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.
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Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 09 Oct 2020, 02:14

Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

NEW YORK PITCH DEVELOPMENT SEMINARS - NOVEMBER 20
https://seminars.newyorkpitchconference.com/

For the New York Pitch Conference and Seminar Writers Only

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

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

Quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind.

Michael Neff
NYC Pitch Conference Director
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Instructions for Posting Responses

After you've registered and logged in, read the assignments below, click on "Post Reply" on the upper left of the page and enter your responses in the box provided, then click "submit." Once done, your reply will appear in this topic. Please make one reply for all of your responses so the forum topic will not become cluttered.

Strongly suggest typing up your reply in a separate file then copying it over to your post before submitting. Not a good idea to lose what you've done!


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THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT

Before you begin to consider or rewrite your story premise, you must develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist? Their goal? What must be done? What must she or he create? Destroy? Save? Accomplish? Defeat?

:!: Defy the dictator of the city and bury brother’s body (ANTIGONE)?
:!: Place a bet that will shake up the asylum (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST)?
:!: Do whatever it takes to recover lost love (THE GREAT GATSBY)?
:!: Save the farm and live to tell the story (COLD MOUNTAIN)?
:!: Find the wizard and a way home to Kansas (WIZARD OF OZ)?

Note that all of these are books with strong antagonists who drive or catalyze the plot line going forward. More on that later.

If you cannot conceive or write a simple story statement like those above (which will help define your story premise) then you don’t have a work of commercial fiction. Keep in mind that the PLOT LINE is an elaboration of the statement.

:idea: FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

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THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT

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

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

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

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

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

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CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE

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

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

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

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

___________________________________________________


DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES

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

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

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

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

:idea: FOURTH ASSIGNMENT:

- Read this comprehensive article regarding comparables on Algonkian Author Salon: http://www.authorsalon.com/craft/view/62/
- Develop two smart comps for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?


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HOOK LINES, CORE WOUNDS, AND CONFLICT

The great novel, more often than not, comprises in reality two stories: the exterior story or plot line(s), as well as the protagonist-focused, interior story flow that defines and catalyzes their arc throughout the novel. For example, a protagonist with a flaw or core wound that prevents her from achieving a worthwhile goal, is forced to respond to a lifechanging event instigated by an antagonist of one sort or another, and in the process of responding to that lifechanging event, and usually with the help of an ally, she is forced to overcome her flaw, and only then will she be prepared to contest the achievement of her goal with the antagonist.

In keeping with above, the key elements of conflict, complication, and dramatic rising action, are all pretty much basically related and serve to keep the reader's eyes and thoughts fixated on your story. These days, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to post-slush damnation. You need tension on the page, and the best way to accomplish this is to create conflict and complication in the plot, and narrative as well.

Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to ensure interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of PRIMARY CONFLICT, involves the protagonist and the antagonist, corresponding to hero and villain. The outcome of their contest cannot be known in advance, and according to later critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling. Is that always true these days? Not always, but let's move on. Classic drama creates conflict with real stakes. It cannot help but do so. You see it everywhere, to one degree or another, from classic contemporary westerns like THE SAVAGE BREED to a time-tested novel as literary as THE GREAT GATSBY (that would fall apart if Tom Buchanan were not a cretin). And the core of conflict can be expressed in a hook line. For example, let us consider hook lines from the following novels.

Note the following hook lines are divided into two basic parts--the CORE WOUND and the resulting dramatic complication that denotes and drives conflict towards climax and resolution. Before you proceed, you must read this additional information on the CORE WOUND found at Writer's Edge:
https://writersedgeinfo.blogspot.com/20 ... ounds.html :!:

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

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

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

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

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

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

___

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

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

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OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present in the novel. First, the primary conflict (noted above) that drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and zeniths with an important climax (falling action or denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve--which may or may not be directly related to the main plot line (but at least an important one should be).

:idea: SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction. And relate it to the main plot line or primary conflict.

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


______________________________________________________


THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________________

SavvyThorne
Posts: 2
Joined: 10 Oct 2020, 23:26

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#2 Post by SavvyThorne » 11 Oct 2020, 05:40

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: story statement:

Newly hired therapist Hannah Weiss defies the director of the Briarheart Mental Hospital in hopes of freeing a patient she believes may be innocent of the crimes that institutionalized him.


SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.

Respectable Danish psychiatrist Mikkel Solv will do anything to maintain his reputation. A published and renowned PhD, he has total control over the small world of his hospital. His son Aaron, however, adapted to American life with a lust for hedonism: he joined a band, used and dealt drugs, and turned his childhood fort into a den of pornography. When tragedy strikes the four band members, two die of an overdose, Zander barely survives, and Aaron disappears. Solv institutionalizes Zander in order to wrangle from him the location of his missing son.

Solv reacts to the world in a calculating way, deliberately shielding some information from view while selectively revealing bits and pieces of the past in order to manipulate Hannah where he needs her. Because of his status, he has people who can assist him in the courts, and of course workers in the hospital itself. For him, anyone who threatens to expose the degradations of his son’s past can simply be locked away. However, Briarheart is prestigious and well-run, with an excellent reputation, allowing Solv to consider himself a worldly humanitarian. Above all, he is a father who will forgive his son anything.


THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title....

Buried Menace
Silent Menace
The Buried Truth
Notes from the Silence
Deadly Secrets
Deadly Silence



FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: comps

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
When Darkness Calls by Mark Griffin


FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line following the format above that includes core wound and resulting conflict.

A newly hired therapist, recovering from her own past abuse, must defy the director of the hospital to find the truth behind a patient's incarceration for a heinous crime, risking the patient's freedom, and her own.

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

She definitely feels conflicted and anxious, and her world is thrown into turmoil. Despite being a therapist who knows better, she frequently downs Xanax with wine, and laughingly derides herself that her best friend is her cat. This loneliness and lack of support leave her more vulnerable to manipulation than she might otherwise have been.

Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction. And relate it to the main plot line or primary conflict.

Her mother arranges a blind date for Hannah which goes disastrously wrong. The man is self-important, ignorant, and crude. This contrasts for Hannah against the quiet yet passionate patient with whom she has recently begun therapy, who claims he would rather be in an outright prison than inside Briarheart Hospital.

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?

Her mother and she clash over traditional values. Her mother wants Hannah to have a good job, settle down, marry, and not make waves. Even the psychiatric industry’s esteem feels as if it rides on Hannah’s performance. Meanwhile, Hannah’s estranged father dies, exposing her survivorship of his sexual abuse. Her mother’s urging to be a quiet, traditional “good girl” actually grates on Hannah’s entire sense of self. She considers herself to be a champion of those in need of compassion, and she strengthens her bond with Zander against Director Solv.


FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.

Briarheart is a small, private mental institution on the outskirts of Chicago. It has been converted from an old factory, refurbished, but many of the telltale signs of an older building show age and wear. There is a rigid hierarchy with the director at the pinnacle and the psychiatrists beneath. Under that are the therapists, of which Hannah is one, then the nurses, then the orderlies. At the bottom of the structure are the superintendents, who form their own clique. Hannah is a rare person who bonds with people on many levels of the social structure, albeit mostly superficially.

Physically, Briarheart bears old windows, abandoned supply closets, painted hallways, simple patient rooms, a classroom, offices, a high-class cafeteria, and lots and lots of coffee stations. “The Bottoms” are the pipe-lined, dark corridors the superintendents use. Some ghost stories are told of this area, and some patients and even nurses use it as a place for illicit rendezvouses. Using the language of Michael Neff’s article on setting, Briarheart is “a place where normal values and perspectives have become skewed or inverted.”

Surrounding the institution is the city of Chicago itself. The mc lives in Rogers Park, her mother lives off of the Magnificent Mile, Wrigley Field makes an appearance, and so do several famous Chicago structures, as well as the Lake. Chicago is a city in flux, where smaller businesses find difficulty surviving, and the rich often prosper over the poor.

P6CYNTHIAQUAM
Posts: 1
Joined: 09 Oct 2020, 03:11

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#3 Post by P6CYNTHIAQUAM » 13 Oct 2020, 20:55

Beyond Belief

Pitch:
Beyond Belief is told alternately through three protagonists, each with her own character arc.

Alexa Moss, an atheist, underemployed architect and single mother, inherits her aunt’s crumbling farmhouse in religious Central Illinois, and money for her daughter’s college education, if she agrees to live in and renovate the property. Her 15-year-old science-prodigy daughter Lucy fiercely resents the move. But when Lucy’s science education and prospects are threatened, it’s the introverted Alexa who must steel herself and run for the school board, arousing the wrath of the charismatic megachurch pastor, Cyrus Bell, and his dangerous underling Aaron.

Unknown to Alexa, while she braves the public fallout of her nonbelief in the small town, her daughter Lucy is drawn to the church by a handsome, “godly” new boyfriend and finds she must choose between him and her passion for science. At the same time, Alexa’s new boarder, Rachel Whitman, banished niece of the powerful pastor, searches for a way to save her epileptic sister from her faith-healing family.

As the three women struggle in the church’s shadow, a national crisis unfolds and reveals the consequences—to individuals and the community—of tolerating bigotry and science denial in the name of God.

1. Story statement:
Alexa: Take on the local megachurch pastor and save fact-based education at a small-town midwestern high school
Lucy: Win social acceptance from students at a new school while pursuing her scientific interests and goals
Rachel: Find a way to rescue an epileptic sister from a faith-healing family

2. Antagonist:
Cyrus Bell is the pastor of a rural Illinois megachurch, Ecstasy Christian Ministries. In his early 60s, with silver hair and piercing violet eyes, Bell is intelligent, vain, power hungry, and charismatic. Bell grew up poor in Appalachian West Virginia, where he spent most of his life as a Pentecostal preacher. A charlatan and opportunist, he used his charm to get his position at ECM, build Sky Cathedral, and televise his worship services on the local cable channel. He appears to be a moderately conservative Christian, but hides his extremist religious beliefs from his congregation; his own family and inner circle are subjected to a cult-like environment which prohibits outside schooling, socializing or medical attention. In the span of just a few years, he has influenced local politicians, judges, and businessmen to get what he wants. He is now behind a lawsuit to force the public high school to teach intelligent design in addition to evolution. The suit is intended to challenge existing separation of church and state laws on the grounds of “religious freedom.” When atheist/humanist Alexa Moss runs for the school board with the intention of fighting the lawsuit, he is determined to take her down.

3. Breakout Title:
Beyond Belief (working title)
The Question of Ecstasy (preferred title)
The Architect of Ecstasy


4. Genre and Comparables:

Genre: Upmarket

Beyond Belief is similar to Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible in theme and like her Unsheltered in tone; it is similar in structure to Jodie Piccoult’s novels, with alternating points of view like Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest or Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train.

5. Conflict: Hook Lines
Alexa: An introverted, atheist architect must rise above her repressive religious past to take on a rural megachurch pastor and fight for fact-based education for her science-prodigy daughter.
Lucy: A displaced teenager longing for home must carve out a place for herself and her science in a religious rural community.
Rachel: An unschooled young woman must find a way to rescue her epileptic sister from the faith-healing family that cast her out.

6. Inner Conflict:
Alexa is introverted, partly due to her upbringing by a cold and devout mother, and also shuns the limelight because of a facial birthmark she was ridiculed for in her youth. She has spent most of her life avoiding conflict, but now, against her nature, she feels driven by her love for her daughter and concern for her future to speak out in public and to run for the school board.

Lucy loves her mother, Alexa, but resents her for the move. In her new surroundings she is torn between her love for science and her desire to fit in with her peers.

Rachel alternately misses and resents the family that cast her out, and feels guilty she is unable to help her invalid sister escape their negligence.

