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Pre-event Assignments, Readings, and Guides - All Events

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New York Pitch The following are major pre-event assignments, readings, and guides (not including Part IV - Algonkian Novel Development Program) for Algonkian workshops and other events. Downloading, forwarding, or copying these assignments without the prior approval of Algonkian Writer Conferences is not permitted, however, routine utilization of the content in its extant form is permitted.

  • Parts I, II, and II Pre-Event (includes eBook) 
  • Execution of the Pitch Model
  • Assignment Recap and Dramatic Act Structure
  • The Necessity of Publisher's Marketplace
  • Prep for Agent Query Process

NOTE: this is an information forum, not a response forum. Utilize the appropriate forums for posting necessary responses.



Pre-event work as follows. This is Part I of four parts. 
We include a seven short assignments forum that will persuade you to consider several crucial and foundational aspects of your commercial novel project. Think of them as a primer. Complete them at your convenience and post the responses. Your responses to these assignments will be reviewed by faculty with an aim towards achieving a better understanding of your project and its current stage of development.
We recommend writing down the answers in a separate file and then copying them into the forum to prevent any possible loss of data. To enter this forum (Algonkian Author Connect), click on the “Sign Up” link, top right and follow the instructions regarding password, email, etc.
Once done, click on the assignments link above.




The second instance of pre-event necessity as follows. Read carefully and complete in the proper order as noted. You might become a bit astonished from time to time but push through. It all makes perfect sense. 
Now comes the Algonkian eBook. If you do not wish to utilize Amazon, the same booklet is found here as a PDF. In either case, you must faithfully absorb everything beginning with the first chapter, “Writer Ego and the Imaginary Bob,” and continue through “Settings are 60%.” This is vital to your potential success. It places emphasis on all the crucial core elements of novel development and editing that *will* be discussed in formal sessions. 
If you arrive at an Algonkian event not knowing the difference between a plot point and a pinch point, you will be swimming upstream from the first day and thereby seriously disadvantage yourself. Avoiding the study of proper technique won’t get novels published much less developed in a manner both artful and professional. 
att.jpg Okay, much to do! Is it ever enough? No, but don’t recoil or hesitate if portions of the e-Book fail to comport with what you’ve been told elsewhere (writer groups, conferences, chat boards, etc.) because the odds are extremely high that what you’ve been told is wrong, if not potentially ruinous.
Keep in mind, we all stand on the shoulders of those magnificent and capable authors who’ve preceded us.
And remember too, there are no great writers, only great rewriters.




Quite often, after scoring well in a pitch session, the faculty person will ask us, “But can they write?” Premise and plot prod the necessary attention, but so many writers don’t cross the line because their actual prose narrative is not as competitive as it should be. Fact.

att.jpg In response to this circumstance we’ve created an online forum that serves two purposes. First, to demonstrate the best methods and techniques that should rightfully be considered when it comes to the creation of competitive narrative regardless of genre. Second, to act as a place where editors and agents will see the quality of your work up close.

Use one of the two links above to get started asap. Simply open the topic linked above, read the guidelines and all the examples linked to Novel Writing on Edge, then edit your own opening hook accordingly. Once done, post at least 500 words by replying to the topic post. If you cannot include first pages at this time another good sample will suffice.
Btw, you should already have an Author Connect member login if you’ve opened and utilized the Part I assignment (Seven Assignments). If you have not, please do so at the first opportunity.
The Execution of the Pitch Model
Like so many other things, this is crucial to your success.  
Before you can sell a viable commercial novel to a publishing house, you must work towards the goal of writing a viable commercial novel while simultaneously learning how to artfully pitch it. You will have a minute to deliver the actual pitch, and if you think this is not enough time, think again. It is more than enough. The idea is to communicate clearly and hook your listener. Your pitch must include a SCENE SET (as necessary), a focus on your PROTAGONIST (tell it through their point of view), sufficient PLOT TENSION deriving from a PLOT POINT (an event/circumstance/action that significantly changes the course of the story), and finally, a wrap with a CLIFFHANGER.
So what's a cliffhanger? Regardless of the genre, literary or thriller or SF, the cliffhanger begs the ultimate question, and it’s always the same in one way or another: WILL BECKY SAVE THE FARM AND LIVE TO TELL THE STORY? Once done, you want the conference editor or agent to ask for more.
att.jpg Please review the following guidance at Novel Writing on Edge where you’ll find two pitch models and further elaboration. You will be using this model at the Algonkian event:
Assignment Recap and Dramatic Act Structure

