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Posts posted by Melissa

  1. FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement. 


    Neuroscientist moves into an 18th century manor where inexplicable events and a connection to a woman from the past force him to suspend his view of reality and reconsider his relationship to the past and future.


    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.


    Antagonists of Miles story arc:

                - Olivia: a force that keeps Miles entrenched in reality and routine and who is eager to forge a future that Miles is uncertain he wants.

                - Connor: a threat to Miles’ growing relationship with an old flame and a blockade to the future he might want. *Make Miles’ antagonists stronger*- make Connor a more impactful antagonist.  Perhaps he’s not a student but another professor in the same field as Miles.  Perhaps he’s sneaky?  Trying to undermine Miles’ position at Oxford?  Threatened by Miles in the faculty hierarchy?

                - Dimitri: challenges Miles’ view of reality and his relationship to time and the essence of who we are.

                - Miles:  as a scientist, his training confines his mind within the scope of science and reason.  Will he open his mind or be doomed to repeat the past?


    Antagonists of Margaret story arc:

                - John Weston: a handsome, wealthy, and socially superior suitor who forces Margaret to choose between a secure future or disregard every expectation in pursuit of a love she could scarcely fathom.

                - Lady Moore: a maternal embodiment of 19th century expectations that, for the sake of her societal status, family, and future, a daughter must marry a man of wealth and good breeding.

                - Jane Weston: another force of societal expectation in the form of a peer, and a threat to the love Margaret might yet have. 


    *John Weston and Jane Weston should have a more direct negative effect on Will/Margaret (perhaps it is John’s mission to get Will out the way?)*


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


    Entangled, Entanglements in Time, The Inseparable Ties of Stars in the Firmament, A Persistent Illusion 


    FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: 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?


    Kate Morton- utilizes parallel storylines set in different time periods, usually one set in the present and the other(s) set, for example, in Victorian England.  My novel also entwines two parallel storylines, on set in the present and the other in Regency England.  The theme of uncovering a mystery also permeates both Kate Morton’s novels and this one.


    Deborah Harkness- The ‘All Souls’ trilogy explores magic and the concept of the past and time itself.  The theme of how each point in time affects the other is central to my story.  Harkness’s trilogy also utilizes two narrative voices, one of a young woman and the other of a man who exists a bit out of time.  My novel also interchanges between two perspectives, that of a young man in the present and a young woman from the past.


    FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound following the format above. Though you may not have one now, keep in mind this is a great developmental tool. In other words, you best begin focusing on this if you're serious about commercial publication.


    An Oxford Neuroscientist entrenched in evidence, logic, and reason moves into an 18th century manor and uncovers a 200-year-old diary of a young woman, the contents of which and the escalating inexplicable phenomena beg him to suspend his view of reality and reconsider his relationship to the past and future.


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

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


    Inner Conflict:


    Miles: Has dedicated and lived his life within the evidence-based comfort of science, at the expense, though he’d certainly not admit it, of important relationships.  Any threat to his identity and worldview would catalyze an existential crisis and make him wonder, ‘what was it all for?’  For example, Miles may have vivid knowledge of a place and item that he’d never visited or seen before like a particular amateur 19th century painting hanging in a small dusty room above an antique shop just off Broadstreet in Oxford, England.  He would know instantly that this room had been a bedroom a century or two ago and recall the exact placement of the furniture that no longer existed.  He recalled the painting would have hung on the cracked plaster wall opposite the small bed.  As a neuroscientist specialized in memory, Miles would endeavor to explain the phenomena, but the incomplete explanation that he would inevitably form would cause an uneasiness to settle in his bones.


    Margaret: Feels confined by the restrictions that 19th century British society imposes on her livelihood and future, her mother embodying these expectations and reminding Margaret frequently of her duty as a daughter to marry and marry well.  For example, Margaret dreads the impending ball at the Oxford Assembly Hall, from forced social exchange to dancing with strange men, if she would be so lucky as to be asked.  But as social convention requires of a young woman of marriageable age, Margaret must cast her net across these stuffy, crowded rooms where candles dripped low into the evening and polite giggles became obnoxious punch-induced guffaws.  Despite her mother’s needling and insistence, Margaret’s heart and attention are absent from these events, remaining in the library of Rosemond Park, lurking amongst her father’s impressive leather-bound literature.  Margaret wants nothing more than the freedom to decide what she wants for her future but knows that without the wealth and security of a husband, she may be able to do as she likes, but would forever be a burden to her family and most surely resented for it.


    Secondary Conflict:


    Miles: Conflict between Miles and girlfriend Olivia.  Miles begins to sense that what Olivia expects after leaving her job, family, and friends to move across the Atlantic for him and his new appointment at Oxford University is a higher level of commitment.  Through her agitation and short temper, Miles knows it is no longer enough for Olivia to simply be with him.  But was a marriage to Olivia what Miles wanted his future to be?  So certain Miles had been his entire life, about what schools to attend, degrees to pursue, friends to entertain, and unfashionable though functional clothes to adorn, that the mere notion of uncertainty caused his neural synapses to fire erratically and his head and heart to fizzle.   


