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Introduction to Pre-event Assignments 

Algonkian Conferences The below seven assignments are vital to reaching an understanding of specific and critical core elements that go into the creation of a commercially viable genre novel or narrative non-fiction. Of course, there is more to it than this, as you will see, but here we have a good primer that assures we're literally all on the same page before the event begins.

You may return here as many times as you need to edit your topic post (login and click "edit"). Pay special attention to antagonists, setting, conflict and core wound hooks.

And btw, quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind and be aggressive with your work.

Michael Neff

Algonkian Conference Director

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att.jpg After you've registered and logged in, create your reply to this topic (button top right). Please utilize only one reply for all of your responses so the forum topic will not become cluttered. Also, 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!

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THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT

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? The goal? What must be done?

What must this person create? Save? Restore? Accomplish? Defeat?... Defy the dictator of the city and her bury brother’s body (ANTIGONE)? Struggle for control over 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 the plot line (see also "Core Wounds and Conflict Lines" below).

att.jpg FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement. 

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THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT

Antagonist (Photo Javert from "Les Misérables")

What are the odds of you having your manuscript published if the overall story and narrative fail to meet publisher demands for sufficient suspense, character concern, and conflict? Answer: none. You might therefore ask, what major factor makes for a quiet and 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 like a mallet hitting a side of cold beef? Answer: the unwillingness or inability of the writer to create a suitable antagonist who stirs and spices the plot hash.

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).

CONTINUE READING ENTIRE ARTICLE AT NWOE THEN RETURN HERE.

att.jpg 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.

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CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE

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.

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

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DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES

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. 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!

att.jpg FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: - Read this NWOE article on comparables then return here.

- 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?

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CORE WOUND AND THE PRIMARY CONFLICT 

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 at all times, and the best way to accomplish this is to create conflict and complications in the plot and narrative. Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you MUST have present in the novel. First part, the primary dramatic conflict which drives through the work from beginning to end, from first major plot point to final reversal, and finally resolving with an important climax. Next, secondary conflicts or complications that take various social forms - anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters. Finally, those various inner conflicts and core wounds all important characters must endure and resolve as the story moves forward.

But now, back to the PRIMARY DRAMATIC 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" or "hero") and the antagonist corresponding to the villain (whatever form that takes). The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and, according to later drama 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 HOOK LINES. Let's don't forget to consider the "core wound" of the protagonist. Please read this article at NWOE then return here.

  • 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 Djinn 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. Also, is the core wound obvious or implied?

att.jpg 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.

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OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

As noted above, 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."

att.jpg 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.

att.jpg 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?

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THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING

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.

CONTINUE TO READ THIS ARTICLE THEN RETURN.

att.jpg 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.

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Below are several links to part of an article or whole articles that we feel are the most valuable for memoir writers.

We have reviewed these and agree 110%.

MEMOIR WRITING - CHOOSE A SPECIFIC EVENT (good general primer)

NYBOOKEDITORS.COM

Are you thinking of writing a memoir but you're stuck? We've got the remedy. Check out our beginner's guide on writing an epic and engaging memoir.

MEMOIR MUST INCLUDE TRANSCENDENCE

MARIONROACH.COM

MEMOIR REQUIRES TRANSCENDENCE. Something has to happen. Or shift. Someone has to change a little. Or grow. It’s the bare hack minimum of memoir.

WRITE IT LIKE A NOVEL

JERRYJENKINS.COM

When it comes to writing a memoir, there are 5 things you need to focus on. If you do, your powerful story will have the best chance of impacting others.

MEMOIR ANECDOTES - HOW TO MAKE THEM SHINE

JERRYJENKINS.COM

Knowing how to write an anecdote lets you utilize the power of story with your nonfiction and engage your reader from the first page.

________________________

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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Hello! Nice to be a part of this. :)

Story Statement

The bookworm wants to be like the new girl. The new girl is good. 

Antagonist

Just like all of us, the bookworm’s true antagonist is herself. She is not the new girl.

Titles


Sinner’s Descent Into the Depths of the Unreal
Thomasin Sinclair
The Bookworm and The Beast

Comparables

“Meave Fly” by CJ Leede. Her debut. Horror. ABA IndieBound bestseller. Much like what I’ve got, it’s a corruption of the disillusionment plot. A libertine and Disney Park princess confronts her mortality by embracing progressively debauched acts of hedonistic savagery. 

“#thighgap” by Chandler Morrison. In this unflinching psychological horror, a supermodel pursues flawless beauty at the expense of her former dreams, relationships, physical well-being, and sense of self. The novella explores sex, beauty, loneliness, and pain– just like the one I’ve written. 

Hook

A bookworm boarding school student beats back the advances of her beastly roommate and shuns the world around her until an enchanting new student excites her obsession and sends her spiraling. 

Conflict

Inside, the bookworm wants to be like the new girl. But her perception is hopelessly mangled by the classic flaw, hubris. The bookworm believes she’s above those around her because, as far as she knows, within her alone stirs the terrible understanding gained from the Tree of Knowledge. She projects her arrogance onto the new girl and turns her into a golden calf.

For an example scenario, look at the first sin. The bookworm overhears gossip that the new girl failed to turn the other cheek during a rough encounter with an angry groundskeeper, instead pushing the man over and injuring him. The bookworm becomes self-conscious of her own weakness and cowardice, so takes steps to be more like the new girl. She augments her social status, becomes the school’s top dog, and uses her newfound power to weed out the weak. 

Can you see a secondary conflict start to take root? One student is heavier than the others. Gluttony disgusts the bookworm– a moral weakness. The new girl is thin, after all. So she befriends the heavyset girl. She fosters the girl’s trust and uses it to break her. 

Setting

The Hawkins School. 

