backstab me.”
Colette flushed then. “It’s not as if you are my best friend. I barely know you.”
“We’re supposed to be a team,” replied Audrey, walking toward Colette and standing by her desk. Colette stood up and Audrey felt short.

7) Setting
a. There are three main settings:
i. The Howard, Parker & Smith law firm: staid, stiff, quiet, dignified, mahogany, marble, trying to modernize, constraining, pictures of white male partners on the wall
ii. Audrey's apartment: modern, airy, but neglected
iii. Popflicks office: jumbled popcorn on the coffee table in reception, casual, fun, movies and music playing, laughter emanating from offices, colleagues playing ping pong, purple couches

npawelek55
Posts: 1
Joined: 07 Dec 2018, 01:44

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#10 Post by npawelek55 » 10 Dec 2018, 07:20

"The Death and Birth of Emma" by Nathan Pawelek

FIRST ASSIGNMENT:

“The Death and Birth of Emma” is a unique coming of age story about an impetuous, swell-headed, young boy-man named Cole, who learns selflessness and sympathy from his amazing partner, Annalise, as they struggle with infertility, successful pregnancy, late-term demise, and grief-infused fast-track adoption.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT:

Three antagonistic forces create dramatic tension in this story. The first is Zytka, a Polish violinist who only wants a Green Card. She agrees to have sex with protagonist Cole to snare him into believing (misleadingly) that her pregnancy is his responsibility, forcing him to marry her. When Cole refuses matrimony because of his new love interest in Annalise, Zytka attempts to thwart their budding relationship to protect her own plans.

The second antagonist is Dean, the executive director of the orchestra in which Cole plays principal horn. Dean, a retired concert-pianist, wants more than his executive power; he wants to also be the conductor. He does not like Cole and looks for ways to dismiss him. He would have preferred to hire his horn-playing friend from Chicago for Cole’s position. When the actual conductor dies, Dean, who controls the board of directors, easily takes over. He eventually fires Cole for seeking extended time off for a procedure to correct his infertility issue.

The third antagonist is Cole himself. His youthful arrogance and general condescension toward women place him in a precarious position to risk losing all unless he evolves, which he does.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT:

1. The Death and Birth of Emma
2. Death Never Announces His Plans
3. Today, My Favorite Day

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT:

1. Emily Phillips “Trying”
2. Jasper Rees “A Devil to Play”

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT:

The Death and Birth of Emma
A talented but overconfident musician wins his first professional symphony audition and now seeks a partner so he can slow down, get married, and maybe even start a family.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT:

It seems my work has three dramatic conflicts:

Motivated by her desire for a Green Card, the Polish violinist, a participant at the summer music academy near Warsaw, agrees to have sex with the American horn player, also a student. She purposefully gets pregnant with a separate partner shortly after the academy ends and tries to convince the American that he is the father. Out of a sense of responsibility, he agrees to marry her, but then realizes that the timeline of human gestation does not line up with their one encounter.

A talented but overconfident musician struggles romantically yet manages to charm an already-married woman into divorcing to be with him. She is of advanced maternal age and has one dream: to have children. He now must wrestle with a pivotal decision: honor her and get the operation that will fix his fertility issue? If he does, he will need time off from performing to recover, which his pitiless boss is certain to deny.

Just three weeks after losing a baby in the final few days of pregnancy, a grieving couple is approached to adopt. They are infertile and needed extensive intervention to conceive in the first place. Add to this, her eggs are old. They have been counseled that the healthiest decision would be to wait until they have healed, but time is their biological adversary.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT:

The setting of this story changes as impulsively as the whims of the protagonist, Cole, like a pinball ricocheting from place to place. We come to know him for what he does and where he goes, not for what he thinks.

Much of the second half of the story takes place in clinics, hospitals and the offices of various health practitioners once Cole has a specific team-goal: to get pregnant. We learn about male and female infertility matters during these scenes, including varicose veins, low sperm counts and limited motility, hysterosalpingograms, follicles, and deviated septums. We visit college sports trainers, offices of urologists, fertility specialists, obstetricians, perinatologists, ultra-sound technicians, and we witness two births in hospital rooms.

The story mainly takes place in the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota where protagonist Cole lives. Cole is a fast runner. His upper Mid-West association begins on the streets (and bike path) of Sioux Falls during the Zoo Run 5K. We track Cole’s dogged competitiveness and considerable energy to the finish line, where he places second and promptly vomits. The next day, we witness a similar kind of competitive drive when he successfully wins his first professional symphony audition. The description of the blind try-out is exactly how most symphony positions are decided, including the removal of shoes before entering the stage to obscure gender by footwear.