By this time, you should have in your possession three main assignment mails, namely, Part I (Seven Assignments), Part II (Development eBook), and Part III (Prose Narrative Enhancement).  These assignments serve two purposes:  to enable you to conceive and write a more perfect novel, one that might actually sell; and secondly, to instill within you with a language and knowledge base that will make meetings with publishing and tv/film professionals far more productive.

Now, the following statement should sound familiar. If a member of the faculty asks you to define your first major plot point, inciting incident, or last major reversal before climax, you must comprehend the nature of these plot elements (for starters!), and deliver the response in a manner that demonstrates you are a professional. Amateurs *always* stick out, and they say “um” a lot, thereby failing to live up to our motto:
From the heart, but smart.
Besides displaying a high concept premise, the faculty also expect your genre or upmarket tale to be creatively developed using a certain approach and structure—one also utilized by screenplay writers—namely, the dramatic act structure. Whether the novel is a single, coherent plot line, or a parallel plot line with two major protagonists, the overall story progression manifests a readily identifiable endoskeleton, so to speak, i.e., an array of familiar points and notes along a story arc from beginning to end. There is more than one version of this, but they all achieve pretty much the same results: the Three Act, Nine Act, and the Six Act Two-Goal. A very good example can be found here.
The above is included with your assignments and its importance cannot be over stressed. One of THE biggest reasons novels by unpublished writers fail is because the author is not sufficiently adept at plotting. A novel with a great start but a “saggy middle” always results from an inadequate understanding of how plot must work in order to satisfy the needs and expectations of readers, agents, and editorsQuite often, writers will bring stories and pitches to the NY event that are nothing other than circumstances, sets, and characters mixed into a quasi-amorphous stew, whirlpooled into forced fusion like fragments of a television season.
A sign this is the case can almost always be found in the pitch itself.
Acquisition editors, experienced agents, and other professionals usually don’t expect to get much traction out of the usual writer conference, but our events always surprise them. We mean to keep it that way. Our reps are on the line, and the better you look, the better we look. The more subs requested, the more contracts cut, the more willing our faculty are likely to return. No question. We also love the publicity and energy generated when the contracts flow.
Btw, if the information above doesn’t square with what you’ve been told up until now, then choose the wise path of change.
Rewrite as necessary.
The Necessity of Publisher's Marketplace
att.jpg You are well advised to join Publisher’s Marketplace. Why? Because it lists recent sales by agents to publishers broken down by genre and provides a neat story-hook line (log line) for each sale that serves as a potential model for you. PM shows precisely what type of work is now being published in your chosen genre, thereby providing a comparison for your own work, and as a bonus, you learn the identities of productive “in the loop” agents (good to know regardless of circumstances).
All in all, if commercial publication is your goal, PM is invaluable. The search feature is efficient and fairly straightforward. Membership is around $20 per month, but well worth it.
The type of knowledge PM provides will give you a distinct edge over the competition.
Prep for Querying Agents 
Though addressing the query-agent stage of your long, hard slog to becoming a published author might seem premature at this point, questions concerning this process nevertheless always arise at Algonkian events. Rather than await the next round of probes on this matter, we’ve decided to link you to the article below. It succinctly covers the critical prep steps you must take prior to sending anything like a query to a commercial agent (if and when it comes to that). Also, it effectively overrides the usual incomplete and/or foolish advice on this matter which currently infects the Internet like an electronic pox. With these answers already in hand, further questions at the conference, in theory, should be more informed, and therefore, the answers more productive.

Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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