Established. Sophisticated. Cultivated. Refined. A charitable institution, but an institution nonetheless. Huge. Labyrinthine. Originally built by libertines to facilitate abductions and gruesome acts of depravity, the school hosts an endless plethora of long-disused hallways, corridors, tunnels, and entrances to its depths. Down in the depths are strange, vulgar, macabre dwellers. And if you brave the dark passages deep enough, you’ll find they reach all the way down.

The setting changes with the protagonist’s perception of it. At the start, the school is a dreary old place full of mindless peons to be avoided and ignored. But the new girl’s presence softens her heart. By the midpoint, she’s in love with the place because it facilitates her tenuous connection to the new girl. 
 

T.B. Johnson

Filmmaker, Writer

https://www.tb-johnson.com

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Hi, it's nice to be here!

Story Statement:

A Transformational and Life Coach struggles as she attempts to break free from her 9 to 5 and step into her true potential and fulfillment. Recognizing self-sabotage and old wounds that need to be addressed, she attempts to mediate and tame her inner conflicting voices through a series of letters to herself. The letters provide a roadmap for readers to engage in conversations with themselves, heal their inner conflicts, and embrace a profound sense of self-acceptance.

Antagonists:

The antagonists are the conflicting parts of the protagonist herself that are keeping her from aligning with what she truly wants for herself. 

These antagonists have come to exist within her to keep her safe and help her cope in some way. They all assume a role that they think will take care of her. They each fiercely intend to protect and love her in their way, as they have witnessed her pain, heartbreak, and failures. However, their attempts to love and protect her have failed to produce the intended effect. Instead, they have crippled and blocked her from forward progress as she strives to capture the ever-elusive feeling of contentment she has been searching for.

Each antagonist has its own birth story, name, motivation, and objective. For example, The Part Of Me That Secretly Hates The Work Of Motherhood was born when she was overwhelmed, exhausted, and stripped of her freedom. It exists to remind her of the version of herself that existed prior to the constant servicing of little ones, household chores, and a lengthy to-do list. However, its objective is in conflict with her desire to enjoy motherhood and be fully present for her family.

(Other antagonists: Wine, Fear, Doubt, Negativity, Depression, Anxiety, Isolation, Guilt, Exhausted, Overbearing, Trauma, On The Sidelines, Disorganized, Worry, and Regrets, Past Self and others. Allies include Dreamer, Go-Getter, Disruptive, Aging Body, My True Nature, and others)

Breakout Title:

Dear Fear, Doubt, & Negativity: Healing ourselves by becoming aware of and acknowledging all the different parts of us

And They All Fell Down: Unblocking ourselves by silencing our inner critics and saboteurs 

Unblocked: A memoir on breaking free from inner obstacles and saboteurs in order to reach our full potential

Comparables:

Even though I believe my manuscript lands in the “memoir” genre by definition, I chose to describe it as “poetry meets self-help” for the sake of comparables. Not that the letters are poetry, but the story is told through a collection of letters, each part of an overall story, yet can stand on their own like poems, but with a self-help approach.

Because of this, I chose The Shadow Work Journal by Keila Shaheen (self-help), #1 on Publisher’s Marketplace Self-Published Bestsellers List, and Talk To The Wild by Becky Hemsley (poetry), popularized by a single video on social media. Let me explain.

The Shadow Work Journal by Keila Shaheen

Shaheen’s self-help journal is #1 on Publisher’s Marketplace Bestseller list for self-published books. It is listed as #5 overall in Books, #1 in Dreams (books), #1 in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (books), and #1 in Inner Child (Self-Help) on Amazon and has 1889 ratings to date. And like Dear Fear, Doubt, & Negativity, Shaheen encourages readers to dive into their shadows and emerge the best version of themselves. The Shadow Work Journal provides readers with a step-by-step approach to understanding and integrating their shadow aspects through journal prompts. Dear Fear, Doubt, & Negativity has a similar approach through writing letters to self, a form of self-help journaling, as well as a step-by-step and how-to section.


Talking To The Wild by Becky Hemsley

I was drawn to this book because it first got traction and was popularized by a single video on social media. Even though the book is independently published, it has been successful on Amazon with 813 ratings to date and is #62 in the Poetry (by women) category.

An idea I had for Dear Fear, Doubt, & Negativity was to put each letter (or excerpts of letters) on social media as voice over video, hoping even just one letter got enough traction to reach people to offer hope and healing and the truth that what they are going through is universal. Each letter in Dear Fear, Doubt, & Negativity can stand on its own, much like a poem.

Hook Line: 
A Transformational and Life Coach struggles as she attempts to break free from her 9 to 5 and step into her true potential and fulfillment. Recognizing self-sabotage and old wounds that need to be addressed, she confronts and battles the inner conflicting voices holding her back.

Inner Conflict:
The protagonist believes she knows how life is supposed to feel and unfold, however, when she steps outside of her comfort zone to go after her dreams and live a different way, she finds herself crippled and blocked by fear, worry, and doubt. All of her shadow self shows itself in full force as she tries to break free from its grip and strive for something better.

Hypothetical Scenario regarding Inner Conflict:

In her letter, “Dear Worry”, the protagonist confronts Worry, exposing the message that it has been giving her all along as a lie. Worry has been pointing out all the potential bad outcomes to prepare her for any danger ahead and keeps her cautious, grounded, and practical. Ultimately the protagonist realizes and acknowledges that Worry has been trying to keep her safe from failure and rejection. However, to silence Worry, she has to convince it that she will be okay if failure and rejection are indeed the outcome. She reassures Worry as she would a small child, and affirms to it that trying new things that could fail are all part of this adventure that we call life and that in the end, all is well no matter the outcome.

