Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

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:01 Dec 2020, 22:34
Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#26 Post by KennyReffP6 » 07 Dec 2020, 01:50

1. Story statement:
Trick the world into ending all war, now and forever.

2. Antagonist:
Paul Andrews lives to expose the corrupt and unethical. His worldview is simple – bring the guilty to justice. And he’s built his career doing that as a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. But when Andrews discovers the most audacious conspiracy of all time, the reporter is challenged to navigate waters that are far from clear. How do you define what is ethical? Can the end ever justify the means, especially when millions of lives are at stake? Does he have it in him to put his ambitions aside in the face of breaking the biggest story of a lifetime?

3. Breakout title:

4. Genre and comps:
Upmarket technothriller
Operation Hail Storm, by Brett Arquette
Deception Point, by Dan Brown (sorry, but it’s true)

5. Hook line:
Tormented by the guilt of killing thousands, weapons scientist Ryan Cobran directs a clandestine group of scientists in their mission to trick the world into ending all war, now and forever. But only if investigative journalist Paul Andrews can be kept at bay.

6. Inner conflict:
Cobran is conflicted over whether their goal of ending all war justifies deceiving the entire world. Because his motivation for leading the Miracle Group is guilt over his past contributions to wartime deaths, the last thing he wants to do is inflict further harm. When it’s revealed that the technology for the climactic “miracle” is not 100% reliable and that if it fails, they’ll be responsible for unleashing a monster tsunami along the West Coast of America, Cobran finally stands up to the man behind the entire project. Cobran’s internal conflict on whether the end justifies the means spills over into his relationship with a longtime woman friend, his colleagues, and his daughter. And his decisions affect, literally, the entire world.

7. Setting:
MIRACLES stretches from the Somali desert to Australia’s lush forests, from the cockpit of a jumbo jet crossing the Atlantic to the Great Hall of the United Nations. We also witness the machinations of scientists working at a secret testing facility in the Nevada desert and a university lab along the Charles River. All of this controlled by the protagonist operating from a high-tech control center hidden in plain sight just blocks from the White House.

Joined:29 Nov 2020, 22:04

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#27 Post by KENNYP6DOWN » 07 Dec 2020, 04:33

1. Story statement:
A movement brings healing to the world realizing The Coming Together Time.

2. Antagonist:
Johanee Darko, uneducated, underprivileged, and abused, is the essence of love and innocence. As we follow her life, we see the influence she has on others. Only through visits from “the Voices” Mother Mary, Saint Margaret, the Archangel Michael and the Chiefs of all Times from all Tribes, among others, Johanee is reluctantly pressed into becoming a true Savior who can heal our world from its inequities and the pain that comes from the feelings of division and otherness.
The protagonist is a modern-day Joan of Arc, a saintly figure who has the ability to address the complex issues that are threatening to destroy humanity. As we see Johanee’s mission and her encounters with others, we see the coming of a female messiah who may very well be the last and best hope to save the world.
Johanee faces detractors in politics, police forces, and courts that seek to destroy the movement that threatens their stronghold on power and prestige.

3. Breakout Title:
Darko “The Sacred Heart of One Johanee Darko”

4. Genre and Comparables:
Genre: Spiritual Fiction
Way of the Peaceful Warrior - by Dan Millman
The Shack - by Wm. Paul Young
Joan of Arc – by Mark Twain
The Alchemist - by Paulo Coelho

5. Conflict: Hook Lines
A Joan or Ark for our times, Johanee Darko emerges from poverty, abuse, and neglect to lead the Sacred Hearted movement. Attacked by governmental and religious leaders concerned with maintaining their own power, she is empowered by sages and ascended masters to heal the world, and brings about the Coming Together Time.

6. Inner Conflict:
Johanee thought to herself this night in Philadelphia, What if I just went back to Desire and tried to have a real life away from all this pressure to lead a movement? Why shouldn’t I just be allowed to have a job, be with Magdalene each night, go on a vacation, raise children with her? It was not the first time Johanee had drifted into this type of thinking. Why me, why do I have to be the One? Johanee remembered all the times in the past when she had felt she could not be who the Voices said she was. She remembered their answers and knew they were with her. She chose to go on and she thanked God.