Secondary conflict:
Alexa is a nonbeliever in a believer’s world. The very fact that she is an atheist/humanist is reason enough for some to hate, even attack her. She finds she must defend her private beliefs in very public settings, including forums, TV interviews and social media, which she finds intrusive.
Lucy must weigh the dictates of the church and her new boyfriend against what she feels is right.
Rachel is torn between the religion she was raised with and the secular world.

7. Setting:
Beyond Belief is set in Ecstasy, a conservative, religious (fictional) small town in Central Illinois. Near the bluffs overlooking the Illinois River, its quaint struggling main streets are juxtaposed with strip malls and new cookie-cutter homes on its periphery. The most prominent building, rising from the corn fields on the outskirts of town, is the ultra-modern Sky Cathedral, the home of Ecstasy Christian Ministries and the pastor Cyrus Bell. ECM is a huge worship and entertainment complex, featured on cable TV and drawing thousands from surrounding counties. The church itself has a mirrored ceiling which seems to disappear in the clouds and leave its giant rooftop cross floating in the air. Many scenes take place in the church complex, as well as in the Victorian farmhouse the three protagonists, Alexa, Lucy and Rachel share; other scene settings include a high school science lab, a 1950s railroad-car diner, an art deco TV studio, an upscale roadhouse, the local swimming pool, and a tiny house on the bluffs.

LAURIEMANGICAROP6
Posts: 1
Joined: 10 Oct 2020, 05:11

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#4 Post by LAURIEMANGICAROP6 » 16 Oct 2020, 06:22

Woman in Five Parts

Assignment #1: Story Statement

A young, vulnerable woman tries to rebuild her life with a new career, after caring for her dying father and mother in decline from Alzheimer’s Disease, but begins a disastrous affair with a deeply troubled and volatile co-worker.

Assignment #2: Antagonist

Cal Taft, a psychologically complex married man with a history of infidelity, is assigned to train a new, young co-worker, Julia Facchinello. Within weeks, he becomes a source of emotional as well as professional support, helping her cope with a difficult job and coming to her aid when she is sick. He endears himself to her, but soon engages in confusing and inappropriate actions. He briefly touches her shoulders and back, invites her for walks at lunch, and shares a sexually charged novel with her, igniting a spark that leads to a disastrous affair.
He is a self-described “bastard born on April Fool’s Day.” His biological mother, a married mother of four girls, met his biological father, a married father of a son and daughter, in a bar in the weeks after V-E day, in 1945. During that summer, the two had a drunken one-night stand in a car and Cal was conceived.
He has mostly escaped the consequences of his previous affairs, but this is different. He falls hard for a woman who is stronger than she seems. His unstable descent is volatile and ultimately violent.

Assignment #3: Break Out Title

1. Woman in Five Parts
2. Cast the First Stone

Assignment #4: Two Comparable Novels

1. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Assignment #5: Hook Line

In the shadow of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal of the late 1990s, a bright but vulnerable woman, reeling from the death of her father and her mother’s decline from Alzheimer’s Disease, steps out of an emergency psychiatric center and into a new job as a federal investigator in an effort to rebuild her life, but she begins a disastrous affair with a deeply troubled and volatile older co-worker.

Assignment #6: Conditions for Inner Conflict

A. Protagonist’s inner conflict:
Julia knows that an affair with Cal is wrong on every level. She knows she is extremely emotionally vulnerable and believes an affair could be the nail in her coffin. She believes it would ruin her new career. Also, as a witness to her own father’s infidelity and the trauma it inflicted on her mother and her family, an extramarital affair runs counter to her values and causes her to question her own virtue. Yet, she is drawn to Cal by a force she cannot conquer.

B. Hypothetical scenario, trigger and reaction:
Julia drives Cal home from work when his car is in repair, and sees his wife, Margaret, falter and nearly faint when she senses the connection between them. Julia sees her own mother in Margaret’s response and sees herself as the cause of Margaret’s distress. She sees herself as just another version of her father’s mistress, whom she loathed.

C. Hypothetical secondary conflict (environmental):
Julia works in a small and hostile office where she has become the convenient whipping girl. Cal, the senior investigator, becomes a mediator and buffer. He uses his position to both protect Julia and control her. Her dependence on him and the role that he plays only increases the hostility, and she must find a way to survive in the office or leave it.

Assignment #7: Setting

The office of the Fair Labor Standards – Special Investigations Unit is located on the 17th floor of the federal office building in downtown Syracuse. The utilitarian building, flooded with fluorescent light and lined with narrow halls, offers few places to gather or relax. Cubicles divide the small, cramped FLS-SIU office where workers are afforded little privacy. Cubicle walls partially block a wall of windows that overlook the bustling downtown streets below. The space, designed to regulate, control and neutralize, entirely lacks creativity, comfort and images or elements from the natural world. It lacks all of the features that Julia, the protagonist, values most. A hostile clique of coworkers adds to the harshness of the environment.

Investigators of the FLS-SIU frequently work outside of the office and travel throughout Central New York. In the broader environs, weather extremes predominate. Lake effect snow storms create treacherous conditions in the long, dark winter. Summers are hot and humid, though brief. Residents respond socially, physically and emotionally to the variability of the weather. It can engender frustration, depression, exhilaration or yearning.

DouglasP6Vigliotti
Posts: 1
Joined: 16 Oct 2020, 18:04

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#5 Post by DouglasP6Vigliotti » 16 Oct 2020, 21:57

The Act of Story Statement

Escape a life-altering predicament without losing his mind.

The Antagonist Plots the Point

Mark Undercuffler (aka Undercuffler) is Christian Ballantine’s (protagonist) work nemesis. They came into the company at the same time, they’re both high-performers, up for the same award, and eventually, the same promotion. But they couldn’t be any more different as people. Undercuffler is a kiss-ass, corporate America poster boy. He is the epitome of the American Dream and standard life narrative—college, wife, kids, white picket fence, etc. Undercuffler is the embodiment of everything Christian is skeptical about in the world. Not only is Undercuffler a driver of tension for Christian in the plot, but he also ties heavily into the major theme(s) of the book—consumption, creation, influence, and pressure.

Conjuring Your Breakout Title

Current Title

TOM COLLINS — It represents a plot device (Christians go-to drink) used in the book to symbolize the major theme and ultimately, intersects with the storyline (plot point 2.)

Alternate Title(s)

LOST NOT GONE
BETTER THAN NOTHING
PICKLED

Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables

Lad Lit (Coming-of-age)

Jonathan Tropper (Everything Changes, Plan B)
Mathew Norman (We're All Damaged)
Nick Hornby (About a Boy)

*I think there are some Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero, Rules of Attraction) elements to the novel as well.

Hook Lines, Core Wounds, and Conflict

While being co-honored by a new boss with a weekend getaway to his vacation home in Golden Beach, a beaten-by-life sales guy realizes that not only will he be stuck with his poster boy colleague who he can’t seem to outshine but also the woman he slept with five days earlier—the new boss's wife.

While being honored by a new boss with a weekend getaway to his vacation home in Golden Beach, a hard-partying sales guy realizes that the new boss’s wife is the same woman he slept with five days earlier.

Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels

Inner Conflict — At the core, the novel is about a man’s struggle with turning into someone he doesn’t want to. It’s a classic what-matters-versus-what-doesn’t story with a new spin and fresh idea baked into it. Christian’s internal conflict stems from everything he has been exposed to in life—musical influences and interests, family and friends, social norms, after-4am crowd, corporate America, how he grew up, etc. It’s the main driver for questioning the life he sought-after. Did he ever really have a choice? Or was he unintentionally influenced? This inner conflict only gets deeper as the primary conflict intensifies (the predicament), Christians love of Liv grows, and everything ratchets up a notch when he meets an unsuspecting mentor named Ty Wilhelm. Ty brings a new perspective to Christian and consequently, he starts to see the world a little different, but will he ever really connect the dots?

Secondary Conflict — Almost everything in the book is designed to be in conflict with Christian's predicament (plot-level) and/or mind (theme-level.) There’s Tim, his new boss, who likes Christian and offers him a promotion. There’s Liv, Tim’s wife, who he sleeps with and sends Christian farther down the rabbit hole. There’s Jack, Christian’s divorced best friend, who eggs Christian on to continue a life of partying, but at the same time is Christians only confidante. Handley, a childhood acquaintance, who makes Christian battle his vices—drinking, drugs, etc. Christian’s entire familial situation is conflict. His dad represents old wounds about baseball-vs-guitar-playing, expectations, and pressure. His mother wants him to have kids and “settle down.” His younger brother flew the coop, lives in California, and makes Christian appear to be the reliable, successful one.

The Incredible Importance of Setting

The story takes place in three locations (primarily) that are intended to serve the major theme, and the protagonist’s conflict(s) and wounds.

Manhattan and Connecticut — There’s nothing more corporate America and consumer driven than Manhattan. Fairfield County, Connecticut is a bourgeois extension of that setting—housewives, family, etc. They’re not just linked by Metro-North, but economically and socially as well.

Golden Beach — This is the glitz and glam of a consumption lifestyle. A sunny, hot and lavish paradise nestled on the North end of Miami, FL. Oh, and who can forget that memorable day on the yacht?

Christian’s Mind — This is literally where the story takes place. You’re inside Christian’s head (in real time) while he thinks his way through the entire story. It’s an eccentric, unbridled mind, but isn’t everyone’s?

MartinP6Oconnell
Posts: 1
Joined: 13 Oct 2020, 18:20

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#6 Post by MartinP6Oconnell » 18 Oct 2020, 18:07

1. Story Statement

Take on the pan-national consenus and find a better longterm goal for mankind than touching the icy surface of mars

2. Antagonistic force

The political system of democracy does not identify the people most suited to lead, with a chain of egotistical, power hungry, under qualified lone wolves. Their goal is not to implement a vision, because they have none. The goal is to garner as much attention as possible and stay in power as long as possible. Some private sector, self made billonaires see Mars as a goal when they run out of tangible targets on earth. The small number of totalitarian regimens that could join the space race see reaching our nearest planet as a strategic goal. Is there a better target for all and how does one individual, the protagonist Frank, have an effect on the direction of mankind, which has no direction and no capable, reasonable leaders in power? Leaders in the West have shown the skill and patience to wade through the treacle of party politics and the gall to consider themselves as exceptional. The focus on spin means there is no authenticity, with every move determined by marketing professionals. Is their goal to keep the status quo or aim in some direction? Some would aim for Mars, fixing the climate change crisis is a more neboulous goal, with no end point. Frank muses over whether the dog, Alfie (or “Alpha”) staring into the blue sky in his back garden, has a better vision of life than he does.

3. Breakout title:

Alpha aims for Mars
Alpha Voyager
Beyond the Blue Sky

4. Genre and Comparables:

Positive Contemporary Political Satire

1. Dr Strangelove, based on the novel “Red Alert” by Peter George
2. The Big Short (Film), screenplay by Adam McKay

5. Hook line, Core wound and Conflict

The pratognist has peaked at his job and is looking for meaning, He has binged on documentaries about science, politics and the environment and does’nt want to watch or read anymore. He is convinced that modern soceity is a rudderless ship and maybe civilisation always was throughout history. He starts a philosophical blog as a hobby which unexpectedly overnight catapults him onto the international stage. This gives him a voice but also perceived notoriety for some. He gets fired from the Chinese government owned corporation he works for, but gains a contact with a Tech Billionaire, whose entourage are suspicious of his motives. Politicians and media alike are wary of him, painting him as a maverick. He must finding meaning and put a plan into action which will point mankind in the right direction, whilst nagivating through the treacle of politics, media and the blogosphere.


6. Secondary Conlict

Inner Conflict:
Frustration is the main emotion of the protagonist. He is also conflicted out of manners – he wants to make his point but does’nt want to impose his views on others. He knows he does’nt have the patience to tolerate those who are slow to grasp the meanings of what he wants to say, but refuses to slow down for them because he is on a mission.