Hypothetical Scenario for the Secondary Conflict:

After working with a client on addressing her inner conflicts, the protagonist decides to practice what she teaches. She realizes that to truly move forward in her own life, she must address the real problem, the conflicting parts within herself that are holding her back. She has tried pure will, effort, force, hard work, and grit but now she must become aware of and face the real saboteurs to her progress. The protagonist decides to uncover the conflicts that exist within herself and face them with her metaphorical sword drawn, once and for all. 

Setting:

The main setting in these letters to the protagonist’s bad habits and the conflicting parts of her are primarily within herself, within her inner world. 

This setting draws readers in and allows them to recognize similarities between our inner worlds and voices. If I have learned anything, it is that we all share the same repeating patterns that we are trying to break and are striving for similar versions of things, states, and outcomes.

Subsettings include:

  • A bustling coffee shop, where the protagonist helps her good friend confront her fear related to returning to dating after the loss of her husband and a subsequent failed relationship in the middle of our coffee date
  • The beach and pool, where I sit on the sidelines while my husband interacts and plays with our children
  • A cold and snowy night outside of my childhood home where I walked around and around the block. I was lost in tears and despair after just learning my parents were getting a divorce and my world was going to change in ways I couldn’t have known then
  • The stars, sky, clouds, and rainbows where my Dreamer lives
  • A small prison in the middle of a beautiful and green meadow that I continually envisioned myself inside of, unable to get out of the bars on the windows and doors to get to the happiness and connection that other people got to experience.
     
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Hi Everyone, I am also excited to be here and look forward to learning. Claire & T.B., great stuff!  

Story Statement

With faint hope that his wife and children are still alive, Auschwitz escapee, Jacob Eichelberg, must survive the waning days of WW2 by hiding in the SS and find his way home to Belgium.

Antagonist

Hans Wagner's life is precise, ordered and calculated. From his morning hygiene routine to his mealtime habits, everything has a place and must not be altered. His father's harsh tactics and severe consequences for failing to achieve perfection in everything has marked and shaped him into a calculated, cruel yet powerful man. These qualities have earned him status and respect as an officer in the SS. On a fast track for greatness and accolades at the forefront of the German vision to remake the world, a grievous mistake as a junior officer altered his path and resulted in a demotion to a position at Auschwitz. Now instead of glorious feats of courage on the battlefields of Europe, he disposes Jewish trash in Poland. He is determined to win back recognition for excellence and efficiency in order to get his destiny back on track. Nothing will stand in his way. He will use whatever means necessary, no matter how brutal or severe, to find himself leading men on the battlefield once again.

Title options:

A Tree in the Ardennes. 

Jacob have I hated. 

Hiding in the SS. 

The Jewish Nazi. 

Genre and Comparables:

Genre: Historical Fiction, WW2

Readers of Courage, My Love by Kristin Beck will connect with the high-stakes intrigue and drama of A Tree in the Ardennes, which wades into the dilemma of fighting the Nazis in the shadows while holding in tension the safety of family and loved ones.

A Tree in the Ardennes will also draw readers of Tracks to Freedom by Michael Reit. While not shying away from the awful truth of the death camps, it will compel readers to follow the protagonist through the darkness into the hope of a new beginning.

Hook Line with Core Wound

With faint hope that his wife and children are still alive and torn by the shame of causing his brother’s death, Jewish resistance fighter and Auschwitz escapee Jacob Eichelberg must survive the waning days of WW2, hide in the SS, and find his way home to Belgium.

Other Matters of Conflict

Inner: Jacob carries the shame of losing his younger brother Caleb in the woods of the Ardennes. His body was never found. His father Isaiah, suffering from Alzheimer's, does not remember who Jacob is most of the time, but when he does, he asks him about Caleb. The constant refrain of "Where is your brother?" claws at Jacob's heart as a reminder of his guilt and the loss of both his brother and father.

In one scene of the book, Isaiah goes missing. Jacob finds him and convinces him to return to his flat. Isaiah thanks him and asks him his name. He has answered that question more times than he can remember. But once again he responds "My name is Jacob." His father pauses for a moment, attempting to gather his broken thoughts, and then remarks that he had a son named Jacob who died years ago in the woods. 

Secondary: After arriving at Auschwitz, Jacob is conscripted into the Sonderkommando, a special detail of Jewish men who are tasked with leading the arriving Jewish families to the undressing rooms and telling them to enter the "showers" of Auschwitz. It's all a lie and they feel complicit in the Nazi death machine. Following execution via Zyklon B gas, Jacob and the other SK must remove and process several thousand bodies, clean the chamber, and put on a fresh coat of paint, to prepare for the next transport. Can he wash away and make clean his own inner death chamber? How can he live with himself after  a repeated betrayal of his own people?

Setting

Krinkelt, Belgium (The Ardennes)

A small village setting on the border with Germany. It is a place filled with both sorrow and beauty for Jacob. The place where he fell in love with Rachel, the empty grave of his brother, and the demise of his father's mental health. It's also the jumping off point for the German army's attempt to take back Western Europe in the Battle of the Bulge. Jacob will be thrust back into this crucible for the climax of the story.

Antwerp, Belgium

A key port town under German occupation and a locus of the Nazi's final solution against the Jewish people. 50,000 Jews living in the city suffer anti-Jewish measures and eventual deportation to Auschwitz. The local population remains divided on what is happening to the Jews. Resistance movements to fight the Germans make for interesting conflict.

Auschwitz Birkenau, Poland

A unique view from inside the world of the Sonderkommando who are Jewish cogs in the Nazi death machine. They are cordoned off from the rest of the work camp so the work they perform stays hidden. Tables filled with food and alcohol taken from Jews they were forced to process, fill their bellies and their consciences. An uprising and rebellion to blow up one of the crematorium will launch our main character into the countryside of Poland in an attempt to make his way home to Belgium.

 

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THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT

Solomon Williams must survive his conscription into the Westsylvania red zone militia in order to keep providing for his sister.