Secondary conflict:
Johanee is quickly growing in popularity and addresses her “family of billions”
I am not afraid to go to jail or to stay in jail for as long as it may take. I am not afraid to die, for I have something in my life worth dying for. If my life is called for, I will gladly give it. I am not afraid of being hurt, for I am emotionally stable and know that any pain I feel is that which I have vowed to fight against. I am not afraid to be alone. I have the Voices to guide me. I am never alone. When locked in solitary confinement, I know I am simply being called to prayer.
Our Earth is growing by a billion people every decade. So why are so many lonely amid populations doubling in one lifetime? There are billions more humans born, but we are simply adding more lonely people. The Coming Together Time ends loneliness through fulfilling our heart’s deepest desires, not by knowing more people or being held in high esteem by people who do not know us well.

7. Setting:
Johanee Darko and her mother Ana Maria were well known in their neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana—NOLA, as we called it. Living in the Desire neighborhood, they mostly resided in one of the many public housing projects, but even they had rules. Both Johanee and the story narrator, I King were used to moving in, out, and around when the heat was onto what their mothers called the “business.” They survived.
In the Desire neighborhood, families rarely made it out—most were generational residents. The Darko family was among that group. In these families, in that neighborhood, it was common for one generation to steal anything that came their way from the younger generation. This fact contributed to the unlikelihood of many ever getting out of Desire. Even the good folks found it impossible to imagine getting out of NOLA, even if they could escape the grips of Desire.
The Darko grandparents were also enslaved in the swarm of poverty and addiction. Their hearts broke to see Ana Maria and little Johanee struggle. Grandpa Darko came around occasionally and would walk with young Johanee and drink his wine. Johanee loved the smell of the wine and the old man. The Darko's were imprisoned in Desire, unable to escape. If a person cannot bring into their consciousness a better place and have confidence to succeed once there, they are held in place not by barbed wire fences, but by the slow death of their own imagination. Many talked about getting out, but these were mostly tall tales in bars and drug dens.

Joined:25 Nov 2020, 01:22

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#28 Post by JENNIFERLOCKEP6 » 07 Dec 2020, 20:09


Survive and help destroy a South American Despot


The highest-ranking officer in the Azucaran Army, General Armando De Rodriguez is a driven man who will stop at nothing to gain control of his government. He believes the current puppets in power are weak, losing land to Brazil in the north and to Chile in the south has unforgivably damaged his country, leaving the people impoverished and susceptible. Rodriguez lusts for power, whether it’s watching his Colonel torture a potential American spy, killing indiscriminately, or throwing his country and its neighbors into violent protests and political upheaval. He thrives on control over life and death.
Raised on a strict doctrine of governmental failure, and his destiny to course correct the country, Rodriguez has driven himself remorselessly to reach a position where he can create the amount of support necessary for a successful coup. When he seizes an opportunity that presents itself, and fails, disrupted by the country he hates most of all, he will stop at nothing to retrieve his lost momentum. As Rodriguez struggles to regain his power base he starts to unravel, displaying a reckless viciousness that marks him as a threat to be removed.


Determined Threat
Desert Exchange


I used the following criteria to choose my comps:

- Authors published for the first time within the last three years, and/or having only a few books published to date
- Authors who published in the category of thriller, subgenre military, with an emphasis either on special forces or black ops

#1 SHADOW WAR: A TOM LOCKE NOVEL by Sean McFate and Bret Witter
#2 SANDBLAST by Al Pessin


Belatedly rescued from the torture chambers of a South American would-be dictator, a traumatically orphaned woman must help a special forces team attempt to destroy him or lose her only remaining family.


When Maggie was ten, her father shot her mother and her brother. Instead of running away, Maggie ran for a weapon, and killed her father when he followed and tried to strangle her. Eventually Maggie’s estranged Aunt and Uncle learned of what happened and brought her to live with them. Her Aunt and Uncle were wonderful people and helped Maggie to come to terms with her past and find ways to be happy. When Maggie was in grad school, she became very close to a med student named Charlie, who convinced her to take part of a summer vacation and spend it traveling with him. When they were in the last city of their trip, Charlie was gunned down in front of Maggie by four members of the militia. Maggie would have been killed as well, except for her extensive martial arts training, and the element of surprise. She received minor injuries, but successfully killed all four of their attackers.
Her ability to take on four men brought her to the attention of General Rodriguez who became convinced she was an American spy. Maggie was tortured for four months before she was rescued by an American Special Forces team. Damaged physically and mentally, Maggie is further traumatized, when her aunt and uncle are kidnapped by Rodriguez in an effort to flush her out of hiding. As a result of her experiences, Maggie does not let people get close to her or trust easily. She is constantly besieged by nightmares of her past and vacillates between absolute terror and a burning all consuming rage. Mac’s connection to her past allows him a fragile tenuous entry around the barriers she erects in her mind, but one wrong move will send her running forever.