Social Conflict:
Franks’s wife has a late in life religious reawakening from lapsed Catholicism to a more conservative Christian religious group. He can understand this, but refuses to devote time to consider the existence of a higher authority. This happens around the time, when on a family holiday, the dog Alpha goes missing.

7. Settings:

Warminster:
Frank and Alpha’s back garden is in suburban setting in on the edge of a small nondesript town Warminster in Wiltshire. The garden is long with shubbery overgrowing walls and a high hedge at the end. The main house is made from red brick with crumbling of grout on some of the walls and one small pane of glass is cracked. The neigbours are quiet. There is a famous, slightly crazy zoo nearby, but Frank has’nt been there since he was a child.

Shanghai:
The contact point for Frank’s work with a Chinese corporation in the PuXi district. The office is small but located in a tall shiny, glassy building which looks like it was completed in the last year. Before this all meetings were held in London in a rented office. Frank is an engineering consultant. Next to the reception desk, which is taller than in a Western office, a small conference room is located with a view over the docks. It is strange that whenever he arrives, there seems to have already been a meeting and everybody is waitig for him. The reception desk has cheap fake woodcovering and the receptionist always has to stand up to talk to him. Everyone is polite. Frank likes to stroll through the docks after meetings to unwind, but is always struck by the dust and sand on the pavement.

Mars:
The disappointment is palpable when the first traveller steps onto the frozen rocks. “Incredible, I am the first person to step on another planet, but it does’nt seem as much an achievement as in 1969.”

Rocks extend in every direction, the tall quiet walls of the canyon extend into the distance. The light is faint, it does’nt seem real. Otherwise everything looks the way it did in the photos.

“I hope I don’t trip, “ thinks Sasha, “No vodka for 3 years, it better be worth it!”

SavvyThorne
Posts: 2
Joined: 10 Oct 2020, 23:26

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#7 Post by SavvyThorne » 22 Oct 2020, 23:42

I don't know if this is in the right place, but since I met and know those of you who were on Zoom yesterday, I'd like to run this revision past anyone who would care to take a look. Thank you!

....

In a secluded mental institution on the far west side of Chicago, a newly hired therapist, Hannah, is attacked by a patient. She is saved by another patient called Z. He is lucid and intelligent, and when Z shows interest in her, the institution's director places her in charge of the case. But, untangling a web of cover-ups and lies, she discovers that Z was sentenced for murdering the director’s son. It seems the director has gone mad with grief, pulling strings to incarcerate Z in a twisted sense of revenge. The more Hannah uncovers, the more she comes to believe that not only Z innocent of the crime, but the director’s son is still alive. Worst of all, the director knows it. Wondering why she was she placed in charge of Z in the first place, Hannah at last arranges to have the entire matter brought before the Board. Before she can do so, the director imprisons her in her own institution. Hannibal meets Nurse Ratchet as she must outwit her captor and retrace the scene of heinous crimes to discover the truth about PATIENT Z.

TiffanyR6Washington
Posts: 1
Joined: 31 Oct 2020, 04:43

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#8 Post by TiffanyR6Washington » 03 Nov 2020, 01:17

Everybody Has Secrets: Book 2 of a 3 book series

Assignment #1:

Story Statement:

Keeping identical twin’s identity, a secret forever, by any means necessary.

Assignment #2:

Antagonists Forces: *Due to the complicated stories within this book series, and multiple antagonists, more than 200 words needed*

Dominique Randall (Book 1), a woman on a warpath to destroy and exact revenge on all who wronged her, following the penetrating death of her mother, discovers her father’s family, that she was not a part of. Baffled that her half-sister, Shala Jones, has a connection to Anthony Wallace, the same man who abused her as a child, she sets out to destroy Shala, all the while, Shala doesn’t even know of Dominique's existence.
On the other hand, Derrick Jones, the identical twin brother of Davion Jones, who had been confined to a maximum-security, Psychiatric Facility over-seas, since the age twelve, for the murder of both their adoptive and biological parents, wants to exact revenge on his twin brother, Davion, who happens to be Shala's husband. Davion, who is living the life most men envy’s, disowned Derrick the moment he was sent away, and never looked back.
During Derrick’s confinement, he and his best friend Delvina (AKA ‘Dee’ in Book 1), who happens to be the love of his life, devises an elaborate plan for his escape. Especially following the news of the twins’ ‘unbeknownst to them,’ massive inheritance from their biological parents, discovered by Delvina, to receive upon their thirty-fifth birthdays. Once the escape is a success, the plan emasculates, involving a small clique, who all desires a piece of the pie.
Joining forces, later revealed in book 3, Derrick and Dominique do any and everything to the highest of their capabilities, to abolish Davion (who is clueless to just how close his enemies are) and everyone he loves, including the innocent baby Shala had, as the result of a rape committed by Anthony Wallace. Davion and Shala, upon conflicting emotions, decide to keep the child and raise him as 'their' own, therefore, they vow to keep his biologics secret from all, and name him 'Brilliant'.

Assignment #3:

Breakout Title options:

1. Brilliant Secrets
2. Ohio in Florida

Assignment #4:

Genre:

Mystery/Psychological Thriller, Drama, Erotica

Comps:
And So It Begins, by Rachell Abbott
The House Keeper, by Natalie Barelli

Assignment #5:

Conflict Line

After discovering his murderous identical twin brother’s escape from a Maximum-Security Psychiatric Institution, Davion Jones, a seemingly perfect family man, whose smart and intelligent wife, Shala, is dealing with recent traumatic events, involving the half-sister she didn’t know existed, keeps his best friend Tyrese Gibson, a 'lady's man,' by his side, and must continue keeping the traumatic childhood he himself had, hidden from everyone he loves.

Assignment #6:

Inner Conflict: Protagonist will be in turmoil and feel anxious.

During Davion’s childhood in the state of Ohio, after the loss of his parents, he was placed in an ostensibly impeccable foster home, during which, he suffered some of the most chilling, petrifying, abuse, no human, especially a minor, should. Which in the alpha male’s case he claims to be, he decides NO ONE needs to know. Because of this, Davion’s sanity will be tested, triggering past anxiety experiences to reclaim his life.

Hypothetical Scenario:

Davion is shocked when he is reintroduced to George Stackhouse Jr., a member of the foster family he lived with in Ohio, who does know about his identical twin, triggers a panic attack.

A hypothetical Scenario for “secondary conflict” (social environment):

Shala, Davion’s wife, and Tyrese, Davion’s best friend, plan a mega surprise birthday bash for Davion’s thirty-fifth birthday. In the meantime, Shala’s presumed dead half-sister, Dominique, and Derrick’s retribution, involves everyone in Davion’s inner circle. With that being said, at the party, the whole shebang is present, including Shala’s parents, whose marriage is on the rocks, resulting in major consequences, they all endure.

Final Assignment:

Setting:

Manasota: An up and coming, booming with new; businesses, homes of all sorts and schools, town, located on the west coast of Central Florida, just a few miles east of the Gulf of Mexico.

Davion and Shala’s home, located in the vicinity of Lakeside Rocks, a suburban region of Manasota, newly claimed as it’s own ‘city’, is situated on at least five acres of pristine greenery. The brick paved driveway, a path following a black cast iron fenced gate, designed with the letter ‘J’ on the oversized gate doors, which houses a security code needed to enter, leads to the three-story, four car garage, small mansion. It's outside structure consists of designer reddish, brown brick decor, surrounding an elegant wooden double door entry. The tall finely crafted bird's bath sits perpendicular to the main entrance, center of the circled driveway. Behind the home is a modest sized guesthouse similar in style.

The two to three lane increasingly busy highways, lined with tall trees, palm trees aside each exit, and rivers flowing throughout the city, are going through a beginning phase of construction improvements.

Lakeside Memorial, a recently constructed, recognizable Hospital, with windows resembling a state-of the-art condominium structure, expands the town of Lakeside Rocks, housing only; single patient rooms, the latest equipment, plus technology, with some of the worlds top Physicians.

Switzville: The city located south of Manasota, expanding it's recognizable roots, is soon to be one of the most visited towns in Florida. University Blvd, the main highway connecting Manasota and Switzville, sits between plenty of shopping, dining, etc. It is in the mist of constructing the one and only Premier Shopping mall, designed for locals and tourists alike, name to be announced in the future, directly opposite the connecting interstate's view.

AdrianaGomesR6
Posts: 1
Joined: 30 Oct 2020, 22:18

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#9 Post by AdrianaGomesR6 » 03 Nov 2020, 22:18

1. STATEMENT

Amid an interplanetary power realignment, Major Bernal fights to recover his identity, and his physical and emotional sense of self.

2. ANTAGONIST

President Leslie Bowman’s advanced age and many health issues didn’t tame him. His aggressive leadership style won WWIII for the allied forces. Some fringe critics, like journalist Joceline Fletcher, won’t prevent him from becoming President of The World after the New United Nations’ election. He needs a new, healthy, virile body to match his powerful future self, though.

Bowman believes that humanity only functions under the control of a strong hand. He sees himself as an Enlightened Despot destined to be the first President of The World, even if he needs to nearly destroy it first. Entitled to God complex proportions, his control extends all the way to Mars, where an AGI—every bit as authoritarian as him—threatens to destroy all life on the planet and establish a much more profitable all AGI and AI colony to serve their masters on Earth. Mars-Mag is Bowman’s alter-ego; an AGI limited by its mainframe who wants an independent, powerful body. The same way that Bowman steals Bernal’s body, Mars-Mag tries to steal Themis’s.

Driven by zealotry, hubris, and ruthless ambition, and aided by his power grabbing accomplices, Bowman will stop at nothing to become Master of the Solar System. Bowman’s brain slowly corrupts Bernal’s body, emulating his own narrative curve of destruction in juxtaposition to Bernal’s journey—represented by his brain in an Adroit Body—overcoming internal and external obstacles to become the leader of a united and stable Solar System. By stealing Bernal’s body, Bowman creates a hero in Bernal’s brain.

3. POSSIBLE TITLES

MARTIAN MINERALS (Gallium, the most important of all Martian Minerals, is for this novel what Spice is for Dune. But a novel called Mars already exists—a brilliant one.)
MARTIAN COLONY
MARTIAN MINES
MARS REVOLUTION
MARS INDEPENDENCE
SPLIT (Initially planned as the trilogy’s title, it can be a good fit for this first book.)

4. COMPS

Martian Minerals is a science fiction novel with strong cyberpunk influences paired with hard science and space opera elements.
ROBOCOP in space
GHOST IN THE SHELL in space

Tech challenges pre Takeshi Kovacs’s and Cassandra Kresnov’s series, but a soldier’s brain is in a new body like it often happens with Kovacs, and he pairs with Themis, an advanced AGI that changes, as the narrative curve progresses, from a researcher into a warrior like Kresnov. Themis is demisexual though.

5. MAIN CONFLICT

His body stolen, a soldier’s brain is transferred into an Adroit Body and sent to Mars to join the Martian Army under the control of a despotic AGI, but instead, he unites with other newcomers to the Martian Colony and starts a revolution.

6. SECONDARY CONFLICTS – INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL

INNER CONFLICT: Bernal hates being a Human Brain in Adroit Body. He didn’t sign up for the program, he’d rather be dead. He misses his family and his human body’s senses.

OTHER CONFLICTS: The civilians in the spacebus have an innate prejudice against the military personnel. Bernal isn’t convinced he’s there by a simple paperwork mistake related to a fire. When he arrives on Mars, his plans to apply for an Adroit Body upgrade are unattainable as the colony is under the oppressive control of a despotic AGI that has been limiting all services to humans in the Colony. On top of it all, people are dying of the mysterious Martian flu.

