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Samantha Wilhelm

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  1. NAME: Samantha Wilhelm NOVEL NAME: The Last Touch (the first book of a planned series) GENRE: YA Dystopian Fantasy WORDS: 85K COMPARABLES: Book Comps: Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son meets Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me meets Neil Shusterman's Scythe Media Comps: Steven Knight’s See meets Avatar: The Legend of Korra PITCH: In Fovea, a dystopian interdimensional world hidden in the suburbs of Boston, people are born with magic powers aligned with the human senses. Some are born with the sight (to move objects around with their eyes), the scent (to smell impending doom), the hearing (to hear other’s thoughts), and the taste (to taste one’s blood and determine which sense they possess). Only one person in all of this world is bestowed with the sense of touch: the ability to give or take away these powers—and they must pass the touch on before they die, otherwise it will be gone forever. Clumsy seventeen-year-old Mason, responding to a yearning to prove himself, joins a secret group of rebels who call themselves the Unseen. They believe the magic senses must be purged from Fovea before their power destroys the world. While with the the Unseen, Mason meets Sarah who, following her mother’s mysterious death, becomes only the second person ever from the modern world to accidentally find herself in Fovea. Fearing the Unseen and the touch, the power-hungry governor's son, Pamos, has raised an army hell-bent on finding the person who possesses it so that he can kill them and ensure it’s gone for good. Sarah’s arrival in Fovea, however, sparks a new goal: to find a way to use the touch to possess all five senses, leave Fovea, and take control of the entire world. Mason wants to help Sarah return to her world, despite his budding feelings for her. Together they must find the person with the touch before Pamos and his army does, so that she is able to, and so that they may help the Unseen rid the world of the magic senses altogether—before it succumbs to Pamos’s wrath. PROSE: Part One: The Sight Chapter 1. Mason hoped that this day would be different, but despite the human eye being the only organ more complex than the brain, getting them to do what he needed them to do was a problem. It was the fourth time that evening that he stood in the common room squeezing them shut so tight that his eyebrows reached for his cheeks and sweat dripped from his forehead, leaving his hair stuck to it like a second skin. The task was supposed to be simple: he just had to make the book move. When he mustered the courage to open his eyes, the blurry shapes of his housemates came into focus. They were snickering. No stranger to this, he tried his best to ignore them. He took a deep breath in and drew his attention down to his feet. The thick, hardcover book waited for him in front of his boots, as if it was challenging him to a duel. He exhaled and glared at it. He tried to imagine its pages flipping through his fingers, but in his mind they felt too crisp and rough. So much so that he could almost feel the burn of a paper cut. The book didn’t move. No, no, that’s not right. He tried again and his palms began to sweat. He rubbed his clammy fingers together and this time could only imagine feeling the soggy limpness of a book that had been left out in the rain. Nothing. Ugh, no, that’s not it either. His eyes narrowed into a pinprick and the veins in his temples swelled in concentration, but the book wouldn’t budge. It sat still, taunting him at his toes. His caretaker, Timp, sat in the wicker chair across from him and the grey-flecked silhouette of his head eclipsed the sole window of the room. “It’s okay, you’ll get it soon. I promise,” he said, breaking what little concentration Mason had left. Muffled laughs erupted from where Cal and Daryl sat. They were sixteen, a whole year younger than Mason, but their books were planted firmly in their hands. Even Skylar, only eight years old, had managed to move his copy a few inches over on the ground. He sat proudly in the circle with a crooked-toothed grin, kicking out his feet that couldn’t reach the floor. "That’s enough from you two. This isn’t a competition! The Sight can require dedicated hours of practice,” said Timp. "Dedicated years for some,” laughed Cal into Daryl’s ear. Mason rolled his eyes. “Shut it, Cal.” "Both of you, enough,” Timp barked. “It can take years for some and it’s better that way.” Mason sunk into the knotty pine of his chair, wishing to become invisible. Timp turned to him and his smile cast nets of wrinkles up into the corners of his eyes. “Mason, just remember: with the Sight, your eyes aren’t just windows—they’re doors. In order to see what’s on the other side, you just gotta turn the knob.” Mason flashed a weak half-smile in response, but he hadn’t the slightest idea what he meant. Whenever he tried to use his Sight, there were never any doors, and definitely no knobs. Just an almost-adult who couldn’t figure out how to use his magic properly. It was humiliating. Timp stood up from his chair and stretched. “Everyone, listen up. This is important. I don’t want any of you to rely too much on your Senses. I mean that, even if the governor would have my head for it,” he said, looking tired. “Now, books away. Sight or no Sight, I don’t care how you go about it but there’s stew in the kitchen. Eat up and get to bed early tonight—all of you.” Stew again. If you could even call the rice and bland broth stew. Mason didn’t have the slightest bit of an appetite for it, so he shuffled himself out of the common room and past the cold-tiled kitchen, avoiding any eye contact with his peers. Having lived at the Home since he was a baby, he knew every creak of every step on the way up to the boys’ sleeping quarters. He also knew that despite how early he went to bed—tomorrow would be another full day of failure, just like every other day. He opened the door to rows of canvas cots greeting him from within. Laying down on his