 

THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT

Samuel Wilson defected from the Philadelphia blue zone after a stint in a re-education camp that radicalized him rightward. After successfully escaping to Westsylvania, he joins their red zone militia and advances in the ranks: from drill sergeant to commissioned lieutenant. His primary goal in the midst of a newly Splintered America is revenge against the blue zone and everything it stands for. To that end, he is merciless in training new recruits, believing that force is the only way to instill in reluctant draftees the instincts of obedience. Nevertheless, Samuel's dedication extends far beyond mere discipline; he fiercely safeguards the well-being of his soldiers.

When a mission he leads into the blue zone unravels, Samuel confronts a wrenching dilemma. Will he remain steadfast in his thirst for vengeance, or will his sense of responsibility towards Solomon, the lone survivor from his squad, guide his choices? Choosing the latter path, Samuel and Solomon find common ground within the harsh confines of a re-education camp, uniting to endure the brutal challenges they face. In this newfound alliance, Samuel begins to grasp that his embrace of the red zone as a reaction to the blue zone may not ultimately offer the salvation he seeks.

 

CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE

Red Zone Soldier

The Great Splintering

 

DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi to capture how ordinary teenagers survive larger political trends beyond their control.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler to describe how a futuristic America might evolve both racially and politically.

 

CORE WOUND AND THE PRIMARY CONFLICT 

A Blasian teenage Christian, condemned by the red zone for his race and the blue zone for his religion in a futuristic splintered United States, struggles to redefine what it means to be an American as he finds himself drafted into a militia, imprisoned in a re-education camp, and forced to ally with the very drill instructor who once tormented him.

 

OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

Inner Conflict:

Should Solomon abandon Officer Sam Wilson not? After escaping the re-education camp together with Sam, Solomon wakes up to find Sam has collapsed and can't keep going due to his deteriorated physical condition. Solomon is in turmoil: if Solomon gets caught and returned to the re-education camp, he'll never see his younger sister Adah again, whom he promised he would return to as long as he was alive. Furthermore, while he owes his survival in the camp to Sam, on the other hand, Sam brutalized him during boot camp when he was Solomon's drill instructor. Why should he give what protection he has to offer to Sam when he could give it to Adah, who has never hurt him, and needs it so much more?

Secondary Conflict:

Meanwhile, in the red zone, Adah is facing her own set of challenges: a couple attempting to seize her home in the name of the militia's reclamation policy. Forced into domestic labor to avert eviction, Adah resists as best she can, refusing to stay silent about their exploitation of her vulnerable situation. Despite being young and alone, she persists in speaking out, enduring the abuse follows.

 

THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING

People are calling it the Great Splintering because the country broke up into puddles of blue and red all over, none of them tightly linked to each other. In some places cities got taken over by the red militias outside them. Other cities won and spread a blue rule to the rural areas nearby. Next door, the Philadelphia blue zone took over almost the whole eastern half of Pennsylvania, but Pittsburgh, Solomon's home, got eaten up into a red zone. This militia ruling Solomon's red zone renamed their territory Westsylvania and began to rule as a military junta: checkpoints everywhere, barely any due process, rigorous restrictions on speech.

When the militias locked down inter-zone travel, they made it so you could only attend college in your local zone. That wasn't as bad for some of the blue zones further east, as they could mostly link up although New York became hard to travel through because of all the red upstate. Economically speaking, in the decades before the Great Splintering, businesses started aligning either blue or red and only selling to either liberal or conservative customers. You had Republican pillow companies and Democrat pillow companies. You had Republican light bulb manufacturers and Democrat light bulb manufacturers. Those are all still around and if you live in a red zone, you can work remotely for a corporation headquartered in another red zone even if you can’t ever travel there because there are too many blue zones in the way.

When the zone borders got closed there were massive shortages of everything because distribution of goods got shut down too. Eventually different zones started making agreements to create corridors so inter-zone deliveries could be tolerated. However, a lot of the newer technology (augmented reality visors, bionic limbs, robotic nurses) that was available even just the decade before the Great Splintering suddenly stopped getting built when the Splintering happened. It's been a slow disintegration of technical advances since then, as continued development require a whole lot more resources and coordination than splintered zones can give.

As the interim militia council started centralizing power, it required every resident of the Westsylvania zone to register for a faction, from the All-Whites, the Cultural Nationalists, to the Church Militant, and more. Then it began drafting from the various factions to fill its ranks. Unlike its blue zone neighbors, which started to require correct political participation, the Westsylvania zone disallowed any political activity. Re-education camps and hard labor prison sentences are the norm for dissidents in both zones.

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Hello everyone, and thanks for allowing me to be a part of this! 

STORY STATEMENT

The protagonist’s mission is to overcome the trappings of being sold as a servant at eight years old and persevere through the unimaginable hardships fate throws at her.

ANTAGONIST

There two antagonists in this story. The first antagonist is Zi Yang, the main character’s “sister” and the daughter of the woman who buys Chae (the main character) as a servant. Zi Yang is a jealous and spiteful woman who takes every opportunity to make Chae’s life miserable, including stealing letters that Chae’s future husband sends to her while he is away fighting for the U.S. Army during World War II…leading her to believe he is dead.

The second antagonist is fate itself. Chae’s life is constantly buffeted by events out of her control, such as being sold as a servant to another family on her eighth birthday, the Japanese invasion of Shanghai in 1937, the eruption of World War II, and the Chinese Civil War between the Nationalists and Communists. The Communists’ victory institutes a closed-door policy and causes Chae’s husband Ching, a merchant sailor, to become stranded outside of China while she and her daughter are stuck in Shanghai without a way to reunite with him.