Maggie wakes from a nightmare that started by reliving the deaths of her loved ones and ended in the jungle cell where her blood soaked the stones. Her screams still echoing in her mind, she is stopped short of punching Mac as he tries to wake her, by his hand closing firmly around her fist. He convinces her to tell him her nightmare, and she tries to maintain physical distance while he relaxes along the foot of her bed.
Mac shares the story of his parent’s death, and Maggie unconsciously offers comfort by touching his arm. Their eyes meet and she is panicked by the desire he can’t hide, and the answering feeling inside her. She runs from the bed to stand hugging herself in the corner. Despite the fear that Mac generates in her, she is more terrified for the safety of her aunt and uncle, continuously picturing them suffering the same tortures that she did. Mac’s confident reassurance that their plan will work, and reminder that the team is there for her no matter what, calms her despite her reservations, and she is forced to admit that she is starting to trust them.


Colonel Bradley, head of the Special Mission Unit in Fort Sherman made the choice to betray Maggie, two different times. The first resulted in her extended torture, and the second resulted in a rift between her and the team she was assigned to, eroding her growing trust and opening old wounds. When Maggie discovered the depths of the Colonels involvement, she wanted to take him down, but must settle for using her knowledge to force a deal granting freedom for her family, in exchange for her future employment and their collective silence.


A half hour from the capital city of La Minerales, the Azucaran military prison hunkers down with its back pushed up against a rain forest jungle. Built of a mixture of concrete and stones covered in over a hundred years of moss, slime and remnants of past inhabitants, it molders in a series of rat-infested corridors and cells. Phantom drips echo from room to room at all hours, and the songs of birds in the trees outside taunt the inhabitants.
The prison is minimally staffed and rarely has it seen as many prisoners as the current General has seen fit to sentence to its remote confines. In the center of the prison is a room with no windows, and only one door, in the back corner is a table that tips so that the head dunks into a large hand carved wooden bowl, which would have been beautiful except for its’ obvious purpose. Chains with shackles on the ends dangle from the walls, and rest in puddles on the floor, awaiting arms and legs. Tables line the sides of the walls with a meticulously maintained selection of implements and tools, available at a moment’s notice for when the General is in residence, and an interrogation session is required.

On the back side of a little no name town in Alabama, a chain link fence forms a half circle around the front of a grey sided government run children’s home named Angel Wing. Inside, the building is broken up into small rooms designed for two children, but sometimes must fit as many as four. Outside the yard is dirt and concrete with one strip of perpetually dried up dead grass. The only redeemable factors outside are the children who still find it in themselves to play and laugh, and the little bench that sits back in the corner just big enough for two. Children pass through, or stay, at Angel Wing when they are without biological, adoptive, or foster parents, and are between the ages of 5 and 18.

The State Department building in Washington D.C. is comprised of three floors. The first floor has moderately fancy hallways and greeting rooms for lesser dignitaries and tourists. The exquisitely decorated historical second floor with pillars, thick carpets, ball rooms, and finely appointed drawing rooms is for the more important dignitaries. The utilitarian third floor has wide high-ceilinged hallways with a multitude of offices leading off it, filled with people performing one service or another for the Secretary of State. To exit from the building the Secretary of State, and their security detail, can either use a secure coded elevator to access a rear door directly to their transportation, or proceed down through each of the levels of the building and exit through the large stately front doors, and down the wide length of concrete steps leading to the street.