own, he freed an enormous sigh. The truth was, he wasn’t all that tired despite how much he wished he was, so he focused his eyes on the disheveled heap of blankets tangled at his feet. There were no distractions. No one waiting for him to mess up this time. He imagined the soft comfort of sleep. Two corners of the wool blanket lifted themselves into the air as if on their own accord. Mason’s mind, taut like the blanket itself, strained as the fabric pulled over his gangly legs. An itch. He became all too aware of the scratchy canvas of the cot beneath him. I just can’t do it. The blanket became slack and collapsed midway up his thighs. Useless. He seized the bedcovers with his hands and tossed them over his head, enclosing himself in blackness. For someone who was almost of age to leave the Home, he hadn’t the slightest idea as to where he would go or what he would be able to do when the time inevitably came. At eighteen, orphans in Homes were supposed to be sent off into Fovea to make something of themselves. Mason wished he had been lucky enough to be born with a more unique Sense, then maybe his inaptitude would go less noticed. He often dreamed of what it would be like to have the Hearing or the craft of the Taste. Hearers were exceptionally useful to merchants for their ability to know exactly what a customer might be looking for, simply by hearing their thoughts. And Tasters, they had plenty of work to do in the apothecaries with taste buds like theirs, able to taste anything and understand in an instant all the properties that it consists of. The Scent would have been nice, too. Skylar was already displaying an impressive perception of impending hazards with his. He would nervously pull at his hazel curls and rub at his button-like nose every time he felt like something bad was going to happen. Mason recalled the sting of jealousy from when he first found out, as he was the first child to come to the Home with a Sense beyond just the Sight. What did it really matter though? Despite how unique he wished he was, he was certain he’d be just as bad at any other Sense as he was with the one he did have. His eyes weren’t windows or doors, just a house so boarded up that not even any sunlight could sneak inside. Just like the wool sanctuary of his blankets.
  2. Assignment one: Write your story statement. Seventeen-year-old Mason, Sarah, and Patrick must learn to believe in themselves and decide whether or not to rid a dystopian world of its magical and destructive human senses. Assignment two: In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Everyone in the world of Fovea has the Sight (moving objects with one’s eyes), but some are born with the Hearing (hearing people’s thoughts), the Taste (tasting one’s blood and knowing exactly which Senses they possess), or the Scent (smelling premonitions). Over the years, some new Senses emerged—the Ceptors. These are powers of Pain, Balance, and Temperature. Prince Lance Acheron and his army of supporters, the Crossmerry, are desperate to protect these powers from the one individual left in Fovea with the power of the Touch (the ability to take away power and rid the world of all the magic Senses). The individual with the Touch must always pass it on before they die, otherwise, it will be gone forever. Lance, consumed by his fear of losing power, has gone so far as to murder the last ruler of Fovea—and his own sister—who both threatened to use the Touch to destroy the Senses. After discovering that his murder did not destroy the Touch, after all, Lance and his army are desperate to seek out whoever is hiding with it—and kill them. Assignment three: List three options for a breakout title. 1. unSENSEational 2. A Song of the Senses 3. Unheard, Unseen, Untouched Assignment four: Develop two smart comparables to your novel. 1. Scythe — Similar in writing style, this YA work follows the POVs of two teens who, like Mason, Sarah, and Patrick, are thrown into the middle of a conflict between two very opposing factions. Instead of deciding whether people should wield the power over life and death, the protagonists within my work are presented with the decision of magic senses or no magic senses. Both stories feature politics, murder, and protagonists discovering who they really are. 2. Seasons of the Storm — Comparable to my work is this YA’s unique magic system. Whereas this story has the physical embodiments of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, my story consists of the physical magical embodiments of the human senses (Sight, Sound, Taste, Hear, & Touch). Both works also speak on themes of love, friendship, death, and rebellion. Assignment five: Write your own hook line/logline with conflict and core wound following the format given. When three teenagers battling self-doubt, loss, and trauma find themselves in a physical war over the fate of a magical world’s human senses, they must learn to overcome their demons and feel before a murderous prince purges the world of the sense of touch forever. Assignment six: (A) 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. (B) Sketch out a scenario for the “secondary conflict” involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? What is the nature of it? Because I have three main protagonists, I will do this for all three of them: 1. (A) Mason has never been good at his Sight. In a world where he could have been born with a more remarkable Sense (perhaps the Scent, Hearing, or Taste), he wishes more than anything that he could at least be good with the one he does possess. It makes him feel like an embarrassment and a failure in his society. When Mason tries to use his Sight to rescue a stranger and fails, his actions result in his close friends being captured by the Crossmerry and then catapult him into being involved in a political war. Mason blames himself and his lack of skill completely, and it fuels his need to be the one to rescue them. (B) Mason teams up with a rebel group called the Unseen, led by a charismatic and gregarious Garth, and his caretaker, Timp, who both put him through rigorous training with his Sight. Despite Mason’s participation and determination to make his caretaker proud in the grueling training, Timp and Garth won’t let him join them and the Unseen on their mission to stop Lance because of his lack of skill and progress. 