BREAKOUT TITLE

GIRL OF GOLDEN DREAMS

CHAE AND CHING

THE RED THREAD OF FATE

GENRE & COMPARABLE TITLES

The genre of my novel is historical fiction. Comparable titles are:

  • PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING by Melissa Fu (Little, Brown and Company, 2022)
  • THE MOUNTAINS SING by Nguyen Pham Que Mai (Algonquin Books, 2020)

HOOK LINE & CONFLICT

This historical novel is based on my grandmother’s life story which she shared with me on her deathbed. Sold into servitude as a child in Shanghai, my grandmother Chae survived the Japanese occupation, was stranded across oceans from my grandfather after they married, and escaped Communist China in the bottom of a boat with their infant daughter in hopes of reuniting her family in America. She revealed it all when I stayed with her at her San Francisco assisted living facility.

Like THE NOTEBOOK set in World War II’s Shanghai, GIRL OF GOLDEN DREAMS weaves a love story marred by endless obstacles into coming-of-age-during wartime experiences found in Nguyen Pham Que Mai’s THE MOUNTAINS SING.

OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT

Inner Conflict:

Chae’s inner conflict is the struggle to imagine a better life for herself and accept that she deserves the happiness she has longed for ever since she was a child. At eight years old, she is sold by her birth mother to a family that purchases her as a “servant girl,” which they constantly remind her of. On top of performing endless chores, Chae is forced to roll cigarettes alongside Jia Shen at the Shanghai Tobacco Factory to help pay off the family’s debts.

For years Chae is constantly made to feel worthless, and her spirit is tested as her environment grows more perilous due to World War II and the Chinese Civil War raging simultaneously. As a young woman, Chae meets a merchant sailor named Ching, and love blossoms almost instantly. There is finally hope for a way out, for a better life…but Ching is stranded in a U.S. port when Pearl Harbor is attacked, dashing any hopes she has of escaping servitude through a marriage to the man she loves.

Secondary Conflict:

A secondary conflict in Chae’s environment is the constant turmoil and fear she lives in due to the presence of Japanese soldiers who invade the city after she is sold. The family’s youngest son is killed when Imperial forces bomb their neighborhood, commencing the Battle of Shanghai. Once the city falls, Chae struggles to survive as she witnesses the Japanese soldiers forcing locals to abandon their homes, raping girls her age, and shooting starving people in the streets in cold blood.

On top of the Japanese soldiers, the Chinese Civil War between the Nationalists and Communists creates further strains in Chae’s environment. This is seen when the Communists win the war and close China off to the rest of the world in 1949. Her husband Ching is away at sea at the time. The victory leaves him unable to get back into the country…and renders Chae and her daughter unable to leave.

SETTING

The bulk of the novel takes place in World War II’s Shanghai, which brings to life an underrepresented point of view during one of history’s most fraught periods. With golden rain trees lining the streets, the Bund’s European stone edifices that preside over the Huangpu River, and secret lakeside pagodas, Shanghai is a bustling metropolitan city known as “The Pearl of China.” Readers are immersed in the city amid the Japanese occupation of 1937, which saw Imperial soldiers ruling over every corner with bloodlust. The setting of Shanghai during the 1930s-1940s also shines a light on fascinating real-life places such as Seward Avenue, where Jewish refugees settled in droves to escape pogroms in Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe.

Other sub-settings include British-occupied Hong Kong, where Chae and her daughter escape to once they flee mainland China and where they are stranded for several months on their journey to America. The story concludes in Ellis Island, where Chae and her daughter remain in the detention center while they wait for Ching—their sponsor—to come and collect them. If he doesn’t arrive in time, they will be sent back to China and all will be lost.

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STORY STATEMENT:

Eva must find her kidnapped twin-sister Sadie, release the imprisoned Thevv (Infected) souls, and defeat the Bockoer (soul-snatcher and master-mind behind the Pandemic).

 

ANTAGONIST:

Petr was raised by a single mother in a small, bleak prairie town. As a poor young man he left school to join the army, hoping to improve his prospects. Instead, he was captured and imprisoned in a manner that defied every rule of humane treatment. Unrestrained cruelty was inflicted upon his body and soul. He was beaten and tortured daily without mercy or purpose. When his will to live was shattered, Petr discovered a mystical ability to subsume his tormentors, absorbing them into himself.

Petrs skills grew. Whispers told him of an ancient, mystical Order, the Elmams. They had protected the world from dark forces for centuries. After finding the Elmams, he impressed them with his abilities. They took him in, but secretly he was never one of them. Petr believed that Humankind was broken. Instead of serving it, the time had come to consume and dominate. Before long the spells for soul-stealing they secreted protected were his. It wasnt difficult to convince many Elmams it was time to evolve and follow him.

After becoming the Bockoer, Petrs followers helped him create a Pandemic, a world free of pain and death, where his slaves, the Thevv, live in captivity and forced labor.

 

BREAK-OUT TITLE:

Secrets of the Pandemic, Pandemic Maker,  Soulbinder, The Binder of Souls,

 

GENRE AND COMPS:

YA Fantasy, Twilight and Harry Potter

 

CORE WOUND AND CENTRAL CONFLICT:

Set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a mysterious Pandemic, a reticent sixteen-year old discovers she and her twin-sister can practice the same Magick used by their murdered mother, which may be the only way to stop the Pandemic’s mastermind from annihilating what’s left of humanity.

 

INNER CONFLICT:

Eva blames herself for her mother’s death. She didn’t stay hidden the way her mother requested, and Grace died saving her. She’s confronted with her feelings when she works with Ayden, her mother’s closest friend but the one who also betrayed her.

INTERPERSONAL CONFLICT:

Eva has a complicated relationship with her twin-sister Sadie. Not long after her mothers death, Eva heard her mute twin sister Sadie speaking inside her head. From that day, Eva became less able to hear her own inner-voice. No one but Walter knows Eva possesses this singular telepathy, or understands how she sacrifices herself for her sisters empowerment. Eva will eventually find her own voice and forge her own identity connected but separate from her sister to defeat the Bockoer.

