New York Pitch 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.
Joined:12 Jun 2019, 05:12
Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#26 Post by JENNIEC7JOHNSON » 14 Jun 2019, 06:56

STATEMENT 1: The Act of Story Statement

Jefferson Smith’s drive to avenge the death of his parents leads him to acts of espionage in a hot blooded revolution between two competing factions.

STATEMENT 2: The Antagonist Plots the Point

Hollan Whitmore is the tyrannical leader of the Firm, and the governing power driving the country into harsh control. Following in the footsteps of his father, Hollan has taken the ideology of Farrowism to a new extreme by closing all educational circuits outside of government control. His attack against Jefferson Smith’s family, and their resulting deaths is just one mistreatment common place throughout the country. For Jefferson, Hollan is the sole miscreant motivating his intensity towards change. Hollan’s iron fist not only catalyzed Jeff’s motivation to join the rebellion, but has been the fuel feeding the flame of Jefferson’s hatred. With a stern brow and a skin tingling smile, the words that escape Hollan Whitmore’s mouth are law. Everyone knows it, no one challenges it. Everyone, except for Jefferson Smith, whose mission to change the government is constantly challenged by the scheming genius dictator, Hollan Whitmore.

STATEMENT 3: Conjuring your Break Out Title

1. Revolution
2. Union Rises
3. Strike

STATEMENT 4: Deciding your Genre and Approaching Comparables

1. The Hunger Games, by: Suzanne Collins. My novel is YA and dystopic in nature, chronicling the events of a government at the cusp of revolution. However, my novel, while taking place in a fictional world, is not fantastical in nature. The main plot twist that makes my book unique in comparison to other dystopic novels is that it is more bare bones dystopic (think 1984 or The Giver). This is why I relate my novel to Suzanne Collins. She passionately writes dystopic novels based around the ideas of real war torn countries and governments while creating a completely fictional world. My novel follows the same premise with a sort of prince and the pauper twist.
2. Steelheart, by: Brandon Sanderson. While I don’t feel my novel relates to all of Brandon Sanderson’s works, I feel this one in particular is comparable. My novel is not fantastical in nature, however, it chronicles a revolution led by a small rebellious group and one pivotal character.

STATEMENT 5: Considering the Primary Conflict

After being placed as a pivotal spy in the inner most circle of his enemies, Jefferson Smith must persevere through his adversaries and find a way for the Revolution to succeed.

STATEMENT 6: Other Matters of Conflict

1. Internal Conflict: All of Jefferson Smith’s life he has been led to believe he has one enemy, Hollan Whitmore. Whitmore, the leader of the Firm, a tyrannical government responsible for the death of Jefferson’s parents, is the primary force of destruction for the country. Jefferson’s hatred for Whitmore is palpably real. He learns to feed that hatred as he is educated by a rebellious group, the Union, in their hidden compound base. When Jefferson finds out his real identity is that of the lost twin son of Hollan Whitmore, his inner conflict arises. How could he be the son of someone like Hollan Whitmore? Suddenly Jefferson finds himself questioning who he is, how he’s been raised, and what his intentions really are. Most of all, Jeff realizes his efforts to bring a better world to his country are infinitely more complicated.
2. Secondary Conflict: Jefferson Smith knows his mission. He must impersonate his twin brother, and act as a primary spy within the palace of his enemies. There, he will be in place to enact orders to advance revolutionary tactics of The Union. In Jeff’s mind, any member of the hierarchy subscribing to the ideals of farrowism are enemies. Imagine his surprise when Helen walks into his life. Helen, a daughter of a member of the Firm, is not only beautiful, but has a quick wit as well. She has a real desire to help those around her, and she surprises Jeff with her sincere compassion to the downtrodden. Jefferson never believed someone like her could exist in this environment. When Jeff finds himself falling for her, he has to find a way to accomplish his mission while navigating the confusing world of love.

STATEMENT 7: The Incredible Importance of Setting

The novel takes place in the downtrodden country of the Firm. The country, now on the brink of destitution is grey in nature, having lost a certain lushness of life. Prosperity is only apparent in areas where government officials live. Most people, are making their way through life as best they can in homes that need fixing, eating food that is never enough, and begging off the scraps of the politically important. In the novel, two main settings are the focus of our story.

Firstly, the Compound. The Compound is the main base of the rebellious group called, the Union. The Compound functions underground in a series of tunnels. These tunnels do not go up and down in levels, but rather are renovated versions of old subways and drainage. With what little resources the Union has, they have converted the tunnels into a hidden and serviceable base station for their needs. This includes offices for the leaders, living barracks, training facilities, common areas, and places of education. Though not fancy in nature, and also quite grey, those living within the Compound are powered by an ambition to make the world a better place.

Secondly, the Palace. This is where Hollan Whitmore and his family live. The Palace is also the main government building where business takes place. When Jefferson Smith acts as a spy, he is placed within the Palace. This setting is starkly different from both the Compound, and the country around it. The Palace is tall, full of light, and sprawling. It’s fixtures are neoclassical on the side of rococo in nature. Jefferson is stunned daily by the wealth displayed. Beyond the walls of the Palace are the gardens. Hundreds of acres of beautifully trimmed gardens and woods surround the Palace. Within these manicured greens, Jefferson finds opportunities to discuss revolutionary tactics with other spies in his situation. Everywhere within the palace is closely watched and monitored with the exception of a few spots in the gardens.

Joined:03 Jun 2019, 06:52

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#27 Post by MariadelosangelesC7Mendez » 17 Jun 2019, 01:54

#1 Story Statement:

The story where infidelity would be hard to judge, and for the contrary, it would seem to be the only escape. It will be impossible to judge one who will need to steal in order to survive.

Steve, a smart businessman gets captivated by Adriana. Her beauty, intelligence make her the favorite bank teller of the branch where she is being working for a few years. She is compassionate and caring not only about her family and colleagues, but also for her customers. She came to the big city searching for better opportunities and of course dream of love.

At some point Adriana believes that she loves Steve and after marrying him she discovers his most obscure sides. She would never imagine that the mountains from New York , which she usually enjoyed during the summer camps were about to become, among the Berkshire mountains in the state of Connecticut, the theatre to perform the drama of her life.

She must run away and take a different identity in order to save her life and the life of those who she cares the most. When discovered and forced to return, she must confront her worst nightmare just to understand that despite so much danger she was also protected at all time by someone who will teach her the true love.

#2 The Antagonist Plots points

Steve, charming and passionate and powerful, has always achieved his goals and being one of the most wanted bachelors among his circle, avoids commitment. He is sometimes cruel to some extent and always is trying to get his way until he meets Adriana.

He owns different enterprises and has a privileged life’s style, for what he expects to be pleased by those who either surrounding him or just work for him.

Once he loses control over Adriana, he does the utmost unimaginable attempts to regain her trust.

Steve spares resources without unreservedly in order to convince his wife that he loves her. He needs to demonstrate that he is repented and wants to start a new life with her. From indulging her with fancy trips and sumptuous treats, to the most brutal actions of revenge against her, her beloved brother Marcelo and all of those who she cares about when he realizes that Adriana has discovered his true being, all of his secrets and crimes and for no reason will get back with him.

While desperate on trying to force Adriana back to him, Steve hires a group of four spies to follow his wife at all time and to report to him every single move of this woman that has defied his will and power. He instructs them to be alert because if ordered, they would kill her.

Among these spies is Phillips [Sebastian], whom later, after getting to know the motives for which Adriana has escaped, will be more than a spy, the man who will protect her, will cover her up and will defend her confronting Steve’s rage.
Assigment #3

The Spy Who Loved Me
Undercover Love
Loving You on the Run

Assigment #4
- Read Caitlin's Comparables on Author Salon:
- Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

Perception by Kendra Leigh
When love is blind, you only have your instinct to rely on. Can Phillips trust Adriana, has not him gone too far to the extent to risk his real mission?

Love, Lies and Murder, by Leslie Wolfe
All the emotions we feel every day, when taken to their extremes, offer a roller coaster of passion, conflict, and chills.
Sometimes the only way to do the right thing is to break the rules.
Adriana will have to overcome prejudice, criticism in order to survive, disregarding the most pernicious remarks of those who constantly condemn her.

Assigment #5

The story where infidelity would be hard to censor, and for the contrary, it would seem to be the only escape. It will be impossible to judge one who will need to steal in order to survive.

Assigment #6

: 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.

Adriana, after discovering the criminal background of her husband and being a victim of his violent personality, needs to escape to later be encountered by Phillips, one of the spies that Steve had assigned to her surveillance and capture. While in the run, she meets Andrew. In a desperate attempt to find a level of appreciation and romance, she accepts Andrew’s proposal to start a life together, but later she realizes that she does not love Andrew, that is only her own urgency to feel being loved that pushes her to Andrew’s arms.

Meanwhile, Phillips at the beginning disguises the couple pretending to be a taxi driver. At the beginning Phillips dislikes Adriana, thinking the worst about her to later, not only discover that she is far from being that despicable women, but to get madly in love with her.

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?

Adriana, while learning to trust Phillips, [he is the only choice to protect her family and herself from her terrible spouse. Only Phillips [or Sebastian, as he states his real name is] has the element to bring Steve face to face with the law] will confront her feelings and fear to love again to finally surrender to this gentle and courageous man.

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.

Many days had passed by without having the opportunity for a decent meal. Eating chips and having can drinks, from town to town between New York and Massachusetts, today this small inn in the town of Unadilla offers to this young woman a peaceful, familiar a relaxing place. After making sure that no one will recognize her, Adriana removes her glasses and cap and directs herself to the restaurant, requests the menu to the waitress and seats on the farthest table of the salon.

The waitress, on her late fifties, kindly approaches the new guests and, without giving her a chance to select and to order, implies:

“have the customized breakfast, you will not regret it…”

And, the hungry and exhausted foreigner accepts without curiosity as of what is included. She just needs a hot meal, a fresh shower and a warm bed to rest her mind.

Time is moving slowly. In the skirts of the mountains, life takes a different pace. How big difference with the hectic style of the City. People are friendly; they seem free and harmless. She feels secure, but still cannot have plenty confidence, she needs to be alert. Suddendly, the anxiety traps this unfortunate woman again. She wonders how her brother would be doing, Laura? She will need to find a way to communicate with them.

Andrew has been observing her during these days. He is not intrigued or disturbed by her retraction, for the contrary, he feels that she needs him and he is willing to help her, to protect her.

As the calendar runs without notice, Andrew and Adriana begin a torrential but secret romance. The Delaware river and its surroundings have been forced to witness this torrid experience. Laughter, fear, betrayals; all have been components of once again a failed search for her happiness

This morning as one of many mornings, Adriana contacted Phillips, the taxi driver that she has being using for a long as she got to this town. The idea of his real identity and duty has not even crossed her imagination. It will take many more trips for he to know the suffering of this woman and to understand that he also loves her to then plan the strategy to keep her safe while continuing with this mission of capturing Steve. It is here, in this remote corner of New York where he will have to confront his destiny, trapped now in the heart of this persecuted woman that he needs to thrive.

In search for a more secure refuge, Phillips will transfer Adriana to Massachusetts and later to the city of Miami while having the chance to gain her trust.

Joined:28 May 2019, 23:03

Re: New York Pitch Assignments: London Frost

#28 Post by LondonFrostC7 » 17 Jun 2019, 18:25

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Jayne’s goal is to stop a dystopian future from coming to pass. However, as the story progresses into future books, she discovers that she is not responsible for stopping it directly – but rather has to find the Reincarnated King while accepting her role and power. Until she realizing and fulfills this need, the future continues down the rabbit hole of destruction.
Liam’s goal is to be free from The Book Club’s grasp. To do this, he fight for his life in the Gladiatrix. But the more he wins, the more he becomes a target until his real identity is discovered. Rather than fighting to save his own life, he learns that he needs to fight to save the future by rebuilding a sword that was destroyed in the final battle over a thousand years ago. Only once the sword has been rebuilt, can he claim his place and save the world.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

The Book Club was established by Timothy Guenther and Maria Guenther, as a way to cultivate like-minded people with the financial needs to overthrow the current Inbetween government. With the twelve leaders at the head of the club, each with their own agenda and reasons, The Book Club has injected itself into law enforcement, governments, and even syndicates. However, it is Timothy and Maria, beings older than most, who hold the key to the end of the world. Timothy, the reincarnation of Mordred, wants to take control of the Inbetween – which was denied to him when Arthur struck.
Timothy has been waiting for The Key to rise, with the hope of turning The Key against the world and using The Key for his own end. Or killing The Key before The King accepts his role. Over the years, Timothy has been looking for the lost pieces of the sword so the great weapon can be restored and usable only by him.