2. (A) Sarah struggles to come to terms with and accept her mother’s death by suicide. Since her mother was a huge inspiration for confidence, without her, Sarah feels that she has none at all. At home she needs: to be considered cool amongst her peers, the constant distraction of social media, and a small ballerina figurine that reminds her of her mother in order to feel okay. So when she finds herself in Fovea and thrown into a war without most of these distractions, she battles with processing, feeling, moving on from her traumas, and finding the strength and courage from within herself. Example scene: During a heartwarming conversation with Mason, where she is being vulnerable about her past, she decides to let him hold onto the ballerina figure she holds tightly to her chest. When Mason tries to get it to dance using his Sight and the ballerina falls, Sarah panics. (B) Sarah winds up with the Unseen alongside Mason and develops feelings for him despite knowing that their path will ultimately fork. 3. (A) Patrick grows up in the modern world a misfit. Having been really born in Fovea, Patrick possesses magic powers: the Sight, and all three Ceptors (Pain, Movement, Temperature). Due to him hiding his powers from everyone for his entire life out of fear of being a freak, Patrick is reclusive and for that, he is a subject of constant bullying. The only person who ever stands up for him and has his back is Sarah, and it is because of this that he is completely and unrequitedly in love with her. When Sarah discovers the world of Fovea and goes missing, it sends Patrick into a spiral of destruction and morally grey decisions as he realizes just how much he is capable of with his powers. (B) Patrick discovers that his true family and heritage are in Fovea and that Prince Lance Acheron is his blood relative. Finally feeling like he belongs somewhere and that he is applauded for his powers instead of being coined a freak, Patrick must choose between belonging and doing what is right. Final Assignment: Sketch out your settings in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? The story takes place in two worlds: The world of Fovea and modern-day Massachusetts. Most of the story takes place in Fovea though, with the only scenes in Massachusetts happening in the first and second acts. Those include scenes at a local high school, a local concert at a dive bar, and a mysterious underground chamber behind Patrick’s house that is filled with curious antiques, junk, and the base of three massive converged trees. Fovea is a dying world ruled by these powerful human senses. There are devastating droughts, scarce food, and ruined villages due to negligence and the destructive nature of some of the magic-bound senses. Because the people of Fovea have relied so heavily on their magic, they have not quite revolutionized the way the modern world has. Thus, they get around in horse and carriage, write with quills, and send letters by bird. The story begins in one of the villages of Fovea, where Mason and his other orphaned friends live in a home run by a caretaker. Despite the loving family nature of the home and its caretaker, the home is dirty and there is barely enough food to feed everyone. Everyone sleeps in shared dormitories on cots. In Mason’s village square, as with many of them, everything is grey and dirty. The small, well-spaced wooden houses of the village grow into huddles of cramped, stone buildings, empty storefronts, dusty pubs, and abandoned merchant’s carts. Mason’s actions in the village square send him and his friends a few hours' ride out past the square, over the Singing Mountains, and through a valley beside the only green part of Fovea—the Iris Forest. Beyond the forest, they arrive at the Crossmerry’s headquarters, the Cept. The Cept is a giant sandstone building with polished, arched windows that are paneled and barred. Swarms of black carriages sit outside its steel, web-like gates and a massive, pitch-dark door painted with the Crossmerry’s crest is its entrance. Inside there are glossy marble stairs and Crossmerry in their umber-colored uniforms bustling about. There are many hallways with many different labeled rooms. It is within this building that the Crossmerry perform questioning of their prisoners, use their Tasters to test people for the Touch, and train new recruits to their cause. The inevitable escape from the Cept takes the reader deep inside the dense and vibrant Iris Forest, where we visit an old Tatster’s wooden alchemy cabin, overgrown with plants. From here we journey to the Sanctum of the Unseen, which is the base camp for the rebellion shielded by a protective canopy of vegetation. Over a dozen timber cabins and straw huts dwell here, lined neatly in rows with fire pits dusted between them. In the center of the camp is the Inner Sanctum, a church-like structure with a splintery, arched doorway and a bow roof. This is where the leader of the Unseen stays. The story guides us west past dried-up gulches garnished with yellowing, brittle weeds, to where the Crossmerry live. Here, brick barracks with red tin roofs circle an immense stone tower. From here we travel to the castle, where King Acheron and the prince, Lance, live. The castle stands high in the sky with five towers and a door that is also branded with the crest of the Crossmerry. A wooden drawbridge separates visitors from its cobblestone entrance. It is heavily guarded by members of the Crossmerry, who often have to skirmish with local insurgents who view the king and prince as traitors for what Lance had done to the previous king. Inside, the high loft ceilings are painted gold and the walls are flanked by engraved oak doors. And lastly, the end takes place back in the Iris Forest, where the imposing converged trees from the modern world also exist. This is the only entrance between the two worlds.