Eva is loyal and obedient to Walter. She wants nothing more than to stay home with her brilliant, Engineer father. But he’s very domineering, and constantly tells her Magick isn’t real and Science is what keeps them alive, which isn't completely true. She constantly doubts herself, and has gotten used to the idea shes not meant to trust herself. Eva will discover the truth about her Father's stories, and be able to discern his lies and write her own story about what happened to her mother.

Eva will fall in love with Cade, a boy her sister Sadie has yearned for since they were younger. Although the love will feel forbidden at first, it will bring out the bravest part of her and support her during her terrifying journey.

 

SETTING:

Set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a Pandemic. When the story begins, Healey, a well-stocked military base, guards the Willmet, a pocket of five tourist-towns. Hidden deep in the Scaiffell Pike mountains near the Oleanor Coast, the Willmet includes Oakridge, Ferndale, Thafton, Marshburn, and Ford.

Before the Pandemic, hikers used to make day-trips between the picture-perfect Main Streets of each town. Now the towns are mostly abandoned ruins, except along the Main Streets. These central areas are where survivors have moved in to be closer together. Eva’s father Walter has overseen the building of an impenetrable electric fence along the military base perimeter that protects the five villages. Obsessed with security and safety, he has also built an electric fence that encircles the Main Street area of Oakridge.

The Hillcreek Hydrodam powers the villages and the fences. The electric fences protect Oakridge and the Willmet from roaming bands of Slavers, Raiders, who collect survivors for their labor gangs.

An ultrasonic barrier protects the Healey perimeter from the Thevv, those Infected and driven mad by the Pandemic’s virus. Oakridge is poor and underfed compared to Healey. the military and political center of the Willmet. Healey is run by the best minds and has the latest technology.

Eva’s mother’s family has been in Oakridge since its humble beginnings as a lumber town, when her great-grandfather was a partner and supervisor of the mill. Eva, her sister and her father still live in his iconic, Queen Anne style house. Oakridge is an agricultural village, as are most of the other villages. Warm in the summer and snowy in the winter, the Scaiffel Pike is filled with beautiful forest.

 

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Hello, all! Happy to be here, and I look forward to meeting you in person.

Act of Story

A young investigative reporter, her drive far beyond accepted parameters for a woman in 1968, must eventually make an agonizing choice: pursue one of the most important investigations of her times, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, or embrace her newfound love, family, and community in a coastal Maine village.

Antagonist

All the male characters in this novel act in eerie unison to prevent Gwen from discovering the truth about who really killed Bobby Kennedy: the LAPD, the special investigators, Gwen's own bureau chief, who "spikes" her stories so frequently that Gwen suspects he is a puppet of higher powers; finally, her mysterious new love interest, a lobsterman who continually urges her to quit and come home. But the true antagonist is the unknown murderer(s) of Bobby Kennedy, whose manipulation and deadly threat Gwen feels but can't see. 

Title

A Wilderness of Mirrors

This title works on several levels, and I honestly can't think of a better one. Founding CIA spy James Jesus Angleton gave this name to the CIA; it perfectly describes the infinite regress that marks Gwen's pursuit of the truth in the Kennedy assassination; finally, the title serves as a metaphor for Gwen's blind spots in her personal life as well.

Comps

1. The Beach House, Rachel Hannah (2019) - Women's Fiction small town romance about a wife and mother whose life, like Gwen's, is shattered by infidelity and who builds a new life after buying a house on a small South Carolina island.

2. A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Lisa Pease (2018). Based on two decades of research, Pease shares explosive and little-known facts about this high-profile murder.

3. On the Trail of the Assassins, Jim Garrison. Former New Orleans district attorney narrates his years-long investigation into the broad network of those involved in the JFK assassination and the dangerous obstacles he faced in getting the facts out.

On the one hand, A Wilderness of Mirrors is the story we've watched many times on the Hallmark Movie Channel: "Ambitious Urban Professional escapes to picturesque old-timey village and falls in love with gorgeous plumber/bookstore manager/electrician, never return to the impersonal city."

BUT...woven into the fabric of this feel-good story is a True Crime murder, one of the most important unsolved mysteries of the 20th century. Based on two years of research, A Wilderness of Mirrors presents not only many little-known facts of the case but also actual witness testimony built directly into the dialogue.

Tag Line

A gifted young reporter must choose between pursuing one of the most important investigations of her times or embracing newfound love, motherhood, and community in a Maine coastal village. 

Inner Conflict

(not hypothetical, as the novel is finished) Gwen investigates the Kennedy assassination despite the work's constant affirmation that she is not truly womanly and not maternal. The increasing unwillingness on the part of her editor to publish her stories despite their explosive content, the increasing misinformation about the assassination in the media, make quitting an enticing option. But Gwen would then lose the only identity she has ever known.

Social conflict

Gwen goes off to Los Angeles and ignores the warning signals from her teenage daughter, who is grieving Kennedy's death and heading for a breakdown. She also ignores the increasiingly strong warnings from her new love interest, believing him to be just another patronizing man. Gwen doesn't know that he is ex-CIA and thus far more knowledgeable about the dangers of her investigation than she is. 

Setting

1968. It is a turbulent time, and the novel is set against this turbulence: the Vietnam War, the race riots, the assassination of MLK, Jr., and the upcoming presidential election.

The novel opens on the Upper West Side of New York just after the sanitation workers strike of February, 1968. The streets are still littered with garbage. The city feels chaotic. An anti-war demonstration fills Broadway, the streets are crowded with a bizarre medley of people, and Gwen's fourth-floor walkup studio, which she shares with her daughter, all serve to create a claustrophic and untenable environemnt.