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

Title One: (Currently in Use but willing to change): The Inbetween: Book One of the Foster Files
Title Two: Welcome to the Inbetween: Book One of the Foster Files


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

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Urban Sci-Fi
Comparable One: Mortal Instruments (By Cassandra Clare)

Mortal Instruments is about a race of half angles trying to save the world with daily battles with demons from other worlds. Much like my story, they have demons, angels, fairy, werewolves and all other fantasy like creatures. Both stories take place in the world as it is today but with hidden claves and secret treasures seeable only be those willing to bear witness.
Similarities: Both of the main female characters are new to the world. They both know they are a little different but in general they are forced into the world due to situations beyond their control. However, they thrive. They learn to survive and much more than survive – they thrive. They are strong female leaders. Despite their lack of understanding – they dive in head first to save the people they love and save the world from someone willing harm. Both stories take place in the modern world with a fantasy twist. They both contain government structures and political motivations that help dictate and motivate characters and plot. They also touch upon prejudice between the races which is a huge sub-plot of my story.
Differences: While my story can be read by young adults it has more ‘grown-up’ arcs and concepts that don’t usually appear in young adult novels. My story also revolves around multiple characters not just one. The stories all divert and change to tell the story from multiple angles and through multiple eyes.

My story also explains how all the different beings came to be. While The Mortal Instruments leaves a lot to the imagination, I use sound scientific theory to explain how and why the beings exist. I also add science fiction and technology to my stories, which many urban fantasy stories do not.

Comparable Two: Sookie Stackhouse Series (True Blood T.V Series) (By Charlaine Harris)

The Sookie Stackhouse series has many of the same qualities as The Mortal Instruments. The largest difference being the age demographic. The Sookie Stackhouse series is extremely adult and very much caters to the adult reader. The Mortal Instruments is meant for the young adult reader. My series falls in the middle of the two stories. There are adult concepts that fall just outside the young adult reader but my story can also be read by a young adult without censorship.
Similarities: They both contain beings of all types. They are both fantasy based in the modern world.
Differences: My story also includes a lot of science fiction and science theory. This is something I have found does not appear a lot in today’s urban fantasy setting.

The Love Story: One big difference between both stories and mine is the love story. The Mortal Instruments and The Sookie Stackhouse series are both driven by the love of the main characters. In fact, the love story becomes almost more important than the plot and the actual purpose of the story got lost from time to time.
Love stories add amazing story dynamic and inter-character building. While my story most certainly does contain several love stories, and life-altering decisions are made because of – the main focus is to stop a dystopian prophecy from coming to fruition. The love stories between my character help build and define the plot – not divert the reader.

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.

Conflict Line: In a world where magic is real, technology is alive, and Gods exist – Jayne, Liam and Sean must destroy the lies of the past to save the world before it crumbles under the weight of a dystopian prophecy they are always destined to fail.

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?

Primary Conflict – Throughout the Series: The main focus of the story is for the characters to work together to stop a prophecy from coming to pass. Each character is directed toward this goal through the first story.
- Jayne Foster - Jayne’s father was murdered. Eric Miller, an agent for SPOOK reaches out to her to help solve the crime. The trail leads them to a train from the future, which captured the catastrophic destruction of the end of the world. Jayne joins SPOOK in hopes of stopping it.
- Liam Reed - Learns everything he’s done in the name of human preservation has actually been to end humanity. Desperate to make up for all everything he’s done – he joins Jayne Foster to help her stop the very future he was helped build.
- Timothy Guenther - He was murdered many years ago at the hand of King Arthur. Upon his rebirth, he has been waiting for the day when the King and the Key would be born and kill them. Once dead, he can claim The Inbetween and all the worlds connected to it as his own and become ruler of the Multiverse.

Secondary Conflict:
- Politics – There are so many races living on Earth and coming to Earth, that politics play a substantial role in the outcome of the story.
- Prejudice - Again, because there are so many difference races on Earth, many of which dislike each other. Breaking passed the years of hatred and dislike is a key requirement to saving the world.
- Drugs – Nirvana will play a huge role in the story. Given that Nirvana is made by killing Carrier’s and harnessing their powers – people willingly turn Carriers in to make more Nirvana. This will leader to the extinction of an entire sub-race of humanity.
- Social Class / Government – Each sub-Earthian race has their own social class and/or government system. These governments each play roles in how the story will conclude. With they join Timothy Guenther and end the world or will they join the Resistance or – third option – never get involved in the first place.
- Jayne / Liam Love story - Due to the pressures of Jayne and Liam – their love story will be put to the test later in the series. Specifically when Jayne joins Timothy Guenther. To everyone watching she has betrayed everything. But Liam stands by her, believing in her and her choice.
- Eric / Aden Love Story - Because Aden is the only pure-human (non-magic) being in the resistance this love story is put to the test when Aden is forced to take Nirvana during the Gladiatrix to survive. Eric learns of his drug addiction, which causes turmoil between them – Eric being a Carrier.

Inner Conflicts:
- Jayne Foster
o Get over her father’s double life and lies
o Accept her power completely
o Accept that Liam is the one meant to stop the prophecy
o Accept her fate as the new the new Doorman
- Liam Reed
o Accept that he is a Nephilim
o Accept his destiny
o Accept his power
o Move beyond his life as a murderer so he can help stop the prophecy
o Rebuild Excalibur
- Sean McPhail
o Accept his death
o Understand what his true purpose is
o Learn to love since becoming a God

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.

Over Arching Setting: The InBetween

In the beginning there was the Protomass, a large crystalline mass of no one knows what, but it is believed to have been a bound up as a very unstable Bose Einstein Condensate lattice. How it came into existence is anyone‘s guess, and it didn’t last long; blowing up in the Big Bang to create the Multiverse. Ninety-nine point nine to the ninety-ninth power of all the matter in the multiverse is normal, but that infinitely small amount, is not. They are Chards of the original Protomass. There are untold billions of them strewn throughout the Multiverse. Most of them are tiny, around a Planck’s length, but they are all quantum connected to every other Chard by singularity strings and twister nodes, forming a holographic topology.

Chards, like gravity, are contained in some other mass and tiny. The tiny ones are connected, but don’t have enough size or mass to generate twistor nodes. Larger ones can, and do, which create doorways to other places connected by Chards. Most of these places are stars, heavy worlds, frigid worlds or airless waterless worlds. But even then there are a lot of connections to living worlds.
The Chard within Earth is exceptionally large. Most Chards over Planck size can generate one, maybe two twistor nodes. Earth’s Chard seems to be a Multiverse Nexus Node, large and powerful enough to connect to almost any Chard in the Multiverse - anywhere, and anywhen.

Currently there are hundreds upon hundreds of doorways open on Earth, linking to both worlds in this dimension, and worlds throughout the Multiverse. Because of the power of Earth’s twistor node, a great number of those small Chard worlds can only muster one or two doorways linking here and only here. Beings who wish to travel throughout the Multiverse have to start here. Many travel to Earth merely to travel to somewhere else, which is why Earth is known as ‘The InBetween’.

The allure Earth has for Extra-terrestrial beings is well documented. A number of beings came to Earth and began to set themselves up as ‘Gods’ ruling Earth. The first were Ra and his crew, but they were followed in quick succession by Baal and Tiamat; then came Yahweh and Lucifer. The Olympians came through the Mount Olympus doorway almost on their heels. It is fortunate that most of the smaller doorways can only accommodate small transports, of all the main beings imports, the Olympians had the biggest doorway, and the tales of their tech imports are legend.

Earth could have been worse, would have been worse if a young fellow, famously born in a little town in Judea hadn’t come along. He was a human born with both with great charisma and a talent. He could, and did have to power to open, but more importantly, to close doorways, both temporarily and permanently. He was a Carrier. During his famously undocumented travels, he slammed the Stonehenge and the New-grange doorways shut on the Fey Lords, negotiated a strict interaction limitation agreement with the Olympians, trashed the Baal, Tiamat and Amon-Ra doorways, and most importantly put paid to the nasty planned war between the Luciferians and the Yahwehnese. Those two were using magical genetic manipulations to create altered humans to be their armies. Today they are famously known as ‘Angels’ on the Yahwehnese side and ‘Demons’ on the other. Vampires, Werewolves and Naga are also part of the Luciferian smorgasbord.

The first thousand years after the big shut down were tough, humans were still technologically inferior to most of the remaining and newly incoming beings. Humans were also trying to contend with all the half-bloods, the genetically altered, and the remnants of the banished ‘Gods’. Constantinople was the Capital of the world at that time and that’s where the great Treaty of the InBetween was hammered out and Earth became a travelers’ tourist trap with whole cities blossoming into existence. A large number of Carriers banded together to govern these cities and to make sure nothing spilled over into the Sade world. Some of the more forward thinking half-breeds began to join the ranks to create the InBetween governing body known as S.P.O.O.K.

As of today, all the Multiverse doors open in DoorsWay in the InBetween. Sade Earth is virtually safe from extra-terrestrial invasions using doorways. The only way in and out of the hidden enclaves and the InBetween cities is through a special system of local doors or magically generated portals – all governed by S.P.O.O.K.

The Beings of the InBetween:

Ilahi are the other beings who’s origin is of Earth, like Mages, the Fey, the Angels, and Carriers. Ilahi are typically part human and part something else or like the Fairies and Tiamat’s Pagans – all born and thriving here on Earth.
Mages: Half human half demon
Pagans: Half human half Tiamat
Fey: Beings left behind when the doors closed
Angels: Beings left behind when the doors closed
Carriers: Human gifted with powers. Origins unknown – believed to be related to the Chard’s existence on Earth.

Oni are humans turned by a demonic virus unlike most other Ilahi who are born. Werewolves and vampires are more or less created after being attacked by an infected being.

Tarni are beings who come to Earth through the doorways created by the Chard.

Joined:04 Jun 2019, 19:01

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#29 Post by lbuttino4620 » 17 Jun 2019, 20:38

1. Story Statement:
Being a father can change a man—and if he’s a leader, change the nation. Assassination effects his children forever more.

2. Antagonist and Antagonistic Forces
The antagonists in the book are real; John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray live on in infamy. Yet the assassins also represent darker forces within us. Hate kills. Racism kills. Ideology and irrationality kill. All kill in the name of some higher purpose—yet all are evil because they deprive others of life and liberty.

Booth killed Abraham Lincoln because the President freed the slaves. The assassin, his co-conspirators, and other Southerners wanted to reignite the Civil War. Northerners, too, including the army, thought they were fighting to preserve the Union. Emancipation was another matter altogether.

The emerging right wing in America believed JFK was soft on communism and weak in foreign policy. Their evidence? Cuba, Khrushchev, and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Their concern? JFK’s vacillation regarding Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement. Oswald may have pulled the trigger, but government investigations and the majority of Americans believe he did not act alone.

Dr. King sought the emancipation of both black and white from America’s racial stranglehold. Threatened with assassination since Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, near the end he knew a bullet had already been fired. When it arrived, as he stood on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the bullet blasted out the vocal cords of one of the greatest orators in history. That’s hate.

3. Breakout Title (one being the highest)
First. Assassinated Fathers: Lincoln, JFK, and Dr. King
Second. Assassinated Fathers and their Children: Lincoln, JFK, and King
Third. Assassinated Fathers and the Children They Left Behind: Lincoln, JFK, and King

4. Comparables
Thousands of books have given us insight into the family life of Lincoln, JFK, and King. These include best-selling biographies, histories, and works of narrative nonfiction. The writings by their wives and adult children expand upon these understandings. Despite this, only one nonfiction book focuses on Lincoln as a father; none exists for JFK and Dr. King. There also is no book where the three appear together.

The one nonfiction book about Lincoln is Alan Manning’s, Father Lincoln: The Untold Story of Abraham Lincoln and His Boys (2016). While the author is correct in saying that previous biographies of Lincoln ignore the importance of him as a father, Manning’s thesis expresses how the President tried to balance being a father with a career. Among other differences with my book, Manning does not connect Lincoln as a father with being a leader, and his is significant. Neither does Manning demonstrate the transforming experience Willie’s death had on the President—which is enormous.

Assassinated Fathers is about Lincoln, JFK and King as fathers--and the effect their murders had on their children. Two comparables are listed below for Lincoln, JFK, and King and two for each their children.