For the purposes of this book, Fort Sherman has been recommissioned as an active base:
The Army base of Fort Sherman is located in Panama, on the western side of Limón Bay overlooking the constant variety of ships and boats of all sizes and purpose, that float inside the breakers, waiting patiently for their turn through the system of locks and canals to the Pacific Ocean. Once in charge of the protection of the Atlantic side of the canal, now that Panama is the sole canal authority, troops stationed at Fort Sherman provide engineering and tactical support to the Panama Canal Authority Directors, in addition to being one of the armies only two functioning jungle operations training schools. Fort Sherman trains roughly half of the 9000 soldiers a year who come to learn the various challenges and opportunities inherent in jungle warfare.
For those with higher security clearances, Fort Sherman also houses the southern Special Mission Unit tasked by the CIA-Army Special Forces Joint Command Base in NC with overseeing 12 Operational Detachment Alpha teams, which deploy wherever needed throughout South America. The base is older, and what it offers for housing spreads out behind the main buildings into a series of petal shaped developments spreading off the only road. Those stationed at the base have a firsthand opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of plants, birds, and animals that make the land bridge between North and South America their home.

La Minerales is the tense capital city of Azucara. It sprawls out across the bowl-shaped valley in a splash of buildings that run from the base of the Andean mountain range to the edge of the Katari desert. People bustle across the city struggling to feed their families. The city houses the main halls of government on one side, and the Azucaran Army Headquarters on the other, with it is whispered no fewer than three militia hideouts scattered throughout. On any given day throughout the city one can find the vibrant sights and smells of busy marketplaces with vendors that travel from far into the country to bring what they were able to grow or make to market. Tourism is rare, but occasional, usually consisting of those brave souls who want to travel the unbeaten path, are studying indigenous culture, or wishing to see first-hand the less fortunate in need of help. While some say that at one point there were whole sections of the city that were safe to traverse during day or night, with the rising tension between the military, and the fragile democratic governments El Presidente, along with the growing unrest of the milita, fueled by almost 10 generations of mistreatment, the same people will admit it is not true anymore.

The fictional country of Azucara nestles up against the western border of Bolivia. With an area of roughly 60,000 square miles it is just barely the smallest country in South America coming in 3,200 miles shy of Suriname. Azucara is home to a wide diversity of ecosystems, from the dry Katari desert, where the small resilient city of La Sal sits perched over a glistening white salt flat, to the end of the Andean mountain range, where it dips down to the hilly altiplano, and the valley of La Minerales. On the other side of the altiplano, the ecosystem transitions to rainforest. In just over a half an hour drive from La Minerales the jungle grows in tall canopies of ancient rainforest trees, interspersed with the clearings from working farms, or abandoned areas slowly being reclaimed by a secondary jungle undergrowth of thorns, and wild grasses, weeds, and shrubs.

Joined:08 Dec 2020, 06:30

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#29 Post by AshQuinnP6 » 08 Dec 2020, 09:06

Ash Quinn

1. Story Statement

A new mother of twins must change her thinking so the next generation can change the world.

2. Antagonist Sketch

Mike is a practical-minded engineer and Navy veteran, born and raised in a small town on Lake Michigan by a single mother who doesn’t say much. He’s taken two weeks off work for a westward bound road trip when his buddy beckons him to visit his pot farm in Colorado. Mike doesn’t smoke pot; he values his health and he likes to be in control. But when he meets free-spirited Ash at the town brewery, opposites attract, and Mike takes a chance on love. When love becomes marriage, and marriage becomes parenting twin infants, Mike struggles with the sudden loss of his independence. But he doesn’t know how to express himself, in fact, he has no idea how to share his feelings or why he would even want to. Under the mounting pressures of parental burnout and relationship conflict, Mike’s emotions escape through verbal attacks on his new wife. Mike promises he'll change, but he has thirty-five years of emotional suppression to work against. With the help of Gottman method couples counseling, he struggles to put an end to his abusive behavior before it breaks up the family he truly loves.

3. Title


The Space Between

4. Comps

Love Warrior
By Glennon Doyle

Eat. Pray. Love.
By Elizabeth Gilbert

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
By Cheryl Strayed

5. Hook Line, Core Wound & Conflict

Two newlyweds, two babies — more than two sides to truth.
During a postpartum identity crisis timed with the global pandemic, a new mother of twins navigates social isolation, marital dysfunction, and negative coping strategies to emerge with a new perspective about the meaning of Two, and a mission to shepherd her daughters into a world beyond dualism.

