Seven Assignments for New York Pitch 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.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 59
Joined: 10 Apr 2005, 04:13

Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 23 Feb 2020, 03:03

Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

For the New York Pitch Conference Only

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

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

Quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind. :!:

Michael Neff
NYC Pitch Conference Director


Instructions for Posting Responses

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

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



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

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

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.



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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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



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

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

And now, onto the PRIMARY CONFLICT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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


Posts: 2
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 03:30

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#2 Post by JOHANNARODDAP6 » 26 Feb 2020, 00:18

Johanna Rodda

1. The Act of Story Statement

Grace Sidwell must find a way to help the peace organization the League of Solomon defeat the Antichrist.

2. Antagonist

The Antichrist, called in the novel The Enemy, wants to dominate and enslave the world. He attempts to do this by befriending political leaders from around the world and drawing people to his side while secretly murdering members of the League of Solomon, who, as the deputies of Christ, are tasked with countering and defeating him. The Enemy attempts to gain ultimate political legitimacy in a final council in the Tower of Babel, at which he activates the connection he has formed with the protagonist, Grace Sidwell, to tip the scales of the council in his favor.

3. Breakout Title

- The League of Solomon
- Eve of the Golden Palm

4. Comparables

1. The Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins

Comparable in that it provides another take on the Apocalypse/the Antichrist in a serious vein

2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Also comparable in that it takes as its subject the Antichrist and Armageddon, but
this time in a humorous rather than a “serious” vein

5. Primary Conflict

Grace Sidwell must decide in the end whether to support the League of Solomon in their push against the Antichrist, or to help the Antichrist in gaining political legitimacy and the right to send forth his armies on the plain of Megiddo.

6. Inner conflict

Grace feels she is being turned toward evil when she keeps hearing the voice of the Antichrist in her head.

When Grace is on the track to the Tower of Babel with her friend Saleem and her beloved Curran and hears the voice of the Antichrist in her mind, she wrestles with the idea of killing Curran by striking his head with a rock from the side of the path.

Secondary conflict

Poisoned by the Antichrist’s voice in her mind, Grace must decide whether to help her friends in the League of Solomon, or help the alter’s army to defeat theirs on the plain of Megiddo.

When Grace is on the top of the Tower of Babel watching the armies of Armageddon come together, she must decide whether she wants to help her beloved Curran in defeating the seven-headed dragon of Revelation, or to throw in her lot with the Antichrist and rule at his side while abandoning Curran and the League of Solomon to torment and destruction.

7. Setting

The fictional Bastion City lies in the biblical land of Shinar, where, in Genesis 11 in the Bible, the Tower of Babel once “stood.” The various parts of the city are given in Esperanto, one of the official languages of my Shinar, especially for the street corner criers who like to paint a vivid picture for people of when and how the Antichrist will come down to Earth. And he does so, at the same calling the Tower of Babel into being once again, in order to reap the benefits of knowledge and power that will be granted him on ascending the Tower. It is against this setting that Grace’s inner conflict takes place. Once the Antichrist descends to Earth, having called out to Grace as his “queen” and “princess of Shinar,” Grace is forced into hiding in the psychiatric ward of Mercy Hospital for safety. But this is not just for safety: here she meets Saleem and Mort, both members of the League of Solomon, whose goal is to beat the Antichrist. When her best friend and head of the League is killed, Grace knows it is time to journey to the Tower of Babel for the council to be held there with the Antichrist. The setting of The League of Solomon allows for a sweeping biblical epic set in a landscape culled from myth.

Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 16:39

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#3 Post by JenSaderaP6 » 26 Feb 2020, 03:16

Seven Assignments for NY Pitch Conference and Workshop Jennifer McGill-Sadera

1. Story Statement:

A young man encounters dangerous family secrets, lies, and his own unreliable memory while searching for a vital truth--before it kills him.

2. Antagonistic force:

Protagonist’s father: A twisted sociopath, as smart as he is evil. Like anyone with a psychopathic nature, he can charm all those around him and hide his true motives by sharing only the unfortunate details of his life, eliciting empathy. He deftly relays childhood traumas of a physically abusive father and defenseless mother to gain sympathy, yet he lacks the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. The only emotions he’s able to experience are anger and excitement. His rage against everyone and everything fuels his reaction to the world--his lies and manipulations intensifying as he barrels through life, hurting everyone he knows. To achieve his goals and satisfy his quest for excitement, he will stop at nothing—not even murder.

3. Breakout Title:


4. Two comparables for my psychological thriller:

In the Woods by Tana French and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Like my novel, these two stories focus on young men coming to terms with childhood tragedy, while discovering past troubles ripple into the present.

5. Conflict line:

A young man must uncover memories from his own shadowy child’s mind to confront the truth about his family—and survive it.

6. Inner conflict:

Sky must endure and triumph over his own thoughts, which often cast him into despair. He knows he can’t condone the evil his father allegedly committed, but he desperately wants to believe his dad’s protestations of innocence. And in the back of his mind is a persistent, terrifying thought: what if evil is in his DNA?

Secondary conflict:

The relationship between Sky and his new, elderly neighbor. Why does the stranger next door appear to fear him when Sky is certain he’s never met the old man?

7. Setting:

The bulk of this story takes place in a mysterious cabin in the woods. Though it looks like a modest cottage, there are things about it that make the protagonist uneasy, starting with its ownership. He wonders what circumstances led to his family being deeded the place. Once there, he notices an eerie silence about it. Though it has been maintained, it hasn’t been lived in. There are no personal effects--even past possessions from previous owners—save an ax buried in a tree stump. The neighbor greets him suspiciously in the backyard--and startles himself into a stroke when he gets a good look at Sky. The inside of the house is bare as a scoured bowl. The basement is empty too, but a melted key and telltale burn marks on the floor joists ominously suggest the structure has a violent past. Worst of all, the elderly neighbor’s daughter, who Sky would very much like to impress, is afraid to step inside the place.

Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 23:08

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#4 Post by P6JohnAddiego » 26 Feb 2020, 03:20

Seven Assignments for NY Pitch

A retired police chief must solve the brutal murder of a New Age guru in a small timber town filled with cultural division and a host of suspects.

Gary Peterson, owner of Peterson Logging, embodies the antagonistic forces central to this story. He “owns” the town and calls the shots in the battles between environmentalists and loggers. On the surface he’s respectable, church-going, an old friend to the city fathers; however, he’s been known to hire “hitmen” to remove tree-sitters, and he has a history wife-and-child-abuse. In the course of police investigations, he considers himself above the law, and he obstructs their efforts with insolence. While Peterson, his angry and out of control son, and a damaged former “hitman”, are emblematic of the town’s hatred of New Agers and forest friends, a tapestry of other suspects—jealous spouses, a local minister, and victims of the guru’s sexual predation and intellectual property theft—are significant as well. The guru’s murderer appears among the least suspicious characters until the protagonist (Frank Alvarado) hears some false notes, digs into some past crimes, and realizes how calculating and cold-hearted this person is.

3. TITLES: The Trees of Eden; Fallen Sisters.

4. COMP TITLES: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (whodunit in small town filled with suspects; framing of story by lines from a children’s nonsense poem, in my case The Owl and the Pussycat). Also Eden by Andrea Kleine (resolution of an old crime within an atmosphere of New Age or alternative culture).

5. CONFLICT LINE: In a timber town long-divided over jobs and forest preservation, a retired outsider is called to solve the murder of a New Age guru affiliated with environmentalists.

6. INNER AND SECONDARY CONFLICTS: The protagonist (Frank Alvarado) feels inner conflicts about his role: is he too old, unfit, or out of touch to be of much help to young Detective Sergeant Stella Grover, who invited him? Moreover, he faces secondary conflicts in the environment as a racial minority, a Mexican-American in a redneck town, as well as where he might fit among countercultural contemporaries, the old hippies for whom he feels a mix of sympathy (for their causes) and skepticism (about their often silly and irresponsible behavior).

7. SETTING: This story is set in the woods of contemporary Southern Oregon, with occasional scenes in the nearby redwoods along the California border, as well as the coastal Oregon hometown of the protagonist. The place is one of beauty and devastation, of towering evergreen trees and enormous clear-cuts. The town (Grants Pass) is a mix of old timber-employed families, conservative homes flying American flags and Christian fishes, as well as more urbane retirees and tourists, and young people involved with the newly-legal marijuana businesses, and older hippies devoted to the forest, some of them part of the ashram community called The Tree of Life. That community was once a thriving gathering place filled with sexual freedom, psychoactive drugs, and alternative religious practices. It was also a supportive base for the Tree Friends, eco-warriors who occupied and guarded old growth giants. The town and its neighboring woods has been a political battleground and remains an epicenter for struggles over the fate of the forests.

John A

Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 01:57

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#5 Post by BARBARAMAYP6 » 26 Feb 2020, 07:51

Story Statement:
Escape the Half-rez (debt collector for the underworld) and shut down the government conspiracy of killing youth for profit.

Antagonists Forces:
The main antagonistic force in Risen is the mysterious dark figure from Charlotte's dream, which is a "Half-rez," a debt-collector in the form of a resurrected person turned grim reaper. Since Charlotte was meant to die in an accident and didn't, "Death" needs repayment. Half-rezs' are controlled by the Arith Seeds Corporation, a long-standing hidden government conspiracy to kill youth for the underworld. Charlotte will have to band up with the original antagonist, Braider (the man who kidnaps her), and the "West 7" Decampers (people who have escaped Death's repayment) in order to find and kill her Half-rez.

Break Out Title
The title I choose is Risen
My original title options were: Decampment and My Bleeding Dreams. However, after making a list and narrowing it down, I decided upon Risen.

Risen is an edgy/older YA paranormal novel. Risen is similar to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin in terms off the heroin surviving an accident only to have odd things occur after surviving. Risen is in the vein of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare because the heroin has to team up with others to fight paranormal entities. Croak by Gina Damico is also comparable because of the atmosphere of debt-collection for death. Twilight by Stephanie Myers is another comparable title because of the intimate dialogue to establish a heartfelt love triangle (with a twist). Lastly, I’d compare Risen to The Maze Runner by James Dashner because of the underlying government conspiracy that drives the plot and creates mystery and suspense. The novel also has a narrative voice similar to that employed in Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles as well as Kami Garcia’s Legion series.

Conflict Timeline:
After being marked by a Half-rez, Charlotte must team up with the man who kidnaps her and a group of Decampers in order to avoid detection and kill her Half-rez if she wants any chance at a normal life.

Additional Conflicts:
Inner Conflict: Charlotte is dealing with the guilt of her step-brother Josh's (who is also the love of her life) death because she feels responsible for the accident that killed him. Charlotte feels like she is lost or does not have a "home" or purpose in a world without him. Then, when people around her begin dying Charlotte feels guilty because she doesn't listen to the cryptic warnings of Braider. Charlotte then realizes that her suspicions are true once she realizes she is a Decamper: she was meant to die, and someone else took her place (Josh), and people around her will continue to die until she does. Once Braider saves her, and joins the West 7 group, she starts to have confusing feelings for Braider. These feelings make Charlotte feel even guiltier. When Charlotte finally begins to feel "at home" with Braider and the West 7, she learns she has been lied to by Braider and discovers that Josh is the very Half-rez that's been chasing her. Once Charlotte makes this revelation, she has to decide if she is willing to kill Josh for the opportunity to have a normal life or sacrifice her chance at a normal life and let him go free. Ultimately, Charlotte will have the resolve that saving Josh is her purpose, regardless of her safety or her feelings for Braider.

Societal Conflicts: Risen discusses the morality of who should and who should not get to live and who should and should not get to make life and death decisions. It addresses people who do not have control over their own life (the Half-rezs) being used as pawns by governmental powers (Arith Seeds Corporation). Braider, whose job it is to hunt and kill these Half-rezs, lives with the guilt of killing innocent people (who did not choose to be resurrected as killing pawns) in order for the Decampers he saves to go free. Risen also dives into the morality of lying. It poses the question: Is it ok to lie to people you care about to protect them?