Lincoln, JFK, and King

George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel, (2017). Lincoln visits Willie in the Georgetown crypt and cradles his son’s body. Willie’s spirit doesn’t want to move on but stay, to be close to his father. This compels the graveyard ghosts to rally for him to leave for his own good. The novel does not exhaust the father-son relationship between Lincoln and Willie but excites interest in it—played out more fully in my book.

Gore Vidal’s, Lincoln: A Novel, (2nd printing, 2000). Excellently researched, it is creatively similar to Saunders in that it is told by others—not ghosts for Vidal, but real people who knew and worked with Lincoln. The author gets it right, that by the end of the Civil War Lincoln was a different man—stripped of ambition. But Vidal does not include Willie’s death as a major contributing factor.

Robert Dallek, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, (2003). Dallek, given unrestricted access to a new round of key Kennedy family papers, also interviewed the late President’s colleagues, friends, and doctors. There is more to the JFK story than previously thought. This nonfiction best seller reads like a novel, which is my aim as well.

John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage, (1957). This Pulitzer Prize-winner is described as nonfiction but, like An Unfinished Life, reads as if it were fiction. Motivation and plot predominate; actual historical quotations read conversationally. I was struck by the book’s similarity to the writing style I hope to achieve. To have Kennedy’s own voice about politics is a research bonus.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can’t Wait, (1964). Of the half-dozen books written by King, this may be the most important. The 1963 Birmingham campaign was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. King’s account is detailed, thoughtful and moving. “Modern Library,” the renowned publisher of classics and essential writings, ranked the book number 78 on its list of the 100 best nonfiction books.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., (Clayborn Carson, editor), (1998). This is not a traditionally written autobiography, but rather includes previously unpublished writings, interviews, recordings, and the correspondence of Dr. King. Important here, the book offers new information about King’s family life.

The Children of Lincoln, JFK, and King

Lincoln’s Children:
Ruth Painter, Lincoln’s Sons, (1955). The first book to put Lincoln’s four sons, Robert, Edward, Willie, and Thomas (better known as Tad) at the forefront of the Lincoln story. Lincoln as a father, his parenting style, and his interaction with his sons is its theme. Lincoln’s Sons offers a wealth of anecdotal material.

Jason Emerson, Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln, (2012). As the first-born and Lincoln’s only surviving son, the book is a definitive account of Robert Lincoln’s successful, though star crossed life. He became a millionaire railroad attorney; he accepted and was successful at high level governmental administrative posts. Robert also had his mother committed to a mental institution, a son die, and though he didn’t like being the President’s son, became his father’s staunchest, most visible defender.

Caroline and John Kennedy:
Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy, The Right to Privacy, (1995). One of several books by Caroline, this one is co-authored--probably because of her penchant for privacy. It is well-written and highly praised. There can be no doubting her concern about privacy in the new age of television.

John F. Kennedy Jr., and George Magazine, (1995-1999). This is the foremost place to learn about John Kennedy, Jr., or John Kennedy, as he preferred to be called. He wrote editorials, conducted interviews, and argued with his father’s critics, political enemies and even the head of the NRA. His friends and acquaintance are also interviewed by him, and sometimes asked John questions others dared not ask--such as if he had seen Oliver Stone’s JFK. His work here is an enormously useful resource.

The King Children:
Coretta Scott King, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., (1969). The book depicts her life with her husband and their four children—along with the relationship of them all to the Civil Rights Movement. She was a formidable woman of simple dignity, as revealed in the pages of her autobiography.

Bernice King, Hard Questions, Heart Answers, (1997). King’s daughter Bernice and son Dexter have authored books, and siblings Yolanda and Martin, III, have spoken candidly about what it is like to be the children of a martyred father. Bernice’s book is a collection of Bernice’s sermons and speeches. It offers powerful insights into her personal life and the larger societal concerns. She talks about the “monstrous” expectation placed on her and her siblings growing up a King. She talks about being driven to thoughts of suicide.

5. Primary Conflict Lines:

The Fathers:
The war was awash in blood, and seemed unwinnable, and then came the death of Lincoln’s beloved son Willie. The President had to claw his way out of the most profound episode of depression he had ever known. He did, and he changed America, only to find a bullet waiting for him.

Being a father influenced JFK’s policies during the Cuban Missile Crisis and led to his achievement of the first Nuclear Disarmament Treaty. Then his infant son Patrick died, deepening a transformative experience in him in regard to being a father, husband and man. But this part of the JFK story was cut short—and has been overshadowed far too long, by the assassination.

Dr. King was threatened with murder since he first stepped onto the national stage in Montgomery, Alabama (1955). King did not mention his children for fear they might be killed. But after the brutal Birmingham protest (1963), King, as both father and leader, publicly disclosed—in his extraordinary “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” what racism was doing to his children. Toward the end, when he knew he was going to be killed, he began to take his two sons with him to rallies and protests. Did he miss his children in an anticipatory way?

The Children:
Robert Lincoln didn’t like to draw attention to himself as the President’s son. Ironically, he became his father’s staunchest, most visible defender of his father’s life and legacy. He didn’t like the role.

Caroline Kennedy wrote about the need for privacy and gun violence; her brother John took on his father’s critics, political enemies, and what he described as America’s obsession with the life and death of his family. They didn’t have a choice.

The King children supported their father’s legacy in the establishment of a national holiday, the King Center, and a statue of him in the nation’s capital. Yet they also had very public disputes, declared their father’s alleged assassin not guilty, and movingly articulated the difficulty of growing up in the shadow of their martyred father.

6. Inner and Secondary Conflicts

Inner Conflicts:

The Fathers:
Lincoln was a devoted father who knew he might be killed and yet went ahead with his ambitions anyway. His strategy of fighting a war of attrition turned it into a bloodbath, though disease was the greatest killer in the war. Lincoln, and countless others, considered death by disease a casualty of the war. After Willie died of typhus, Lincoln struggled to understand God’s purpose for the war and the death of his son.

JFK was given Last Rites twice, before the third time at Parkland Hospital. He also imitated his father’s playboy attitude. His nearness to death and the frivolity with which he lived his life collided when his infant son Patrick died. He started to change. People noticed. But he was soon cut down by an assassin by an assassin’s bullets.

King left his children out of his rhetoric and out of sight until the brutal, unconscionable Birmingham protest. But that “Children’s March” opened him up to a father’s motivation to rid the nation of racism. He told the world the hope he had for his children.

The Children of Assassination:
The adult children had similar inner conflicts: Like it or not they had to deal with the conspiracies, their father’s critics and enemies, and the enormous legacies each father left behind. They were compelled to live under the public’s watchful eye and could never quite measure up with fathers who in death became larger than life. How were they to individuate? Become their own person? Avoid the constant public scrutiny of them always and everywhere?

Secondary or Complications

The Fathers:
Lincoln, JFK, and King were leaders during three great crises: The Civil War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Civil Rights Movement. Decision-making was often done on the fly—with enormous implications for the nation and world. They were fathers, too, and this factored into what they chose to do in the public arena.

The main theme for the children of assassination was how to handle love for a father whose life was brutally ended, and the demands and expectations placed upon them as a result. There was a glaring unfairness between this and who they were as individuals--able to freely pursue their own passions and agendas. It never could happen.

7. Settings
During the Civil War, Washington, DC was a southern town hostile to Lincoln and the Union cause. The Civil War raged on, with its whole-sale slaughter, and death by disease. Death was the number one killer in the war, and Washington was an open sewer. That’s how Willie Lincoln died, of Typhoid. His father, the Commander-in-Chief, deeply grieved the loss of his son. His despair and emergent hope are given voice at that haunting place called Gettysburg.

The nation’s capital is again the primary setting for President John F. Kenned-- but shifts to Boston where his infant son Patrick dies, and then to Dallas where he is killed. Other places, too, are part of the President’s portfolio of settings.

The setting kept changing for Dr. King. It begins in Atlanta, then shifts to Montgomery, Birmingham, and to other places made prominent by the Civil Rights Movement. King took his two sons with him to different cities, and is murdered, without family present, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Joined:16 Jun 2019, 06:51

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#30 Post by SophiaJanjuaC7 » 17 Jun 2019, 20:54

1. Story statement
Jozef Stinebrenner must overcome his peculiar tendencies/autistic tendencies to guide a jury to peers to deliver justice

2. The antagonist
Brian Hardison is your next door neighbor. He talks a little too loudly at the Christmas party, laughs too exuberantly at his own jokes, but he always asks how things are going with you, and genuinely every now and then has some solid advice. You might still go out for drinks with him and of course buy a Manhattan condo unit from him. He’s not the devil after all, so why is he so hell bent to convict Desmond Tuttridge and convince the other 11 jurors do the same? And why does he particularly take issue with the jury foreman Jozef Stinebrenner who really only just wants to be left alone—well and fulfill his duties as jury foreman which he takes very seriously (he’s never let a task unfinished in his whole life)? What drives Hardison other than just an overwhelming need to hear his own voice? Sometimes it’s just that for some people.

Stinebrenner’s Judgement
The World According to Jozef Stinebrenner
Stinebrenner’s World

Literary fiction
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon): the protagonist of this young adult/contemporary adult fiction novel is an atypical youth, a high functioning autistic spectrum boy, who, like Jozef Stinebrenner, in many ways navigates day to day life as a ‘neurotypical person’ (taking the bus, going to school, talking to neighbors) but at the same time so completely different (1st time on bus, runs away from police, interviewing random neighbors about whether they knew about a dog being killed, but getting off on the wrong foot by either asking them if they’ve killed the dog!, takes special class at school but don’t assume he’s learning disabled-on the contrary he’s taking advanced level maths). Compare with Stinebrenner—rides the subway as if he’s a pro, but missed the social cues of minding one's personal space on the train.

Wicked: lest one think this is a story about an autistic man (period), let him be not mistaken. This is a story of an autistic person, but not just that. It’s really the story about all of us, about human perspective and how one’s own experience impacts our judgements. Wicked as a retelling of a classic story through another perspective.

Heckled by his peers and addled by his own compulsiveness, an autistic Manhattanite must master the fine art of human relationships to save an accused man.

[big picture] Stinebrenner admires hard work and order, shuns chaos and living life unplanned. He sees himself in Singh (the store owner who is robbed, the case of which is being tried), but hears the evidence in the case as black and white. Stinebrenner's upbringing finds resonance with the victim, Singh, though his rational mind must find the defendant innocent. One facet of himself must win over the other, then comes the hard part of overcoming his personal tendencies to communicate these reasoning to his cojurors. He sees life in all its aspects in black and white. While this strait laced approach makes him an impartial juror, it also unwittingly calls out potential prejudices along racial and social lines among his conjurers and society in general.

[breakdown of inner conflict] Sitting in his apartment, a subsidized residence in a Seniors’ Assisted Living Building, Jozef Stinebrenner receives his jury summons. This immediately resonates with his civic sense of duty and order. But his obsessive nature and follow through to the end personality cause worry that he must take time off of work at the bookstore to fulfill his jury duty.

In the courtroom jury duty itself poses a new type of dilemma. Stinebrenner imagines a Justice Utopia where detectives and criminals (those with understanding and skill set to solve a crime and know the criminal mind) serve as jurors and trials take place on scene as reenactments. But inside the State Supreme Court, the process works much differently with random questions and answers spoken between lawyers and prospective jurors. He struggles to assign meaning to the method.

In between jury selection and the trial proceedings, Stinebrenner tries awkwardly to fit in with others. People around him occupy themselves with their cell phones, or easy banter with one another. When he inserts himself into the conversation his timing is off and no one acknowledges him. This comes to a head in jury deliberations when, picked as their foreman, he must lead his fellow jurors to a verdict but none will listen to anything he has to say, despite his verbatim didactic recall of the testimony and general knowledge of obscure but relevant details.

Dejected and demoralized, Stinebrenner returns to his home after Day 1 wishing he could crawl under a rock and never go back. But through the impromptu interactions and offhand comments of his neighbors, he realizes that he alone is the right person for this task, particularly because of his unique perspective. And furthermore, he sees in the Defendant much of his own interpersonal struggling.

The story takes place on the mundane planet earth, in the everyday apartment complex, subway car, city street, and perhaps less common court house. But the people that make the complex a residential community, and the glimpse inside to a group of people often overlooked by society, yet seen going about their business in the same way that typical society does, compels the reader to stay in scene.