During Cole’s audition, there is a tornado, sending the conductor, committee, and remaining candidates scrambling to the basement, where the audition resumes. This is fortuitous for Cole because in the new space, a small ensemble room, we see anecdotal proof of his musical acumen. While he plays a decent audition, he impresses the conductor most when he pinpoints the exact tone (Eb) causing an annoying sympathetic vibration in a light fixture.

During his first few months with the orchestra, Cole gets settled in his new city. He attends a backyard bar-b-que party with his new colleagues, and he goes out with the girlfriend of one, where they dance inappropriately. We attend his various rehearsals and performances in schools and concert halls, and observe Cole struggling with intense pain from his testicular varicoceles, the worrisome result of the bearing-down pressure from his horn playing, and, incidentally, the source of his soon-to-be determined infertility issues.

We are also present at the airport when Cole first meets Annalise, the woman he will eventually marry, and with whom he will attempt to start a family. She, a trauma nurse who has come to visit her former college roommate (Cole’s new dirty-dance partner), saves the life of a fellow passenger having a heart attack at the baggage claim, demonstrating some of her sensibilities. Unfortunately, Cole subsequently offends Annalise during a ‘boys against girls’ game of “Taboo” when he asks her personal questions about her husband and tries to guess his name.

Key parts of the story take place in Poland, where Cole travels to attend an international music academy near Warsaw, on the idyllic former government officials’ retreat center. There, he daily runs or bikes throughout the environs and countryside, and in the mysterious forest bordering the center’s campus. The academy musicians have excursions, one, for instance, to Auschwitz, where Cole begins to learn about sympathy and humility. For an instant, he contemplates, and then decides against, taking home a shard of brick from a demolished crematory as a souvenir, like the Berlin Wall.

Cole lusts for a young Polish violinist at the academy who speaks six languages, including English. While traveling together after the academy ends, their one sexual encounter occurs in a hotel in Prague. She sleeps with Cole on the condition that if she gets pregnant he will agree to marry her, paving the way for her Green Card plans.

Just before she leaves him on the overnight train back to the Warsaw airport, Cole impulsively invites the violinist, Zytka, to come to America to audition for a position in his orchestra. On the train, he is mugged and beaten by the conductors when he cannot produce his ticket, which Zytka inadvertently took with her. The incident scares him and helps him to realize that his life is indeed fleeting and precarious.

Once she arrives in the US, Zytka and Cole travel from New York to South Dakota, stopping at Camden Yards in Baltimore for an Orioles game, and staying in hotels. He wonders if she may be pregnant, but he dreads inquiring. Their chemistry seems lost. She refuses to sleep with him or reveal anything about her condition while on the road. He becomes increasingly resentful of her apparent sulkiness.

Back in Sioux Falls, he dutifully helps her prepare for her upcoming audition, doing the shopping and cleaning, sponsoring her stay, even sharing his bed (no sex, she insists, unless it is a successful audition). While he hustles about, she sits in his apartment on his couch sipping his coffee, waiting. He no longer has any interest in helping her once he discovers that Zytka, whom he asked to retrieve the mail (her sole chore), has discarded a letter from Annalise in which she proposes that he call her at work sometime.

Zytka wins the audition, but the orchestra cannot pay her without a work Visa. Cole is told that Zytka will have to be his responsibility until the paperwork can be cleared. She now will be an obstacle to his own plans to pursue Annalise. While out celebrating after her audition win, however, many of Cole’s problems solve themselves when Zytka instantly falls in love with another woman at Chevy’s Bar.

TriciaCris12
Posts: 2
Joined: 09 Dec 2018, 23:11

Re: NYC Pitch Conference - Seven Assignments

#11 Post by TriciaCris12 » 10 Dec 2018, 18:15

The Cross of Siena, Women’s Contemporary Fiction - Tricia Crisafulli
1. STORY STATEMENT
Overcome distrust and shame to find self-worth, while discovering the mysterious provenance of a medieval cross.

2. ANTAGONIST FORCES
Antagonistic forces that have beset the art world for centuries are writ small, but powerfully, in Ohnita, New York. These forces are personified in Don Andreesen, a local attorney and president of the library board of trustees, and in the Ohnita city administration, led by Mayor Iris Sanger-Jones. Their greed is a small-town version of a far greater thirst for wealth and treasures found a century ago among American industrialists. J.P. Morgan, in particular, was obsessed with European medieval treasures, and wealthy European collectors bought antiquities from supposed owners who had no right to dispose of them. In the Cross of Siena, more than money is on the line; power and political position are up for grabs. Battling these forces will compel the main characters to overcome mutual distrust and forge alliances in a battle over rightful ownership of the cross.