7. SETTINGS

The novel has three main settings:

EARTH: characters have scenes in many different sites, including a US Military Base in Germany, the White House, a French bakery, NASA’s headquarters in Texas

E-M II (Earth-Mars II Spacebus): on the way to Mars, there are scenes in various environments, library, sports court, private quarters, storage unit, etc.

MARS: the colony is divided into pods with different looks and cultural influences based on the country, or consortium of countries, and/or corporations that developed them, and there are many important scenes in a Martian Mine.

JDavidLiss
Posts: 1
Joined: 01 Nov 2020, 18:13

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#10 Post by JDavidLiss » 12 Nov 2020, 00:25

1. STORY STATEMENT
The greatest scientists from the past and present must overcome a powerful evil to save their loved ones and their own souls.

2. ANTAGONIST
Mary Shelley is revealed to be the greatest electrical engineer and mathematician of all time, and the most dangerous. Her novel Frankenstein is actually the fictionalized lab notebook of her experiments to create Galvanic resurrection – using electricity to restore life. She is driven by love for her lost husband, the poet and scientist Percy Shelley. Across centuries, she has sought extraordinary men to implant with the parasite of Percy’s life force – to “overwrite” them so that Percy may live again.

Beautiful, powerful, and driven by loss, Mary Shelley reaches from beyond her own death to manipulate time and reality around Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, as well as two leading scientists in the present day, to ensnare them in her plot to restore her husband through Galvanic resurrection, confident that even these giants cannot defy her will and intellect.

3. ALTERNATE TITLES
Electric Resurrection
Frankenstein’s Last Love
Song of the Body Electric

4. GENRE AND COMPARABLES
"The Resurrection Light" is historical fantasy with strong elements of science. It imagines real luminaries as characters set in a fantastic world that begins in 19th Century New York and London, but veers into an alternative reality. Both the history and science are factual, but only for a short period of time as they bridge into plausible fantasy. In that reality, we see that poetry and math are the same – tools for understanding the nature of things and gaining control.

Comparable works include Philip Pullman’s "His Dark Materials" trilogy and Caleb Carr’s "The Alienist." Resurrection Light will also appeal to those who enjoyed the movie "The Current Wars."

This novel explores how technology intersects with people’s lives and imagination. At its core, like Pullman’s work, are the stories of people who are trying to find meaning after losing those they love. One is the legendary Thomas Alva Edison, the other is 21st Century electrical engineer Lewis Argent.

And like Carr’s fiction, the setting in time – that moves between London in 1820, 1873, and today, as well as New York in 1873 and the present – is critical to the plot.

"The Current Wars" captures some of the rivalry between Edison and Nikola Tesla. Resurrection Light builds on that rivalry, but takes it in a completely unexpected direction. They become allies, their theoretical and inventive skills the perfect compliment.



5. Hook LINE
Scientific geniuses harness their great minds to protect the people they love while an even greater genius plots to steal their bodies and souls.

6. INNER CONFLICT
Lewis Argent, electrical engineer, Columbia professor, is emotionally paralyzed from the loss of his wife and son, who were electrocuted by a cable mishandled by a drunken utility worker. As Lew withdraws from every contact in his life, he is suddenly presented with a mystery that tests his genius, morality, and sanity. He cycles between pathology and humanity, his technological brilliance amplifying each cycle. As he grows in knowledge, will he become as obsessed as Mary Shelley, sacrificing innocents to recover love?

Thomas Edison too must confront his own dysfunctional past to save his wife and unborn daughter, a past that evolved him into a man of brilliance yet unchained aggression. He will have to overcome his own control-at-all-costs instincts if he is to survive conflict with Mary Shelley.

SECONDARY CONFLICT
There are three secondary conflicts that interweave in The Resurrection Light.

Edison and Tesla are bitter rivals and despise each other. They will have to work together to achieve their goals.

Lewis Argent would like nothing better than to never see his former department chairman, Winston Li again. Also a brilliant electrical engineer, Winston’s autistic tendencies makes it seem insurmountable for them to work together to discover the secret of Galvanic resurrection. But it will take both of them for Lew to realize his seemingly impossible dream of restoring his loved ones.

At the start of the 19th Century, the novel posits that there was a secret meeting between the three greatest electrical geniuses of all time – Mary and Percy Shelley and Michael Faraday. The enmity that springs from this meeting will be lethal and reverberate through time.

7. SETTING

The 19th Century was crazy about electricity. It would light our houses, run our machines, carry our voices across the miles. Distance and time would be meaningless – night could be made into day and conversations between New York and California could take place instantly. Electricity was magic.

The novel starts in New York’s Coney Island in 1873, where Thomas Edison is about to electrocute an 8,000 pound elephant. It’s like a carnival and the newspapers are there to see Edison again demonstrate the danger of alternating current. They don’t know that Edison isn’t trying to kill the elephant, but restore her to youth and life as he seeks a cure for his wife’s failing health. Edison’s effort to discover scientifically-achieved resurrection shifts our perspective from the historical New York to a reality that grows more fantastic as the novel progresses. We are with Edison as he meets with JP Morgan, Walt Whitman, and other personalities of the day, yet we know we will follow him down a mathematically defined tangent as impossible as Alice’s rabbit hole.

Other settings include modern New York and New Jersey, and modern London, as well as that city in both 1820 and 1873. But the peak of conflict takes place in a space called The Body Electric, where imagination becomes real for those brilliant enough to figure out how it works and how their own minds work. In the body electric, the forces that move reality are visible, touchable. In that dimension, atoms can be plucked like fruit from trees and you can cup your hands and sip the energy spectrum as if it were water.

TonyFreeburgP6
Posts: 1
Joined: 12 Nov 2020, 03:36

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#11 Post by TonyFreeburgP6 » 15 Nov 2020, 22:00

Assignment #1: Story Statement
Find the card to save her son’s life.


Assignment #2: Antagonist
From an early age, Dennis Dalrymple wanted to become a movie star, not only for the money but for the opportunity to routinely become someone else. He hates the real Dennis, but his pride and greed keep him from acknowledging his self-loathing. He hides behind multiple personas, never letting the world know who he really is—a psychopath whose only joy comes from deceiving others for money.

Though incredibly talented, he dropped out of acting school when he realized his chances of becoming a movie star were the same as winning the lottery. Instead, he became a corporate spy. He infiltrates high tech companies and uses his acting skills to steal proprietary information, selling it to the highest bidder. Fueled by greed and his insecurities, he doesn’t care who gets hurts. If he fails to covertly steal the information, he takes it by force. Blackmailing, kidnapping, killing—committing these acts do not bother him because, in his mind, he’s not the criminal. He’s only pretending to be a criminal.


Assignment #3: Break Out Title
The Card
Trespasses
A Widow Scorned
Escape the Rage


Assignment #4: Two Comparable Novels
Genre: Domestic Thriller

1) I Am Watching You by Theresa Driscoll
This multiple POV, first person protagonist, present tense story drives to an unexpected ending employing the same elements as my manuscript.

2) The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle
The domestic suspense, character POV depth, and mystery surrounding the husband’s work are similar to my manuscript.


Assignment #5: Hook Line
After a mysterious black Audi kills her husband on a stormy Seattle night, a woman suffering from a severe anger disorder must uncover her husband’s high-tech secret before a charlatan psychopath murders her son.


Assignment #6: Conditions for Inner Conflict
Inner conflict:
Lauren suffers from Intermittent Explosive Disorder—a chronic condition resulting in spontaneous episodes of violent behavior. Losing her husband has derailed her ability to manage the disorder. She knows how to stay calm using meditation, therapy, and anger management exercises, but sometimes, she loves her rage. It feels good to smash windows. To save her son, she must remain calm and interact with people peacefully to uncover her husband’s high-tech secret. But, knowing a psychopath will kill her son if she fails, she often flies into a fit of rage, damaging her chances. At every turn, she is conflicted between attacking and negotiating.

Hypothetical scenario: Lauren meets with one of her husband’s co-workers and prods him for information. He resists divulging anything important and asks her probing questions. As the conversation wears on, she could give him information in exchange for what he knows, or she could threaten him. She didn’t prepare for the meeting by meditating or completing her anger management exercises, so she threatens him, and he tells her nothing.

Secondary conflict:
Lauren and her brother-in-law haven’t spoken since he abducted her son in a drunken stupor thirteen years ago. She filed a restraining order against him back then, and he has always honored it. She rages at the thought of what he did, kidnapping her son. She’ll never forgive him. She wishes he were dead.

Hypothetical scenario: Though Lauren never wants to see her brother-in-law again, she invites him to the funeral. He is her deceased husband’s brother, after all. When he receives the invitation, he is overjoyed. He has desperately missed her, his brother, and his nephew. Having been sober for the last eight years, he sees the invitation as a chance to make amends for his drunken mistake. When they meet at the funeral, he will beg for Lauren’s forgiveness, and she won’t give it to him. Or will she?


Assignment #7: Setting
Lauren’s suburban home sits in the middle of Mercer Island, a wealthy suburb of Seattle. Her street is quiet, and now that her husband is gone, so is his office. The privately commissioned paintings in his walls remind her of their life together—the California Redwoods, the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, the island of St. Croix. The photographs on the fireplace mantle in the sitting room stare at her like it’s her fault he died. The bereavement gift baskets her neighbors brought to console her sit in the kitchen, filling the air with the smell of rotting fruit.

Mercer Island’s quiet streets connect her home to her son’s progressive high school, her affluent dinner club, and downtown Seattle. But the streets aren’t quiet anymore. Black cars like the one that killed her husband seem to be everywhere.

Downtown Seattle is overrun with technology workers and homeless alcoholics. The tech workers eat lunch at metal bistro tables in Denny Park. The city chained the chairs to the tables to keep the homeless from stealing them. The homeless sleep in the bushes at night. Some make their way to the basement of the red brick First Covenant Church for AA meetings, but few find recovery. The rain never cleans the streets. It only moves the trash from place to place.

Unlike Seattle, the sun shines on the island of St. Croix. The rain there is warm and arrives in gusts, dousing enthusiastic tourists. Gift shops, restaurants, and vacation excursion businesses hug the cracked streets near the boardwalk in downtown Christiansted. The secret to her husband’s high-tech project lies somewhere between the harbor and Lauren’s condo. Like her home, the condo sits in the middle of the island, and it is also empty without her husband. The white walls bear no paintings, but there’s a black car parked outside the front gate. Someone’s waiting for her to come out.

DebraPapplerR6
Posts: 1
Joined: 16 Nov 2020, 03:20

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#12 Post by DebraPapplerR6 » 19 Nov 2020, 15:56

Assignment #1
Story Statement: Bernadette must save both her mother and father from her father’s dementia


Assignment #2
Antagonist or Antagonistic Force:

Bernadette’s mother asks her to kill her father because of his dementia. He’s becoming aggressive and wanders off frequently. The family promised never to put him in a nursing home. Her mother takes that promise seriously and believes death is the only way to free him. She sees it as mercy killing and can’t understand how it is different from assisted suicide.

Bernadette knows her father would have wanted to end his life rather than go to a nursing home. But what her mother is asking is murder. There is no simple way to achieve it without crossing ethical and legal boundaries that as an ICU nurse Bernadette is acutely aware of. Bernadette worries, however, that if she doesn’t help or convince her mother to put him in a home her mother will try something on her own and it will turn out badly.

Bernadette’s sister insists euthanasia is a sin but refuses to support Bernadette when she suggests a nursing home. Bernadette’s best friend offers to go to Mexico with her to buy a drug commonly used for suicide. Bernadette’s absent brother minimizes Bernadette’s concerns and supports the nursing home without actually participating.


Assignment #3
Breakout Title: House on Fire


Assignment #4
Genre/Comps: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult and Still Alice by Lisa Genova


Assignment #5
Hook Line:
After being asked by her mother to mercy-kill her demented father, an ICU nurse must weigh the moral implications of taking action with the powerlessness of not.