Joined:14 Jun 2019, 22:36

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#31 Post by WILLMUTTERSC7 » 17 Jun 2019, 23:45

I have two protagonist characters. These story statements represent the characters in the first book of a trilogy in which their story statements will change from book to book:
Taryn: Come to terms with the loss of her parents and grow into the knight she knows she’s meant to be.
Skyler: Prove to himself that he is a force worth reckoning with, tell the girl he loves how he feels

Volos is the antagonist in this story. His family members are antagonists throughout the trilogy:
Greater character arc: Volos is a drow elf who’s mother was tormented, and eventually kidnapped by the gods to protect themselves. He and his brothers have been collecting magical artifacts for hundreds of years that will allow them to bring her back to this world and protect her as she once protected them.
In this story, Volos grapples with who he has become and who he once was. He has had to do things and justifies them as a means to an important end. He has come to define himself by the goal of saving his mother and not letting down his older brothers. His proximity to powerful artifacts is intoxicating and makes it easy to take what he wants to achieve his goals. Often Volos does things that he later reflects on poorly but decides had to be done to get where he is headed.

Flowing Sands: Dark Tides
The Flow of Fate
Fates Collide on the Liquisand Sea

Brent Weeks - “The Lightbringer” series books
(The Black Prism is the first Lightbringer title)
This book is most similar to my book because it has a thoroughly built magic system in a world with a well-defined culture. I was inspired by other authors who do these things, and with my background in science, I took great joy in producing a world where the elements of my setting have rippling effects throughout every aspect of the world. Many world building books get lost in some of the minutiae of their world and, as a reader, I find myself losing interest at points. This series, however, strikes the balance perfectly between complex world-building and a story about people.

Brandon Sanderson - “Mistborn” or “The Reckoners” series books
(Steelheart is the first Reckoners title)
This book is most similar to my book because of the level of detail in the magic system. The powers in this series all have physical ramifications and are taken to their limit through the lens of actual physics. I find that this relates to my manuscript in that many aspects of the setting are fleshed out to the point that you believe they could be real. You could guess what would happen if certain fictional objects or substances were right in front of you. This level of realistic immersion is fairly unique to this series.

5. Best friends from childhood, Taryn and Skyler have to stay alive while stopping an ancient villain from obtaining god-like power.

Inner Conflict for Taryn:
Taryn has experienced a “glimpse” of her own future in which she is deeply in love with someone she doesn’t recognize. As she developes new romantic feelings for her best friend Skyler she struggles with whether or not to reveal these feelings given that she knows they pale in comparison to the feelings from her “glimpse”. If she persues her emotions with Skyler, they will eventually have to end because of the person in her glimpse. Her friendship with Skyler is too valuable to risk.
During the story, someone interrupts her thoughts about the mysterious love to call Skyler her boyfriend she reacts to the internal conflict. She goes through her emotions for both men and possible outcomes with Skyler then openly denies that Skyler is her boyfriend. He is only her friend.

Secondary Conflict for Skyler:
Skyler likes to think his way through problems, while Taryn likes to take action. This causes Skyler to frequently compare himself to people he perceives are better than him at dealing with dangerous situations. Skyler spends much of the story doubting his own value and importance. Throughout the story, Skyler seeks help from others but eventually sees that only he can take the actions needed.
During the story, Skyler’s friend Taryn has been kidnapped by the villain. Skyler goes to the Abundantium Guard (the local police force) to report the situation so that they can find her and bring her to safety. Skyler thinks that they seem inadequate to the task. Skyler finds himself asking all the right questions that lead him to find and save Taryn on his own.
Several character interactions throughout the story echo this secondary conflict. Other characters who’s interactions boost his confidence or make him questions his worth include: A new friend, A friend of his deceased father, A mentor at “The Queen’s Academy”, and Queen Sutton

Big picture setting:
This manuscript takes place takes place on a world called Oerth. One area of Oerth known as The Consa is a desert continent. Once a lush area, The Consa has been changed by the “green-wall coral”, which has evolved to use the magic of Oerth. Green wall coral has changed all of the surface water tributaries into “liquisand” tributaries. The Consa flows abundantly with liquisand making rivers, bays, and seas of the abrasive substance. The liquisand flowing throughout is used for a well-established trade route that allows magically grown fruit and juices to be transported regularly to all areas of the desert that border liquisand. Due to the scarcity of water, traveling outside The Consa into the deserts is deadly. As a result, few outside of The Consa know of its existence, and those inside The Consa are generally unaware of a world beyond the desert.

Liquisand is a major component of the story and the setting. When struck by natural lightning or by blitz magic (magical lightning), it is transformed into a substance called quiksand (different from quicksand). When quiksand and liquisand touch, they explode violently. The whole topic of liquisand is explored in great detail as far as its texture, taste, smell, chemical properties, phases of matter, magical properties, reactions with other substances, by-products, and more. The culture and technology have been shaped by liquisand in many many ways. Some of these ways include quik-engines that use liquisand and quiksand, magical technology called EZ’s or EZ-tech that use electrium (a byproduct of quik-explosions) to manipulate magic without being a mage, explosives, liquisand baths that clean by exfoliation, weather phenomenon associated with liquisand, and more.

The desert has different types of sand depending on the area of The Consa, and different forms of glass are made from these sands. Each form of glass has special properties that make them more useful for one purpose or another. Sands used for glass include; gold sand, quiksand, liquisand, crystal sand, brown sand, and white sand. Types of glasses in The Consa include: baseglass (normal glass), flexiglass (cheap, non-rigid, and somewhat flexible), hyperglass (hard, somewhat durable), glass-steal (very durable, non flexible), aeroglass (ultra low density glass), shatterglass (made for shattering explosives), and eluderglass (rigid, highly elastic glass).

There are five intelligent races common to The Consa.
The Oercs are evolved from Orcs primarily through interbreeding with humans. They are generally similar to humans but have cultural differences that resemble Native American culture.
Humans are typical to humans in a fantasy setting.
The Valpyrie are an honor-bound society of flame-wielding humanoids that live in seclusion in the mountains. They are in the public eye often enough to be well known. The Valpyrie look like short humans until they activate magical wings of fire. Some can create swords and shields from the fire as well.
Illithulu are highly magical creatures that live in the caverns under The Consa. They are rare and generally live with the drow elves. Illithulu have squidlike heads, pray to the god Cthulhu, and can speak through telepathy or verbal communication. They live by absorbing brain-waves or by eating food and prefer to live around large groups of people but to do so discretely.
The elves of The Consa have three forms. The Queen and her half-elf children are fair-skinned elves from a land far from The Consa. The second type, drow elves, evolved below the surface when ancient elves from the Consa left the surface as its water changed to liquisand. Drow have dark skin and absorb magic differently than other elves (evolved for sub-surface magic). The third type, eluder elves, are evolved from ancient drow elves who resurfaced long ago and have lighter skin but not like that of the original elves. Eluder elves live inside huge magical storms to keep their ecosystem separate from the green-wall coral in The Consa. Their communities are inside well known permanent storms, but their people and culture are mostly a mystery due to the difficulty in getting inside or outside the sandstorms that surround them.

Main Sub-settings used:
Areas of the Consa will be used more in the rest of the series. Many are named and have different cultures to them.

In this story, the main sub-settings used are the home of one of the two main characters, two important cities in The Consa, and general areas on the trade route that play up the world. Taryn is from a small town called Cranston which is far from any major cities. She works on a fruit farm that sells desert fruit as a local commodity.
Taryn and Skyler end up back together at The Queens Academy in a huge city-state called Syrinx. It is an enormous island in the Liquisand Sea. At the center of Syrinx, a smaller island called Syrachan Island is the home of a booming metropolis. Its streets are filled with glass towers and buildings. Much of the story takes place at The Queens Academy, on Syrachan Island, or in the surrounding boroughs of Syrinx.
Under the borough of Riverbank Heights, a long tunnel leads down to a subterranean city known as Drachenvald. The drow and human community that now lives in Drachenvald found this hidden tunnel to the surface during the last twenty years. As a result, The Consa is still acclimating culturally to the emergence of drow elves depending on the distance from Syrinx. Drachenvald is the second city that much of the story takes place in. Drachenvald is an enormous magical cavern with an entire city inside. Magic is more abundantly used in Drachenvald than elsewhere, and water is readily available to the people who live here.

In addition to physical locations in the setting, two important details of Oerth are fleshed out in this story. One of these is the magic system. Oerth has a unique magic system that includes eight magical realms (nine if you read past book one). These magical realms are earth, air, fire, water, blitz (lightning/electricity), anziehen (a sort of anti-lightning), uber (abundant radiant magic from the sky), and unter (abundant gravitational magic from the center of Oerth).
The second detail that plays an important part of the setting is technology. Oerth has magic, but the people of The Consa have advanced technologically. They have engines using liquisand and quiksand. They have many devices that manipulate magic to achieve tasks similarly to electronic devices in our own world. However, those devices that accomplish similar tasks to our electronics do so via alternate methods using magic. For example, large moving advertisements are in Syrinx but create illusions that impact your mind far more than any image would from a real-world television screen. These illusions carry smells, sounds, emotions, and a true belief that they are actually in front of you. If you try to disbelieve them, or remind yourself that they are just an illusion, the entire advertisement will disappear to you.
They have invented autocarts (similar to cars), floaters (similar to blimp/planes), underships (similar to submarines), and the Untercirque (similar to high speed rail). Each is made with the appropriate details that this world would create, not like their real world counterparts.

Joined:11 Jun 2019, 16:03

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#32 Post by KristinaTomC7 » 19 Jun 2019, 01:23

Hi everyone, looking forward to workshopping with all of you!


Beatrice Dahl died over two decades ago, the same summer that Jean and her mother came to live with the acclaimed but mentally unstable novelist. In an attempt to piece together the truth behind her death, Jean draws upon disparate and often unreliable sources: conflicting first-hand accounts, her own childhood memories, a scandalous new biography of Bea, an old police investigation, and the clues Bea has left scattered in her fiction and the house in which she died. And like the magical Finders and Menders of the fantastical world Bea first created years ago, Jean seeks--but without the benefit of sorcery--to make whole a part of herself that has long lain broken.

Part mystery, part fantasy, TURTLE MOUNTAIN is a work of literary fiction that unfolds over three parallel narrative arcs: a nine-year-old Jean spends one idyllic summer at the foot of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains before the season comes to a devastating end; an adult Jean struggles to remember the details of a crime that may or may not have been committed; and the fictional characters of a world known only as the Kingdom--a place of sorcery loosely inspired by Tang dynasty China and Southeast Asia--increasingly resemble their real-life counterparts, muddling the boundaries between reality and fantasy, and between memory and storytelling.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Discover the truth behind the death of her former mentor—20 years after the fact.


Nobody likes Marilyn. Not Roger, and certainly not Jean. The one exception might be Marilyn’s sister Beatrice, but Bea died years ago. Growing up, the sisters were remarkably similar: they were both impatient, willful, and fiercely intelligent, and the two often passed as twins. But Bea lived her life with a spirit of generosity and discovery, open to new people and places. Marilyn, however, has grown only angrier and closed-minded with the years, jealously guarding against any threats to her own self-interest. “Jealous,” in fact, might be the best word to describe Marilyn’s character. She was jealous of the attention her parents lavished on Bea as a child, jealous of Bea’s success as an adult, and now jealous of Jean.

When Bea’s widower Roger decides to change his will and leave the old house to Jean, Marilyn fights this every way she knows how. She can’t bear to see Bea’s house go to Jean, a girl who barely knows Bea and isn’t even part of the family. Marilyn has long envisioned the house as a museum devoted to Bea and her writing. It’s true, she used to envy her sister’s fame and career, but aren’t all sisters jealous of each other? Anyway, she’s had nothing but Bea’s best interests at heart, especially after her unfortunate death. Protecting the house from this vulture of a girl is the least she owes Bea.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: breakout title


FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: genre and comparables

Literary / upmarket with potential crossover for mystery and fantasy

Haruki Murakami’s HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD is a possible comp because of its genre-crossing, literary appeal.

Chris Cleave’s LITTLE BEE (aka THE OTHER HAND) is another possible comp because of a single, traumatic encounter that drives much of the book, and the gradual reveal of the true scope of this tragedy.

Screen adaptation comps include OUTLANDER and ONCE UPON A TIME because of the multiple time-shifts/settings. The Asian/Asian-American themes may make films like CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON a possible comp because of the wu xia (Chinese martial arts fantasy) inspired elements.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: conflict line

Famed author Beatrice Dahl died over 20 years ago under mysterious circumstances, and Jean is determined to discover the truth behind her old mentor’s death. In so doing, she must revisit painful memories she has tried the past two decades to forget.