6. Primary Conflict, Inner Conflict & Secondary Conflict

Protagonist Inner Conflict:

Ash is a soul-searching mystic, astrologer, and advertising creative; a journeyer of the mind and road. She’s left her life in Portland to travel the country in her Chinook camper van with her dog, cat, and literally, a pot to piss in. Abstaining from sex, alcohol and animal products, Ash spends her days communing with nature, writing in her journal, and reading the I’ Ching. She’s at the pinnacle of spiritual self-indulgence when she meets and falls in love with Mike, a practical-minded engineer and Navy veteran. Within months of their chance encounter and whirlwind romance, Ash is ecstatic to become pregnant with twins, whose conception she attributes to her power of manifestation, and whose birth she embraces as a full-time, tandem-nursing mother while she continues to work freelance, travel, and relocate her family. As burnout takes root and her husband transfers his own stress to verbal abuse, Ash buckles under the unfamiliar frequency of fear, losing her center at the time when she needs it most.

Hypothetical Scenario for Inner Conflict:

Ash, Mike, and their 10-month-old twins arrive in Hawaii for vacation after their six-hour flight becomes a fifteen-hour ordeal due to a false security threat rerouting their aircraft. The travel event, combined with post-weaning hormone imbalance, triggers a nervous breakdown following months of burnout and marital discord. After several days of battling depression in paradise, Ash agrees to caravan to the Kilauea volcano with extended family and friends. On the drive there, her “old self” and “new self” start fighting with each other about whether they should be going in the first place, and her husband throws fuel on the fire. Ash’s friend Laura becomes an unwitting mediator as Mike’s criticism and gaslighting is exposed and Ash spins into suicidal ideation. Arriving at Kilauea, Ash finds likeness in the active volcano, whose crater collapsed after cracks from the rift zone drained its lava lake.

Hypothetical Scenario for Secondary Conflict within Social Environment:

After her mental health crisis, Ash realizes she’s neglected her selfcare in an effort to be supermom and tries to create space for her healing. Still manic and fighting hormonal surges, Ash demands her need for “me time” and the universe magically colludes with her as the country enters lockdown due to the global pandemic. Finally, the world has stopped — just what she needed to process the domino rally of changes in her life. But Ash’s mother, a licensed psychologist, has taken Ash’s “moods” personally, while offering mountains of unsolicited advice. Ash grows weary of her mother’s victim and savior roles, then wonders if she might be acting out the same impulses in her own marriage. Now Ash is on a mission to break any generational cycles of dysfunction before they reach her daughters. To do so, she must emerge from her own victimhood to discover that dualistic arbitrations like "right" and "wrong" have no place in her healing. And to that point, no place in the healing of Covid-era America.

7. Sketch your setting in detail

Portland, OR— “Beforeland,” aka, Ash’s life before Mike and the twins, pre-2017
From her first apartment on North Mississippi Ave to the duplex she renovates in gritty Southeast, the quirky city is alive with progressive thought currents, artistic expression, new age spirituality, and a community of adults who never want to grow up.

Crestone, CO — The setting for Ash and Mike’s chance encounter, November 2017
Pot-farmland meets spiritual mecca in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The hippie haven has a brewery, coffee shop, gas station, general store, and 146 residents. The beautiful natural landscape highlights hot springs amid aspen forests. Ash is living in her 17-foot Chinook Camper Van; Mike is traveling in his work wheels, a Dodge Grand Caravan.

Waterford, MI — Ash and Mike’s first home, where their twins are born in April 2019
A middleclass neighborhood in the lake-dotted suburbs of Detroit. When Ash arrives at Mike’s house, it’s gutted down to the plywood subfloor, and has been for three years. Together, the couple renovates the 1500sf house into a modern space complete with an IKEA kitchen and sliding farmhouse door.

Alaska Airlines Flight 239 & Big Island, HI — The setting for Ash’s mental health crisis in February 2019
Ash, Mike and the twins board a Boeing 759 with a paranoid pilot and snotty flight attendant to Hawaii’s most rural and least familiar island. Arriving at the outdoor airport, the weary travelers meet up with seven more family members and drive to the Hilton Resort, an over-the-top tourist development in Waikoloa Village complete with pools, lagoons, restaurants, shopping, and a tram to ride from place to place. The travelers drive 100 miles Southeast to visit the active volcano, Kilauea, whose crater collapsed in the 2018 eruption.