Risen starts in the urban area of Sacramento, where Charlotte lives and goes to high school. This location is essential because Charlotte's step-dad is a former Governor (who resigned after his son's death), Charlotte's step-dad had to be a high ranking political official in an urban area in order to connect him to the government conspiracy. There is numerous rainy imagery throughout the book that Charlotte comments on as unusual, and having the book set in sunny California lends to the mystery of why it is suddenly raining so much. In order to save Charlotte from her Half-rez, Braider kidnaps her and takes her to an abandoned warehouse (which serves as the headquarters for The West 7 group of Decampers). The location of the warehouse serves to grass-root the idea that the group Charlotte finds herself with are renegades.

The next important setting is a home in coastal California. Here, a death occurs, and the backdrop of the beautiful ocean scenery juxtaposes the horrible death. The setting of the ocean is important because the ocean tides parallels Charlotte's hot and cold relationship with Braider and the confusing feelings that come along with it. The next location is a rural area of California which houses the Arith Seeds Corporation. It is a remote, hidden lab in which the government creates and houses the Half-rezs for their area. This setting helps establish the horror and mystery of the government conspiracy to kill youth people for the underworld.

The last scene in the book takes place by a remote cabin against a peaceful, sunny backdrop. It is here where Charlotte makes the resolve that she is going to save Josh. It brings the book back full circle by showing Charlotte now has a purpose. Since the book is full of rainy imagery, the sunny setting also parallels Charlotte's self-growth. The constant change in locations perpetuates the vagrant aspect of the rebel, vigilante group of the "West 7". It also follows the motif of "being a ghost" or "not having a home" since they are continually moving, and Charlotte has never allowed herself to feel settled anywhere.

Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 01:17

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#6 Post by NANCYJOHNSTONEP6 » 27 Feb 2020, 22:54

by Nancy Johnstone

A young college-educated woman escapes a manipulative and dangerous boyfriend by impulsively enlisting in the Army, only to discover that the military has institutionalized the sexual abuse she is running from. She can’t escape the military, but fights back with alarming consequences and discoveries of her human potential, both good and evil.

The antagonist of the story is Drill Sergeant Wetzl. Wetzl is tall, pale and pockmarked, his fingernails nicotine-yellow and unclipped. The drill sergeant round brown hat perches on his shiny frontal lobe while his neck veins pulse in and out as he screams at you. He is a misogynist, a racist and a sexual pervert. He embodies the antagonistic force that our protagonist, Gaby Ross, is running from and fighting against: the male power over women. Wetzl repeatedly rapes Gaby’s best friend at basic training, and Gaby feels powerless to help. Basic training is filled with acts against the female soldiers, both benign and terrifying. Gaby does not trust the system to protect her or her friend. Gaby and her friends have no choice but to endure it all, until both Gaby and Mixon snap, and murder Drill Sergeant Wetzl, which brings on consequences Gaby is not prepared to handle.

1. Basic Training
2. An Angry Sound
3. Swallowing Lies

Genre: Commercial Fiction / Women’s Fiction
1. Private Benjamin meets Full Metal Jacket: In spite of the dire consequences, this story and the protagonist can be very funny.
2. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
3. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

After escaping an abusive boyfriend by enlisting in the Army, a smart, educated and funny young woman struggles against the might of the military to keep herself and her friend safe from sexual harassment and rape at the hands of the drill sergeants, facing extraordinary moral choices to keep them protected from an enemy within.

Inner Conflict
Gaby struggles with layers of inner conflict. One is the notion of courage, and the lack of courage that leads to shame. Gaby’s bunkmate Mixon has been raped by Drill Sergeant Wetzl. Mixon does not want to report the crime, convinced no one will believe her and that she will face backlash. Gaby does not want to betray Mixon by reporting the rape, but is tortured that she is doing nothing to help Mixon. Gaby does not know who to trust, and does not know if she will be punished for coming forward. She begins to hate herself for being a coward. She is so ashamed of her spinelessness, that she agrees to help Mixon when asked, becoming an unwitting accomplice to the murder of Drill Sergeant Wetzl.
Gaby’s inner conflict morphs once she is involved with the murder. Now that she is an accomplice to murder, Gaby does not understand who she has become, and is conflicted and increasingly crazed. Ultimately, she has to decide if what she has done is worth it to keep her friend safe, or if she is now nothing but a murderer, as evil as the man she killed.
Another inner conflict Gaby struggles with is the notion of fairness; fairness in our military and as a democracy. She arrives at basic training in the deep South from a middle-class loving family from New England. The friends she meets are not as lucky and have suffered through poverty and abuse in their short lifetimes that Gaby finds incomprehensible. She struggles with our military system of an “All Volunteer Force” where only the underprivileged end up serving, while the privileged, like herself, go to college and on to other opportunities that none of these girls have had.
Secondary Conflict
Gaby’s manipulative boyfriend Eric slaps her in a jealous rage, leaving Gaby with a black eye. Ashamed of her abusive relationship, she has enlisted in the army and ships off to spend ten weeks at basic training at Fort Jackson. Eric writes her most every day, alternately begging her to call him and threatening her with a visit to the base. Gaby was at one time in love with him, and is ashamed that she did not see their relationship for what it was; him manipulating her mind and crushing her self esteem until she actually felt like she deserved it when he hit her. Gaby never thought she would allow herself to be in that kind of relationship, and desperately needs to convince herself that she will never let it happen again.
The story takes place over ten weeks at Basic Combat Training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. It is miserably hot and crawling with fire ants. More importantly, it is the first scene of your new life, the military life. Personal freedom has vanished and been replaced with frothing drill sergeants controlling when you can flinch, if you can blink and whether or not you will shit your pants while interminably standing in formation. The oppressive weather adds to the claustrophobia, with your uniform so soaked in sweat that you must wring it out at the end of the day. At basic training, you are being trained to be a killer, and the scenes of girls peering out of foxholes while firing their M16’s to stabbing straw dummies dressed as human beings with their bayonets shock the women who have never considered harming another human being. You are being trained to perform while sleep deprived, with scenes of all night guard duty and deliriously tired soldiers. This is a setting where each recruit has zero control over their personal choices, and the drill sergeants have absolute authority. It is an obscene setting of no recourse and no choices. You have signed on the dotted line and there is no exit. It is a place where “normal values have become skewed and distorted.” You are a prisoner and nobody escapes unscathed.

Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 17:53

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#7 Post by RebeccaP6Portela » 01 Mar 2020, 21:52

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

As a young woman suddenly faced with nightly flashbacks from my childhood, I use these episodes as clues to solve the mystery of my abuse as a child.

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.

My father comes from an Irish Catholic family where family pride is protected at all costs.
He is a compulsive liar who manipulates everyone in his path to get what he wants. His needs are simple: alcohol, gambling, and sex. These needs work in tandem, fueling the craving of the others. As he is faced with the needs of his wife, children, and colleagues, his self-serving behavior prevents him from being able to connect with them on any kind of level. He lives his self-fulfilling prophesy where he plays the victim and nothing that happens to him is his fault. His heinous actions of raping his wife and molesting his daughters are conveniently forgotten during his drunken blackouts.
Years later, he is confronted multiple times regarding the abuse I suffered as a child. His responses are chlling in their indifference. When shown a video of one of my numerous flashbacks, his response is “that’s all ya got on me?” It is a tale of trying to find a heart in the Tin Man.

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

Unearthed, The Mud Diaries, The Anatomy of Andrew


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

The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch is a somatic memoir featuring sexual abuse at the hands of her father. The references are both subtle and haunting. While my sexual abuse is more graphic, it is told through flashbacks from the perspective of an eight-year-old. She seamlessly transitions between reality, memories, and intense emotions.

Wasted by Marya Hornbacher is a memoir about a young woman’s profound stuggle with an eating disorder starting at a very early age. While she is certainly failed by the system, she was only able to recover when she took her life into her own hands. There is a particular sass in her writing that I love and with all heavy memoirs, it is nice to have a reprieve.

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

After coming to terms with my abuse as a child, I go on a mission to confront my family and my abuser.

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

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

My primary conflict is attempting to navigate symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder while trying to solve the crimes of my childhood.

The secondary conflict is encountering an overwhelming number of obstacles regarding treatment and a broken healthcare system.

The questions I ultimately face if my father does not acknowledge my pain and if I cannot heal from his abuse, in determining my path. How do I accept the unacceptable? If I do not actively suffer the abuse, is my father not a criminal anymore? Is he absolved? And was I serving his sentence this whole time, punishing myself for what he did? Will the past forever dictate my future?

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.

Being that my book is nonfiction, the setting I describe is the actual setting for the events.

The story is set in sunny Miami, Fl where category 5 Hurricane Andrew was expected to hit landfall within a few days. We see the people of the town preparing for the hurricane with wooden boards, drills, and shutters. More specifically, we see my family preparing for the hurricane by anxiously watching the news and moving furniture to the middle of the room. We then flee the city only to come back to a swampy soup of possessions and drywall. Most people left their houses behind and moved away and so this dead city became my playground for years to come.
The second setting in my story is in New York City. I move back and forth from these two locations - past and present, younger and older. New York is a complex city that can either be thrilling, energetic, and full of opportunity or it can be a terrifying, dangerous, and lonely place.

Posts: 2
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 03:30

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#8 Post by JOHANNARODDAP6 » 02 Mar 2020, 02:30

1. The Act of Story Statement

Grace Sidwell must find a way to help the peace organization the League of Solomon defeat the Antichrist.

2. Antagonist

The Antichrist, called the Enemy wants to dominate and enslave the world. He attempts to do this by befriending political leaders from around the world and drawing people to his side while secretly murdering members of the League of Solomon, who, as the deputies of Christ, are tasked with countering and defeating him. The Enemy attempts to gain ultimate political legitimacy in a final council in the Tower of Babel, at which he activates the connection he has formed with the protagonist, Grace Sidwell, to tip the scales of the council and the right to rule in his favor.

3. Breakout Title

- The League of Solomon
- Eve of the Golden Palm

4. Comparables

1. The Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins

Comparable in that it provides another take on the Apocalypse/the Antichrist in a serious vein

2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Also comparable in that it takes as its subject the Antichrist and Armageddon, but
this time in a humorous rather than a “serious” vein

5. Primary Conflict

Grace Sidwell must decide in the end whether to support the League of Solomon in their push against the Antichrist, or to help the Antichrist in gaining political legitimacy and the right to send forth his armies.

6. Inner conflict

Grace feels she is being turned toward evil when she keeps hearing the voice of the Antichrist in her head.

When Grace is on the track to the Tower of Babel with her friend Saleem and her beloved Curran and hears the voice of the Antichrist in her mind, she wrestles with the idea of killing Curran by striking his head with a rock from the side of the path.

Secondary conflict

Poisoned by the Antichrist’s voice in her mind, Grace must decide whether to help her friends in the League of Solomon, or help the alter’s army to defeat theirs on the plain of Megiddo.

When Grace is on the top of the Tower of Babel watching the armies of Armageddon come together, she must decide whether she wants to help her beloved Curran in defeating the seven-headed dragon of Revelation, or to throw in her lot with the Antichrist and rule at his side while abandoning Curran and the League of Solomon to torment and destruction.

7. Setting

The fictional Bastion City lies in the biblical land of Shinar, where, in Genesis 11, the Tower of Babel once “stood.” The various parts of the city are given in Esperanto, one of the official languages of Shinar, especially for the street corner criers who like to paint a vivid picture for people of when and how the Antichrist will come down to Earth. And he does come down to Earth, at the same calling the Tower of Babel into being once again in the biblical Shinar, in order to reap the benefits of knowledge and power that will be granted him on ascending the Tower and to turn the Tower into the headquarters of his one world government. It is against this setting that Grace’s inner conflict takes place. Once the Antichrist descends to Earth, having called out to Grace as his “queen” and “princess of Shinar,” Grace is forced into hiding in the psychiatric ward of Mercy Hospital for safety. But not just for safety: here she meets Saleem and Mort, both members of the League of Solomon, whose goal is to beat the Antichrist. When her best friend and head of the League is killed, Grace knows it is time to journey to the Tower of Babel for the council to be held there with the Antichrist. The setting of The League of Solomon allows for a sweeping biblical epic set in a landscape culled from myth.