Inner conflict
Jean left the small, Northern California town of Santa Teresa because there were too many memories there: a failed job, a failed relationship, and, of course, the house where Bea died. But when Bea’s widower Roger invites Jean to continue writing Bea’s famed fantasy series, she agrees, even though it means returning to that same house. As she delves through Bea’s old notes and rereads the books that she loves almost as much as Bea herself, Jean becomes just as determined to find out the truth behind Bea’s death as she is to continue Bea’s work. But unraveling that mystery means hearing unflattering stories of people she has long loved and admired--Roger, her mother, and Bea--and it means forcing herself to remember the full tragedy of the night that Bea died. When confronted by Bea’s very unwelcome and very unauthorized biographer, she begins to question how much she can trust the people and events around her, including her own unreliable childhood memories. Eventually she’ll have to choose among the competing narratives that emerge from her investigation, but she must first decide where her loyalty lies: to Bea’s memory, to herself, or to the truth?

Secondary conflict
Returning to Santa Teresa means facing things Jean would rather forget, yes, but it also means a chance to fix some old mistakes. She reconnects with a former lover, and while she ended her ill-advised relationship with Alex years ago, Jean begins to regret that decision. But as soon as Alex raises the stakes from mere nostalgia and physical comfort to something that begins to look like commitment, Jean balks. Her instincts tell her to run away, but like so many things during her trip back to Santa Teresa, Jean doesn’t know if she should trust her instincts anymore.


Main setting: Santa Teresa, California, present-day
Technically a small portion of the lower slopes of Mount Tortuga, itself a part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the area is referred to by locals as Mt. Tort or, more commonly, “the hill.” Jean is in no hurry and pulls over more than a few times to let an impatient driver pass. She drives by several dirt paths--small but well-maintained byways that disappear quickly into foliage--and the occasional paved and gated driveway, beyond which a private road leads invariably to the estate above. The houses are too far away to be clearly seen, but the outlines of buildings are discernible from behind a screen of trees and brush. She passes address posts, mailboxes, and signs bearing names like “Del Monte Spa” or “Mornas Retreat and Homeopathy Center.” They stand in groups of threes and fours clustered amicably together: fat, tall, and sometimes crooked; in reds, yellows, and peeling pastels; haphazardly settled and leaning neighborly toward each other. But the longer she drives the more infrequently she comes across such markers, until she passes a stretch with no names and no paths--only a litter of limp leaves pressed against the earth. And of course, above and beyond the redwoods and their attendant oaks and weeping conifers waits an open maw of gray sky at cliff’s edge, always on the passenger side.

Wondering if she’s passed her destination, Jean is about to turn around when she spies a break in the trees marked by a large “For Sale” sign. Farther in is a gate with the number 2968 at the top. She pulls in, parks, and gets out. The gate is locked, but she notices a keypad and speaker just low enough to cause her to stoop uncomfortably. Peeved, and unreasonably so, she jabs a conspicuous white button. How could Roger sell the place?

Jean shivers as mist settles on her hair and face. It’s chilly but still far too warm for her ski jacket, and she’s stripped to her sweater. She glances at the trunk, where her windbreaker lies packed away, when the speaker crackles.

“Hi.” She resists the urge to add It’s me, Jean! Instead she simply says, “Is this the Dahl residence?” She waits bowed before the ancient device, mounted slightly askew on the gate and with number pads worn by long use into nubs with barely visible markings. No response. “Hello?”

A voice erupts from the speaker: “Technically it’s been the Lee residence for years.”

She blinks and registers this. “Okay, can I come in?”

“Are you with the agent?”

“Say that again?”

“Did the agent send you?”

He must mean Martin. “Yes?”

With a fanfare of static and creaking metal, the gate swings wide. She gets back into the car and drives past the gate, which closes behind her.

The house looks exactly as she remembers: yellow with white trim, and a gray roof with a slight sheen that used to make her nine-year-old self think of recently brushed cat fur. It still does. The building stands at the peak of a gentle hill, with windows glimmering faintly all the way around and throwing back whatever little sunlight there is to catch.

Setting 2: Santa Teresa, California, 1988
She is dusting her hands off when she catches sight of something moving outside. She kneels on the bed, opens the window, and sticks her head out. A wooden porch with white floorboards and railing runs along the house as far as Jean can see. She hears a meow to her right and, craning her neck, sees a gray cat leap on top of the railing and arch its back.

“Hi, cat.” Jean clicks her tongue at him, a sound she’s heard Mom make at stray cats before. The animal glances her way before jumping down and disappearing around the corner.

“Hey!” By now the entire upper half of her body is hanging out the window, her knuckles white from gripping the windowsill and her belly balancing precariously on the thin edge. She swings one leg up and over, and then the other. She jumps down, her sneakers landing with a thud on the floorboards. Jean races around the corner. “Cat?” She brushes her hands and walks one whole length of the house before turning the next corner, amazed at the broad, bright expanse of white porch before her. She’s never seen a house like this, with a porch that trails all the way around like a tail curled about a sleeping cat.

Soon the railing leads to a swing gate. She almost misses it--the gate is designed to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the railing. Jean unlatches it and steps down a short flight of stairs to the lawn. There is no proper path, but a trail of trampled grass leads from the gate to what appears to be a small garden. As she walks closer, she sees a woman crouched amidst the plants. Jean rubs her mood ring and it warms to a pale, bright green. She feels faintly guilty, but Mom said only that she couldn’t go upstairs; she didn’t say anything about outside.

Jean approaches the border of the garden and stares openly at the woman. A floppy, wide-brimmed hat is tied to her chin by a yellow gauze ribbon, and in her gloved hands she wields a small spade although Jean can’t make sense of what or why she is digging. Jean stands there watching and waiting for the woman to look at her. When she doesn’t, Jean begins to survey the garden: she notices first the many eager purple flowers rising from a patch of jagged leaves, impatient to greet the sunlight that’s finally broken open the dull, gray morning. She bends down and runs her finger along the thin, pointed petals that burst like rays from a yolk-yellow center. To the other side she spies more shrubs, demure and elegant in comparison, with bell-shaped flowers that droop from their own weight, the cascade of violets and blues reminding her of peacock feathers. She stoops lower to smell them but stops when a furred bumblebee staggers out from one of those slender bells, barely able to keep its balance amidst a heady cloud of pollen.

From this warm, honeyed stillness, Jean’s awareness is jerked back by a sudden plunk of water, as though someone has pitched a stone into a creek. Jean whirls about and sees the woman now standing and observing her. “Aster,” the woman says.

Jean furrows her brow, wondering if she’s misheard.

“Aster,” the woman repeats, “and honeywort. And by your feet, shepherd’s purse.” Jean follows her finger down to a rosette of dark green leaves, from which extends a single stem of white flowers. “I thought a girl like you would want to know the proper names of things.” The woman kneels down, but her voice continues from beneath her hat: “Are you going to say anything, or are you going to stand there in the hot sun all day?”

Jean shuffles the tips of her sneakers together. She’s been made to leave Aunt Macy, the only person she knows in California, and the disgusting taste of apple juice is still on her tongue. She knows she should be polite, but remaining silent seems to be the only small act of protest left to her.

“If anybody should get parched standing in the sun, there’s some lemonade over there. Anyone thirsty enough to accept a drink from a stranger has permission to help herself.”

Setting 3: The Kingdom
The Chronicles speak of a sorcerer named Mo, she who planted the spiny saga tree at the peak of Turtle Mountain, the roots of which she grew through her arts in an instant to stretch through rock and bind it whole on the day the earth shook and the mountain threatened to swallow the village of Gan. From this tree the first saga seeds fell and scattered across the mountain, taking root and producing the medicinal winter fruit that is now the wealth of Gan. Sorcerer Mo, High Enchanter of Lu, stayed the armies of the Northern invaders in the sixth dynasty. It is said that there is no finer work by Guo Zu than the twenty-meter-long scroll he painted portraying the day that Sorcerer Mo cut General Waran from his troops, as if striking the head of a snake from its body, when she diverted the Silver River along its current course to the Great Sea.

Guo Zu’s scrolls and his many imitators celebrate these doings and more, as do the Chronicles. Of Sorcerer Mo’s life before these great acts, however, little is known, and of the end of her life even less. What documentation exists has been collected here in an attempt to shed light on Mo, the woman and sorcerer.


Awakening-of-insects, the Rabbit Year,
17 years after the fall of High Gate

In the seventh month of her journey year, Mo found herself at a village called Eight Dawns. It seemed similar to many other villages she had passed through in her year-long sojourn--the final year of her training as a sorcerer--although Eight Dawns seemed more prosperous than most. That much was evident from the tour that the mayor’s young son had insisted on giving her.

“Here’s the mill, and there’s the smithy and fletcher’s. Old Po and his son do both. Past that is the dragon kiln. Did you know our village is famous for its celadon?”

“The finest ceramics east of the Silver River, they say,” Mo said politely.

“Some say either side,” the boy, Bobo, added. “The clay we gather down by the river gives our celadon its unique color and cracking. You can see it on the jars that Zhang’s carrying.” Mo watched a man of early-to-middle years approach toting two large jugs from a pole slung across his shoulders. Bobo whispered to Mo, “When Zhang comes round with deliveries, my sister always blushes. Now Ma is trying to convince Ba to--” The man jogged the last few steps toward them, and Bobo shouted, “Ho, Zhang!”

“Ho, Bobo.” The jugs appeared heavy, but the man carried the load if not lightly then gracefully enough to pause with easy breath and greet the two of them Courteously. “And here is a visitor to our village.”

Joined:29 May 2019, 03:00

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#33 Post by KatieBlairC7 » 19 Jun 2019, 07:14

1. Story Statement
A group of students studying various types of magic come together to form a subversive activist group, using their powers to complete increasingly ambitious acts of civil disobedience, until they find themselves embroiled in an international conflict as they attempt to prevent an unjust war.

2. Antagonist
There are two primary antagonists in my book, although only one appears in the story (and him only briefly): the dictator of a small Eastern European country and the president of the United States. The president, Dana Bell, is only referenced by my characters and does not appear, but her administration’s actions provide the impetus for the main characters’ journey. Bell heads a very conservative American administration; she initiates an ill-thought-out war in order to show herself to be a strong leader, drive up her approval ratings, and enrich her associates.
Anatoli Levitani is the dictator of Gratzstrana. Although the military operation to remove him from office is initiated under false pretenses, he is genuinely bad; he lives in luxury while the residents of his country struggle under crushing poverty, and his government has kept the country’s technological development delayed in order to keep the populace subdued. He appears in the novel when the main characters successfully capture him.
This question does prompt me to think I need to further develop these antagonists; much of the conflict comes from the students’ internal debates, and some of the action is initiated by attacks from less powerful antagonists (muggers, etc.).

3. Title Ideas
Covert Magic
Good Citizens
The Responsibility of the Entire World

4. Comparables
Genre: new adult
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (might be “adult” rather than “new adult,” but I think would still appeal to a similar audience)
My novel is similar to these books both in content (showing a version of how magic would interact with our non-magical world, and focused on interpersonal relationships along with larger-scale conflicts), and in tone/appeal (books with an emotional core and a snarky sense of humor which appeal to a new adult audience).

5. Conflict line
A group of magical college students form a political activist group based around their powers, and attempt to capture a foreign dictator in order to prevent a war; they must navigate a dangerous country and prevent their own internal disagreements from sabotaging their mission.

6. Primary and secondary conflicts
Although I have five primary point of view characters, Willow is more or less the “main” character, and typically faces the most inner conflict. Primarily, she struggles to decide whether it is wise to get involved with Emma and Kit’s efforts, especially as they increase in ambition. She also struggles with her own motivations for being involved, which partially stem from jealousy over sharing Emma with a new female friend, and with her general social anxiety as she navigates her small but new social circle. Finally, she deals with her romantic feelings towards Emma’s boyfriend Troy, and her associated guilt about potentially betraying her best friend.
The secondary conflict (or perhaps conflicts) revolve around the general group dynamics. Most notably, Kit and Troy repeatedly butt heads over their different political philosophies and her willingness to flout authority. Although she is at heart a well-meaning person, Kit’s sometimes abrasive personality also intimidates and upsets Willow and at times even leads to more minor conflicts with Alex, for whom Kit develops romantic feelings over the course of the book. Emma and Alex generally have easygoing personalities and often have to act as peacemakers for Kit and Troy (and to a lesser extent Willow). Emma’s abduction midway through the novel therefore throws the already shaky group dynamics into chaos.