The Village of Round Pond, Maine, is the antithesis of New York: Everyone knows everyone, and the upoming Pumpkinfest is a highlight of people's lives. There are charity bake sales, knitting circles, and no one likes the Kennedy family. To Gwen and her daughter, it feels like a time capsule of the 1950s, and they don't know if they can "stick it" in such a provincial place. But it grows on them...

Los Angeles, The Ambassador Hotel. Bling personified, with all that it implies: material values, anti-intellectualism, shallowness, and even deceit. There's a cinematic quality to everything, where reality and fiction blur. What's more, the malignant atmosphere after Kennedy's assassination could not be more different from Gwen's bucolic coastal village. Gwen's changing attitude toards LA --from the exilaration of feeling at the top of her game to her revulsion at its shallowness and temerity--serves to backlight her personal arc. 

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Story Statement

A young psychologist with a traumatic past must recover her health and reclaim her life after a rare medication side-effect changes her personality. 

Antagonist

Livi is the manic personality that emerges from the protagonist, Vivienne, during an antidepressant-induced manic episode. A luminous invader, Livi insidiously hijacks Vivienne’s identity without her awareness. She is magnetic, extravagant, and knows how to attract attention, potentially the wrong kind. Keeping her research job by a thread, she becomes a fixture in New York’s nightlife and fashion scene. An intensely colorful life unfolds around Livi, putting everything Vivienne has worked so hard to build at risk, including her career, her friendships, and her relationship. At the height of mania, Livi is propelled to do the most outrageous antics, including crashing a catwalk in Harlem and a church memorial service with her Pitbull-mix, Cosmo. She loses her job within the same 24 hours. Finally, Livi is hospitalized against her will, and the plug is pulled.

Title

Livi and the Strange Bright Days

Vivienne and the Strange Bright Days

Comparables

The nearest comp I could find is Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, the New York Times best-selling autobiography detailing Cahalan's struggle with a rare form of encephalitis and her recovery. 

It is also in the spirit of Girl, Interrupted by  Susanna Kaysen, the autobiographical best-selling story of the author's time in a psychiatric ward which inspired the film starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie.

The manuscript has also been likened to a contemporary Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, a novella about a writer who makes the acquaintance of his neighbor, Holly Golightly, one of Capote's best-known characters.

Hook Line

Two different young women in New York—one a magnetic socialite, one an ambitious research psychologist—are revealed to be two sides of the same person, before and after a rare medication side-effect.

Other Matters of Conflict

Inner conflict: The story follows the winding progression of Vivienne’s complex depressive episode over the course of two years. Her dark days, triggered by residual 9/11 trauma, increasingly interfere with her life. Soon her relationship with her partner, her friendships, and her career are all impacted. She engages in ongoing therapy with a renowned psychologist and is put on an antidepressant. Soon she experiences a rare and unexpected side-effect: a full-blown manic episode. This neurochemical takeover brings out a very different person without her full awareness—and we discover that Vivienne and Livi are two sides of one person, before and after.

Secondary conflict: Vivienne is a young, ambitious research psychologist at a prestigious medical school. Her job is demanding and so is her boss, who eventually subjects her to workplace ostracism. Vivienne also faces family illness and loss back home in Pennsylvania, and the journey back and forth begins to take a toll. These stressors, along with unresolved trauma, soon usher in darker days for Vivienne.

There is a third level of conflict when Livi emerges, Vivienne’s manic personality. The bright lights and energy of city life feed her manic episode and lend themselves to her shopping sprees, fashion scene and nightlife adventures.

Setting

The majority of the novel is set in New York City, with the city featuring prominently in the book. 

It had always been Vivienne’s dream to live in New York, and with some hard work, this dream became a reality. When we meet her, she has a promising career at a prestigious medical school in a historic hospital, and lives in shiny doorman Park Avenue apartment with her partner. The city, however, soon becomes her tormentor during the dark days of depression, and everything from bustling city life to her small office and dark apartment become triggers. The traumatic events of 9/11 are introduced in media res as an inciting event that occurs before the story, and as such, Vivienne shares a core wound with New York City.

New York also lends itself to the manic adventures of Livi. A colorful cast of characters join Livi’s entourage, including New York nightlife and fashion celebrities. Various residential settings also represent Livi’s unstable and frenetic personality. She lives between her new boyfriend’s dingy place in the East Village, her old Park Avenue luxury apartment, and an artist friend’s sprawling loft. She tears across the city astride the fastest Vespa on the market. Her manic antics unfold across the city, from the Lower East Side to Harlem. 

In the final act, Vivienne and her partner move to London. The distance gives her space to recover her health, reconcile her identity, and repair her relationship. London is associated with healing and posttraumatic growth, which she ultimately uses to help others in her private practice.

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Panic City

by Scott Brooks

 

Act of Story Statement:

A Columbia student disappears, and his father goes to Harlem to find him.

 

Antagonist:

After arriving at Columbia to look for Oliver, Doyle learns that his son had a girlfriend, Nina. At first, Nina seems very concerned and helpful towards Doyle.  But Nina is not Oliver’s type and frankly way out of his league and Doyle distrusts her immediately. We eventually learn that it was Nina who got Oliver to play the game as she was involved in it from its inception. In fact, she was once romantically involved with the game’s creator, Josh. Nina has carefully planned using the naïve Oliver in a plot to destroy the game’s reputation and eventual marketability by having someone get killed while playing.

 

TITLE:

 

Panic City

It is not only the name of the video game in the story, but it also reflects the protagonists panic while looking for his son.

 

Genre and comps:

Thriller

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

 

LOGLINE:

A dad’s searches for his missing grad student son and discovers he was involved with a group that met regularly to play a virtual reality video game that has turned deadly.

