THE NOVEL'S "AGON" - PRIMARY CONFLICT
Non-negotiable facts of conflict in the context of dramatic storyline - All Genres
First and foremost, the aspiring author must conceive and plan the steps of central conflict, the major source of drama that drives through the core of the novel from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax, the "falling action" of denouement to follow. This is true for nearly every genre-- thrillers, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, historical, etc.--with the exception of the most literary of works.
Conflict, tension, complication, drama--all basically related and serving to prevent a reader's eyes from straying. Since the early days of literary time, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to damnation. So what is the best way to prevent this? What is the first and most important structural step to avoid quiet and fixate the reader?
At the B.C. dawn of drama, conflict was known as the agon (the central contest - according to Aristotle). In order to hold the interest of the audience (or reader), a protagonist must strive to overcome an opposing force (the antagonist), thus creating a primary conflict--whatever form that may take. The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and according to later critics such as Plutarch, the struggle should ideally be "ennobling" in some manner, even if death follows. Is that always true these days?
Regardless, first and foremost, the aspiring author must therefore conceive and plan the primary conflict, the major source of drama that drives through the core of the novel from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax, the "falling action" of denouement to follow. This is true for nearly every genre--thrillers, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, historical, etc.--with the exception of the most literary of works.
Consider the nature of conflict as presented in the novel hook lines below:
The Hand of Fatima (historical fiction)
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 (women's fiction)
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 (young adult fantasy)
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.
The above diverse examples define classic drama that creates conflict with real stakes. 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.
As a writer, keep in mind that if you cannot make the stakes of your novel clear via a pitch or query letter, the odds are you don't have any.
The St. Augustine Author-Mentor Novel Workshop provides an ideal mix of experienced professionals dedicated to working one-on-one with aspiring authors to not only teach them the knowledge and skills they must have to be successful, but also provide them with valuable commentary on their completed novel or work-in-progress. All writers will work with a Pulitzer winner, a Hollywood Producer, a senior publishing house editor, as well as two literary agents and a seasoned writing workshop leader.
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest city in America. But what is the oldest city in America like? Imagine the French Quarter in New Orleans meets Santa Cruz, California, and as a bonus, a miles-long strip of white Cocoa Beach thrown in for good measure. The best of classic Florida and old-world Spain fuse to form a unique world that provides us with the ideal location for both a stimulating and productive writer event.
The St. Augustine Author-Mentor Novel Workshop creates an intimate and professional environment that combines private meetings with small-group workshops, thus enabling aspiring authors to wisely approach the writing and publication of their novel. At the St. Augustine event, aspiring authors will: 1) work one-on-one with authors and savvy market professionals; 2) acquire the market skills and advanced story and narrative technique they must know to become published; 3) learn the necessary inside mechanics of the publishing business; and 4) leave the workshop with a detailed plan to work towards publication of their novel... [continued]
The Algonkian Novel Writing Courses were brainstormed by the faculty and director of Algonkian Writer Conferences, and later tested by NYC publishing professionals for practical and time-sensitive utilization by genre (YA, SF/F, mystery/thriller, WF, etc.) writers as well as upmarket literary writers who desire to become career authors. Therefore, if you wish to begin or restart your novel, rewrite it with guidance, or just reality-check the progress with our faculty professionals, you've come to the right place.
The goal is to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, to make your novel as commercially competitive as it needs to be on all levels while avoiding critical missteps, bad advice, and exorbitant prices for classes and mentorship. And it does not matter what stage your novel is currently in, or where you are in your writing life. The program steps and methodology, as well as the faculty, enable you to learn and grow as a writer together with your novel, and at your own pace. Once you accomplish the program, your work is thoroughly reviewed by our professionals and together you set publication goals, discuss agent representation options, and engage in manuscript and project edits as needed and appropriate ... [continued]
The Algonkian Writer Retreat and Novel Workshop now includes new pre-event craft studies as well as a pre-event phone consultation, a broader range of faculty, new and vital workshops, as well as extended personal time with business professionals. In keeping with the spirit of this place and the goals of this unique workshop retreat, you can be as goal-oriented or as hesitant in approach as you wish. You can show us your manuscript, improve your skills, have your work read by our writer mentors, attend our workshops, pitch a literary agent or two, whatever works for you, whatever helps you grow and discover your vision as a writer... [continued]
ALGONKIAN WRITER CONFERENCES WEBSITE
Algonkian Workshops, Conferences, and Retreats
Information and connections to Algonkian events throughout the year
including the New York Pitch, Algonkian and Monterey Novel Retreats, the
Write to Market Conference and The Santa Barbara A-M, plus writer
commentary, syllabus, articles, the new agent blog, and more. Notable
links include the Algonkian FAQ and the Event Comparison page ...
ALGONKIAN AUTHOR SALON.COM
Online Community For Writer Groups and Showcasing Work to Agents The
Algonkian Author Salon serves as an effective bridge between aspiring
authors and business professionals in commercial publishing. AAS editors
actively network with major New York publishers, as well as top
literary agents. Writers at the Algonkian Author Salon may join or form
effective writer critique groups ...
THE NEW YORK PITCH CONFERENCE
Algonkian Workshops, Writer Conferences, Retreats
The flag ship of the Algonkian writer events. If you can make it
here you'll make it national, and perhaps even land a few foreign rights sales.
Best acquisition editors and workshop leaders in NYC take you through
the paces of writing and pitching successful a commercial novel. Success rate speaks for itself. Notables include New York Pitch Conference News Page and Faculty page ...
ALGONKIAN NOVEL WRITING COURSES AND MS REVIEW
16 Course-Module Novel Incubator
Write or rewrite your novel as you progress through the online Algonkian
program a step at a time, the aim to make it as commercially
competitive as possible on all levels. Your work is reviewed by a
faculty professional who acts as your mentor, and together you set
publication goals and discuss representation options while engaging in
edits as needed ...
ALGONKIAN AUTHOR CONNECT AT AUTHORSALON.COM
Algonkian Online Forums and RSS Feed Board Home
of the Algonkian Novel Writing Program forums and 16 assignment modules
covering all aspects of market, structure, and craft; banners to Eudora
and Ray, All The Epiphany You Can Swallow, and more; AAS Commons and as
well as writer news feeds by Salon.Com, Women on Writing, Chuck
Sambuchino, Writer Unboxed, and Evil Editor ...
At the Algonkian Writer Retreat you can be as goal-focused or hesitant in approach as you wish. You can go to a workshop or two, discuss your novel with us, have your synopsis and writing samples read by our onsite mentors, or just clear your head and find your path, whatever works for you, whatever helps you grow as an aspiring author... [more]