7. Setting
The main characters’ trip abroad takes up a good portion of my novel, so it effectively has two main settings (aside from a brief scene in New York towards the end of the book). The first setting is, most immediately, their school MIPA—the Massachusetts Institute for the Practical Arts, an antiquated euphemism for magical abilities—and in a larger sense the city of Boston, where MIPA is located. Specifically, the school is located in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston, near BC and BU (where Troy attends college). Important scenes take place in a dining hall, in dorm rooms, in libraries and coffee shops where MIPA students go to study—in the standard locales of any American college. I hope that part of the appeal of my book will be seeing magic used in familiar settings. The students also take a short trip to a wealthy friend’s Brookline home, which they must break into in order to rescue him from his abusive parents.

Another large chunk of the novel takes place in Gratzstrana, a fictional country the students visit in order to capture its dictator. Gratzstrana is a largely impoverished country in a not-quite-specified part of Eastern Europe. Its technological development has been artificially held back by its leaders and religious communities, so its infrastructure is non-existent in some areas, and its more unsavory citizens are often more likely to use old-fashioned weapons such as knives and even bows rather than guns (although guns are not unheard of). Drug trafficking is a rampant problem throughout the country, often leading to violence. Most of its citizens are poor, but Gratzstrana’s corrupt dictator lives in a large palace, although even this opulent building is more old-fashioned than might be expected in the twenty-first century. Gratzstrana has a temperate climate and much of its topography is made up of forests and farmland. Oil reserves have recently been discovered there, leading to the present conflict.

Joined:18 Jun 2019, 21:39

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#34 Post by LavanyaC7Lakshminarayan » 19 Jun 2019, 16:37

1. The Act of Story Statement

Do whatever it takes to climb the ranks of the Virtual elite; if you fail, do what you must to destroy them.


2. The Antagonistic Force

‘A universal system of merit determines an individual’s worth to society. We are a meritocratic technarcy. We are the future of the human race.’
— from the Founder’s Address of the First Principle, Bell Corporation

The nation is dead. In the aftermath of the devastating effects of ethnic and communal divisions in society, a shadowy conglomerate that calls itself the Bell Corporation has emerged with a seemingly utopian solution—a system of governance rooted in meritocracy.

Citizens in the megapolis that is Apex City are presented with a choice—meet the exacting standards set by Bell Corp, or pay the price of failure. Bell Corp watches their every move, listens in on every word they say. A complex algorithm maps each citizen onto the Bell Curve, plotting their position in its hierarchy, evaluating their worth to society and dictating the course of their lives.

Bell Corp operates insidiously. It assigns each denizen their carefully calibrated productivity targets, and monitors their expression of socially approved opinions and behaviours. If the corporation approves of their progress, they are granted a place in the Virtual elite—the upper crust of society that receives the latest technology and excessive privilege. Any failure to conform, or attempts to express individuality, will result in being branded an Analog by the algorithm. Deported from the city, with no access to running water or electricity, non-conformists are slated to be harvested.

Bell Corp’s noose of surveillance draws ever tighter, its indifference towards the disenfranchised Analogs grows, and it begins to play a sinister role in issues faced by the wider world.


3. Breakout Title

Analog/ Virtual
Shard City
The Brink of Human


4. Genre and Comparables


Speculative Fiction, Dystopian


1. Stories of Your Life and Others and Exhalation by Ted Chiang — Ted Chiang’s writing offers glimpses into strange worlds as viewed through the eyes of the humans that inhabit them. While these stories can be classified as science fiction because of the alternate value systems, laws and technologies inherent to their worlds, most of them dwell upon the human condition, examining the struggles and triumphs that are the cornerstone of being human. My book is similar as it presents an alternate system of governance, new forms of technology, and an invented pop culture set in the distant future, while examining the lives of thirteen characters as they struggle to find what makes them human, and in some cases, relinquish it all together.

2. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa — This is a collection of eleven dark stories that form a spider-web of connections between mysterious strangers and bizarre deaths. Characters, settings and details from each of its stories often reappear, forming a labyrinth of motifs that holds all the tales together. The stories are unpredictable, often with dark, supernatural elements underscoring them. My book is similar in its construction—it ties together thirteen separate stories through their technology, characters and locations. Each character deals with the uncertainty of living in a high-pressure world where failure is not an option, but each responds to the situations that arise in this world in a different manner, exposing different facets of what we consider being human.


5. Primary Conflict

Thirteen characters are forced to make life-altering decisions under the sinister gaze of the Bell Corporation, which will either result in them ascending the ranks of society’s elite, or choosing to destroy the very foundations of the world they live in.


6. Secondary Conflict

Each character in this collection of interconnected short stories is forced to confront what makes them human. This constitutes most of their internal conflict—questions of who they are and what they stand for arise when they are forced to endorse acts of social injustice, sever ties with friends and loved ones deemed inappropriate by the system, and even forego their rights to their own bodies and minds when they are chosen for social experiments. Their environmental conflicts arise from the system within which they live. In order to survive in a world that demands productivity and social conformity, the characters who are en route to Virtual privilege are often left with no choice but to deny their own individuality and identity so that they can secure their lives and their futures. They respond to them out of fear, guilt or anger, and while some fight the system, others find themselves giving into its promise of security.

For example, in the story ‘Monsters under the Bed,’ John Alvares is forced to share an intimate relationship with a silicone being named Op.He.Li.aA, after his opinions on pop-culture are revealed to be socially inappropriate. She uses electro-shock therapy to elicit the right responses and retrain his brain. He must relinquish his ties to the past if he wants to secure an upcoming promotion into the upper echelons of the Virtual elite. This involves him denying the circumstances of his birth and his culture. He struggles with the ideas of rewriting himself to fit into Virtual society, struggling with his insecurities as an outsider.

As a source of environmental conflict, he expresses anger against his parents because of his upbringing. He feels intense guilt each time he denies their existence or ignores their attempts to contact him. He also feels like he doesn’t belong in the Virtual world—his hobbies, the pop-culture he is drawn to, and his world view don’t fit in with the system, and he must relinquish all nostalgic markers of his identity if he truly wants to be accepted in society.

Meanwhile, those characters who have already been branded Analogs must rally against the propaganda that has convinced them that they have no place in modern society. Their internal conflicts arise from a lack of self worth that has been reinforced by the system. Environmentally, they must overcome the divisions between their factions—each Tribe performs a separate function in order to keep their world running—and revolt, against all odds, to topple Bell Corp’s repressive regime.

For example, in the story ‘The Tinderbox,’ the Suzerain Rasāe—who leads the warrior tribe—attempts to rally her people together to protect an ancient monument on their land from demolition by the Bell Corporation. This monument is a historic symbol of glory, and the Suzerain will stop at nothing to protect it.

Internally, she faces sadness and anger that the cost of resistance is always bloodshed. She struggles with her guilt each time she is forced to send her soldiers into battle, and with the escalating death toll when Bell Corp’s forces begin to attack the other tribes. She persists, nevertheless, because she is driven by the hope that she can change the prospects of her people.

Environmentally, the odds are stacked against her. She must contend with an unknown usurper from within her own ranks, outsmart Bell Corp’s sophisticated war machines and programs, and struggle to rally other factions to join her cause instead of looking to their own self-interest. She struggles with feelings of betrayal, hopelessness and righteous anger while attempting to navigate these conflicts.

Each of the characters in this collection of interconnected stories experiences similar levels of internal and environmental conflict. Each of their decisions drives the world one step closer to its tipping point—some will attempt to take down the world, others will attempt to save it, but what constitutes victory will remain in the eyes of the beholder.


7. Setting

Apex City is built on the ruins of the tech-hub that was once Bangalore, India. It is one of several cities around the world run by the insidious Bell Corporation—others include erstwhile San Francisco, London, Singapore and Berlin, all appropriately renamed to reflect Bell Corp’s values of meritocracy.

Under Bell Corp’s governance, historic divides of caste, class and culture have been erased. Here, civilisation operates upon the principles of meritocracy, with disastrous consequences for those who do not conform to the ideals laid down by their vision of the world.

One’s place in society is determined by an algorithm called the Bell Curve. Score productivity points and express the right opinions and values to ascend the ranks of the Virtual elite. The top twenty-percent have access to extensive HoloTech, opportunities to travel the world, and power that impacts the lives of millions around them. The middle seventy-percent have limited technology and human rights. The bottom ten-percent are routinely deported from the Virtual city and are branded Analogs, deprived of rights and human dignity.

An electric shield slices through the heart of the city, dividing it in two. On one side of the Carnatic Meridian live the Virtual elite—with access to the latest HoloTech, beautiful parks and gardens, and every technological convenience available. The city is marked by its jagged skyline—high-rise apartments built from biomat, hexagonal society housing, and historic buildings. It is climatically controlled to optimise human performance—an enormous SunShield Umbrella orbits this half of the city, providing its citizens relief from a world ravaged by climate change.

On the other side live the Analogs, cast off from society and denied access to electricity and running water. Shabby stacks of pod-houses form a warren of narrow streets and alleyways, beyond which makeshift tents provide housing to the most disenfranchised. This side of the city is subjected to climate change and heat waves, its citizens left to fend for themselves amidst the waste.

Conflicts—both internal and external—begin to arise as Bell Corp’s governance begins to tend towards the totalitarian. Virtual citizens find that the sacrifices they must make for systemic approval continue to escalate. Analog citizens find that they are no longer content with being denied their rights, and begin to rally together for change. Their worlds inch towards each other on a collision course. It is one that could explode into the dawn of a new world order.

Joined:18 Jun 2019, 03:14

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#35 Post by BeverlyBeardC7 » 19 Jun 2019, 21:33


“Draw a Rosen family tree, and you would find musicians all over it, thick as bees on apple blossom. Seven cantors. A composer of operas. And more recently, Papa’s Uncle Bernard, who was concertmaster of an orchestra in Nantes, and who gave Papa his first little violin.”

And last of all: Madeleine.

She is a brilliant violinist and her father’s great hope, the reason he believes he survived the Shoah, when every other member of his family perished. The crippling stage fright that struck in her teens must be temporary. Curable. But nothing she tries helps her, and at thirty-one, she is a caring but timid music teacher, sustaining herself with dreams. Someday she will redeem herself in the eyes of the Philadelphia musical community. Someday there will be concerts. Recordings. A life. Then she suffers a frightening, two-day blackout and realizes that Someday may not come.

Is she dying? Tests show nothing physically wrong, but the blackouts continue. People say she becomes a different, bolder person during her lost hours, taking on a male personality who calls himself Aidan, longs to climb mountains, and—impossibly--plays the guitar like a professional. Papa says even Paganini couldn’t have played the guitar that well without ever having practiced; he believes Aidan is a dybbuk, a ghost. Madeleine thinks she’s losing her mind.

It’s only after Papa stages an exorcism that Madeleine learns that Aidan is neither an alternate personality nor a dybbuk; he’s a living man with a bizarre ability, trapped in a broken body, and fighting for his life. She discovers that he is a songwriter as well as a climber and remembers the day that they met: two children, bound by compassion and sorrow. It was on that day that the link between them was forged; now Madeleine may be his only hope. To save him, she must overcome her fear and re-establish their connection, embarking on a journey that will take her face to face with his dangerous family and into the remote reaches of a mountain wilderness where she will confront his father’s murderer.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

A man with unusual powers must find a way to wake from his coma or convince his family he’s still very much aware before they end his life.

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.

Aidan’s sister Deirdre is angry. Angry and powerful, far more gifted than Aidan. As a child she used her gift to do a terrible thing. Now she denies what happened, denies the existence of the gift, denies the existence of anything that can’t be seen or touched. On the surface Deidre is practical and in control; underneath she seethes with resentment. First abandoned by her father and later by Aidan, she was forced prematurely into the role of responsible adult when her mother suffered a breakdown. Married only briefly, living alone with her unstable mother, Deirdre secretly rages against life in general, and her father and brother in particular. She longs for her mother to acknowledge her as the best, the most deserving child. For her mother it’s Aidan, always Aidan. When he dies (if only he would), her mother will turn to her and finally—finally--love her most.

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



- 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?