  3. Assignment one: Write your story statement. Seventeen-year-olds Mason, Sarah, and Patrick must learn to believe in themselves and decide whether or not to rid a dystopian world of its magical and destructive human senses. Assignment two: In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Everyone in the world of Fovea has the Sight (moving objects with one’s eyes), but some are born with the Hearing (hearing people’s thoughts), the Taste (tasting one’s blood and knowing exactly which Senses they posses), or the Scent (smelling premonitions). Over the years, some new Senses emerged—the Ceptors. These are powers of Pain, Balance, and Temperature. Prince Lance Acheron, and his army of supporters, the Crossmerry, are desperate to protect these powers from the one individual left in Fovea with the power of the Touch (the ability to take away power and rid the world of all the magic Senses). The individual with the Touch must always pass it on before they die, otherwise it will be gone forever. Lance, consumed by his fear of losing power, has gone so far as to murder the last ruler of Fovea—and his own sister—who both threatened to use the Touch to destroy the Senses. After discovering that his murder did not destroy the Touch after all, Lance and his army are desperate to seek out whoever is hiding with it—and kill them. Assignment three: List three options for a breakout title. 1. Unsensational (spelled out like unSENSEational) 2. A Song of the Senses 3. Unheard, Unseen, Untouched Assignment four: Develop two smart comparables to your novel. 1. Scythe — Similar in writing style, this YA work follows the POVs of two teens who, like Mason, Sarah, and Patrick, are thrown into the middle of a conflict between two very opposing factions. Instead of deciding whether people should wield the power over life and death, the protagonists within my work are presented with the decision of magic senses or no magic senses. Both stories feature politics, murder, and protagonists discovering who they really are. 2. Seasons of the Storm — Comparable to my work is this YA’s unique magic system. Whereas this story has the physical embodiments of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, my story consists of the physical magical embodiments of the human senses (Sight, Sound, Taste, Hear, & Touch). Both works also speak on themes of love, friendship, death, and rebellion. Assignment five: Write your own hook line/logline with conflict and core wound following the format given. When three teenagers battling self-doubt, loss, and trauma find themselves in the midst of a physical war over the fate of the world’s magic human senses, they must overcome their own demons and ultimately decide which side they are on. Assignment six: (A) 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. (B) Sketch out a scenario for the “secondary conflict” involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? What is the nature of it? Because I have three main protagonists, I will do this for all three of them: 1. (A) Mason has never been good at his Sight. In a world where he could have been more with a more remarkable Sense (perhaps the Scent, Hearing, or Taste), he wishes more than anything that he could at least be good with the one he does possess. It makes him feel like an embarrassment and failure in his society. When Mason tries to use his Sight to rescue a stranger and fails, his actions result in his close friends being captured by the Crossmerry and then catapult him into being involved in a political war. Mason blames himself and his lack of skill completely, and it fuels his need to be the one to rescue them. (B) Mason teams up with a rebel group called the Unseen, led by a charismatic and gregarious Garth, and his caretaker, Timp, who both put him through rigorous training with his Sight. Despite Mason’s participation and determination to make his caretaker proud in the grueling training, Timp and Garth won’t let him join them and the Unseen on their mission to stop Lance because of his lack of skill and progress. 2. (A) Sarah struggles to come to terms with and accept her mother’s death by suicide. Since her mother was a huge inspiration for confidence, without her, Sarah feels that she has none at all. At home she needs: to be considered cool amongst her peers, the constant distraction of social media, and a small ballerina figurine that reminds her of her mother in order to feel okay. So when she finds herself in Fovea and thrown into a war without most of these distractions, she battles with processing, feeling, and moving on from her traumas and finding the strength and courage from within herself. Example scene: During a heartwarming conversation with Mason, where she is being vulnerable about her past, she decides to let him hold onto the ballerina figure she holds tightly to her chest. When Mason tries to get it to dance using his Sight and the ballerina falls, Sarah panics. (B) Sarah winds up with the Unseen alongside