3. TITLE
The Cross of Siena
Catherine’s Cross

4. COMPARABLES
Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls, Nobody’s Fool, and Everybody’s Fool, for his keen eye on fading industrial towns of New York State and characters who must overcome self-defeatism to claim their place in the world.

Anne Tyler, author of Saint Maybe, which explores personal tragedy and second chances, and her portraits of ordinary family life, as in her latest, Clock Dance.

5. PRIMARY CONFLICT
Librarian Gabriela Oliver and custodian Mike Driskie must overcome mutual distrust as they seek to establish a provenance for a small, odd-looking cross, which may have once belonged to Catherine of Siena. They must help determine what the artifact might be worth, while keeping it out of the greedy hands of the library trustees and city administration.
SECONDARY CONFLICT
As the two point of view characters, Gabriela and Mike must each confront the pain, losses, and trauma of their pasts. Gabriela has ongoing conflicts with her demanding mother and her irresponsible ex-husband, as well as a chronic lack of trust that pushes others away—including the one man in her life who is trying to pursue her. Mike is the victim of a severe childhood trauma that left him scarred—literally (his right hand bears horrific burn scars). He is a lifelong underachiever who avoids work, as well as his complaining wife, and bears deep grudges against his estranged brother. Confronting the primary conflicts will lead the characters deeper into secondary conflicts to address feelings of shame and unworthiness.

6. INNER CONFLICTS
Divorced and struggling financially, Gabriela Oliver returned to her hometown of Ohnita, New York, where she mourns the loss of her “dream job” in New York City. Defeated, without any hope of reviving her career, she is now circulation director of the town’s library. Pressures mount as Gabriela’s ex-, now living in California, is chronically late with child support for their ten-year-old son, Ben, who rarely sees his father. Plus her mother, the demanding Agnese Domenici, is facing a second cancer recurrence that she’s determined to “cure” with her religiosity. Despite these heavy burdens, Gabriela avoids asking for help—not from Mary Jo, her friend and boss, or from Daniel Red Deer, the roofer who tries to befriend her. To survive, Gabriela must overcome shame over her lost life in New York and her lack of trust of people in her new life.

Mike Driskie’s was told he was stupid so many times, he thought “dumb ass” was his middle name. So Mike never showed teachers and, later, co-workers that he has a brain and is capable of many things. The only thing he’s good at is hiding: avoiding work, skirting his chronically unhappy wife, and covering up the scars on his right hand from an abusive childhood tragedy. Mike’s latest secret is his self-education, hiding out in a small space off the library’s boiler room where he reads Augustine’s Confessions, Maya Angelou’s poetry, and Annie Dillard’s essays. But Mike must confront his hidden shame and secrets when he touches a small, odd-looking cross that burns his hand—causing blisters on top of the scar tissue. His job in jeopardy and his family in crisis, Mike must rise above self-defeatism and unworthiness to seek the truth about what happened to him in the past.

7. SETTING:
Ohnita, New York, is a small city on the shores of Lake Ontario, where the rounded eastern hip curves upward toward Canada. A settlement since the mid-1700s, Ohnita has a natural harbor that made it a bustling port for trade: furs, salt, lumber, and coal. Commerce plied the Erie Canal, connected with the Ohnita River that flowed into Lake Ontario, and then out the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Atlantic. Then came the railroads that crisscrossed the state further south, making Ohnita a backwater. Now, its best days are far behind. Factory after factory have closed since the 1970s, shrinking the employment base. In the tiny, six-block downtown, the names of long-ago retailers are literally etched in stone above the lintels, but the stores are long gone. Holy Apostles Church has combined with Our Lady of Hope, which had to close after being declared structurally unsound. Whatever its official name, everyone calls it Peter, Paul and Mary.

The townscape is dominated, though, by one building: incongruously, a Norman Rival-style building built 160 years ago by a wealthy Abolitionist to serve as the Ohnita Public Library. “A Castle for the Written Word, a Beacon for Learning,” the library has the notched battlements and arcaded windows that resemble the real thing. But its crumbling façade, dusty and drafty interior, and code-violating third floor make it more of an architectural albatross than a treasure.

Yet there is no denying the spectacular natural beauty of the place: the fiery sunsets over the lake, the bluffs rising steeply from the shoreline, rolling glacial hills, and an abundance of open space and woodlands. There is something about this land and its long history that gives Ohnita grit and perseverance, a willingness to stand up for the underdog—but, perhaps, not before kicking it a couple of times.

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