    Margaret: Conflict between Margaret and close friend Will.  Understanding better than Margaret that their daily rhythm of strolls through the grounds of Rosemond Park, lessons in the library, and comfortable conversation will end with Margaret’s marriage, Will becomes agitated and distant as he endeavors to pave a future of his own, separate from Margaret. His agitation also stems from Margaret’s romantic and unrealistic ideas about what life should be.  Wanting for nothing and sheltered within the idyllic grounds of Rosemond Park with only her novels of mystery, adventure, and romance to form her identity and worldview, Margaret does not understand that if she does not marry well, her circumstances could become unimaginably worse.  The son of a poor Irish doctor, Will understands what could be.  In frustration he endeavors to convey this, but he too clings to the fantasy that he and Margaret could continue as they had, in each other's pleasurably familiar company.   


    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.


    Rosemond Park: a manor built in the 1700s of light stone and English Baroque architecture popular of the time. The manor was consistently occupied by the same family since its conception in the mid 1700’s, through the Georgians and Victorians until the Great War when it was briefly turned over for the war effort as a convalescence home for recovering officers.  Having survived the war, the Lord of the manor took up residence once again, only for his sons to endure a similar fate at the hands of World War II.  Only the younger son returned to reclaim his ancestral home, but by then he’d seen too much to sit in his large empty house full of ghosts, memories, and echoes of happier times.  He left for New York, only to find the encroaching height of buildings and the masses of humanity claustrophobic.  He eventually found his way to the sprawling savannahs and hot dry sun of South Africa where he married a fair-haired, blue-eyed Boer woman and had a son.  Unlike his father, this son would grow up tanned in these liberating, feral lands.  But this son harbored intellectual ambitions and had heard the fables of his father’s home and the great stone universities.  He would leave his Dutch-African mother and war wearied father in the vastness of the plains and journey back to Oxford and a house known as Rosemond Park.  He would attend Oxford University as many of his ancestors before him, and dine, read, and rest where they once had.  He would marry a smart English girl with hazel eyes and curly hair.  A year later a son would follow.  George, they would call him.  George Edward Moore.


    Rosemond Park (present day):  Now in his late sixties, George Moore, the owner of Rosemond Park has opened sections of the manor for rent.  Miles, a young American Neuroscientist and newly appointed professor at Oxford University, rents the west wing of the second level with his girlfriend.  As Miles explores the manor seemingly frozen in time, he uncovers the two-hundred year old diary of a young woman who had once lived there.  As the weeks wear on, Miles experiences the unnerving sensation that the place is heavy with centuries of emotion and memory, and that the echoes of the past yearn to be heard. 


    Rosemond Park 1812:  Margaret Moore is a young woman in the Regency living with her parents and brother Edward, when he is not frolicking elsewhere, in her ancestral home Rosemond Park.  Having had no brothers, Margaret’s mother inherited Rosemond Park which was subsequently inherited by her father, a lowly professor and quite beneath the likes of the daughter of a Baron, once they married.  But Margaret’s mother had married for love and, though she did not regularly regret this decision, she did not wish the same for Margaret, for Margaret had her older brother Edward who would inherit everything.  Margaret is therefore foisted into as many balls and social gatherings as the season permits and she loathes every moment, longing to curl into the armchair in the library and read one of her many beloved novels.  Her dear friend Will would understand, he would sooner have joined her in the library or take a long stroll through the woods around the manor than stand for such social frivolities.


    Sub Settings:


    Oxford University (present day): Miles is a newly appointed professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Oxford University.  When not teaching in the creaking wood-paneled lecture hall, Miles can be found under the over bright florescent light of his whitewashed lab and small adjoining office with an old wood desk upon which written imprints of a heavy handed former resident can be felt upon its worn surface.  The former resident of this lab happened to be an Australian Theoretical physicist, now located in a smaller lab down the hall.  Miles met the man and was not surprised to find him exactly how he expected based on his previous experience with academic physicists; a little odd, dreamy, and heartily dosed with arrogance.  


    Thornwell Estate 1812: The impressive stately home of the Weston family conjured of weather worn and water-stained stone.  Portraits of thin-nosed ancestral Westons line the long dark halls and one might get the impression of entering a vast cave system, leading every now and then to a cavernous space full of echoes and precious things.  It is this estate that John Weston shall inherit and what the future Lady Weston shall keep.  Charismatic and pleasing to the eye, it would not be so difficult to fall in love with Mr. Weston, thought Margaret after their meeting at the Oxford Hall Assembly.  But there was something unnerving in his black eyes and in the turn of his sharp nose that Margaret could not place.


    Boar’s Hill Fair 1812: An annual fall fair on the outskirts of Oxford where Margaret is habitually forbidden to go but who has on occasion broken this command in the company of her elder brother Edward, the charming, cherished son who seemed to be the only one of their family to get away with anything, including their father.  With her brother being much more absent from home than years past, Margaret entangles Will in her scheme to attend the festivities.  She would not miss the parade of piglets or the acrobatic men on stilts waving colorful ribbons through the air far above them on Edward’s account.  No indeed.


    London, England 1812:  After much contemplation, Will decides that the best opportunities for him to practice medicine reside in a London Hospital.  London is also conveniently far enough away from Oxford to forget about Margaret and forge his own future, apart from hers.  It pains him even more to leave when he sees the distress and confusion in Margaret’s wide eyes, but the pain if he remained would surely be far worse.  


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