Assignment #6

Internal Conflict:

In the primary conflict, Bernadette must choose between multiple challenging options. The status quo of her mother caring for her demented father has become untenable. Her mother and father (if he were able) would want Bernadette to help him die. Bernadette is internally conflicted because although she knows this is what her father would want (and ultimately what she thinks is the right thing), it is illegal, difficult, and ethically questionable. The simple option of putting her father in a nursing home requires the whole family to break a promise they made and to go directly against what they know the father wanted.

When Bernadette’s best friend offers to go with her to Mexico to buy a drug she could use to easily kill her father, she is in emotional turmoil. It seems to be an easy way to achieve the end goal but she isn’t sure she could actually go through with killing her father regardless of how she intellectually thinks about it.


Assignment #7

Setting:
Set in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley (technically L.A. but no one really thinks so), House on Fire has three primary settings: The Farm, the ICU at the hospital, and the family home.

The Farm, nestled in Old Topanga Canyon, is a modern commune where Bernadette used to live with her partner Shayne (who still lives there). Pagans and hippies live in yurts, trailers, and tents sharing the farm labor and participating in neo-pagan rituals.

The ICU in House on Fire is portrayed in realistic terms (in contrast to what is typically shown in movies and films) including the internal cultural of nursing.

The family home is the least unique but built on the side of a hill, it is a sort of upside-down house with the bedrooms underneath the living areas which are at street level. Underneath the house is a space with a work shop, that has an area the family called the Bermuda Triangle, which plays a role in the story.

Balticgirl
Posts: 2
Joined: 19 Nov 2020, 05:33

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#13 Post by Balticgirl » 19 Nov 2020, 22:02

Assignment #1
Story Statement

Be undaunting to find true lasting love and approval and value it above money.

Assignment #2
Antagonist or Antagonistic Force

The antagonist Ted Millrose who was born Tadas Macciulanitis is a womanizer, a shrewd opportunist, and a cruel and selfish individual. His parents were Lithuanian immigrants and they lived in Brooklyn, New York. Ted's early childhood was one of poverty. Lean and tall as a lamppost, he married the daughter of a radio supply company executive. Brenislova, who was shaped like a small barrel, was nineteen and Ted was twenty. They made quite a pair. the year was 1920. Soon Ted learned the freedom and advantages money can bring as he was warmly welcomed into the family business. Ted's early flirtations with women in the company were excused in the patriarchal society of the 1920s. He kept up the pretense of a good family man, but he had his mistress, Millie.

Time went by. Ted was bluntly bold and shrewd. He literally forced the hand of the dying patriarch to sign away the company into a receivership, eliminating the rightful heirs, the protagonist and her mother. The protagonist and company lawyer worked to reveal Ted's corrupt business deals done behind the back of the company founder. Ted makes an out-of-court settlement but cheats on this agreement too.
His wife, Brenislova, dies and he reacted coldly. He married his mistress who was also complicit in her cruelty to the grieving family. Our villain lived only three years after Brenislova's death. During that time, he continued with bad decisions, dummy corporations, inflated salaries, and loans to take out the cask of the company. He invested in lemon line soda called Lithofizz that was to take the nation by storm but didn't. He went into debt and lost it all. Ted represented greed, dishonesty, callousness, and love of the almighty dollar. The protagonist prevailed.

Assignment #3
Titles
Baltic to Brooklyn Bound
The Diamond Sea Horse
Third Time is a Charm

Assignment #4
Genre/Comps

My manuscript of 80,000 plus words is historical fiction. My brand is immigration. This is a sequel to my first novella Keeping One Branch Green which I self-published on demand. In this current novel, I took fragments from family stories and wrote a fictionalized version. The time frame is 1906-1945, mostly set in America, usually in New York state and sometimes the setting is Europe. My manuscript deals with women's issues, public health and ties in with world events. I have a chapter on the abdication of the Czar of Russia, on the radio craze that hit America, and on the 1929 crash as well as buying property in the depression and World War ll. I do have a lot of romance as well.
I can honestly say that I have been so busy writing for two years that I haven't read many current novels, but novels that deal with immigration could be comparable. I love Russian stories, especially Crime and Punishment and Chekov's Short Stories. It's funny that I mentioned Crime and Punishment on the phone and we shared a laugh was 'that book wouldn't sell in today's market.' How things change!!

Assignment on the Core Wound

The core wound of the protagonist was her timidity of personality that causes her to feel unloved. She described it as a room full of people laughing and having a good time. The door is open, but she cannot enter and partake of the gaiety.
Even at an early age, she felt that her parents love her sister more. She carries this feeling with her during her adolescence. She is a good girl, loves her sister, and in a twist of irony becomes her sister's protector. What drives the plot line behind the "true love wins out over money" is the protagonist's personality trait to make impulsive decisions without thinking them through. This leads to times in her life when she is without a job or a mate and this trait almost ruins her life. In the end she is living a good American dream because she has has thought through her decisions and is now stable.

Note: I wanted to submit this by 1 pm the day before the conference. I just got the assignments yesterday. If I can get back into the computer program, I will write more.
I am diligent and want to do a complete job.

Signed by Paula Celeste Velho November 19, 2020

KATECRAWFORDP6
Posts: 1
Joined: 27 Oct 2020, 23:34

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#14 Post by KATECRAWFORDP6 » 20 Nov 2020, 04:02

Kate Crawford’s New York Pitch Seminar Assignment

The Act of Story Statement
At 66, I must defy The Joker, my long-haul illness. Then do whatever it takes to have a sexy sixties. Hoping to stave off a lonesome, unfathomable depression from tarnishing my golden years.

1. Antagonist
The Joker is the personification of my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad case of ME/CFS. At first my activity level was 20% of normal. In the past 22 years, I’ve worked that up to 50% of normal—some of the time
The Joker /ðə/ˈdʒoʊkər/noun/ Rapacious prankster, not whimsical clown/ relentless bastard/holds all the aces/ pushes me beyond my breaking point/always gets the last laugh/arrived with long haul ME/CFS.

The Joker, however, thinks he is the protagonist of this story, that my stubbornness, stupidity, and yearning for a sex life are his antagonists. He believes everything he executes to make me stay home, stay in bed, or diminish my mind is his brave effort to safe my life.
This week, for example, the Joker, who sees seminars as life threatening, launched his ultimate I-dare-you-leave-here ploy—swelling my lip like a knockwurst. No amount of antihistamine helps. Steroids do. My side effects are hyperactivity and confusion. Example: on the application, I sent the first 500 words of my manuscript in the space for a 500-word synopsis. God only knows what I’ll be like on Thursday. Expect something between an annoying Chatty Cathy and a bug-eyed crone with a what-made-me-think I could do this stare.
Crazy-making, annoying, frustrating, depressing, and diminishing. The Joker also humbles me (thanks, I needed that), elevates my empathy and reaps more reading time than I ever thought possible. Except, when he thinks I’ve read enough whereupon my eyes jump around like fleas.

2. Titles
Second Coming: In Pursuit of a Sexy Sixties (loved this one, but axed due to Christian mix-ups)
Call My Ass Delightful: A Memoir in Fact and Fantasies

3. Genre and Comparables
Genre: Memoir (covers 20 months)
Comparables: Patricia Lockwood’s memoir Priestdaddy meets Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite, A Memoir of the Senses in the style of a much older Bridget Jones.
Looking for recent memoirs with senior or at least senior-ish sex, but not finding them.
Nonetheless, I will keep reading. Many recent memoirs, excepting ones like The Yellow House or The Glass Castle, are perhaps not widely read in my target age group.

4. Hook lines, core wounds and conflict
The Joker, a personification of my relentless, long-haul illness, plundered my career, pilfered my social life and nixed my sex life. I am determined to defy him. To work through the grief of Mom’s recent death and avoid a lonesome, fathomless depression from contaminating my golden years. I launched an offensive. Goal? Have a sexy sixties. Bolstered by writing sexual fantasies—Boomer Bodice Rippers—set in exotic, erotic corners around the world, my reality extends from despair to hope across sublime small Western towns.

5. Other Conflict Conditions:
Inner Conflict
Nico, charming, engaging lust object becomes an obsession. I do crazy and asinine things. The only other charming, engaging lust object who became an obsession was the drunken bartender at the Inn I owned. Both of my obsessions happened right after the death of a parent. Grief-deferring obsessions.

Social Conflict:
Conditions: I knew I’m scared of men who attracted me, but I didn’t know why. Recently, I’d clutched up whenever they came around. Retracing my steps with men BI (before illness) I only come up with some hints.
Action: I read up on the dating lit, make a list of appropriate actions, and assure myself I won’t clutch up on my first date in 25 years. Except, I do.
Result: With two hands, Nico scoops up the watch hanging around my neck. He looks directly into my eyes. “Now I’m appraising you.” Did I look back into his eyes? No. Did I smile? No. I swung my head towards the window and looked out at the bay. When I tell my niece Katie, she throws her arms on the table and plops her head on top. She looks up at me, “Aunt Kate, you blew your first kiss.”
How the hell was I going to have a sexy sixties if I couldn’t get a first kiss?

7. Setting
Taos, New Mexico. I enjoy being at the bottom of the pecking order. We Anglos, still a minority here, were the last to arrive. True to form, we assumed the well we dug had first dips on water.
The Tiwa peoples of the Taos pueblo are another minority are ruled by their own governor and war chief and had (and now have again) first dips on water. They participate little in local politics with the exception, of course, water rights disputes and negotiation.
The majority in Taos are the Hispanics, and they make up most of our officialdom. Most of the Hispanics belong to one of the big families who arrived many generations ago while this land still belonged to Mexico. They came from old Spanish families and I sometimes suspect that we are still ruled in the ways of the Patron. Although, as a newly-arrived Anglo I have no way of knowing. The Hispanics control the acequia—the canals that carry the snow melt to agricultural land.
I love seasons and Taos’ are quite wonderful. The starry white winter when the low adobe buildings, Big Sagebrush and the black branches of invasive Siberian Elm are etched with snow and poised against the cobalt sky. Spring with its humidity, Bluebirds hatching and at least in my yard, hundreds of daffodils. As we slide into summer, we expect a heat wave followed by our last ten inches of snow. Summer’s end ensconces us with the smell of Hatch chilies roasting. I am perpetually hungry. The white-barked aspens leaves turn yellow. The first sweet, sharp smell of burning piñon pine fills the air.
River Camp in the Himalayas. There are no ghats (wide long steps seen in Varanasi) on the upper Ganges, just steep, rocky descents to small pockets of sand. My tent was tucked into such a pocket. Not fifty feet from the most holy—and most fruitful—Indian river—Indians call Her Ganga. At 25 kilometers from its source, Ganga was cold and clear and free. that one drop of Ganga, it is believed, can wipe away your sin. Given my sins, I believe.
I learned the appropriate ceremony—there dips all the way under her waters. Alone, I stepped carefully into her, inched along feeling for steady footholds. As her water’s neared the bottom of my bathing suit, Ganga’s current was stronger. Afraid to inch further into her, I counted to ten, did a quick prayer, and I ducked all the way under. Then I shot straight up. Three times. Inching back to shore, I too felt cold and clear and free.

Balticgirl
Posts: 2
Joined: 19 Nov 2020, 05:33

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#15 Post by Balticgirl » 20 Nov 2020, 05:11

Assignment #5
Write your own hook line

o The protagonist, Wanda, has impulses and insecurities and she almost looses the love of her life until love letters that are hand-delivered save her relationship.