Stoney Creek, NC — Ash and Mike’s “new life” in the suburbs of North Carolina, 2019 – 2020
The family of four moves to a beautiful golf course neighborhood with colorful crape myrtle blooms in August and string lights strewn on old-growth pines in December. They live in a 3000sf brick home painted in shades of breezy blue and pediment gray; pink shadow for the twins’ nursery. Ash finds sanctuary in a tree-shaded garden plot next to the patio pad where her twins wheel around in their walkers. Her father and stepmother live across the street in a smaller, still stately home backing up to the ninth green.

Joined:06 Dec 2020, 04:18

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#30 Post by PATRICIAP6DALLABETTA » 08 Dec 2020, 09:18

Story Statement: School Counselor Amy Larkin must save herself and a friend while keeping her location a secret from her sociopathic ex-husband.

Antagonist or Antagonistic Force: :
55-year-old Mort Sidler, county commissioner, is proud to say that he’s lived in White Pine, Montana his whole life. Former high school star athlete, he has driven every backroad, hunted in the far corners of the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness and shared a beer with the sheriff at the Naughty Pine Pub on multiple occasions. He represents a group of good old boys who are used to making decisions without question and do not look fondly upon outsiders, especially out-of-staters like Amy, who hold opposing views on civic and political issues. His goal is to move forward with a huge real estate development project that hinges on the construction of a nearby dam. Given his status in the community, and his connections to other powerful players in White Pine, he is arrogant enough to believe that nothing will stand in the way of his plans. Beyond his own hubris, his achilles heel is his young wife, Marina. After divorcing the mother of his two grown boys, Mort married a thirty-five year old blonde beauty with ambitions of her own. His general lack of understanding about women, and his intense attraction to his new bride, blind Mort to the fact that he is being played.

Create a breakout title:
Power and Control
One Dam Murder

Deciding your genre and approaching comparables:
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Women’s Fiction

The Killing Trail--Margaret Mizushima--I chose this novel, because of the parallels in setting and plot. A female protagonist in a mountain town in Colorado is on a mission to find the murderer of a young woman with the help of a dog, and in the process turns up some dark secrets about her small community. Setting is a major part of the story.

The Woman in Cabin 10--Ruth Ware--I chose this novel, because it contains a flawed female protagonist who must overcome internal and external demons while striving to solve the mystery of a missing woman.

Hook: A young woman escapes into the rugged landscape of western Montana to hide from her sociopathic ex-husband, only to find herself thrust into the limelight when she and a Native American friend are accused of murder.

Inner Conflict:
Amy chose school counseling as a career, because of her own struggle with a physically (long-haul pilot) and emotionally (alcoholic) distant father. This childhood wound led to a debilitating habit of people-pleasing which is the reason she became the perfect prey for narcissist, Philip Kingsley. The true nature of Dr. Philip Kingsley, a handsome surgeon at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, does not become evident, however, until he uses the pandemic as an excuse to limit Amy’s every movement. When Amy eventually fights against this suffocating control, the relationship turns violent and she is forced to run.

At the outset of Power and Control, emotionally raw Amy is residing in rural western Montana, where her goal is to mend herself while living under the radar. She wants to untangle the reasons she ended up in an abusive relationship but finds herself spending much of her time numbing her pain with wine and looking over her shoulder, fearful that Philip is lurking nearby. After ten months in White Pine, some good old boys in town discover that she is volunteering with a local, environmental organization and pressure her to step down. At this point, Amy must decide how to respond. Will she allow herself to be intimidated or find her voice? Then the attorney for the power company proposing a dam on the Kootenai River is murdered, an elder in the Kootenai Tribe is accused of the crime, and Amy is suspected as an accomplice. She has no choice but go up against some of the most powerful people in her town, in order to save herself, her friend and her anonymity.

Hypothetical scene: Mort Sidler, county commissioner, shows up at the house Amy is caretaking on the premise that the game warden, who is out of town, has asked him to scout the area for a reported pack of wolves. Amy feels vulnerable, as she is all alone on an estate with no neighbors in a ten-mile radius. When Mort makes clear the real reason for his visit, to find out about her rumored involvement with the Kootenai Alliance, a local group opposing the damming of a nearby waterfall, Amy is conflicted. She wants to stand up to him, and yet she is intimidated by his presence and afraid to get on the wrong side of some powerful people in town.