Posts: 1
Joined: 26 Feb 2020, 01:08

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#9 Post by AprilOconnellP6 » 02 Mar 2020, 14:40

Wild Hearts Elephant Sanctuary Book 1 They Called Me Jane
April O'Connell

1. Story Statement – Make sure the elephant poachers die before they kill you.

2. Antagonist – When a corrupt and wealthy businessman from Chicago, travels to Africa to add an elephant head to his trophy wall, he ensures his safety, by bringing his employed gunman, Bain. Bain’s WW1 wartime scars are both mental and physical. His military training leads him to follow orders, but his greed for a promised fortune and his desire to escape the jungle killings creates a war-like hunt for his enemy; an eleven-year-old girl named Zura. Bain's deepening madness causes him to turn on one name from his own hunting party for what he thinks is desertion. He steps over dead bodies without emotion, leaving deceased men from his party for the jungle's animals to dispose of the evidence. Outsmarted by a captured eleven-year-old girl named Zura, who is forced to become the guide of the hunting party, Bain becomes obsessed with her treachery and loses his mind to the rage and obsession to hunt and to kill her. He becomes crazed in his manic revenge, no longer able to hear or see the dangers in his environment.


4. Comparable - Readers craving the coming of age survival theme of Ann Napolitano’s novel, Dear Edward will be excited to follow Zura through the African jungle as the poachers’ captive, who outsmarts the men. When her mother is shot trying to save the elephants from the poachers, Zura has no time to process the shooting before she is thrown into a survival race of both mind and body.

It’s Where the Crawdads Sing, set in the 1920's African Jungle. The lessons that we are forever shaped by the children we were, rings true for Zura Jameson. The tragedies and murders Zura faces in the jungle she loves, at the hands of her kidnappers turn her jungle-world upside down. She would rather face the fiercest predators in all of Africa than the killers trying to poach an elephant. Animals are predictable, men are not in this story of courage and determination to kill or be killed.

5. Conflict - Rosie, Zura's mother is accidentally shot while trying to stop the poaching. The guides disappear and Zura falls from her hiding place in the trees. She is tied, beaten, and forced to lead the men to their safety. Zura overhears their plan to kill her after they escape. She has to find a way to get back to her mother, stay alive herself, and eliminate her enemy, or just let the jungle do it for her. Kill or be killed is the jungle law.

6. 2-level Conflict - Zura’s game of hide-and-seek turns deadly when she escapes the last man alive. She climbs the cliffs, but he beats her to the top. When her wild African dog, Cha-cha attacks Bain, the gun goes off. Zura falls over the side. Beaten, broken and defeated, Zura has to decide whether to succumb to her injuries and let death take her, or fight to save her herself and her mother if she's still alive.

7. Setting - Imagine the view from the cliff’s ledge overlooking Africa’s deadliest jungle. The clear sky gives way to an approaching storm cloud that seems close enough to touch. From the height of the cliff, Zura’s home at Wild Hearts Elephant Sanctuary looks like the tiniest dot on the landscape below.
Zura watches and learns from the monkeys, racing them through the jungle’s tangled vines and trees. The jungle is her wild playground. She is free to discover it's beauty and to avoid its dangers. Honing her climbing skills, She visits the cliffs she names, Thinking Rock, and finds a hidden cave behind the waterfall.
Zura’s playground turns into a graveyard when she leads the men to their demise. With one crazed poacher left, Zura hides in the jungle’s camouflage, climbs Thinking Rock to try to escape. The hunter becomes hunted in this story of survival.

Posts: 1
Joined: 02 Mar 2020, 16:55

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#10 Post by P6JIMHILLEBRECHT » 02 Mar 2020, 21:32

Story Statement:

A budding love affair in lonely house on a deserted beach of one of Virginia’s barrier islands is disrupted by the (possible) discovery of a wrecked Spanish treasure galleon and the arrival of a soon-to-be defrocked priest and a latter-day pirate who seek for far more than the gems and bullion it contains.

Sketching an Antagonist:

Black Jack Pershing took his name from a personal disposition, not the famed WW I general. He has a reputation to maintain, a reputation for ruthlessness and deadly effectiveness, a modern-day pirate sailing in a luxury yacht, and that name conveys just the right degree of menace. For Black Jack does not board with cutlass and pike. He does not bring his victims to heel with cannon fire. Rather he gets close with burning eyes and a dark, intense smile, bending their will with his voice, exerting a power of influence, of persuasion that borders on control, on sheer domination. Few can resist when Jack exerts his power, succumbing to his demands whether they will or no.
He seeks now for a treasure far richer than any he has pursued before. A dead crew held by a sacred oath to guard a priceless horde they can no longer see delivered. These ghosts are a huge store of psychic energy that calls to Jack from across the miles, across the centuries, the promise of a power he can dominate. And wield. A defrocked priest and an old woman are all that stand against him. But they shall not stand for long.

Write a Breakout Title:

House Amongst the Dunes

The Sinking Sands of Perigal Island

Widow’s Walk

Develop 2 Smart Comps:

The Odd Thomas Series by Dean Koontz. Both works alternate between light, often humorous touches of a budding romance (Odd and Stormy) to a darker, behind-the-scenes struggle. In my case, between two men with an unsuspected power who are vying for an unseen treasure.

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. The island setting with the contrast between native and newcomer is a common feature of both books, though there are far fewer people on my Perigal Island. But both use that island culture as building blocks for setting and mood alike.

Write the Conflict Line:

Two young lovers on an isolated beach pursue the exciting prospect of buried gold, while looming around them, two men with similar powers but very different hearts contend for a far greater treasure.

Sketch out the Inner and Secondary Conflict of the Protagonist:

Father Homer is a Catholic Priest with an unusual power, a power he deems more curse than gift. He can slowly twist the will of a person simply by focusing his entire attention upon them, dispensing with any sense of freedom by forcing them to follow his own vision, conviction by domination, persuasion by sheer power. Coercing them, not through prayer or ethical argument but by sheer domination, to follow his own path to the Good.
Is he damaging them with this unprecedented intrusion? Is he damaging himself, drawn by the lure of a personal force that can prevent a person from doing harm, falling victim to the ancient adage that power corrupts? He has seen the impact of this same power exerted by his opponent, Black Jack, and he has no desire to follow that dark example, regardless of the good he might do. Yet it is a tool and a powerful tool. If he has any hope of countering the damage inflicted by Jack, he must employ every weapon, take every chance. And pray that this brutal intrusion does less harm than the damning course events would otherwise have taken.
Indeed, this struggle leads also to the secondary conflict that ever haunts Father Homer: the concern that he has taken his vocation as a refuge from this accursed ability, rather than an honest call from God. As a young man with a power he could neither control nor understand, the Church seemed the only source that offered him a refuge, a means of discipline and denial that could save him from the dark power that ever beckoned to him. The call to help that Homer feels is overwhelming, and he has no doubt that these are tasks only he can perform. But is he making a mockery of his vows by turning to his infernal ability rather than the teachings of the Church?

Sketch out the setting in Detail:

Perigal Island is a beautiful piece of useless sand just off the eastern coast of Virginia, the first of the forgotten barrier islands that could not sustain settlements or people and has now been left to a largely avian population by being formally designated as a bird sanctuary. It is renowned locally for its “sinking sands”, a mixture of extremely fine grit and pulverized sea shells that, under the right conditions, slide against itself to create sheer, a nearly frictionless flow that can cause even bird feathers to sink. An oasis of lovely white beach that can, in some places and sometimes without warning, turn into a dangerous pit of quicksand.
Some hearty plants survive here: short island birches, coastal pine, a low shrub that looks like a small tumbleweed, and a truly impressive number of grapevines that seem to tangle everywhere. The trees are perched on the ridge of the island where their roots can reach something other than sand, and the riot of grapevines, heaviest on the landward side, supply a vital food source for the endless species of birds, a welcome change from an endless diet of seafood.
Only a single human structure has been able to survive amid these hazards, an ancient log residence known as the House Amongst the Dunes. Perched on the only ridge of stone that has so far withstood the endless pounding of the Atlantic waves, it was built before the Revolution and has been home to seven generations, each one learning the ways of the land much as inner city children learn to play on crowded streets and move safely through traffic. It has a widow’s walk on the seaward side, a small balcony where the lonely can look out over the sea, watching, perhaps, for the return of a loved one. Or from which one might stand vigil for the approach of evil.

Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 01:35

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#11 Post by ALIDAWINTERNHEIMERP6 » 02 Mar 2020, 23:26

Saving Annabelle by Alida Winternheimer

The Act of Story Statement

Confront her father, bringing destruction and liberation to the entire family.

Antagonist (137 words)

Terrible pride, the drive to build an empire, and stoicism suited to the harshest winters of the Minnesota frontier, culminate in a man torn in two by a deep faith in an omniscient but far-from-benevolent God and a passion for science, particularly the emerging field of animal husbandry. Having shaped the land, mastered livestock, and built a town from an idea, Haldórr Jacobsen is master of all he surveys…yet one thing eludes him.


Desire, impulses, and an anger he suppresses but cannot extinguish torment him until he succumbs to the demons inside. His every weakness is obscured only by the suffering he causes others.

Despot both at home and in his community, Haldórr is determined to hide his compulsions, bury his shame, and mold his daughter into an heir worthy of his legacy.

Title (3)

Saving Annabelle
My Sister’s Keeper
When Sparks Fly Upward


The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
The Heretic's Daughter, Kathleen Kent

These literary-historical tales of women's strength and mercy accomplish, beautifully, what I strive for in my own fiction, to transport the reader. The voice brings us into another place and time, completely foreign, with such mood, such evocative details we cannot help being immersed in the characters' lives and world. There is also an eye-opening quality to these novels. Both expand the readers' experience of the human condition, revealing and then exploring, questioning, the why and how of the people and events presented in the story. In The Poisonwood Bible, the wildly unfamiliar is brought home with incredible pathos through the perspective of each point of view character. In The Heretic's Daughter, a collection of curious and sad historical facts--the whole of what many of us know about the Salem Witch Trials--is remade as an intimately experienced thing connected to our own lives. My work would be well placed in the hands of their readers.

Main Conflict / Conflict Line

Torn between a vow to protect her sister and the promise of a life of her own, a young woman must confront their father, bringing destruction and liberation to them all.

Second Conflict / Subplots (Sketch)

As a young woman, Greta is forced to remain at home, her mother’s and sister’s care overwhelming her ability to go to school or socialize. She has taken to wearing trousers and simple calico shirtwaists for the ease of performing her labors. Haldórr despises her appearance, but cannot deny her practicality.

Clovis, her friend and romantic interest, and the Reverend Williamsen come calling with a flyer for a carnival pitching its tent in nearby Vasa. Clovis invites Greta to go with him. The Reverend is enthusiastic about the spectacle and declares he and Mrs. Williamsen will be attending. He makes a point of mentioning to Haldórr that Greta appears around town so infrequently that people are talking. It would be useful for them to see her out, looking like a young lady, enjoying herself.

Greta accepts Clovis’s invitation before her father can reject it, and with the Reverend and Clovis present, he does not deny her this victory.

Inner Conflict (Sketch)

Greta longs to be free of her pitiless father and senseless mother, while honoring her vow to protect her sister. At age three, Annabelle wandered out into the snow and nearly froze to death, leaving her crippled and retarded, but Greta knows her as innocent and happy—a miracle in their circumstances. Greta struggles with overwork, isolation, and oppression, eking out gains enough to maintain hope that she will one day live a life of her own making. But this innermost yearning is diametrically opposed to her need to protect her sister.

Freedom is as close as walking away, but she cannot leave Annabelle behind and she cannot take her with.

Eventually securing a scholarship to attend the University of Minnesota, Greta begins a desperate search for the the means to accept. She enlists the support of her least likely ally, Dr. Bjornen. The doctor, swayed by his own culpability in Haldórr’s sins and corresponding guilty conscience, finds a suitable caretaker for Maude and Annabelle. Greta is finally able to escape her father’s domain and build a life of her own, intending to reunite herself with Annabelle as soon as possible.