Assignment #6
Sketch conditions of the inner conflict

Conditions that cause an inner conflict for the protagonist
- feels father prefers sister
- doesn't get the singer Sewing Machine in 1910 as her sister does
- first husband is a bully
- second husband is unfaithful
- wants to save her father's company but cant find the financials
- should she tell her sister about the affairs that her husband is having or not
- inner conflict will she be allowed to accept a scholarship to art school


Assignment #7

Sketch your setting in detail

Brooklyn
tenements
East river
fire escapes
air ducts - no fresh air
laundry hanging on lines between building
grey skies
grey roads
horse and carriages
electric cars
trolleys
street vendors
ferral cats and even some pigs
dust, cranes and unfinished skyscrappers
Brooklyn is a mess in 1906

Signed by Paula Celeste Velho 11/19/2020

NicoleBrownR2
Posts: 1
Joined: 11 Nov 2020, 06:12

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#16 Post by NicoleBrownR2 » 20 Nov 2020, 11:21

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: STORY STATEMENT

Telling fairy lies and exchanging favors to keep a forbidden mortal truth.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: PROTAGONIST


Terrace Hawthorn of Shadow hill, grew up hungry, magic-less and without a mother. His pure blooded drunk elf father hated him for being mortal and hated Terrace’s dead mother more, because she made him so. Abandoned by his father in the mortal world-he was chewed up into child labor in the 1800’s, bought and sold for favors, only to learn humans could lie, then worked to death before being spit out of the human world and dragged back into Fairyland.

When he returned, he tried to find love and honor, instead treated as a mortal blooded fairy. Enraged, Terrace plotted to ruin fairyland, waging a war, setting the seven courts against one another and killing King Alhern, stealing his face, name and magic. Wiping history clean and rewriting new ones, he forbade all mortals and mortal things from entering into fairyland. However, he craved more magic, stealing pure magic from any fairy reborn with it. Until the only fairy prince of all the courts slaughtered- survived, because he knew nothing that happened, Terrace spared his life, deeming him lord of WillowWood. The lord fell in love with a mortal, who gave birth to a daughter Daisy, with pure magic.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: BREAKOUT TITLE

Black Flower
The Darkest Flower
Courts of Forbidden lies
A Kingdom of Forbidden truths

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: WRITERS COMPS
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson


FIFTH ASSIGNMENT:

Pulled from one world into another, a mortal blooded fairy must choose between telling more lies or keeping her secrets, leading her to run away from her true fate and her fears.




SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: CONFLICT

Daisy is a fairy elf with a speck of mortal blood and feels like an outcast in a world full of eternal beautiful porcelain white fairies, with no one who is like her, accept for her mother and sister, who find the fairy world to be a tolerable comfortable home, when she feels trees apart from it. Being her fathers favorite daughter keeps her out of most trouble until her mother gives her a forbidden mortal relic and she sets her feet out into the forbidden wall of fairyland into the mortal world. The mortal world seems perfect to Daisy, she feels as though she can be herself, with no tricky fairies to stare hate through their eternal glowing eyes or cruel words they spew under their tongues. But the call of fairyland always pulls her back, and she wouldn't admit she didn't love her magic or being immortal.

She felt even more out of place being a lady of WillowWood, a house of the seven courts of Esmerland ruled by their great King Alhern who hates anyone with a speck of mortal blood. Her father, forbids speaking of mortal things outside of their family, and has set a rooted clear path for Daisy to follow, ensuring her eternal future to be bright to become the next supreme council leader of the Seelie and Unseelie court, but Daisy feels pulled and twisted in so many directions, forced to tell fairy lies to avoid the truth about going into the mortal realm during the day and why she is always tired at twilight when every fairy rises for endless revel and fun in fairyland. As the lies pile and the truths weigh on her wants, she soon will have to choose between a favor and a truth, and both will depend on her fate to become who she really is meant to be.




SEVENTH ASSIGNMENT: SETTING

Fairyland is a secret realm, hidden in the human world by an invisible magic barrier. Across the forbidden barrier wall into the human world is Filled with never ending trees shining overwhelming brilliance of color with neither the sun or moon to reveal if it were day or night. And before the tree line of forbidden trees is a thick river of blood streaming crimson red along the shores separating the mortal realm for the fairy world. Through the river of blood into the trees are talking oaks and willows, listening to secrets of the wind, and carrying their own messages into the sky.
The kingdom of Esmerland rules in the center of the endless magical forest’s of seven courts King Alhern rules over.
WaterRiver filled with swirling streams, bellowing powerful waterfalls and deep pools of crystal clear rivers and ponds, where countless water sprites and mermaids live deep within the water in caves and seaweed dwellings, while Selkies and Banshees live in shallow streams returning to the deep pools when they are done serving their fairy king. WaterRiver’s pools roll into rolling hills to the south, where the greenest meadows of the MeadowBrook court rest, MeadowBrook is known to bloom vibrant wild flowers of every kind. The court lives in hills and rocks, digging themselves holes under roots and stumps.
ThistleWood is to the west, near DaggenWood. Their elegant branches sit pristine and kept, spanning long and tall over their lands, with the tallest and oldest trees of the realm. Along its borders twist and coil DaggenWoods dark eerie forest where Goblins dwell and hunt, with pockets of black that no light shines through and howling animals blood thirty for food.
And the great dwarf lands, now long and forgotten, are ruled by the trolls of MountainSheath, lining countless mountain paths through tortuous bridges and never ending tunnels, leading to the most cruel court of them all, no Seelie fairy would ever venture into.
Beyond the castle, far, far away In the distant purple and orange night sky was Harlem, one of the Unseelie courts, the farthest court away from the Kings castle to the North. Any fairy eye can spot Harlem from its white mountain peaks, and Smokey ash sky. In the center of Harlem's tallest mountain, in the deep basin of, is a black sap tree churning pure magic in its core.
And then there is WillowWood, the oldest court of them all, it is to the northeast of Esmerland, the closest fairy house to the castle, lined with giant willow wood trees, and gates with talking trees. In the center of the lands is a enormous hollowed out WilloWood tree estate, where Lord Serpentine, his wife and daughters live.

JosieSchneiderR6
Posts: 1
Joined: 31 Oct 2020, 02:07

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#17 Post by JosieSchneiderR6 » 21 Nov 2020, 22:14

:) Hello fellow pitchers and conference faculty. I hope you enjoy my summaries below. Looking forward to seeing you soon. ~~Josie~~. 8)

1. The Act of Story Statement:

Chelsea Morning must overcome her own self-destructive behavior to achieve a healthy life.

2. The Antagonist Plots the Point

Chelsea’s self-destructive behavior stems from parents who are neglectful and narcissistic, yes, but also from the selfish girl’s notion that a fulfilling life should be easily accessible to her.
Four of Chelsea’s damaging ways:
  • She runs away from home—and a privileged life—at a young age
  • She changes her name five times, hoping to discover an identity
  • Heroin addiction
  • She continually provokes a violent neighborhood thug
Each of these actions is irresistible to the girl who changes her name five times; she desires to find adventure, truth, and intelligence in the wrong places and with the wrong people.

3. Conjuring Your Breakout Title:

The Last Best Life of Chelsea Morning

4. Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables:

Genre

Women’s Fiction

Comps:

A. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
B. Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
C. South of Broad by Pat Conroy

My protagonist, Chelsea Morning, is on a forty-four-year hero’s journey, her journey of discovery. What she has in common with the three great protagonists above—Dolores Price, Novalee Nation, and Leopold Bloom King—is that they all complete their journeys with the help of a devoted found family.

5. Hook Lines, Core Wounds, and Conflict:

Fleeing narcissistic parents in 1982, a determined, selfish young woman sets out on an eighteen-year odyssey across America with goofballs and hippies, but hits bottom with drug addiction and an angry heart, and it isn’t until the kindness of five strangers, including an abandoned 12-year-old black kid who turns out to be a prodigy chef, show her the path to a fulfilled life.

6. Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels:

Inner conflict scenario:

Chelsea spends ten years of her life addicted to heroin, trying to erase crippling guilt.
Guilt that was caused when she was kidnapped by cons, and she had met Chet, another victim, and planned their escape. Chelsea succeeded in getting away but left Chet behind. Heroin addiction dulled her guilt.
When she discovers Chet is still alive—that he had escaped on the same day all those years before—and that he credits her with saving his life, her relief over Chet’s happy ending turns to anger at herself for allowing addiction’s power to ruin her future. She is propelled to kick heroin.

Secondary conflict scenario:

Even after Chelsea kicks heroin and settles into a mainstream life with a job and apartment, she continually tangles with a neighborhood thug. She’s stuck in the middle of moving forward and dealing with self-destructive behavior from the past. She’s more clever than the loser thug. She’s a girl of action, trusting her instincts now after years using her wits to squeak out of thorny situations. When the thug’s retaliation results in Chelsea’s house being burned to the ground, the evidence is finally clear. Her new-found mainstream success is too valuable to damage with continued bad behavior.

7. The Incredible Importance of Setting:

The first meeting of Chelsea describes her new apartment in detail from a designer’s perspective. Then her subsequent job as a window treatment decorator gives the reader more descriptions. Homes and their décor become a character in this novel. Everywhere this girl wanders, the homes and their descriptions help describe not only the decade, but also their importance in determining her character and motivations. And finally, because the decorating is so tied to her past, the homes help her rectify her hate-turned-appreciation for her parents.
Another aspect of setting is found in Chelsea’s odyssey across America—showing different states or cities with their unique personalities, how they nurture or reject her. Her five name changes are triggered by the environment of each location, (and her adventures there).
Finally, moving to France is prompted by a story in which she is told about the village of Varce. “It’s the greatest place to raise a family, with the security of the Alps all around,” she’s told. She and her new “family” end up there not only to feel secure, but also to avail themselves of the culinary genius of Europe.

kamigraypdx
Posts: 1
Joined: 20 Nov 2020, 01:22

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#18 Post by kamigraypdx » 23 Nov 2020, 04:43

Hi Everyone! Looking forward to "meeting" you all! -Kami

1. The Act of Story Statement:

Help readers overcome their inability to create a home that makes them feel good.

2. The Antagonist Plots the Point

The place we live and call home is an extension of ourselves. It's a version of you showing up in your living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and dining room. And since we're the ones defining and constructing it, when it's half-finished (or finished in a way that doesn't feel like us), we don't feel good there; we don't feel complete. Home is the place where we should feel happiest; where we should feel most ourselves.

During the beginning of the pandemic in February, I started an instagram account called @thepsychologieofhome. It's grown to 22,000 followers in less than 9 months. It's more of a microblog where I use the maximum 2200 characters for my daily caption along with 10 images of interior design (my occupation) that relate to the narrative. The book I'm pitching is based on my instagram account. You wouldn't think hilarious childhood stories, tales of entrepreneurship failures, or how to suffer less through menopause would pair well with interior design images, but most days I weave the captions and the images together quite cleverly. The majority of interior design instagram accounts are boring, unrelatable, unattainable, and remind you that your own home sucks and you're doing everything wrong.

3. Conjuring Your Breakout Title:

The Psychology of Home: a field guide for a feel good home

4. Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables:

Genre

Non-Fiction: Interior Design

Comps:

A. Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines
B. Made for Living: Collected Interiors for All Sorts of Styles by Amber Lewis
C. The Interior Design Handbook: Furnish, Decorate, and Style Your Space by Frida Ramstedt

5. Hook Lines, Core Wounds, and Conflict:

Like my instagram account, my book and approach to interior design is different. I remind readers that the only time you'll make a bad decision for your home is when you turn it into something that's not a reflection of you. When my clients come to me, they lack the confidence to make design decisions for their own home. They worry they're going to choose something either too trendy and it won't stand the test of time or they'll choose something too classic and there home will be basic and boring. Most of the time, I'm just validating what they like and giving them permission to create the space they already know they want or I'm helping the over-thinkers arrive at a decision. I'm also funny, I swear, I share stuff that's hard to talk about, and people are digging it. I get a ton of feedback in the comments section and have many regular visitors. From the comments I'm getting, I believe my voice is fresh, accessible, authentic, and honestly, I'm hilarious. It's one part little stories of my life, one part self help, and one part house help with plenty of DIY (which I call Self Do) mixed in so readers have plenty of tangible take-a-ways. All the images in the book are from my own work as an interior designer.

6. Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels:

Chapters are divided by things we do in our homes:

Dining - dining room and breakfast nooks
Sleeping - bedrooms
Lounging - family rooms, great rooms, and media rooms
Drinking - home bars, sitting rooms
Working - home offices
Cooking - kitchens
Grooming - bathrooms
Gathering - living rooms
Parenting - kids bedrooms and play rooms
Reading - home libraries and reading nooks

Also in each chapter:

-personal stories/anecdotes
-sources/where to buy
-mini history lessons
-DIY/Self Do
-chapter appropriate tidbits such as a family recipe in the Cooking chapter, a book review in the Reading chapter, dinner party tips for the dining room, etc.
-self help (the psychology of home): examples are why it's good for our brain to finish what we start, why not caring what other people think is the new black, why investing in your home (yourself) jacks up your confidence and self-esteem, and more.

7. The Incredible Importance of Setting:

In 2014, I sought out the services of a psychologist for what would be six months of psychotherapy. It was so beneficial (hello blind spots) and transformative that I decided to go graduate school in Clinical Mental Health Counseling even though I already had a job I loved. I went for an entire year before realizing that the way I could really help people (my special gift so to speak) was to combine my personal success in therapy and my year of mental health studies with my passion for transformative and deeply personal residential interior design. So I quit school and put my heart back into an interior design business that focuses on helping clients create a personal sanctuary that lifts them up and makes them feel good about their home.

MaureenMeeganP6
Posts: 1
Joined: 12 Nov 2020, 03:22

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#19 Post by MaureenMeeganP6 » 25 Nov 2020, 05:08

1. Story statement: Recover the Hawk’s Eye and destroy the villain.

2. Howard Greener seeks beauty through hierarchical order. Growing up middle class, he turned an interest in healthy eating into a global concern centered around organic food, wellness, fitness, meditation, travel, and technology, even creating a coveted seal of sustainable approval. Howard has his own vision of world order which separates people into the dominant and the dominated. This vision allows him to use people, regardless of their age, as it is the destiny of the ‘dominated’ to be used. He understands people’s weaknesses and grants fantasies to get favors from power players under the guise of the philosophy of Greener Living for a better world. He craves sex with teenage girls, as another of his control hierarchies is the first awakening of sexuality, and sees his pedophilia as bestowing the gift of Howard. Using his knowledge of energetics, he steals the Hawk’s Eye, a gem with unique properties and the unstoppable component for his directed energy manipulation of people’s desires. He begins deadly experimentation to perfect his power. He has one child, a willful, adult daughter, that he views as an extension of himself, the only logical choice for extending his power.

3. Breakout Title:
Who Ya Da
She Sprang
Really

4. Genre: Fantasy (low-quest-dark)

Comps:
Touchstone by Laurie R. King (2008)
Laurie R. King’s hero is marked by a miraculous survival of being blown to bits in WWI and coming back together, leaving him a human touchstone. Extremely psychic, the hero can succumb to sensory overload but is forced to work his gift. Nila Fontenot has her own war wound that has opened her and must use this gift to pursue her compelling need for good to triumph over evil.

Starless by Jacqueline Carey (2018)
Jaqueline Carey’s hero is dedicated to a belief. Myth, magic, a quest, and sex fill an epic tale. Carey excels at writing about gods/goddesses and those who are called by them. Nila Fontenot is on a journey to understand her own connection to an ancient goddess and a mythic way of life that spans not one lifetime, but many.

5. Hook line: Struggling with survivor’s guilt, female Marine engages in the civilian world to stop a billionaire from using a prince’s gemstone to harvest people and uncovers her own strange truth.

6. Inner conflict of protagonist: Sergeant Nila Fontenot is the lone survivor of an attack that left her squad dead. Her squad had become family to her. She let them down by living through the attack and receiving a medal. Nila yearns for retribution for the dead but her wounds put her out of active duty.

Nila’s latest ‘civilian’ assignment is replacing another terminated soldier, Corporal Sara Ortiz, who failed to complete a time sensitive mission. Nila shares the anguish the dead Ortiz must’ve felt by not completing the mission. Not only does she have an obligation to her superior officer, Colonel Klink, to complete this mission, Nila must redeem the terminated soldier’s honor.

Secondary conflict scenario: By failing to complete the Colonel’s mission, Nila has added three more people into her inner circle, two whose lives are threatened. One is Ray Bow, an artist whose strange connection to the gemstone has made him integral to the completion of the mission. Ray has little discipline, talks a lot, and is hopelessly infatuated with the other adult Nila helped save. Ray’s infatuation threatens to derail Nila’s mission.

7. Setting: The main setting is contemporary New York City.
-Military office of battered efficiency launches the story.
-Home base is a brownstone of turn-of-the-century stateliness: grand library, stained glass windows making the interior lighting watery and surreal, and carved wooden touches in doors and grand staircase, homey basement kitchen, secluded back yard with secret escape passage. Mixed with the original architecture are high tech devices. The Colonel's office has Bauhaus touches. Brownstone is home to protagonist Nila and somewhat strange characters. The more we learn about the people living in the brownstone, the stranger they become. The more we learn about the brownstone, the odder it becomes.
-Elegant catering company offices in Chelsea reflect its pretentious owner and clientele.
-Southampton mansion/estate is the lair of the villain. The estate has a history that will impact some of the villain’s activities. The villain’s nefarious activities are contrasted with sybaritic pleasures to be had within the mansion—intimate dining parlor with wood paneling, chandelier, crystal glasses, exquisite food; guest suites with jewel-toned rugs and pillows, drinks and drugs, and playmates; master suite with Japanese Edo screens; imported rose marble terrace and Neptune mosaic swimming pool; grounds with multiple gardens, gazebos, maze, small forest, and private channel with dock. Four characters must make a desperate escape from the estate.
-Manhattan co-op apartment of catering company owner is a fortress of privacy that gets breached.
-Gullah territory in South Carolina provides a richness of hidden histories in land, buildings and people. These histories have a ripple effect on a number of characters.
-Abandoned, historic Connecticut River Valley armory provides the skeletal setting where the ultimate conflict is resolved. With little time to improve on the interior, makeshift screens, couches, dais and throne are put to first use under steel girders, stone, and windows of armory.
-Prairie style home in Hyde Park, clean lines, golden oak tones juxtaposed against the Saqir’s embarrassment and his new connections.

EliseHartKipnessP6
Posts: 1
Joined: 18 Nov 2020, 21:15

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#20 Post by EliseHartKipnessP6 » 26 Nov 2020, 02:21

From Elise Hart Kipness

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Story Statement
Solve the murder while reconciling her past.


SECOND ASSIGNMENT: Antagonist
Ex-husband, Tyler Edison, constantly makes life difficult for protagonist Ann Maren—whether he means to or not. With his Italian leather loafers and monogrammed cufflinks, Tyler embodies everything Ann hates about Greenwich, Connecticut. When Ann met her ex, he wore his hair long, played in a band, and smoked a lot of pot. But that was the rebellious Ty, not the real Tyler.

Now Tyler is more than an irritant—he’s a murder suspect. At least in Ann’s mind. At every turn, Ann catches the hedge fund executive in lies; but her arrogant ex admits nothing, just throwing shade on her theories and taunting Ann at every turn. On top of that, he ignores the needs of their teenage twins and heightens tension between Ann and her best friend. As if that weren’t enough, he also mocks Ann for her public and humiliating suspension. Nothing stops Tyler from making Ann’s life difficult but does that make him a killer or just a typical ex-husband?


THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Breakout Title Options
A DEADLY SHOT
ANOTHER GREENWICH MURDER
MURDER IN GREENWICH
A GREENWICH MURDER
MURDER IN THE MANSION


FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Genre/Comparables
Genre - Mystery, Women’s Fiction, Domestic Suspense(?)

Comps:
HELLO, SUMMER by Mary Kay Andrews. Not only is there a similarity in plotline (reporter down on her luck, solves a crime) but both novels incorporate family, setting and salacious intrigue into the story.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger. Both books are light beach reads that make the setting—Greenwich, Connecticut—a large part of the fun while exploring friendships and family. My novel has a stronger mystery element.

Here are two other comps I’ve been considering:

THE OTHER DAUGHTER by Lisa Gardner. This struck me as a possible comparison because in both books there’s suspicion surrounding the protagonists’ inner circles, and the protagonists need to question everyone around them.

THE CHARLOTTE MCNALLY SERIES by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Both Ryan’s protagonist and mine are reporters, and we both write in the first-person present. But I think Ryan’s novels would be considered more hard-boiled and might appeal to readers looking for a grittier read.


FIFTH ASSIGNMENT:
When a suspended TV sports reporter discovers her ex-husband and best friend are suspects in a brutal murder, she’s forced to completely re-evaluate who she can trust and where her loyalties should lie.


SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Two more Levels
In the main plot, Ann’s decision to investigate the murder stems from her loyalty to her closest friend and main suspect—Kurt’s wife, Yvette Robbins. At first, Ann won’t even consider the possibility of her friend's guilt. Loyalty won’t let her. But Ann’s resolve is tested when she learns Yvette lied about returning to the scene of the crime right around the time the murder took place.

The issue of loyalty and trust remain at the heart of Ann’s inner conflicts in the secondary plots. This is perhaps most evident in her complicated relationship with her biological father who abandoned her as a child. Bio Dad, the snarky way she thinks of him, is an NYPD detective who desires redemption. The murder triggers a heightened dynamic for father and daughter. Bio Dad uses the murder to get closer to his daughter. Ann grapples with her need for information against her distrust, anger and even longing for her biological father.

On a basic level, the second sub-plot turns the first sub-plot on its head. But this time it features Ann in the position of parent with her son Jackson, who nearly died from a drug overdose. Ann’s boss offers Ann a pathway back to the job she loves but it means betraying her son—go public with the drug overdose and explain to the world why she wasn’t herself at the time her outburst was caught on video. Ann flatly rejects that idea—her loyalty to her child outweighing any personal benefit. But that easy decision heightens Ann’s inner turmoil regarding Bio Dad. Why could she quickly choose family over work but he couldn’t?


FINAL ASSIGNMENT: Setting
There’s much more nuance to Greenwich, Connecticut than the mansions hidden behind high iron gates like the one where NBA star Kurt Robbins was found murdered. Protagonist Ann Maren lives in a small three-bedroom, century-old cramped colonial on a side street near town with a historical preservation society plaque stamped on the front door. Tyler Edison, her ex-husband, lives in the hills, where modern steel and glass houses sit atop steep terrain.

The commercial section of the town, Greenwich Avenue, also has its texture. At first glance, one spots designer chains like Prada and Armani and trendy eateries like Elm Street Oyster House and The Organic Juicery that serves the highest quality wheatgrass. But hidden at the bottom of the hill, locals get their pizza from Joe’s—a cavernous hole in the wall that smells like Italy.

While much of the action takes place in Greenwich, Ann also brings readers to Manhattan and the sleek skyscraper that houses TRP Sports, a division of NetWorld Media. Ann takes the readers into the national television station where the atmosphere is amped up by its caffeine-ingesting, adrenaline-driven inhabitants. The reader also travels with Ann to the media entrance at the back of Madison Square Garden and sees that behind the scenes the “world’s most famous arena” consists of dreary decor and hidden tunnels.

MelissaMikesell
Posts: 1
Joined: 24 Nov 2020, 04:11

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#21 Post by MelissaMikesell » 29 Nov 2020, 08:00

Story Statement:

Rae Baxter wants to find out the truth about the boy she believes to be her dead son’s child to get a piece of him back, no matter the cost.