Secondary conflict: Amy finds herself becoming more emotionally involved with forest ranger Jack Kirby than she had planned. As they work together to uncover secrets buried within their town, she questions whether she can trust her instincts. Is Jack really as safe and caring as he appears? This causes her to cycle between drawing near to him and then subsequently pushing him away.

Hypothetical scene: On their way to Missoula to meet up with a member of a radical environmental organization connected to a missing Native American woman, Amy ends up recounting some disturbing details about her marriage. When she reflects on this conversation later, she feels vulnerable and makes the decision that she will go it alone from then on, leading her into some dangerous situations.

The Incredible Importance of Setting:
Setting is integral to the plot of Power and Control. Tucked within deep ponderosa and larch forest and surrounded by the Cabinet Mountains, the estate where Amy is house and pet-sitting serves as a much-needed retreat until she learns that the owner may be hiding some dark secrets in the old barn on the property. In the same way, White Pine is a safe place for Amy to hide and heal, and yet the dark woods and rugged landscape are also a source of conflict between those who want to profit from the natural resources and those who want to save the land. At the heart of this conflict is the Kootenai Waterfall, the highest-volume waterfall in the west to remain undammed. When people begin moving into the area, leaving cities to work remotely in a natural paradise, there is not only a clash of cultures but also a need for more power. This tense setting is where Amy finds herself after fleeing Seattle. It is at the base of this waterfall that she discovers the attorney for a power company, face down with an arrow drilled into his back. Just downstream from the waterfall is a suspension bridge that Amy vows never to cross, a symbol of the fear that prevents Amy from moving forward in her life. This bridge serves as a turning point at the climax of the novel where the true identity of the murderer is uncovered, and Amy must battle for her own life.

Joined:25 Nov 2020, 19:47

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#31 Post by AjP6Kleinman » 09 Dec 2020, 06:58

1 Statement

To explore my own sexuality and masculinity as a way to better understand these concepts in general

2 Antagonistic Forces

There are no bad guys, really. Just a lot of tension between ideas that are still too often presented as either/or. Either you’re purely gay or you’re purely straight. Either you believe in traditional masculinity or you think the whole concept is toxic and needs to be thrown out. Either your identity is something immutable and intrinsic to you or it’s just an illusion with no concrete basis.

3. Title

Bent: A Memoir: Reflections on Sexuality, Masculinity, and Identity

4. Comps

Untamed Glennon Doyle
The Apartment Teddy Wayne

5. Hook

A young man, torn between the heterosexual community and homosexual one, struggles to bridge the two by seeking common ground (this should sound very familiar).

6. Conflict

On one level, there’s the internal conflict, being pulled in two directions. On the other, there’s the difficulty in trying to explain yourself to friends, family, the world at large. Sexuality is such an intimate thing, and to have it feel unsettled—to have it questioned—can mess with your core.

7. Setting

If you don’t feel like you fit in, you might find yourself becoming a bit of a wanderer. And further, that when you do connect, it may be more with a new place than with the individuals who, in part, compose it. I certainly wasn’t the first person to fall for San Francisco or New York or Paris, but that didn’t make the feelings for them any less intense. And no city (or forest where I ended up working) ever asked me once what gender I preferred.

Joined:25 Nov 2020, 00:17

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#32 Post by JoyMcKinleyP6 » 09 Dec 2020, 19:55

The Act of Story Statement:

Imani must learn to manage her powers, then save her friends from annihilation by paramilitary forces.

The Antagonist Plots the Point:

The two personified antagonists in this plot arc are Cromwell and Mercury. Cromwell is the head of a paramilitary force that hunts down the Nomads and Mercury is his daughter.

Cromwell is ruthless, structured and relentless. He grew up in a long line of lawmen who were part of a governmental branch dedicated to finding and exterminating people with paranormal abilities. His father, who had some limited ability himself and hid them from his own father, used them to abuse his mother. For this reason, Cromwell grew up with fierce hatred for powered folks, especially the ones who hide. He started off in a secret CIA branch, but cut ties when the government started investing less resources in his paranormal research. He formed his own paramilitary force out of a group of sycophants dedicated to his cause.