All too soon, the unspeakable occurs, and she must return home to set her family to rights once and for all.


A land of tremendous beauty, where rivers cut ravines through forested hills shaped by the push, then pull, of glaciers that she remembers. A borderlands where lush eastern forests meet vast western prairies. A fertile womb, prepared to birth life anew after each snow, after each purging fire. She makes her every offering in good faith.

A frontier where Europeans meet First People, and harmony turns to fear and rage. Blood flows over the land, seeping into the soil. Her stewards are expelled, driven west into unforgiving wilderness, which the newcomers have named for the exiles, the Dakota Territory.

A conquest in which settlers clear forest and cut furrows with oxen and plow. King Wheat grows and grows and grows until it will grow no more. The land, so giving, will eventually be depleted by that greedy grain and that greedy nation, eager for its Daily Bread. The land is not returned to herself, given succor. Cows and corn replace wheat.

A plague of locusts, coming out of the Rockies and sweeping eastward. They bring five years of starvation to those rugged men so righteously wielding ox and plow. The voracious insects, fat with bulging eyes and hooked legs, birthed from the very ground relied upon for sustenance, annihilate crops and hope. Stopped one day by the miracle of Divine Mercy and the faith of a people called Christian.

An order restored, according to the men who trampled this Eden, who eagerly return their every effort to expansion. But what of the women? What of their unrest?

This is the land into which Greta Jacobsen is born.

On this land sits the house that Hadórr Jacobsen built. It stands apart from the town he founded, the way the lord’s manor stands apart from the serfs’ hovels. Meant to shelter a contented wife and many laughing children, it instead holds a burden of grief and discontent that scorches each inhabitant according to his or her constitution: hunger, madness, impairment…but one. Greta perseveres with the help of those outside Haldórr’s monument.

Her beloved horse, Pandora, carries her away over the land. The half-breed shepherdess, Ursula, with her herb- and wool-hung soddy demonstrates self-reliance. The New England heiress, Lucy, takes Greta to the infant city of Red Wing, where wealth and kindness combine to create possibility. The German merchant, Clovis, and the schoolteacher, Miss Holstad, become friends whose mercantile and schoolhouse provide sanctuaries of both camaraderie and learning.

Historical References
• Broad setting: along the Cannon River in Goodhue County, Minnesota
• The Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province is a geographic region where “east meets west”
• US-Dakota War, 1862
• All Dakota expelled from Minnesota by an act of Congress in the wake of the conflict
• Rocky Mountain Locust Plague, 1873-77
• Minnesota Governor John Pillsbury declared April 26, 1877 a day of prayer, and “the locusts left as quickly as they’d come.”
• The locusts made it to the border of Goodhue County, but did not touch it, making Goodhue County the biggest producer of wheat in the nation.
• Overproduction of wheat, known as King Wheat, led to soil depletion that forced farmers to change their crops and convert many farms to dairy or poultry.

Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 06:16

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#12 Post by TravisPoppletonP6 » 03 Mar 2020, 03:00

A young boy must travel through this life and the next to prevent the world from resetting.

Mikayla Louw is a teacher’s assistant in our protagonist’s first period English class. The South African high school student is cold, precise, and willing to cause any atrocity necessary to curtail what she sees as the darkest parts of humankind.
When Mikayla discovers her role as a law keeper, her drive to course correct what is happening around the world brings her to Professor Leonard Tinth – a broken but charismatic high school teacher. Mikayla needs the professor to achieve a total reboot of our planet but does not respect him. His inability to see a world beyond his own personal loss frustrates Mikayla but she looks past her contempt for the greater purpose.

Journey’s Law

We are the Ants meets Alan Watts

When a teacher and student discover their power to reset what they consider to be a broken world, a young man who sees their point of view is all that stands between them and the deletion of the countless, beautiful stories of our little planet.

Each lead character is confronted with the loss of a loved one.
The protagonist, however, admits he is unable to communicate with people directly or share with others who he truly is. This makes dealing with his loss especially difficult. This also fuels recurring conflict as he tries to navigate social interactions by impersonating literary characters or repeating dialogue he’s heard from others. He feels deceptive and cowardly for his inability to communicate with people.
There is a thematic secondary conflict which occupies both our villains and protagonist. Our lead character is continually at odds with the convivence of birth. While he goes home to a trailer and tries to deal with his awkward appearance on a daily basis, his best and only friend seems oblivious to her fortuitous genetic makeup and social status. Both characters have lost people close to them, but the protagonist can’t help but notice how much lighter her burden seems than his.
Likewise, our lead villain’s drive to course correct Earth’s suffering comes from a war-torn backstory, leaving her with total contempt for people who see a lost loved one as life’s greatest pain.

Simi Valley, CA in the 1990’s is home to Royal High School, the Elephant Bar and the little trailer park our protagonist calls home. It is also one death away from a Heavenly crossroads, complete with Americana characters and Zen inspired landscapes.
Autumn invites the Santa Ana winds to the lazy Southern California town, creating a formidable force for any kid daring enough to ride their bike to school, and the cooling evenings are the perfect backdrop for late-night conversations and standoffs with well-meaning supervillains.
As for the crossroads, the traditional sweeping fields of corn or wheat have been swapped out for towering bamboo forests, but the deal-making is the same and which path you walk out on is just as important.

Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 21:23

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#13 Post by ANDYDAVISP6 » 03 Mar 2020, 06:30

1) Act of Story Statement

Ivory Gale must uncover the secret behind his birth defect, the hole in his heart, to find a way to the Other World before the Dark Entromists unleash war on Earth.

2) Antagonistic Force

Malus Nebbick loathes Ivory from day one, at first for a poorly timed smile. But after instigating a fight on the sixth floor of the Arbress and dropping Ivory to certain death, Malus shows himself to be more than a deranged bully. He continues to turn other students against Ivory, and threatens to expose the number of people that Ivory has allowed to die in his multiple escapes from the Dark Entromists.

The Dark Entromists are the evil group of entroky-users that have chased Ivory and his godmother up the eastern seaboard of the United States for the past ten years. Ivory now suspects that they are using the already-disturbed Malus as a spy at Nockfire. The group seeks to return to the Other World, and believes that Nockfire Academy is concealing the means to get there. Ivory must discern whether Malus is working alone, or if there are others at Nockfire who have already betrayed the academy.

Through the race to find the Other World before Malus, Ivory uncovers a long-defeated enemy, and learns that the Dark Entromists may only be the striking arm of a much larger body.

3) Breakout Title

The Heart of the Threshold
Secrets Set in Stone
Ivillius Gale and the Way Between the Worlds

4) Comparable Titles

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Like Zélie and Amari flee from the monarchy with a scroll that will return magic to Orïsha, Ivory Gale must flee from the Dark Entromists in order to keep his heart hidden from them – the Heart of the Threshold, which can bridge the Way between the worlds. Ivory constantly thinks he isn’t good enough for the destiny before him, and – like Zélie – he must race against time with his friends in order to unlock the Other World before the Dark Entromists find him.

The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees
Like Rhea, Ivory sometimes sleeps in a way that he cannot describe, always waiting to either wake up or be killed as he searches for the hidden reason behind his dreams. He only learns too late that his nightmares are not dreams at all, but they are the way the hole in his heart allows him to drift between worlds in his sleep, so he can uncover the secrets beyond them.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Although a few years older than Percy, Ivory Gale takes his share of bullying both before and after arriving at Nockfire Academy. Through his mysterious professors he begins to learn about a world that he didn’t know existed, finds out whom he can trust, and begins to suspect he might be the key to bridging the gap to the Other World.

5) Conflict Line

A young teenager with a heart condition flees from the ancient evil that has hunted him his entire life, and must confront his own weakness in order to unearth a centuries-closed path to another world.

6a) Inner Conflict

Ivory wishes to be like other teenagers his age – to blend in at school and to look the same as everyone else – but by the blue streaks running through his hair and an atrial septal defect (hole in his heart) he is reminded daily of the impossibility of his wish.

He struggles with self-deprecation and feelings of inadequacy due to his weakened heart, and is led to wonder if many of the things happening in his life are only in his mind. So many people have been murdered in the wake of the Dark Entromists’ hunt for Ivory that he nearly falls prey to a suicidal moment. His invisible ally – Grent the Knight Onyx – convinces him to confess his remaining fears to the friends who love him: namely, the fact that he has the ability to see the mysterious force known as entroky when it is used; and, that he may possess the heart that the Dark Entromists require for returning to the Other World.

6b) Secondary Conflict

Ivory is raised by his godmother, “Aunt” Korimae, who has tenderly cared for him since his parents disappeared from his life at the age of four. Ivory struggles to remember any detail about his parents: what they looked like or who they were. Their absence is a topic of which Aunt Korimae will seldom speak, leaving Ivory to mere guesswork and thoughts of doubt and responsibility to explain away their absence. When Ivory eventually learns that his heart condition is the reason behind his parents’ abandoning him, he struggles to reconcile the fact in order to use his heart in defiance of the Dark Entromists.

7) Setting

Northern Boston:
Chapter one opens to Ivory speeding through rush hour traffic on his bicycle, racing for home beneath the hot sun of August. A powerful force is speeding toward the city – one he has never been able to sense before – and he must find his godmother before time runs out. They’ve always managed to escape in the past, but this time his godmother wasn’t warned early enough by her strange necklace. Houses are bursting into flames, sinkholes begin to swallow buildings and fleeing vehicles, and sun flares melt everything else around the city. Ivory and his godmother flee for their lives as Ivory is forced to watch and horrifically listen to thousands of people perishing.

The Arbress of Nockfire Academy:
After barely escaping Boston, Aunt Korimae and Ivory’s invisible friend take him to be hidden somewhere he had never imagined. Nockfire Academy is hidden well, deep within the forests of the White Mountains in New England, and miles away from any city. Ivory arrives to see an ancient-looking iron palisade surrounding the vast grounds of the academy, while the stronghold itself stands in the distance as something between a massive tree house and an arboretum, complete with branch and leaf-strewn turrets and towers. This is called the Arbress, and within its grounds walk statues of stone – alive – that are ten feet tall and have eyes that glow different colors. Some wield medieval weapons and keep outward watch atop the iron palisade, while others roam about the Arbress or teach classes. Water from the deep lake on the north side of the grounds ascends to the top towers of the Arbress, only to spill out of the stone and flow through the halls and chambers of the entire stronghold, flooding the academy with the magical source of power known as entroky.

The “Foot-Feet”:
While on his first field trip to the “Foot-Feet” – the foothills beyond Nockfire – Ivory begins to believe that his teachers are from the Other World as they demonstrate their own powers of entroky. Ivory reaches the field trip’s destination at a clearing in the heart of the foothills, surrounded by a ring of cedar trees, and beside a dark spring that runs downward to feed the lake of Nockfire. Dozens of small and large boulders lie scattered around the clearing, covered in red, green, and purple mosses. After a looming thunderstorm comes to its breaking point and is unleashed, Professor Augnil demonstrates the power to move objects to her will, and – to the great fright of the students – arches and weaves the cedar trees together to form a protective dome over the clearing. A second professor then demonstrates their ability to bend light, and brings the mossy boulders to life in multi-colored flames until the storm passes. Through the heat and otherworldly light of the various flames, Ivory begins to suspect the professors are behind the ‘natural disasters’ that have hunted him for a decade.

Paunder Entromists Academy:
During the distance-learning lesson in Ancients class, Ivory is thrust into the battle of the “Purge of the Faceless,” which in the reckoning of the Other World took place nearly one thousand years ago. Unlike the other students, Ivory finds that he is somehow physically in the battle himself – rather than watching it as just a documentary – and he experiences firsthand the power of entroky to fight the armies of the Other World. After defeating one of the fabled, vicious creatures known as the Renken in a barren valley, Ivory and the White Arrow Elite cut a path through the evil armies of Atropern and winged Vængir to assist the king’s vanguard on the open battlefield. Ivory is at last defeated at twilight when he meets the Faceless’ puppet itself, a terror of which will grow in his mind for years to come.