Rebecca Malone is desperate to protect her secret while trying to cope with the impending loss of her mother and learning to open herself up to love.

Antagonist:

Rae:
Charming and dependable, Dean Baxter was raised by a Southern belle transplanted in New England. A family man, he loves his wife deeply and has for most of his life. He is often described as the strong man in the storm. After the death of their only child, Rae relied on Dean to survive. He suffered through his profound sorrow mostly in silence. He nursed Rae back to life with his unwavering love, but he can’t do that this time. He cannot support her in what he believes is a fruitless pursuit and risk losing both of the people he loves most in the world.

Rebecca:
Bernie Malone is a vapid, materialistic woman of good breeding and fortune who prides herself on being arm candy for men. She spends most of her time shopping, getting cosmetic procedures, and dating a stream of rich suitors. Bernie is ashamed of Rebecca being a single mother and detests being a grandmother, further damaging their barely cordial relationship. That is until she receives news that changes her forever. Suddenly desperate to right the wrongs of Rebecca's childhood, she devises a plan to prove her love to her once and for all.

3. Breakout Titles:

His Father’s Eyes
Born of Loss
Fate’s Son

4. Genre and Comparables:

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Mothers and Children

This novel shares thematic elements with Claire Lombardo’s debut novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had. Both focus on love in all its complicated forms and the unique challenges being part of a family, whether blood or the one you choose, presents. Also, they both feature a cast of flawed characters struggling to find their places in the world and their family. Similarly, the writing style and use of alternating points of view can be likened to Jennifer Weiner’s In Her Shoes, another novel that also focuses on the messy dynamics of family, love, and loss.

5. Hook Line:
Two mothers' lives intersect after one searches for the truth about her son’s legacy, threatening to reveal the other’s secret and setting a chain of events in motion that alter the course of their lives forever.

6. Inner Conflict:

Internal Conflict/ Hypothetical Conflict:


Rae is still struggling to find her place in a world where her son doesn’t exist. She has felt adrift and untethered for most of the past four years, except when she is in her husband’s arms. Always wildly attracted to Dean, sex has been their favorite coping mechanism. But now their passion wanes when Rae insists on finding the boy in the photo and developing a relationship with him. Dean begins to reject Rae’s romantic overtures, sending her spiraling into a deep depression for the second time since their son's death. Dean forces Rae back into mental health treatment, which infuriates her and creates even more division in their normally rock solid, loving marriage.

Rebecca Malone is a harried single mother stuck in an unsatisfying job with an anxious, high-maintenance boss. She wears her exhaustion like a tattoo, embedded into her pores and visible to anyone who cares to look. Looking forward to some rest at her mother’s Florida condo over the holidays, she is dismayed to find out her mother has signed them up for a speed dating event. She's forced to go along for the ride as her mother’s wing woman, the only position she is qualified to play in the game of love. While she watches her mother flirt with a stream of men, she begins to realize how lonely she is. This causes her to lash out at her mother, who refuses to leave the meat market simply because of Rebecca’s sour mood. Rebecca creates a scene and humiliates Bernie, to whom image is everything. The two women engage in a war of silence, Rebecca stubbornly refusing to bend to her mother, as she has always been expected to do where Bernie is concerned.

Secondary Hypothetical Conflict:

Rae and Bernie butt heads as Rae shows support for Kieran, Rebecca’s best friend, and a gay man. Bernie, raised in affluence, is not accepting of homosexuality or anything outside of the normal societal perimeters that her parents had forced on her since birth. Rae, open-minded, and tolerant, lets Bernie know that she should be ashamed of herself. They engage in a loud and passionate argument. Rebecca gets caught in the middle of the argument along with Dean, aligning with them against Bernie. Bernie is extremely hurt by what she views as Rebecca’s betrayal, creating more tension in their fragile relationship.

7. Setting:

After the death of her husband, Rebecca’s father, Bernie settles in Florida for the beaches, the shopping, and the retired Wall Street tycoons. She owns a condo in a complex right on the shore, which has a pool she finds is a good spot to snag a date. The interior of her home is awash in varying shades of drab grey, ”trendy and clean,” according to the decorator Bernie hired.
Even with all the gray, the condo had some splashes of personality. The room that Rebecca and Dustin share features a large Beauty and the Beast mural on the wall, which Dustin adores and Bernie hates. Bernie’s room breaks up all the grey with its different shades of pink, a decorating theme best described as “Blanche Devereaux on Crack.” Attached to her room is a silver glitter glam room that houses her expansive clothing, makeup, and jewelry collections. There is also a large suite in the attic that gets put to use for guests.

Rae and Dean live in the same house they bought when Rae found out she was pregnant over twenty years ago. Situated in a quiet Connecticut suburb about two hours outside of Boston, they live across the street from Patti and Olivia, Rae’s best friend since childhood, and her daughter, their goddaughter. Their neighborhood is quaint and quiet, an ideal setting for a Hallmark film.
A small portion of the novel takes place in Boston, where Rebecca and Dustin live, and the scene of many beloved memories with her son, Sean, for Rae.

NorahVawterR6
Posts: 1
Joined: 04 Nov 2020, 19:49

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch and Seminar Writers

#22 Post by NorahVawterR6 » 02 Dec 2020, 08:52

1. STORY STATEMENT

Save herself by reconciling with her mother and forgiving herself.

2. ANTAGONIST

Rose Rainey-Watson, my protagonist’s mother, is the primary antagonist. She is also a heroic figure who sacrifices herself for her daughter. When mother and daughter are victims of a random of act of violence—a stranger approaches Rose and four-year-old Anna and begins shooting—Rose throws her body over her daughter’s. Anna suffers no permanent physical injuries, but Rose is paralyzed from the neck down.

Yet, wheelchair-bound Rose becomes increasingly unhappy over the years. She lives vicariously through her daughter, growing emotionally abusive and manipulative. Rose’s father (Anna’s maternal grandfather Pop Pop) is a secondary antagonist—emotionally abusive and aggressive, he constantly compares Anna to her mother. She always comes up short. Anna feels an enormous amount of pressure to prove that she was worth her mother’s sacrifice. Both antagonists are angry and bitter about Rose’s severe disability and resent Anna. They also resent Anna’s father Max, who is the only stable adult in the household. Max is kind, reasonable, sane and exceedingly competent. The antagonists efforts to undermine this positive force—makes these antagonists more vicious and (emotionally) dangerous to my protagonist.

Even when Anna is grown up and has put 4,000 miles between herself and her mother, she’s unable to escape her mother’s clutches. It’s a truly codependent relationship between protagonist and antagonist. When Anna cuts herself off from her family completely, she stops herself from processing her emotions, and thus makes the entanglement worse. Even so far away, Rose is still a real and tangible threat to Anna’s wellbeing.

At the end of the book: Anna conquers her antagonist by forgiving her mother and even more importantly forgiving herself. Now she is truly free and able to seize the reigns of her own story. To create her own life.

3. BREAKOUT TITLE

I never asked to be saved
Endlessly Collapsing Stars
4,561 miles from home

4. GENRE & COMPS

Literary/upmarket fiction with book club potential. Aiming for that sweet spot between literary fiction and more accessible/commercial women’s fiction.)

Comps: Val Brelinski’s THE GIRL WHO SLEPT WITH GOD
Celeste Ng’s LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

5. HOOK LINE

Anna, an astrophysicist living 4000 miles from home, is unable to enjoy her professional success because she’s haunted by the shooting that’s shaped her life since childhood. Determined to seize control of her own story, Anna goes home to confront her wheelchair-bound mother, and her fear that she wasn’t worth her mother’s sacrifice—that not even the most glorious achievement will give her the right to be alive.

6. INNER & SECONDARY CONFLICTS

Inner conflict
—Anna tries to be in perfect control all the time, desperate to be OKAY, to not be pitied, to not be a problem her family or friends or colleagues, to be a “good enough” approximation of normal. She wants to have a normal, or better than normal life, and is terrified that she won’t be able to have that “normal” because her past is so screwed up, her family so toxic, etc. But in order to maintain this perfect control, she’s repressed her emotions so much she’s a powder keg waiting to explode. And as an adult she lies to friends and colleagues in her new life—never telling anyone about her past. Ironically, in trying to make herself an airtight castle, she’s made herself incredibly vulnerable. Her self control is like a house of cards—take one card away, the whole thing can come tumbling down.

Specific scenario
—Toward the beginning of the book, Anna is in a bar with her lover and a group of friends, when news of the Sandy Hook school shooting comes on television. She freaks out, has a panic attack, even chokes on her food. It becomes obvious to everyone around her that there’s something really wrong with her. But because of her inability to talk about her feelings, and her deep-seated distrust of people in general, she’s unable to tell her friends what’s wrong. She’s also convinced that nobody else could possibly understand her inner trauma, because she wrongly assumes that almost everyone else she encounters has a great life. So instead of having a moment where she shares her personal story and gets some support or care, she makes a scene and further alienates herself from the group.

Secondary conflict
—Anna’s secrecy about her background creates a lot of unnecessary drama and intrigue. Anna doesn’t realize at first, but by refusing to tell anyone anything about her family, or where she comes from, by acting like a question such as “So where did you grow up?” is a personal, invasive question—she makes friends more interested in her private life. Joaquin, her lover, is particularly suspicious.

Specific scenario
—When Joaquin finally figures out that Anna is a gun violence survivor, and Anna breaks down and tells her story to Joaquin, he’s surprisingly supportive and empathetic. He encourages her to take some time off to visit her family, and this encounter serves as catalyst for the rest of the action of the book. (Anna learns that losing control is not the end of the world, and gains the courage to go home, confront her mother, and eventually reconcile with her mother. Which leads to her finally forgiving herself and being free, being a complete person.)

7. SETTING

Anna’s story spans decades and continents—moving from New Orleans to small-town, coastal New England to a remote observatory in Chile, in the driest desert in the world.

My personal story began in New Orleans, and so I begin and end Anna’s story in New Orleans. (My personal history is relevant to this question simply because the novel is inspired by my own experiences as a gun violence survivor. My mother and I were the victims of a shooting that is almost identical to the shooting in the book. Anna's adult life diverges significantly from mine, and the book is definitely a work of fiction, but the emotional journey is the same. I found that by heavily fictionalizing the story I was able to get to the emotional heart of the story.)

Anna sees her hometown as a garden of Eden. Even after the shooting, New Orleans is home, safety, the only place where her life was normal and her family was whole (because it is the only place she lived before the shooting). Also, while the shooting is traumatic, her more intense suffering begins in New England.

Rose never comes home to New Orleans. Instead, Anna and her parents (Max and Rose) relocate to New England, and move in with Rose’s father. They live in Rose’s childhood home. I chose this location—a fictional town near Salem based on several small towns on the coast—because I wanted a location that was far enough away for Anna to feel truly in exile, and I also wanted a location that could rival New Orleans, symbolically. Both places have dark, spooky undertones, but while New Orleans is a place of flamboyance, New England is known for repression. Anna learns to keep her emotions buttoned down, and while this is mainly a response to trauma and emotional abuse—her inclination towards stoicism is reinforced by norms of New England society.

As an adult Anna lives 4,561 miles from her mother, in a remote observatory in Chile. Not only has she put herself almost as far away from home that she can get, but she’s also landed in the driest desert on Earth. Her childhood and adolescent settings were dominated by water—the Mississippi and the Atlantic. Anna is trying to escape everything she’s known, but it doesn’t matter how far she runs, she can’t escape her real problems. She’s afraid she’s too broken to succeed. And deep down she’s afraid that nothing she can do with her life will prove to her mother, the world, or herself that she’s worth her mother’s sacrifice (Rose throwing her body over Anna’s to protect her from being shot), that she has the right to be alive.

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