They call her Mercury. Silver-haired and quite literally poisonous, she draws toxins from her environment (air, water, food) and accumulates them within her body to be dispensed at will. Mercury’s mother died when she was young, from a neurodegenerative disease and her father has always blamed her. She’s had it drilled into her that if she is to be an abomination, the least she owes to the world is to seek out those who would threaten the freedom and safety of others. She’s essentially driven by the desire for her father’s love, acceptance, and approval. Ultimately, she learns she'll never get it.

Create a Breakout Title

A Future Too Far to Find
The Last Lost World

Genre and Comps:

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

The novel has elements of the paranormal, but is grounded in a reality that is recognizable - 1990s Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. It plays with science fiction in the sense that the “super-powered” are explained to have powers because of a genetic predisposition. However, considering the element of time-travel and the laws of physics that are broken, it is decidedly fantasy shored up by science fiction.

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare because it is also YA Urban Fantasy set in New York City.
The Girl Who Dared To Think, by Bella Forrest because it is YA Science Fiction and tells the story of a girl who must choose to defy the status quo.

Hook Line:

After her brother is arrested and her family torn apart, a willful teenage girl is forced to reckon with her growing paranormal abilities and find the truth of her magical history or risk losing her found family forever.

Other Matters of Conflict:

Imani’s inner conflicts often have to do with her inability to trust others. Having grown up with clear insight into people’s inner worlds, Imani knows how often they lie. Particularly, her relationship with her father has informed her instinctive distrust. Layering on her experience with the police in Bed Stuy, men who vow to serve and protect, but hurt her community, Imani has plenty of reasons to distrust the world at large. It happens multiple times in the novel that a character that seems to be an ally is withholding information from her. When it happens with these new “friends” she’s making, she blows up in anger. It takes her a while to forgive and decide to trust them once again. At one point, she walks away from the whole thing and seeks out her brother's guidance. Learning to trust others and her own instincts is part of her journey.

Secondary conflict: While the paramilitary force presents most of the conflict in the story, there are larger antagonistic forces at play that weave in and out of the story, such as racism, bigotry and generational trauma. Imani’s brother gets arrested at the start of the story, which kicks off all of the other action. Imani parallels the hate and bigotry that she feels from Cromwell to the apathy that tends to make cops in Bed Stuy complicit to murder.

She understands the ways racism and the war on drugs has shaped her reality into something that makes her feel trapped. Her father pushes her to do well in school so she can get out, and she does her best, but she also resents that he is a cop. She’s always felt conflicted about his choice to be on “their side” and often slips into this kind of black and white thinking. While these larger themes are explored, Imani is challenged to understand that there are areas of grey and learn how to forgive people for existing within them.


Bed Stuy, Brooklyn in the 1990s is a hotbed of drug-related crime and conflict. A predominantly poor, black community, it's plagued by the rise of the crack epidemic and inter-gang violence. The cops are profiling, jumpy and quick to pull the trigger. Any storefront could be the landmark for the next drive-by shooting and Imani has neighbors who have lost sons to the dangers of the streets she walks every single day.

Simultaneously, Bed Stuy is at the center of the rise of an international phenomenon: hip hop. Biggie Smalls, who grew up in Bed Stuy, is at the top of the music world in 1997, his music all the more popular after his death, and hip hop is a cultural king. Black hip hop and R&B artists are rising to fame, leading the pop charts and seeing incredible commercial success. For communities that are feeling the effects of systemic racism and systematized oppression at every turn, success like that, even in the face of so much violence, pain and death, feels like a win. The black community is both intensely marginalized and highly surveilled and scrutinized at this time.

At an everyday level, people in Bed Stuy are caught in the grinder of the system and see only a few ways out: rap, education or the drug game, which puts money in your pocket regardless of your level of talent or ability. Set against this backdrop, our diverse set characters, most of whom have direct or passing experiences with homelessness and drug-related violence or illness, are trying to understand where they fit in a world that doesn’t want to accept them for more than one reason (race, powers, etc.).

Other sub settings include: Westchester, New York and the forests the Nomads travel through (places the two primary supporting characters grew up in, respectively, and both contrasting Bed Stuy in their connection to nature, the vibrancy of life and the freedom of open air.)

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