The Other World:
When the ghostly orb of light at last manifests itself to Ivory when he is awake, he and two friends wildly chase it through Nockfire until the light unexpectedly reveals the path to the Other World. After following a downward-leading tunnel and being lured onto the middle of an underground lake, the light opens a blinding maelstrom toward which the boat is drawn and sucked into. Ivory wakes up in the forest of the Other World, seeing vibrant trees full of unknown fruits, mountains in the distance, and smelling the fragrant scents of the foreign air. Ivory realizes that something is different about his heart there: it is strong. Scarlet’s rashes have become hardened like diamond-sparkling armor, and her allergies no longer ail her in the woods. After later reuniting with Comet, they realize that he too has changed, and his previously light-sensitive skin helps him to blink (rapidly travel) in the darkness.

Just before being slain by three of the evil Endings, a dormant power within Ivory is awakened and he narrowly bests them. Fleeing the scene, the three friends are reunited at nightfall hours later, and begin to seek an escape from the Other World. Before they are able to return to Nockfire, however, under hot pursuit the orb of light leads them to the same setting of Ivory’s years-long dream, where he must at last face what the light shows him at the mouth of the cave. Other creatures within the trees of the forest then light the way for the friends to return to the lake and escape the clutches of the Endings and the true enemy within Ivory’s dream, the Shadow.

Posts: 2
Joined: 02 Mar 2020, 12:36

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#14 Post by BrentEwigP6 » 03 Mar 2020, 13:15

by Brent Ewig

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

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

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

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

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title

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

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: two comparables for your novel.

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

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

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

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: inner conflict your protagonist will have.

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

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

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


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

Posts: 1
Joined: 02 Mar 2020, 18:37

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#15 Post by NEROLILACEYP6 » 04 Mar 2020, 19:20

The Perfumer's Secret by Neroli Lacey

Zandy Bailey is hellbent on making a gritty documentary that reveals the truth about Climate Change.

Stewart Stevens, Commissioning Editor at CNM Documentaries is Zandy Bailey’s boss. His promotion depends on his meeting viewer targets. He needs this promotion to support his autistic son. He’s supported and mentored Zandy all these years. Sending Zandy to France to make this perfume documentary is part of his plan for her - to develop her into a director/ producer. He has no one else he can tap. She’s available. If she lets him down, he’s backed the wrong horse all this time.
Stewart cares about what’s good for his pocket. His interests are aligned with the corporation, CNM Documentaries. Zandy’s personal goals (to make a documentary about climate change, to dig up the truth, validate her life and make meaning,) are in opposition to those of her company, CNM Documentaries.

The Perfumer’s Secret

upmarket women fiction

Hunting Unicorns by Bella Pollen – because it’s a hunt for the truth via journalism. And because it’s a foray into a special world, the British aristocracy

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro – because it invites the reader to learn about the craft of making perfume and revels in the romance and artistry of scent.

Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes – because of its funny, tongue-in-cheek, British sense of humor that traces back to the masterpiece, Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding.

Finding a corrosive secret behind the elegant façade of a 300 year old perfume house, young documentary maker, Zandy Bailey has to decide what matters most: her commitment to truth and justice,her career success and her boss’s instructions, or the livelihoods of thousands of innocent employees and small business owners caught in her crosshairs.

Zandy is making a documentary about Severin Freres, a 300 year old perfume house. CEO and heir to the business, Dominique Severin, has goals in opposition to Zandy’s. She’s all about uncovering the truth. He’s the child of an alcoholic mother who disgraced the family. He’s all about keeping up appearances and hiding the skeletons. He’s reserved and strategic. She’s lively and impulsive. Worse still there’s sexual chemistry that develops into an affair. Worse still, discovering his secret she has to decide whether to betray his trust.

Zandy’s mother, a manic depressive, has spent her life promoting lies about consumer products in her advertising career. Zandy vows to be the opposite of her mother. She’s hellbent on exposing the truth.
Now she faces the human cost of telling the truth - how many peoples’ lives it damages. She has to weigh up whose story this is; and what is the truth. Is it one person’s story or is the truth made up of many individual stories?

The Alpes Maritimes / Grasse / South of France
‘Cobblestone streets and the terracotta roofs of Grasse . . . heaven in a perfect microclimate between the glistening Mediterranean and snow-capped Alps. . . fabled terroir of jasmine, rose and violets; home to the world's greatest parfumeurs.’” . . . the South of France as the backdrop; the super-yachts at anchor in the bay. Who couldn’t be seduced by all of this? They're American!”

New York: Queens boxing gym ‘the whir of jump ropes, and smell the tangy sweat of hard work’
Up high, lookouts patrol roofs, while dealers hang in doorways, calling out ‘smoke, charlie, junk,’ at me. . . . Fast food wrappers and half-eaten chicken legs carpet the pavements. Desolation hangs in the air, but I feel protected in my combat boots, ready to run if needed and I don’t stand out. So thanks for your change of wardrobe suggestion, Stewart, but I’ll pass. Out here, the Lilly Pulitzer sundress could get me shot.

New York messy midtown office of CNM documentaries
the white open-plan floor of CNM Films. Fig trees in raffia baskets stand against exposed brick walls. Stacks of scripts and vitamin water bottles nudge up against oversized Mac screens on expansive beech tables. The tone says convivial, hard-working, upbeat——and affords about as much privacy as a teenager gets at her Tiger Mom’s kitchen table.

Fabled St Tropez nightclub – Caves du Roy
Inside the Caves du Roy nightclub in Saint Tropez, the pink and purple light beams criss-cross with electric blue. Electric music is pulsing so loud it hijacks the command center of my brain. Every body is preened, primed, tamed, shaped. Everything is glossy, sparkly, colorful, loud. Dominique guides me to prime table right at the edge of the dance floor. I’m in sensory overload. Everything screams for my attention, in this theme-park for the uber rich which has the squeaky-clean smell of big money.

And many more locations including:
Saks Fifth Avenue
Manhattan High Line
Cap du Ferrat, Villa Ephrusssi Rothschild
St Paul de Vence – fabled and fabulous; Le Colombe d’Or

Posts: 1
Joined: 26 Feb 2020, 01:18

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#16 Post by MelanieLamagaP6 » 04 Mar 2020, 20:48

The Twining, by Boyes & Lamaga

Story statement:

Social worker Legacy (Lacy) Keyes wants to prove she’s not crazy like her convict mother and protect the kids in her care.


When Lacy was twelve, her mother, Kat, tried to kill her sister’s husband, John, because she said he “wasn’t human.” Lacy grew up thinking Kat was schizophrenic, but she eventually learns there is a race of long-lived psychopaths who see humans as livestock. They are not supernatural, however their advanced knowledge of human psychology and accrued assets make them formidable. The female “parasites” attach themselves to institutions so they can exercise power over vulnerable populations, as Lacy’s boss Dr. Grey has done at Warrick Home for Teens. The males attach themselves to families. The challenge of cultivating and reproducing with each new generation is their greatest pleasure, even above the gaslighting and sadism that are their norm. Fifth- and sixth-generation hybrids may develop skills with which to resist, as Kat and Lacy do. However, living for hundreds of years, the parasites can bide their time, disappearing for decades, then reappearing under new guises. If a male succeeds in mating with six generations and produces a seventh, that child will be capable of great destruction. As a “sixth,” Lacy is a rarity, and John will stop at nothing to seduce her in order to produce the seventh generation.


The Twining
The Twining of Legacy Keyes


Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, because it features a damaged, unreliable narrator who mistrusts her own perceptions due to past trauma, and for the multigenerational dysfunction and relationships between mothers and daughters

Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, because a man with uncanny abilities preys upon girls, and one of them becomes determined to learn the unbelievable truth and protect others.

Conflict Line:

When residents of a group home for teens begin dying and disappearing, an unstable social worker must heed the voices in her head in order to stop long-lived, charismatic psychopaths from claiming more children.

Inner Conflict:

Twelve years old. Hidden in a closet. Lacy Keyes listened as her mother tried to stab her uncle John to death, because she claimed he wasn’t human. Now twenty-nine and a social worker, Lacy wants to reform the systems that fail kids—and prove she’s not crazy like her convict mother. But at every job, she fixates on her supervisors, convinced they’re secretly harming children. She gets migraines and hears cryptic voices. When her sick days are gone, so is she. Seven jobs in three years.

Anything that reminds Lacy of Kat, or that triggers the voices, ignites intense anxiety and shame. Lacy avoids social media because she has been stalked by true-crime aficionados, and glosses over the details of her mother’s crime, even with her boyfriend Branson. Lacy fears that she is prone to mental illness, like Kat, and trusts Uncle John’s advice to quell her paranoia. She parties too much because alcohol helps quiet the voices, but at work she is sober and therefore vulnerable. Still, Lacy is desperate to keep her social work career going: helping kids is the only thing that makes her feel useful, connected, and competent--the most unlike Kat.

Sample situations early in the book that trigger Lacy’s anxiety and shame: she has a conversation with her boyfriend Branson about her upcoming interview at Warrick. He doesn’t understand why she keeps quitting all of her jobs. Lacy's insistence that her supervisors are harming children looks like paranoia or neurosis. This causes Lacy to lash out at Branson, because she thinks he’s insinuating that she’s like Kat. Then, during Lacy’s interview, the director of Warrick, Dr. Grey, says she knows why Lacy is full of misguided rebellion. Lacy is mortified to realize that Dr. Grey must know all of the details of Kat’s crime, since she is a friend of John’s. Lacy believes this might be her last chance to save her career, so she subsumes her humiliation into gratitude when Dr. Grey offers to mentor her.

Social Conflicts:

Lacy has conflicts with her family over Kat, who will be released from prison soon. Lacy’s father, Stephen, thinks Kat should live with Lacy. Although Lacy objects, she knows if Stephen insists she will be powerless, since she rents her house from him. At Warrick, Lacy also has conflicts with co-workers and supervisors. She finds the required physical restraints of residents too harsh, and distrusts the Intensive Therapy Sessions, which she is not allowed to attend. When Lacy attempts to soften the protocol, it causes more problems for the kids. Lacy tries to give her supervisors and co-workers the benefit of the doubt, but this becomes increasingly difficult after a resident, Daphne, accuses a senior counselor of rape, and then commits suicide. Later, Lacy finds a male resident naked and suffocating with a plastic bag over his head: the same way Daphne died. As a result, Lacy’s voices become more bizarre and intrusive, eventually leading her to believe that she is having a breakdown--a falsehood that is cultivated by John and Dr. Grey, who have long term plans for Lacy.

Key Settings:

Warrick Home for Teens: Lacy’s place of employment as a counselor.

Warrick is an historical three-story, whitewashed brick plantation house with six columns. It’s located in Charles City County, twenty-some miles southeast of Richmond, VA. With its white stone driveway, expansive lawn, chandeliers, and sweeping staircase, Warrick looks more like a movie set than a home for emotionally-disturbed teens.

Peppered with quaint, white cottages that house the staff and residents, Warrick boasts all of the trappings of a boarding school: a regal dining hall that shows signs of its gilded past as a ballroom, modern classrooms, well-equipped recreation rooms, and a medical clinic. But on closer inspection, the cottages are little more than ramshackle wooden boxes. Slave quarters, the kids call them. The crammed cottages have all the charm of a factory breakroom, with industrial carpet and boxy pine furniture. Twelve residents occupy each cottage, crammed four to a bedroom, with only two bathrooms to share. Small wonder tensions often run high. The residents have sad files that highlight their pasts: substance-addicted or abusive parents, foster home placements, attempted suicides, and self harm.

Warrick’s old cookhouse holds a macabre fascination for the residents. A squat, whitewashed brick building veined with the spines of dead Virginia creeper, the cookhouse still smells of wood smoke, and the moment-of-death-fear of all the animals slaughtered there. Shelves line the walls—ladders, loppers, saws, mallets, shovels, axes, herbicides, weed-eaters, chisels, paint thinner, edgers, scythes, even welding equipment. The cookhouse. The last place these damaged teens often go before they die or disappear.