Genre: Literary Fantasy.
THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger. Fantasy elements, literary feel, themes of love and loss.
THE ENCHANTED LIFE OF ADAM HOPE by Rhonda Riley, poetic and literary, fantasy elements, themes of love and loss, a deep connection to the natural world
WILD by Cheryl Strayed, although a non-fiction book, contains some similar themes and settings: trauma and redemption. Setting out alone to backpack the Pacific Crest Trail. The natural world.
THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE—this is a possible comp (I recently learned about it but have yet to read it.) Mystery elements, a dead father’s unknown killer, magical elements, the natural world.

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.

There are two primary points of view/story threads in my book—I need to choose one for the pitch. Aidan is the more active pov/protagonist but the book is initially constructed as a mystery and using his pov for the pitch could reveal too much. Writing down both and hoping for input...

Waking up in the body of a woman, Aidan discovers that he’s neither dead nor dreaming, but unconscious, and that to survive he must confront an old and powerful enemy.
A violinist discovers that her alternate personality is neither a ghost nor a symptom of insanity, but the spirit of a living man, with whom she developed a bond long ago-- and that to save his life, she must confront an old and powerful enemy.

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

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

Inner conflict (Aidan): When Aidan discovers that he’s not dreaming this new and wonderful life in a healthy body and finally accepts that Madeleine is real, he’s forced to confront the fact that the choices he makes affect her. He longs for mountains, for the truly wild places denied him since the accident that robbed him of mobility at the age of twenty-four. He wants to travel, to run, to have sex (whether or not Madeleine would approve of the person he has sex with), to sky dive, to eat delicious and fattening things. He doesn’t want to accept Madeleine’s reality. He doesn’t want to think about how he might be endangering her. When he does accept her reality, he does so grudgingly; she has everything and does nothing with it, while he was cheated so early of so many chances. Why not take this chance? The temptation to ignore consequences is enormous, but as the story progresses, he changes, developing respect for Madeleine as a person and eventually putting his own life on the line to save hers.

Inner conflict (Madeleine): A brilliant violinist, Madeleine suffers from stage fright and despises herself for it—she’s the last of a musically gifted family and her father’s great hope and she has done nothing but fail. When her father tries to help her, she resists him, not truly believing she can move forward and afraid to try. Any discussion on the topic ends in a battle (also a secondary/societal source of conflict). Her blackouts are another source of conflict. They terrify her, and yet she will not work with her father the way he wants her to as he tries to help her eradicate them. Because what if that other self she gets rid of is her braver self? The self who could play auditions without falling apart?

Secondary Conflict (Aidan): Aidan’s family is a source of perpetual conflict. His mother has been waiting for him to return to her for two years, but when he has the chance to go see her (in Madeleine’s head), he rejects it. He remembers the “accident” that maimed him and killed his father and blames her for it. Additionally, there is his sister Deidre. When Aidan left home, long ago, to try to find his father, his sister Deirdre’s feelings of abandonment turned to hatred. Now nothing can get her to consider the possibility that he might still be aware and awake, if only in a strange way. She rejects all evidence, no matter how convincing.

Secondary Conflict (Madeleine): When Madeleine leaves home after Papa stages an exorcism without her permission, she ends up staying with the family of Aidan’s friend Simone. Simone’s uncle is generous and welcoming and Madeleine finds it helpful to be with people who know about her problem, as she doesn’t want to tell anyone else about it. But Simone wants her friend Aidan, not Madeleine. In Simone’s presence, Madeleine feels like an intruder in her own body.

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.

Early on, the book is set in the Philadelphia area: the brownstone near Rittenhouse Square where Madeleine lives with her father, the places in the city where Aidan wanders, trying to find someone or something familiar. The pillared temple in the art museum where he meets Simone. The house of Simone’s uncle: old, stone, in an overgrown garden, filled with artifacts and clutter.

There are scenes in the middle school where Madeleine teaches, others in the nursing home where Aidan is a resident. Aidan’s family home in Chester County (mushroom country, Andrew Wyatt country) appears initially in flashbacks and later as a real setting when he visits his childhood haunts.
There’s the small airfield in the Delmarva where Aidan goes sky diving. The Catskills, where, having bumped Aidan out of her head, Madeleine takes a walk in the woods for the first time. Glimpses of the bayou country in NW Florida, where Simone grew up.

Some scenes in the second section of the book take place in the hospital where Aidan’s body (without which he can’t survive in any form) lies sick and getting sicker—but the main action takes place in the southern Sierra mountains—the high country of the Pacific Crest Trail near Evolution Basin. Aidan is in his element in these mountains, where he spent two summers as a back country ranger; his viewpoint is that of a poet and naturalist, as well as an adventurer. Madeleine will also see the mountains, but she won’t much like what she sees. And when Deirdre’s point of view is introduced, we see the high country from the perspective of the wild creatures she inhabits, tinged with the colors of Deirdre’s pain and hostility.

Joined:19 Jun 2019, 07:41

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#36 Post by KevinNiezenC7 » 19 Jun 2019, 23:37


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.

The Wingnew family must deal with the murder of one of their own and confront previously unknown revelations about their family’s history.


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

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

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


SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

The main antagonistic force in my story is the character of Arma Wingnew. The oldest daughter of Dyniel Wingnew (a man renowned for having rescued the Orange Rose from joining the Union of Western Nations), Arma has witnessed the violent, twisted and despotic side of her family of liberators. First, she was forced to abandon the dusty towns in the state of Bonetoll that she called her home; after her brother, Septimus, was born with degenerative aging, she was tasked by her father to dispose of the infant; she was later employed as his private secretary, which led to her discovery of her family’s involvement in many of the corruption cases they took pride in uncovering. When she threatened to expose her father to the rest of the family, he and her mother, Casmille Wingnew, locked her up in a madhouse. Surrounded by a cast of outcasts, Arma slowly began to lose her mind, and through madness she arrived at a revelation: all the greatest families had survived the course of time by their belief in strong mythologies that were nothing but a series of convincing fabrications. Thus, the Humming Plague was born. A cult of radical anarchists who wear the masks of black birds, the Plague will reveal itself as the Wingnews’ own reflection, an internal wound inside their system, embodying the worst of the tribalism that led to the family’s ascension. In the organization’s own words: “Falleth the Saint. Cometh the Plague.”


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).

Given my books are part of a sage I will list the title along with subtitle of the first book.

Children of the Rose – A Prayer for Storms.


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

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

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

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


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

“Children of the Rose” is meant to combine the epic scope of high fantasy with the intricacies and soap-opera elements of sensation novels of the 19th century. In terms of epic fantasy, it borrows some of the tropes from “The Gormenghast Trilogy”, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, and “His Dark Materials”, amongst other works from Philip Pullman. From sensation novels, the biggest influences are “Lady Audley’s Secret” by Elizabeth Braddon, and “Armadale” by Wilkie Collins. However, “Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, as well as “Deadwood” by David Milch are strong influences for the story.

If I had to choose two comparables to sell the novel, I would say “Children of the Rose” presents a complex, multilayered fictional world of high fantasy reimagined in modern times.


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.

The resurgence of the Humming Plague exposes a series of truths about the Wingnew family that throws its members into conflict, leading to an internal war among generations.


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."

Secondary conflicts:

On a secondary level, the Wingnew family must face complications on the international stage. Having protected its nation’s autonomy by refusing to join the Union of Western Nations, the family agrees on establishing a deal of commercial trades hoping to build a more fruitful relationship with the supranational state while preserving their identity. Hoping to rekindle tensions of old, the Union asks a Horvos (African-looking) diplomat to oversee the conditions of the deal for them. Even though the family agreed to liberate the colonies, the nature of highly classified human experiments performed against the Horvos remained unknown. The arrival of the young diplomat coincides with the revelations issued by the Plague, and he must decide whether to allow racial grievances to define the history of his culture and influence international negotiations.

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.

When the Humming Plague murders Magary Wingnew, the high ruler’s daughter, the conditions of her death send a ripple effect of speculation and doubts through the family. As young and old begin to question the history they have always known, more attacks and revelations are provided by the Plague, leaving the surviving family members no choice but to choose between dying with the history they know or survive by accepting their crimes.

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 the young Horvos diplomat learns of the past crimes committed against his own race, he decides to disregard the initial request from the Union to oversee conditions in Agary for an international deal with the Rose. He seizes the opportunity to present the family with a document for an international coalition between his country and the Rose. However, he wrestles with doubts over his intentions, questioning if his desire to push his country into the global stage does not act as direct insult and betrayal to the countless Horvos lives lost to the family’s human experiments.


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

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

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

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


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

The setting is the Orange Rose, the single autonomous western nation in the world of Mother. The Rose is divided in two regions, northern and southern, and each is comprised with over eleven states. Throughout the novel, we will visit the capital city of Agary, a blend of New York and London of the 19th century, with industrial warehouses, brick and iron buildings and sailing ports. However, contrary to the aforementioned influences, Agary has a warm weather with lashing winds. In Agary we will not only visit the city’s center, the slumps (where warehouses known as Hot Bowls are located to help the poor escape the heat), we will also go to Summerglass, the magnificent manor of impregnable blue glass that was built centuries ago. Summerglass has been the house of many high rulers, and once the Wingnews decide to move to Agary, it becomes their base of operations.

We will visit the sprawling fields and mountains of Yore and Sterlyn, two of the largest northern states. This setting provides the narrative with a contrast from the city’s claustrophobic atmosphere and takes its influence from narratives of the Old West. Some of the wonders we will witness during the sections in Yore will involve the Watersoar, a miracle of nature in the form of a sky-high waterfall which waters run upwards into the clouds.

It should likewise be noted that in the world of Mother Day lasts four years, while Nightfall takes place during two. What we would call regular days in Mother are known as “24-hours”, divided into 12 early-hours and 12 late-hours. Early-hours during Day are sunny and warm in most places of the world, while the late-hours are gloomy and overcast. On Nightfall, however, the early-hours are overcast if one is fortunate enough and the late-hours are starless darkness.

Joined:19 Jun 2019, 05:21

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#37 Post by CarleenC7Newlands » 20 Jun 2019, 06:29

Assignment #1- Act of Story-

To learn the answer to her dying mother’s cryptic message, Abigail Brown must connect with the father she never knew.

Assignment #2- Antagonist-

In a selfish act, motivated by stubbornness, Spencer McNeill abandoned his fiancé and newborn daughter, never to look back. Now, after forty years, and a lifetime with his subsequent family, the secret of the forgotten child, Abigail, is finally revealed. Acknowledging his guilt, Spencer is eager to make a mends and develop a relationship with his daughter, but his self serving motivations are soon revealed. Elderly, cranky, and self absorbed, Abigail provides a pleasant distraction from Spencer’s lonely day to day existence. In his enjoyment of being entertained by the unexpected connection, Spencer fails to consider Abigail’s emotional journey. His self serving approach elicits further feelings of doubt in her, creating turmoil and insecurity. In an insensitive, self serving manner, Spencer McNeill tries to push forward, ultimately pushing Abigail further away.

Assignment #3- Break Out Title-

When a Child Comes Knocking

Assignment #4- Genre and Comparables-

When a Child Comes Knocking would be categorized as Women’s Fiction or Book Club Fiction.

A comparable novel to When a Child Comes Knocking is Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor. The similarities are mourning the loss of a mother while discovering family secrets, which all lead to not only insight into the past, but insight into self for the characters. Readers who enjoyed sharing the Journey of Lucy Kincaid in Winter Cottage will connect to Abigail Brown in When a Child Comes Knocking.

Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King is a novel that is a great comparable for When a Child Comes Knocking. Both stories are driven by uncovering family secrets, changing the all that was known to be their reality. In search of answers, with emotions running high, the stories unfold leaving both the reader and the characters invested in finding the answers. Readers who followed Maisey Addington on her path to uncover truth, will become just as committed to seeing Abigail Brown find the answers she seeks.

Assignment #5- Primary Conflict-

To reveal the meaning of her dying mother’s cryptic message, Abigail Brown must overcome the emotions she harbors due to her father’s abandonment.

Assignment #6- Secondary Conflict-

Inner conflict- Originally motivated to collect information, Abigail struggles with the vulnerability of developing a relationship with Spencer.

Social conflict- Spencer’s sons, having been unaware their father had another child, are angry and resentful over the developing relationship between Spencer and Abigail.