Mason, and develops feelings for him despite knowing that their paths will ultimately fork. 3. (A) Patrick grows up in the modern world a misfit. Having been really born in Fovea, Patrick possesses magic powers: the Sight, and all three Ceptors (Pain, Movement, Temperature). Due to him hiding his powers from everyone for his entire life out of fear of being a freak, Patrick is reclusive and for that he is a subject of constant bullying. The only person who ever stands up for him and has his back is Sarah, and it is because of this that he is completely and unrequitedly in love with her. When Sarah discovers the world of Fovea and goes missing, it sends Patrick into a spiral of destruction and morally grey decisions as he realizes just how much he is capable of with his powers. (B) Patrick discovers that his true family and heritage is in Fovea and that Prince Lance Acheron is his blood relative. Finally feeling like he belongs somewhere and that he is applauded for his powers instead of being coined a freak, Patrick must choose between belonging and doing what is right. Final Assignment: Sketch out your settings in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? The story takes place in two worlds: The world of Fovea and modern day Massachusetts. Most of the story takes place in Fovea though, with the only scenes in Massachusetts happening in the first and second act. Those include scenes at a local high school, a local concert at a dive bar, and a mysterious underground chamber behind Patrick’s house that is filled with curious antiques, junk, and the base of three massive converged trees. Fovea is a dying world ruled by these powerful human senses. There are devastating draught, scarce food, and ruined villages due to negligence and the destructive nature of some of the magic-bound senses. Because the people of Fovea have relied so heavily on their magic, they have not quite revolutionized the way the modern world has. Thus, they get around in horse and carriage, write with quills, and send letters by bird. The story begins in one of the villages of Fovea, where Mason and his other orphaned friends live in a home run by a caretaker. Despite the loving family nature of the home and its caretaker, the home is dirty and there is barely enough food to feed everyone. Everyone sleeps in shared dormitories on cots. In Mason’s village square, as with many of them, everything is grey and dirty. The small, well-spaced wooden houses of the village grow into huddles of cramped, stone buildings, empty storefronts, dusty pubs, and abandoned merchant’s carts. Mason’s actions in the village square send him and his friends a few hours' ride out past the square, over the Singing Mountains, and through a valley beside the only green part of Fovea—the Iris Forest. Beyond the forest, they arrive at the Crossmerry’s headquarters, the Cept. The Cept is a giant sandstone building with polished, arched windows that are paneled and barred. Swarms of black carriages sit outside its steel, web-like gates and a massive, pitch-dark door painted with the Crossmerry’s crest is its entrance. Inside there are glossy marble stairs and Crossmerry in their umber-colored uniforms bustling about. There are many hallways with many different labeled rooms. It is within this building that the Crossmerry perform questioning of their prisoners, use their Tasters to test people for the Touch, and train new recruits to their cause. The inevitable escape from the Cept takes the reader deep inside the dense and vibrant Iris Forest, where we visit an old Tatster’s wooden alchemy cabin, overgrown with plants. From here we journey to the Sanctum of the Unseen, which is the base camp for the rebellion shielded by a protective canopy of vegetation. Over a dozen timber cabins and straw huts dwell here, lined neatly in rows with fire pits dusted between them. In the center of the camp is the Inner Sanctum, a church-like structure with a splintery, arched doorway and a bow roof. This is where the leader of the Unseen stays. The story guides us west past dried-up gulches garnished with yellowing, brittle weeds, to where the Crossmerry live. Here, brick barracks with red tin roofs circle an immense stone tower. From here we travel to the castle, where King Acheron and the prince, Lance, live. The castle stands high in the sky with five towers and a door that is also branded with the crest of the Crossmerry. A wooden drawbridge separates visitors from its cobblestone entrance. It is heavily guarded by members of the Crossmerry, who often have to skirmish with local insurgents who view the king and prince as traitors for what Lance had done to the previous king. Inside, the high loft ceilings are painted gold and the walls are flanked with engraved oak doors. And lastly the end takes place back in the Iris Forest, where the imposing converged trees from the modern world also exist. This is the only entrance between the two worlds.
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