The Fan: A brick rowhouse, Lacy’s home

They call this Richmond neighborhood the Fan, because the roads splay out from Belvidere Street, like one of those old-fashioned, filigreed fans women used to flutter at their faces. Designed for walking, the Fan features shops and restaurants, mingled with turn-of-the-century apartments, rowhouses, and mansions. The Fan house is technically owned by Lacy’s father, but she considers it hers, as she has been paying enough rent to cover the mortgage since he bought it as an investment when Lacy started college.

The brick front of Lacy’s house is painted bright blue. Inside: scuffed oak floors, curling wrought iron bars on the lower windows, a hodge-podge collection of thrift-store furniture and local art, and a giant bathroom with black and white tile, and plush cotton rugs and a claw-footed tub.

UrgePool: An edgy new nightclub where Lacy’s boyfriend, Branson, works.

Outside, Urgepool looks exactly like what it used to be—a 1960’s YMCA. Every night, the line of prospective partiers stretch for blocks down the uneven brick sidewalk. A burly bouncer lurks behind the velvet rope, handing out small, plush gray towels with the UrgePool logo—a fish shedding drops of water, emerging from a silver pool—to the lucky ones who get to enter.

The interior of the club is done in watery shades of blue and silver, with iridescent tiles on the walls. The patrons are a mix of ages and styles: hip hop, punk, arty, hipster, and urbane types in expensive suits. An empty pool has been converted into a dance space, illuminated by wave-patterned blue lights. Chrome tables and velvet couches line risers on either side. Tropical plants break up the seating areas into secluded nooks.
In the VIP room, a.k.a. InnerPool, purple, yellow, and green liqueurs line the wall in ornate glass dispensers. The bar glitters like the inside of a geode, a thousand tiny lights reflecting crystalline surfaces. The dimly-lit room glows with silver tile floors and a steamy pool. People float languorously in the water, wearing bathing suits … or not. Others lounge in velvet chairs, sipping fluorescent liqueurs and watching. The voyeurs—beautiful and exotic to the point of appearing grotesque—might have stepped out of a Fellini film. Smoked glass dividers partially screen bubbling Jacuzzis. Inside one of the occupied coves, undulating, naked bodies.

Posts: 1
Joined: 05 Mar 2020, 19:42

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#17 Post by ALISONP6HUBBARD » 05 Mar 2020, 23:39

TARRED by Alison Louise Hubbard

1) Story Statement: A small town woman goes on a quest to expose her brother’s killers and make them they pay for the crime.

2) Sketch the Antagonist: The Antagonist is a group of the most powerful men in a small nineteenth-century town who dress up in suits and masks to tar and feather a poet named George Casey. Something goes horribly wrong and he is murdered. The Protagonist—the man’s sister, Cathleen Casey— provides unexpected resistance, joining forces with the town constable to discover the truth and unmask the killers. The Antagonists use money, threats, bribes, propaganda, and violence to maintain their social position and evade prosecution.

3) Create a breakout title.

Current title: Tarred
Previous titles: The Casey Outrage, Julia’s Lantern.

4) Comparables:

Two books with similar themes, characters, and a history/mystery milieu involving murder in a small town, are Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale.
Snow Falling on Cedars, like my book, is set in a fictional, culturally distinct location where families have lived and worked together for generations. Memories of a brutal conflict run like a murky river through both books, although “Cedars” is set after World War II, my book after the Civil War. In both books, a fragile peace and civility is shattered when a murder divides a town: “Cedars” along ethnic lines, my book along lines of class. Both involve trials—“Cedars” of an innocent man, mine of a group of entitled, socially powerful, guilty men.
My novel resembles The Suspicions of Mr Whicher in its exploration of a detective’s dogged determination to solve a murder. In my novel there are two detectives: Cathleen Casey, the murdered man’s sister, and Ruggles, the tired, elderly constable. All, including Whicher, are amateurs in the craft of detective work.
“Whicher” is set in 1860, a similar era to my 1872 setting; both books depict life in a time of carriages, wash boards and kerosene lamps.

5) Write your own conflict line, noting or inferring the antagonist (s).

When George Casey is tarred, feathered and murdered by the most prominent citizens in a small town, his sister Cathleen is determined to get justice, while the town constable, Ruggles, strives to restore peace.

6) Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict of your protagonist: turmoil, confusion, anxiety. Sketch one hypothetical scenario that would act as a trigger to cause her to react with these emotions.

Cathleen Casey has watched over her brother George for his whole life. She succeeded in protecting him until he fell in love with a girl, and stalked her when the secret relationship fell apart. The consequences were tragic; now he is missing and feared dead. Cathleen wonders what she could have done to prevent this. She feels tremendous anger at the ones who have set upon her brother; anger at him for being so foolish, and mostly anger at herself for failing to protect him.

A hypothetical scenario to bring out these emotions and heighten Cathleen’s self-blame would be for Danny, their younger brother, to confront her and ask her why she didn’t do something to stop George—scold him, bar the door, prevent him from going out. To echo and amplify her own guilt.

Sketch a hypothetical scenario for the “secondary conflict” involving social environment: family, friends, associates:

As the incident becomes national news and is known as “The Crime of the Century,” the town divides in a bitter war. The Antagonists, who are responsible for tarring, feathering and murdering George Casey, are called the “Tar Party.” The Protagonists—Cathleen and her supporters—are called the “Anti-Tars.” Cathleen is scorned, laughed at, and isolated. Her oldest brother, Hank, joins the ranks of the “Tar Party.”

A hypothetical scenario to heighten conflict would be for some members of the “Tar Party” to call on Cathleen at home wearing the suits and masks they wore to the tarring, and demand that she stop snooping around.

7) Sketch your setting.

My setting is a small, nineteenth-century, Long Island town. Swinging signs, dirt streets, merchants in aprons, dry goods stores. Seagulls— the water, with its fishing boats, nets, fishermen, is not far off (and yes, this is where George was murdered.) Outside the town proper, there are farmlands: haystacks, horse drawn combines, men in homespun shirts and overalls. Inside the kitchens: open fireplaces, a claw-foot bathtub. Women’s hands are busy with butter-churning, knitting, embroidery or spinning. There are reminders of the Civil War: a black slouch hat on a mantel, a remembered trip to Antietam to visit the grave of a dead son. There are many settings in my book, from smithy to seaside, and I believe my readers will enter a convincing nineteenth century world.

Posts: 1
Joined: 27 Feb 2020, 19:18

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#18 Post by AllexusColeT5 » 06 Mar 2020, 18:48

Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

Land of The Love Child: Penny & Jenna
By A. Michaels

1) Story Statement:

Penny Flowers-Beauchamp returns home because her grandmother has suddenly become ill, and as she uncovers the mysteries of her grandmother’s illness Penny learns there are many dark secrets lurking in her family’s past.

2) Antagonist Sketch:

Land of The Love Child is a nonlinear story about the dynamics, dysfunction, and complicated origins of the Flowers-Beauchamp family concealed by allure, wealth and prestige.

The story begins in 2006 when Penny Flowers-Beauchamp (protagonist) returns home to care for her grandmother, Jenna, who has suddenly become bedridden and ill. Penny’s return home is the leading action that begins the tale of this family.

There are two family members that are the driving antagonistic force of this novel – Jenna Flowers-Beauchamp and her grandfather Samuel Flowers-Beauchamp.

Samuel Flowers-Beauchamp:

Samuel Flowers-Beauchamp’s story begins during the summer of 1924. Samuel is grieving the death of his wife Elise, from just the summer before. Samuel is a domineering and controlling husband and father. Though Samuel parents with emotional distance, he still demands that his sons live according to his life plans for them, while never bringing shame upon the family through defiance. His sons have now begun early adulthood and Samuel is beginning to lose his tight influential grasp on their lives.
Samuel is an abusive husband, (his physical abuse of his wife has always been kept hidden from their sons), who murders his wife when he discovers she is having an affair. No one knows he is the cause of his wife’s death.
Samuel has an obsession with the perception of his public image. Samuel is ambitious, powerful, and the wealthiest man in his town. It is of great importance to present himself as an adoring husband and gentle father because of his prominent stature in his community.

Jenna Flowers-Beauchamp:

Jenna Flowers-Beauchamp has suddenly become ill as the novel begins in the year 2006. Jenna is now a senior citizen, but still living independently and alone. Her illness has brought her granddaughter Penny home after three years. While Penny cares for her, Jenna is forced to confess that she attempted to take the life of her infant daughter Delaney (Penny’s mother).
Jenna is the matriarch and patriarch of the Flowers-Beauchamp family for the entirety of Penny’s childhood. Jenna is proper, pretentious, and feisty. She takes great pride in her role as the head of the family, and is very particular about the image that she, her daughter, and granddaughter portray within their community and to others that do not know them.
Jenna and Delaney constantly compete for the #1 rank in Penny’s heart. Each mother would prefer Penny to not emulate the traits of the other, as Jenna and Delaney are very different people in personality and ideals.
Jenna has a fear of living alone and especially without her granddaughter Penny. The differences between and tension in the relationship between Jenna and Delaney, have caused Jenna to cleave to Penny. When Delaney decides to begin making plans to leave home with Penny (Penny is a young teenager), Jenna begins to poison Delaney. This poisoning leads to a prolonged illness and then Delaney’s death.

3) Breakout Title:

- 1) Land of The Love Child
- 2) Penny & Jenna

4) Comparables:

- 1) The House Girl by Tara Conklin
- 2) Cane River by Lalita Tademy (Nonfiction – but my fictional characters have similar family history)
- 3) Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

5) Primary Conflict:

Penny must process the stunning revelation of learning that the deity like grandmother she revered growing up is capable of the sinister dark act of murder.

6) Part 1 - Inner Conflict:

Penny is conflicted about the feelings she must reconcile with after she learns Jenna is responsible for Delaney’s death. Penny is perplexed at how well Jenna has been able to hide such a horrific dark act for so many years. How could this happen? Can Penny forgive her grandmother and keep Jenna’s secret? Is she supposed to still love her grandmother? Or is she supposed to now hate her grandmother after learning about the darkness within?
Penny wants to desperately understand her grandmother. Penny listens to Jenna tell the story about the summer of 1948, when Jenna fell in love and tragically lost love. This event changed the person Jenna was to be forever.

Part 2 – Secondary Conflict:

The secondary conflict of this story involves exposing more dark secrets in Penny’s family through exploring the life of Samuel Flowers-Beauchamp (Jenna’s grandfather and Penny’s great-great father). Samuel is the first in the Flowers-Beauchamp bloodline to commit murder. He murders his wife when he discovers she is having an affair. The story of Samuel also includes the backstory of his sons Raymond (Jenna’s father) and Jon which further explores the complicated dynamics of the Flowers-Beauchamp family.

Does Penny possess the same darkness rampantly rooted in her family tree?

7) Setting:

Land of The Love Child is primarily set in Creed Pointe, an all-black summer resort beach town founded in the late 1890’s, located along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. The Flowers-Beauchamp family are descendants of a slave owner and slave woman who settle in Creed Pointe for protection and isolation from judgement. At first the family is ostracized by the black residents, but overtime they become respected community and social leaders. The prominence and affluence of the Flowers-Beauchamp family is a perfect disguise for dark family secrets of the past. The generational isolation of this family, living in a small exclusive community, is the reason why the secrets of Penny’s family are allowed to remain dormant and undiscovered.

There are several locations of action within the Creed Pointe: The Flowers-Beauchamp estate, the beach, The North Pier, The Pavilion, the tennis courts, Beauchamp’s On The Bay, and Silver Creek.

(**The creation of Creed Pointe, though a fictitious town that I imagined, is inspired by popular historically black beach communities such as, Highland Beach in Highland Beach, Maryland {Est. 1893} and Oak Bluffs in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts {Est. 1922}.**)

Posts: 2
Joined: 25 Feb 2020, 01:50

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#19 Post by CraigP6Brownlie » 06 Mar 2020, 21:36

First Assignment (The Act of Story Statement):
Define justice in a society recovering from an apocalyptic plague.