Assignment #7- Setting-

The physical setting is split between Abigail’s home town of New York, and Spencer’s hometown of Las Vegas. However, the true setting for the story is the long distance created by the physical locations of the characters. The distance creates complications due to unrealistic expectations, stubbornness, and pride. The distance also provides a platform for emotions to land with safety, anger, resentment, longing, intrigue, happiness, and regret all find their way into the story. In the distance we see a desire for closeness, shielded by a need for safety and it is there that a connection is made, laugher rings out, and caring starts to grow. Although the distance physically keeps the pair apart, it somehow brings them closer. Ultimately, Abigail finds the answer she so desperately seeks with that long awaiting “ah-ha” moment being revealed as a result of the distance. In A Child Comes Knocking, the distance presents as a barrier on the surface, but it is that barrier which creates a pathway for the shared connection that neither Abigail nor Spencer ever imagined was possible.

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Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#38 Post by WritersBlock » 09 Sep 2019, 20:20

Well done!

Joined:13 Sep 2019, 19:17

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#39 Post by TRACYARBANW6 » 17 Sep 2019, 21:18

New York Pitch Conference Assignments

Assignment #1- Act of Story-

A long-standing sibling rivalry between two alien brothers sparks a civil war that will threaten the very existence of humanity.

Assignment #2- Antagonist-

Having long been compared to his perfect brother, Baldor’s feelings of jealousy and rage have simmered just below the surface. Cast aside, and secretly abused by their own mother, his fantasies are most often fueled by thoughts of violence, blood, and lust; especially towards the insipid doelings who panted after his beautiful brother, like goatens in heat.
Whereas Simion is beautiful, kind, and full of light, Baldor is intensely dark and brooding. He cannot compare to Simion, whom everyone says favors the Carapacian God, The Almighty Burstron. He cannot compare to “perfection” when he is forever drooling and spraying those who wander too close with his salivary secretions.
While hunting, Simion, Baldor, and Roget witness a space shuttle landing in the desert. Simion and Roget are conflicted, but Baldor sees this as his chance to seize control. When his plan to attack and kill the disembarking astronauts is not met with approval from Simion, Baldor launches his own attack, setting off a disastrous chain of events that eventually leads to much death, destruction, and an eventual civil war. The consequences spill over to Earth as, in the final moments, Baldor escapes via the Bi-Planetary Gateway, with an innocent hostage. But who?

Assignment #3- Break Out Title-

i. The Carapacian Chronicles

ii. Finding Carapacia

iii. The Eyes of Burstron

Assignment #4- Genre and Comparables-
The Carapacian Chronicles would best be categorized as Adult Fantasy.

1. Robert A. Heinlein TUNNEL IN THE SKY (Scribner’s 1955) Both TUNNEL IN THE SKY and THE CARAPACIAN CHRONICLES feature an Earth in crisis, prompting the need for space exploration and colonization of alternate planets. The need for a rapid method of transport is a similar theme to each of these books, as a teleportation device is a necessity for quick colonization.

2. Nancy Kress CROSSFIRE (Tor Science Fiction 2004) In line with THE CARAPACIAN CHRONICLES Nancy Kress describes the need for human colonization of distant planets in her book CROSSFIRE. Central to each book is the interaction between humans and the inhabitants of the alien planet, as each species must make peace with the new ways or die trying.

Assignment #5- Primary Conflict-
Sibling rivalry ignites as two alien brothers, Simion and Baldor, find themselves at odds regarding the mission, and fate, of an arriving team of astronauts seeking to colonize the planet; tensions mount and armies grow, until Civil War explodes, threatening the very existence of humanity.

Assignment #6- Secondary Conflict-

Inner conflict-

Simion is conflicted when it comes to his brother, Baldor. He has long sensed the shadow of darkness looming, threatening to consume Baldor from within. Despite this, and the intense bouts of jealousy, he feels the need to protect Baldor, which for some reason only causes Baldor’s contempt of him to grow. After Baldor ferociously attacks the disembarking astronauts Simion can no longer abide his brother’s actions, and banishes a gravely injured Baldor to the desert, despite strong feelings of guilt.

Social conflict-

As Carapacia becomes divided, some choose to follow Simion and are willing to peacefully accept the impending blend of civilizations. They are dubbed the New Carapacians by Baldor and his cronies who have built an army through intimidation, fear, and murder. Intent on wiping the planet clean of the invaders, Baldor sets himself up as the ultimate ruler, and will stop at nothing to defeat the New Carapacians, even if it means he must kill Simion to do it.

Assignment #7- Setting-

Most of the story unfolds on the planet Carapacia, a mere five days travel from Earth. Carapacia is Earth’s doppelganger, in the days before technological advances and global warming began to eat away at the sustainability of civilization, making it the perfect place for humanity to expand and start anew.
While the forests are densely lush and green, and the oceans, rivers, and streams are abundant with life, the planet’s inhabitants and ecosystem vary greatly with those of Earth. The beautiful shimmering sands of the Huen Desert house terrifying secrets. Hordes of sand-stings, tiny scorpion-like creatures with the ability to completely paralyze their prey, before eating it alive from the inside out, shelter within the enticingly cool shadows of large mounds of boulders. Roving packs of worsn, canines with the snout and teeth of crocodiles, lie in wait in shallow sandpits by day, before roaming the desert and adjacent forest by night in search of a meal.
Great meelawan trees and benshee bushes, thickly adorned with the latest architectural styling of the planet’s vast assortment of arachnids, line the cobbled streets of the city of Meana. Home to many Carapacians, the city is a bustling hive of activity. Much of Meana’s commerce is conducted here at City Center which also houses the Elder Council, the lawmakers of the people.
The Carapacians themselves are a peace-loving race of human insectoids, a fantastical mix of human and jewel beetle. Standing on average of seven feet tall, with a distinctly human structure, they are adorned with massive jewel toned wings, a retractable chest carapace, overly large orbs for eyes, and hands, also known as pointers, that are equipped with three fingers and a pincer, instead of four fingers and a thumb. The rest of their anatomy is quite human, and therefore compatible for inter-species relations with humans.

Joined:27 Aug 2019, 05:50

Re: New York Pitch Assignments

#40 Post by SarahHollisterW6 » 17 Sep 2019, 22:26

1) Story Statement:

A woman believes the only way to save her troubled new marriage to a grieving man is to find out what happened to his missing six-year old daughter.

2) Sketch the Antagonist – their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world around them:

Ian Welford’s alpha-male instinct is telling him that his lifetime of lies, avoidance and criminal behavior is finally catching up with him.

He was born to a prominent, old Virginia family, and his good looks and considerable charm conceal the narcissist within. Winning at all cost has always been Ian’s modus operandi. He has only truly loved one woman, Maria Amador, but she lacked the pedigree that his family lineage required. His role in causing Maria’s death remains one of his darkest and best-kept secrets.

Ian went on to marry Alexandra Evans, but when their six-year old daughter was kidnapped as retribution for one of Ian’s shady business deals, their marriage collapsed. When Ian runs into Nora Blake at their high school reunion, he hardly recognizes her – she is no longer the homely wallflower he barely remembers. As he chats with Nora, he discovers she has never been married and more importantly – she is still smitten with him. In that moment he realizes the answer to his most pressing problems is standing before him, gazing at him with unabashed adoration. If he plays his cards right, he may just be able to pull off the ultimate con – to pin his own crimes on this gullible woman, win the political office he covets, and most importantly, avoid going to prison for the rest of his life.

3) Title List

The Wallflower
An Ill Wind is Stalking
The Fates of Fall Hill

4) Comparative Titles

The Wallflower is a domestic thriller. Comp titles are:

The Last Mrs. Parish, by Liv Constantine
The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks
Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris

5) Primary Conflict:

A woman’s secret past as a stalker comes back to haunt her when she finds herself a potential suspect in the kidnapping of her own stepdaughter -- even as she begins to believe that her new husband played a role in his child’s disappearance.

6) Inner Conflicts:

1) Nora battles her own deep sense of inferiority as she wrestles with the contradiction between her long-held fantasy of the man whom she has now miraculously married – and the cold, mercurial and distant man who begins to emerge within days of their honeymoon. What is he hiding? And will solving the mystery of his daughter’s kidnapping reveal the truth of the man she married, and whether their marriage is a real one based on love, or a cruel manipulation for darker purposes? Is she herself in danger?

Scene: After a bitter argument one night, Ian storms out of the house and drives away. Nora, paranoid that he is seeing another woman, follows him in her car. He takes a winding route into the surrounding countryside and Nora struggles to keep up with his speeding vehicle. Soon she loses his trail. A few miles further up the road, still hoping to catch up with him, Nora flies past a dirt lane and out of the corner of her eye spots what looks like Ian’s car parked there, with its lights off. She cranes her neck back to try and see, and when she turns back to the road, she realizes too late that she has entered a hair-pin curve. Nora slams down on the brake with both feet to try and avoid a head-on collision with the massive trees lining either side of the narrow road, and the car begins to fishtail.

2) As a child Nora was unable to save her little sister from drowning, and lost the affection and approval of her father as a result. But now, if she can find out what happened to her stepdaughter Lily and bring the child home to Ian, Nora has a second chance at keeping both the love of a man she adores and desperately needs and gaining absolution of her guilt over her sister’s death. The search for Lily, whom many suspects is dead, stirs up Nora’s long- repressed memories of what happened the day of her sister’s drowning -- details she is not sure she wants to remember.

Scene: Ian and Nora are standing at the edge of a cliff at Fall Hill, his family’s estate, holding hands and gazing at the darkening colors of nightfall reflected in the hurling river below, when Ian turns to Nora and drops down on one knee, and asks her to marry him. It is the first fairytale moment of her lonely life – Nora never thought she would be anyone’s wife, let alone Ian’s. She throws her arms around his neck as she whispers “yes” into his ear, the way she has always imagined. While they are embracing something compels Nora to look down at the sliver of rocky beach by the water’s edge -- and she goes rigid. There, impossibly pale in the barely rising moonlight, is the limp body of a young girl. It is Julia.

Scene Depicting Secondary Conflict (Social Environment):

On the evening of the very day that Nora discovers Lily’s tattered backpack and stuffed animal in the icehouse, she and Ian are due to attend a glittering soiree at the Fredericksburg Country Club. Ian and his guest, one of his most important clients, spent the day playing in the annual member-guest golf tournament, and Nora is due to pick up the client’s wife and give her a ride to the cocktail party and sit-down dinner. Nora knows this event is very important to Ian, and that he is expecting her to be charming and vivacious, and a good co-host to their guests.

But given what she discovered that morning, the thought of enacting such a charade is almost more than Nora can bear. Even before she found the missing child's items, the ones she was carrying when she was kidnapped, Nora was already dreading having to pretend that she and Ian were still in that blissful honeymoon phase, that he hadn't been avoiding her, and snapping at her whenever they did talk. But now things are ever so much worse. Nora is reeling from the newfound knowledge that her “grieving” husband must have hidden those objects himself, as no one else would have had access to the icehouse, or even known that it was there. Nora only recently discovered the old brick building herself despite having walked past it numerous times -- so well-hidden it was by the centuries of weeds and wild shrubs that long ago reclaimed that remote stretch of riverbank at Fall Hill. Nora can hardly grasp, let alone articulate even in her own mind, the import of her discovery – that Ian has known all along what happened to his daughter. The other, more forbidden thought, that Ian might have harmed his daughter himself, Nora can't ... won't ... even let herself entertain. That will have to wait until this godforsaken cocktail party -- at a snobby social club that would never have admitted the likes of Nora had she not married into one of the town’s most illustrious families – is over.

7) Setting:

The Wallflower takes place in the small colonial town of Fredericksburg, Virginia – site of one of America’s bloodiest civil war battles. Though just an hour south of the bustling nation’s capital, Fredericksburg remains a provincial place steeped in history and tradition. It is a town where who your family is, and how long they've lived there -- holds more sway than the rule of law.

Walking through downtown after dark is to amble along uneven cobblestone walkways pushed up by the roots of hundred-year-old oak trees, under streetlights that cast the storefronts in a sepia glow. The night wind that blows from the snaking Rappahannock River through the eves of the old houses carries the scent of boxwood hedges and overgrown gardens….

The central action of the story takes place at Fall Hill, a stately and sprawling 18th century estate of over a hundred acres perched high on the cliffs above the fall-line of the Rappahannock River, just on the western edge of town. Fredericksburg was settled on the banks of the river in 1728, on what was the original grant given to the Welford family by King George II. Ian Welford, the novel’s thirty-five year old antagonist, is the latest in a long line of Ian Welfords, and like the generations before him, Ian is an esteemed attorney and local politician.

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