Second Assignment (The Antagonist Plots the Point):
Like everyone else in Rochester, Frida Kahlo aka Ida Wells, etc., is beaten down by the horrors of recent times, but she is driven by a desire to find someone to blame. Knowing about the efforts of international scientists to find a cure, she manipulates Police Detective Alonzo Crash to gain access to a local scientist who is part of that work. She wants to know who is supporting the scientist with food, electricity and other supplies. Once the scientist’s life comes under threat from the local authorities, she convinces Crash to assist her in a plan to free the professor and save his life. Just as Frida appears to be cooperating with Crash to further his burgeoning investigation into the underlying mysteries of the reborn world outside Rochester’s fences, she leaves for Buffalo, knowing full well that Crash has not been able to overcome his fear of the terrors beyond those protective barriers.

Third Assignment (Conjuring Your Breakout Title):
Murder Among Zombies
The Crimes We Live In
Scent of a Zombie

Fourth Assignment (Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables):
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
• Appealing to book clubs of a genre they might not consider; possibly because the subject matter is treated with deeper thematic elements and fewer genre tropes
• First person POV in an official role
• Struggle to understand the world as now constituted and without reasonable explanation for the changes
• Widespread psychological damage to major and minor characters
• Distinction between here (facility/Rochester) and not here (Area X/outside the fences)
• Central characters not necessarily the power brokers, but trying to understand the power brokers

The Last Policeman by Ben. H. Winters
• World building revealed through the main character’s experience- taking the genre and making it tangible
• Murder mystery at a time when solving it seems pointless
• Similar in tone and style- occasional humor with noir touches

Fifth Assignment (Considering the Primary Conflict - Coming of the "Agon"):
A newly minted detective in post-zombie apocalypse Rochester must navigate the conflict between the murder case that he is trying to solve and the bigger demands of preserving the rebuilt city and supporting the search for a cure to the pandemic.

Sixth Assignment (Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels):
Alonzo struggles to come to terms with the return of society. He is justifiably afraid to set foot outside the fences that protect the city, but the barriers prevent him from seeing his family. He longs for reasons to look beyond the fences and thus he latches onto the hope offered by the professor’s search for a cure. Alonzo’s job investigating a murder within the city elucidates his turmoil as he must weigh a future with social justice not ruled by paranoia against current realities shaped by survivors of the apocalypse.

The Mayor has not made a judicial system a priority. The re-instituted police department arrests criminals and the Mayor determines an appropriate punishment. Faced with the culpability of the Partridges in the murder that he investigates, Alonzo’s choice to arrest any or all of them places him in the position of judge and jury.

Final Assignment (The Incredible Importance of Setting):
Rochester has become a city of survivors. The buildings are damaged, and the landscape is changed, just as the remaining residents bear scars of their years hiding and fighting. Miraculously, they have reclaimed their lives, constructing fences to keep the zombies out. Loved ones who have turned have been herded into a giant pen constructed over the interstate highway that runs through the center of downtown. Pets have been collected at the city zoo where they can be watched for any signs of the plague. The fences have recently been extended to incorporate the southern wedge of the city, including the university campus. As people have arrived from outside the city, the need became apparent that more space was needed. Most people are not comfortable in cramped quarters if it can be avoided.

During the rebuilding, the Mayor rose to power as a benevolent dictator, tolerated by the populace for his organizational vision. He encouraged the residents to form makeshift family units, as much to keep an eye on one another as to encourage mutual support. He facilitated the rebirth of mass communication by setting up a group of IT workers in the main library. They brought the city online with other areas around the country. Something like a federal government exists out there, too. Shipments come by convoy from the coast as goods have started being produced. The Mayor runs the city out of his new city hall, taking over the High Falls complex where his primary staff work and live. The police headquarters suffered during the worst years, but they now operate out of the same building as before with less defined and more wide-ranging powers.

Posts: 1
Joined: 05 Mar 2020, 03:36

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#20 Post by LEIGHHECKINGP6 » 06 Mar 2020, 23:53


Story Statement:

A young Nephilim must find his Craft and stop a rogue Fallen Angel from destroying the world. His twin sister, along with the Fallen Angel, is bent on destruction, but begins on a path to family and redemption.


Antagonistic or The Antagonistic Force:

Semi (Semyaza) is a Fallen Angel. He fell from grace thousands of years ago when the Angels (Watchers) made an oath on Mount Hermon to take human wives (and husbands) and share their heavenly knowledge with them. As a result of this coupling, the Nephilim (a super-race of human/angels) were born.

As punishment for this transgression, the Angels/Watchers were stripped of their heavenly powers (the Host) and their wings and confined to mortal bodies for an eternity on Earth.

Semi has spent the last decade being forcibly bred by a government facility to create Nephilim offspring. When he escapes, he is sick of the mortal realm, his mortal body and the humiliations it has endured. He despises humans and Nephilim and thinks death is the only release for him from his shadowy half-life.

He recruits lost or abandoned Nephilim teenagers and children and exploits their powers to help him accomplish his ends. By killing Nephilim/Craftworker’s on sacred leylines (ancient energy paths), he can release the bonds that hold the Earth together. The unbound energy would lead to natural cataclysms and eventually, ruin on a mass scale.


Breakout Title:

1. Weave the Stars
2. The Book of Hymns
3. The Full Moon Market



Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows meets Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Shadow of the Wind. My book combines Six of Crows diverse cast and multiple points-of-view with Shadow of the Wind’s lush atmosphere and eloquent prose.


Primary Conflict:

Eli: A young Nephilim must find his gift and stop a rogue Fallen Angel intent on destroying the world before it’s too late.

Nur: A young Nephilim must choose between the Fallen Angel who raised her and the brother she’s never known, decide between saving the world or destroying it for good.


Inner / Secondary Conflicts:

Eli is a Nephilim and Craftworker in the Craftworker’s Guild who has not yet received “The Host” (angelic gift) and as a result, has no Craft. He struggles with his identity, confidence and sense of belonging. He wrestles with authority and the rules imposed by both the Craftworker’s Guild and the government. He feels that they are ‘one size fits all’ and he does not fit.

Eli is gay and has not yet come to terms with his sexuality. This internal block keeps him from realizing his Craft and receiving The Host. Because it has taken him so long to find his Craft, he feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere. These feelings of alienation and otherness are only strengthened by the restrictions their government places on Nephilim and by his burgeoning sexual attraction to someone of the same sex. Eli will channel his feelings into making or crafting garments that help their wearer achieve certain ends.


Nur is a Nephilim who was stolen by Fallen Angel, Semi, when she was just a baby. She has a sort of Stockholm Syndrome attachment to him. She’s devoted to helping him reach his goals, despite how it might affect her. But she starts to develop a conscience about the things she has done and realizes she may have been led down the wrong path. Her strong desire for familial connection kept Nur loyal to Semi, but when she discovers she has biological family, she begins to question everything she has been taught.

Nur is essentially a case of nature versus nurture. She grew up with a villain so she becomes a sort of villain herself. But inside, she is conflicted. She has a lot of anger and feels abandoned and isolated and channels these feelings into destruction.



The book is essentially set in our world – with one giant exception – humans know that both Angels and their descendants, the Nephilim, exist. The book takes place in Erde-40, one of the Seven Angelic Earths – multiverses where the Angels/Watchers fell from grace and produced Nephilim offspring. There were once portals between these Earths, that existed on ley lines (ancient energy paths). These portals took the shape of famous pagan/religious/historical landmarks in our world – Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, the Pyramids, etc. But the portals were sealed a long time ago and the book mostly takes place on Erde-40 (our Earth).

Eli and his guardian, Fox Alvarez, live near the ocean in Mendocino, California in a house that once served as a refuge for abandoned or orphaned Nephilim children. Nur and her guardian, the Fallen Angel Semi, live in a rural French village, Caunes-Minervois, in the Occitan region of Southern France.

In the first book, the protagonists travel to the Glastonbury Tor, Stonehenge, Avebury Henge and Men-An-Tol in England.

Eli will also travel to Llyr’s Earth, Terra-28, and his country, Astrium.

The prologue takes place in the Golan Heights in Israel.

The Archives, The Guild and the Full Moon Markets – essential to the Craftworker’s trade and education – will take place out of time – in the space between the Earths.

Posts: 2
Joined: 05 Mar 2020, 06:47

Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

#21 Post by JenniferP6Singleton » 07 Mar 2020, 09:12

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Write your story statement.

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

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

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

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

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Create a breakout title

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

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

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables.

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

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

There are a number of authors who have written on spirituality in black communities, however I would compare my work to three authors in particular who have also touched on paranormal activities:
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates: “The Water Dancer” (2019). The protagonist in this story is a slave who is born with special powers, which he uses to try to save his family.
    The protagonist in my story is on a mission to learn if the town of Curton is indeed a place inhabited by people with special powers.
      N.K. Jemisin: “How Long ‘Till Black Future Month?” (2018). A collection of science fiction and fantasy stories with a spiritual theme, several of which are set in New Orleans, Louisiana.
      My story, which also has a spiritual theme, takes places about two hours away from New Orleans in north Louisiana.
        Toni Morrison: “Beloved” (1986). This book tells the story of a former slave who is haunted by the ghost of her daughter, whom she killed to prevent her from living a life of bondage.
        My book also deals with the presence of ghosts and one woman’s ability to see them when no one else can.
      FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist(s) must be noted or inferred.

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

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

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

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

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

      FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.

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

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

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

      Posts: 1
      Joined: 06 Mar 2020, 21:59

      Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

      #22 Post by RHEASAINIP6 » 07 Mar 2020, 22:02




      Lo needs to escape from captivity and rescue her son from the terrorists while challenging her own blind loyalty and patriotism to her nation.


      In a complex world of high finance, ritzy law firms, arms dealers, revolutionary groups, rogue spies and political deceit, Sinjen Atwall emerges as Lo’s (protagonist) nemesis. He initially portrays himself as a sophisticated banker delving in Islamic finance and adhering to a world of respect where antediluvian religious principles dictate the norms of behavior only to be discovered that he is akin to a modern day mobster and terrorist. He fiercely employs psychological terror, antiquated tactics and interrogation schemes to extract crucial information from Lo. Sinjen and Lo engage in psychological games where loyalty to countries, belief systems and deep seated values are at stake. Sinjen is an arrogant, scornful and formidable opponent. As Lo cleverly peels back the layers in Sinjen’s history, she discovers his vulnerabilities and the root causes of his rage and motivations. The decisions and actions that Sinjen takes in the story impel the plot and elevate the stakes for the protagonist on two critical fronts. In Project Oscar, Sinjen Atwall arrests and holds Lo captive, interrogating her about an Islamic Finance deal during her days at an Elite Magic Circle law firm in London and then steals her son.

      3. TITLES:
      1. Project Oscar!
      2. The English Firm!
      3. The Network!

      4. GENRE:

      Project Oscar falls within the legal/political thriller genre. The novel is a hybrid of a classic John Grisham novel such as the “The Firm” and a John Le Carre spy novel replete with characters similar to Jason Bourne, SALT and a Girl with a Dragon tattoo.

      Love “Lo” is an American lawyer caught in the midst of the worst recession since the great depression. She is the protagonist in this modern day political – legal thriller. Lo is an international lawyer in her mid-thirties. She interviews and joins a premier Magic Circle firm in London specializing in Islamic Finance. The world of Islamic Finance exposes her to a new culture where antediluvian religious principles meld into the sophistication of modern day finance. Where corporate boardrooms selectively cherry pick the applicability of old world rules but are fiercely loyal to the divinity of the dollar. The job takes her on a new adventure in her career and a suspenseful ride with a law firm that has deep secrets of its own. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, Lo soon finds out that she is caught in a web of deceit, lies and political games. Her own identity is a mystery and her loyalty questioned by her enemies. It is a story of unlikely friendship, a stranger in a strange land and the pursuit of one’s own truth. This novel oversees the journey of Lo’s character as she discovers allies on foreign soil, grapples with lovers from the past and questions her blind loyalty and patriotism to nations she placed on a pedestal.
      The structure of the novel is split into two distinct parts. Section I of the story is narrated through interrogation scenes and flashbacks to the truth. Section II of the novel propels the overarching plot forward and exposes the protagonist’s primary struggle, challenge and journey. The novel is narrated in third person close point of view. At the core, this story is simply about sacrifice.


      After taking a dream job with an international law firm, a young lawyer is captured and brutally interrogated that results in her making the ultimate sacrifice.

      6. SECONDARY CONFLICTS: Internal conflict and Societal Conflict

      There are several subplots and conflicts enveloped in this novel. This is a story of unlikely friendships, a stranger in a strange land and the pursuit of one’s own truth.

      This novel oversees the journey of Lo’s character as she discovers allies on foreign soil, grapples with lovers from the past and questions her blind loyalty and patriotism to nations she placed on a pedestal.

      7. SETTING:

      Project Oscar takes place in three dramatically different settings. Section I of the book is set largely in an undisclosed location in the Middle East where it follows a series of interrogation scenes and the story is told through flashbacks where the setting takes place in a large prestigious London law firm in Canary Wharf, the heart of the financial district. The second half of the novel takes place in Washington DC where the plots unfolds and propels the story forward on how the protagonist wishes to save her child from the terrorists. All three locations are rich in diversity, color and assist the characters in telling the story with excitement, mystery and intrigue.

      Posts: 2
      Joined: 05 Mar 2020, 19:55

      Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

      #23 Post by IvoKisicP6 » 07 Mar 2020, 23:08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Posts: 1
      Joined: 03 Mar 2020, 21:01

      Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

      #24 Post by MOLLYMCCLOYP6 » 07 Mar 2020, 23:41

      As she prepares for her memoir performance, a woman grapples with her father’s nine apologies and the corresponding memories in order to forgive him, her family, and herself.

      2. “Bury this thing,” said Mike McCloy’s father, releasing the dead dog from his grip and letting it fall to the farmhouse porch. This was Mike’s dog that had killed some chickens the night before and, in turn, Mike’s father had used a hammer to brutally execute the dog early that morning. This was the kind of childhood violence that the antagonist Mike McCloy does not want to carry into his own career as a father. In fact, he doesn’t want to be a father at all. “You raise them then, and I want nothing to do with it,” he tells his wife Candy when she insists they have three children. Mike will spend fatherhood constantly fighting his own children for his wife’s attention, ignoring and humiliating and hitting and kicking and choking his three kids, turning the kids against each other, and eventually getting kicked out of the family. He won’t see any of his behavior as wrong because the incidents were milder than his own childhood abuse, and because he did, occasionally, do the right thing. Then years later, his twenty-two-year-old daughter, the protagonist, asks him to apologize for nine incidents, and his two sons develop heroin addictions, so he has to rethink everything. What he has wanted all along is to avoid pain and responsibility, and his own fear of happiness turned into abusive behavior that has damaged his own children.

      3. Maddog Grudges
      Nine Grudges
      The Mad Dog That Was My Dad

      4. Comps

      The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu (HarperOne, 2015)
      Referencing his experience with the public confessions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission following Apartheid, Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho use stories from Commission hearings as well as personal experience to outline a forgiveness process readers can use both for forgiveness of others and self-forgiveness. The popularity of this book shows that readers are looking for a forgiveness process with clear instructions that they can follow. Instead of just using dramatic stories from the Commision’s hearings, Tutu uses the example of his own abusive father in several places in the book, as well as examples of microaggressions that can become grudges. Desmond and Mpho Tutu also recommend storytelling methods to begin recovery from trauma, and include research on the value of knowing one’s family story. Nine Grudges will also focus on an abusive father and some microaggressions, and will relay storytelling tips and family history. Nine Grudges will offer a sense of relief and healing similar to the Tutus’ book, but in a memoir format, with a more specific focus on family dysfunction and the role of live-performance storytelling and apologies in forgiveness.

      The Apology by Eve Ensler (Bloomsbury, 2019)
      Ensler writes the apology she always wanted but never received from her father who sexually, verbally, mentally, and physically abused her. This book exemplifies the deeply held human need to receive an apology, especially for abuse that was kept secret. Nine Grudges will answer this same human need for an apology with excerpts from my father’s apology. However, the abuse detailed in Nine Grudges will be verbal, physical, and humiliation-based, and includes no sexual abuse. Nine Grudges will use the text from the apology my father wrote in 1992, instead of an imagined apology like Ensler’s, and the book will deal with the healing benefits as well as the limitations of a apology that is not fictional.

      Educated by Tara Westover (Random House, 2018)
      In her memoir about growing up in an isolated devout Mormon family in Idaho, Westover writes each of her chapters with simple narrative arcs reminiscent of traditional fictional short stories. Nine Grudges will also take on Westover’s thematic question of how far to distance oneself from a hurtful family environment and how to still love that family. Like Educated, Nine Grudges will also use brief narratives to illustrate each of the nine grudges, which will be arranged chronologically. Nine Grudges will stake out different emotional territory than Educated, since in Westover’s book the parents are unapologetic and unwilling to engage, while the parents in my family memoir are willing to apologize and be honest.

      Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (Harper, 2016)
      Vance details his hillbilly family’s rise into the middle class, his single mother’s inability to maintain that status, and his own struggle to make it through college. In a similar fashion, Nine Grudges follows my parents’ struggle to rise out of poverty and take our family into the middle class and shows in a similar way that upward mobility takes its toll on people and isn’t as pretty as it is supposed to be. Nine Grudges will be less political and while Vance’s style is to summarize much of his timeline, my book will tell more vivid, specific stories.

      The Moth Presents: All These Wonders, True Stories about Facing the Unknown. Edited by Catherine Burns (Crown Archetype, 2017)
      This best-selling book is a collection of the printed versions of stories told aloud by celebrities, experts, and average people on the Moth stage in various U.S. cities. The success of this book shows the popularity of the Moth storytelling events and the interest of a broad audience in self-contained true stories, similar to the ones that will fill Nine Grudges.

      Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin’s, 2002)
      What always impressed me most about Running with Scissors is Burrough’s ability to make childhood neglect and abuse humorous. Burrough’s secret is that his narrator is never quite a victim, always acts with intention and motivation, and is unflinchingly honest about his own petty or poorly-thought-out motives. The stories in Nine Grudges are constructed similarly, with child protagonists who refuse to be passive victims and possess a wicked sense of humor as an essential survival skill.

      Heavy by Kiese Laymon (Scribner, 2018)
      In this memoir, Kiese Laymon uses unflinching honesty to directly address his mother. Laymon’s book is an intentional subversion of the triumphant weight-loss narrative. Laymon details a history of trauma and sexual abuse, and addresses his struggles with racism, body image, an eating disorder, and a gambling addiction. Overall, the book is Laymon’s admission that he and his mother have failed to make amends and are currently still struggling. Nine Grudges will also honestly address a neglectful and abusive parent, but it will examine humor as a coping strategy, Eastern spiritual concepts, and a more positive outlook. The narrator of Nine Grudges is also still struggling with her family, but since her brothers are currently not using drugs and she is not an addict herself, the story’s ending will be more upbeat. Instead of racism, classism will be a persistent source of stress in Nine Grudges.

      Loving What Is by Byron Katie (Crown Archetype and Three Rivers, 2002)
      In this self-help book, Katie outlines a process, “The Work,” based on Zen Buddhist principles of non-attachment and acceptance. Readers can use “The Work” to change thinking patterns that cause their own unnecessary suffering. I used “The Work” when confronting the nine grudges in my one-woman show, and it’s an excellent tool for forgiveness that I will reference in the book. Similarly to Katie’s work, Nine Grudges will explore models for forgiveness not based on Christian principles but Buddhist and secular humanist principles.

      Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Scribner, 2005); Liar’s Club by Mary Karr (Viking, 1995); Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, (Putnam, 2012).
      All three of these female-authored family memoirs possess an excellent dark sense of humor. Nine Grudges will update this tradition, combining humor and drama to highlight familial dysfunction. Since the most recent publication of these titles was 2012, it’s time for a new family-dysfunction memoir by a female author with a sense of humor.

      5. All her life Molly McCloy has tried to cope with her family’s dysfunction and her father's violence through drugs, alcohol, punk rock, and eventually, academic achievement, meditation and live performance. Now, on the cusp of a solo storytelling performance that will reveal her nine grudges against her father, Molly tries to forgive her father, her family, and herself.

      6. Molly McCloy has struggled with her ability to make friends, have long-term love relationships, and hold a job, because she struggles with low self-esteem, attachment issues, and a fear of happiness.

      Molly McCloy has always struggled to fit in socially, especially when it came to her family's upward mobility as her mother and father worked their way into the middle class. A grade-school bully turned middle-school scapegoat and then high school and college punk rock kid, Molly McCloy has always been an outsider. Although she is certain that Lesbianism and LSD saved her life, mainstream society is anti-drug and anti-gay.

      7. The beginning of the memoir is set in a working class neighborhood in Central Phoenix in the late seventies, the urban desert, dry, dusty, with an endless sky. The middle part of the memoir is set in suburban Phoenix in the 1980s, socially competitive, full of children of Midwestern divorces, breeding ground for skinheads, with the population of the city doubling from Molly's birth there in the early 70s to when she leaves home at age 18. The ending of the memoir takes place in 1990-93 Seattle and Olympia, a time of great music and the Riot Grrl social movement.

      Longview. 12th St. and Indian School. If you’re not from the Southwest, please discard any mystical notion of vortexes. Forget the Kokopelli bent over his flute or the howling coyote with a bandana around its neck. Forget Arizona Highways. Instead imagine a homeless guy snoozing on a dusty canal bank, an upside-down grocery cart stuck in that muddy canal at low tide. Imagine the cars on Indian School Road whooshing by the closed-down and fenced-off Indian School itself, then the pawn shop, the tattoo joint, the fabric remnant store, and the Royal Fork Buffet.

      Posts: 1
      Joined: 04 Mar 2020, 22:54

      Re: Seven Assignments for New York Pitch Writers

      #25 Post by MichaelMcSweeneyP6 » 09 Mar 2020, 07:27

      Michael McSweeney


      Story Statement: John Goodwell confronts the grief over his sister's heroin overdose as he is swept up in the crusade of a self-proclaimed superhero who is waging a war against a suburban town's drug-dealing underworld.

      Antagonist: Heroman -- known as "the man" in the story -- is the subject of John and his friend Lukas's home-made documentary. The man believes he is a superhero destined to wage a one-man war on the criminal underbelly of the fictional town of Montford, Massachusetts. In reality, he is an unhinged victim of a life of drug addiction who is acting out a violent fantasy in order to hide from his own tragic past. Viewed by John and Lukas as a hero, he is actually a danger to those around him -- self-destruction and death personified.

      Current Title: HEROMAN

      Comparables: TAIPEI by Tao Lin; LESS THAN ZERO by Bret Easton Ellis; August: Osage County by Tracy Letts > All deal with the psychological and emotional damage wrought by addiction and the loss of loved ones. Within these stories, characters are forced to confront their grief and find a way past it -- or fail.

      Main Conflict: John helps his friend Lukas make a local documentary, and they are soon caught up in the violent campaign of Heroman in his one-man war against Montford's criminal underworld. The choice they have to make: do they continue to follow him to the end of his journey?

      Secondary Conflict: John is stuck in a cycle of grief and inaction. His involvement in Lukas's movie and the man throws his life askew. He continues to be wracked with guilt over the death of his sister, with whom he was very close. He is upset because he feels like he failed to see the signs leading up to her overdose and prevent it from happening. The "hero", to him, is a manifestation of the power to right the wrong that he does not possess.

      Setting: HEROMAN is set in the fictional town of Montford, Massachusetts. Montford was a nice, classic American town -- but now it's full of needles and decay and familiar pain. Through Montford and its citizens, we see the U.S. opioid crisis and those caught up in it. The book takes us through Montford's endless residential mazes, its wooded paths, a commercial center in economic decline, and a town common with a monument to a more glorious past at its center. We see the happy side of American town life -- Fourth of July parades, local diners, friends partying together -- as well as the sad side -- addiction, loss, and decay.

      Post Reply