 

INNER CONFLICT:

Horatio Doyle became estranged from his son after serving a light prison sentence for computer hacking. He is determined to get this right and save his boy. He is also struggling with drinking and still uses it as a crutch as he looks for Oliver.

This comes to a dramatic head after he is roofied at a club the gamers go to, and hallucinates that Oliver is dead while wandering around Morningside Park. This represents a hero’s journey utilizing symbolism from classical literature and once he has made it through the night, he becomes clear headed about how to find Oliver.

 

Secondary Conflict: Dealing with the truth about Nina as her role in Oliver’s disappearance become clearer. Nina and the games developers, Josh and Terrence have convinced Oliver that he accidentally killed someone while playing. With help from some of Oliver’s other friends involved in the game, Doyle learns about the game and realizes he must actually play to discover where Oliver is.

 

Setting:

The timeless streets of Harlem, specifically around Columbia University. This is not the mean streets of Harlem the reader may be imagining, rather a haunted house of dark brownstones and the steep inclines and stairs of Morningside Park. The story veers into the more urban areas especially during the game, adding to the lawless anything-can-happen feeling of playing Panic City. The story is also set in the month of October as orange leaves cover the streets and it gets dark earlier every night…

The story utilizes everyday life in Harlem but through the lens of “nothing the main character sees may even be real”; is that delivery guy on the scooter playing the game? Is that graffiti a clue? 

Meanwhile the privileged Columbia students whose parents pay for gorgeous apartments are using the city as one big template for their fun, are now trying to cover up a murder.

 

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Hi Everyone! Please see below for my assignment responses. I'm looking forward to meeting you in person and being one of the first to hear your amazing stories!

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FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Story statement 

When his parents suddenly go missing, Hunter Smith finds himself lost and alone in Paris. With the help of an ancient order, he must unlock a family secret, and learn to use a power he didn’t know he had, to try to save them and prevent the fabric of reality from being undone.

 

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

Dr. Anna Maria Luisa started out like all Nephilim and was given the gifts of a healer. She first gained fame by providing copious amounts of game to the people she served which earned her the title of “Diana the Huntress.” Eventually, to show their gratitude, they asked her to lead them earning her the name Semiramis.

When her reign eventually ended, she moved into anonymity for a while and then re-emerged with the name of Cleopatra. Her goal was always to lead for the benefit of her people but each time they turned on her so she was forced to fake her own death and go into hiding.

Once again she tried in the 1700s, as the last scion of the Medici family, under the name Anna Maria Luisa. Though she was next in the line of succession for the family, a consortium of European leaders blocked her bid for power and forced her to surrender her titles. When she was denied her birthright as a Medici, she ceded power, but kept her wealth and quietly disappeared. Her name has been lost to history, but her desire for revenge remains unquenched, and soon everyone will know her name.

 

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Breakout Titles

The Bureau of Found Objects

The Impressionist

Song of the Nephilim, Book One: The Impressionist

 

FOURTH ASSIGNMENTComparables

The protagonists in the series, called the Nephilim, are a group that hasn't seen a lot of exposure outside the "Shadowhunters" series The best comparisons with The Bureau of Found Objects include:

 * "The Red Scrolls of Magic", part of the "Shadowhunters" series by Cassandra Clare
 *  "Winter", Book Four of the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
 *  "House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City)" by Sarah J. Maas

The Bureau of Found Objects extends the story of the "Shadowhunters" series by exploring a different kind of hidden world in which reality is more fluid than in Clare's books. At the same time, it brings familiar characters from history into a new reality much like in the "Lunar Chronicles". It’s similar to "House of Earth and Blood" in that, like its characters, the Nephilim have two sides to their being: They have the powers of an Angel, but the weaknesses of a human.

 

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: Hook line (logline)

When his parents suddenly go missing, Hunter Smith finds himself lost and alone in Paris. With the help of an ancient order, he must unlock a family secret, and learn to use a power he didn’t know he had, to try to save them and prevent the fabric of reality from being undone.

 

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Inner conflict and “secondary conflict"

Primary Conflict: Initially the protagonist is anxious to find his parents. When the antagonist tell him that she can return his parents if he helps her, he then is conflicted over the decision to save those he loves versus doing what he knows is right for humanity.

Secondary Conflict: When the protagonist chooses not to help the antagonist she kills his parents. He then is conflicted by feelings of anger and hatred all while he has a desire to do what needs to be done to save the world. This conflict, and his decisions, will drive his actions throughout the remainder of the book and the series.

 

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: Details on Setting(s)

The Bureau of Found Objects takes place on a global canvas with multiple unique settings that I will try to capture here. The story begins in Malibu with a lone surfer sitting on his board just beyond the break at a place the locals call Point Dume.

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Next the story moves to Paris and the Bureau of Found Objects. Over two hundred years ago Napoleon created the bureau and today it sits in a non-descript street far from the bright lights. Our protagonist goes here first and finds that it is a gateway to the world of the Nephilim.

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Once on the other side of the Bureau, the hero finds himself in a place called Le Refuge. This is a place of healing and is home to the Nephilim called the Medicines. Places that have been lost from history are here like the ancient library of Alexandria, Egypt, kept safely tucked away in time and space from the world.

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Next our protagonist visits the Nephilim community of Lha Khang home to the Projectionist community of Nephilim. This mysterious and ethereal group is hard to pin down both literally and figuratively. They reside in a space that is co-exists with the famous monastery in Lhasa, Tibet.

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The hero journeys to Al Rukh, home of the Kineticist community, in Cairo Egypt. Here they have created a pocket world that exists from a time when the great pyramids were brand new. In addition, we learn that other giant, wondrous structures sat nearby but have been lost to time including a giant stepwell that mirrors the great pyramid in size, shape, and grandeur.

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Finally, the protagonist and his companions come to the Medici Bank. Home to the antagonist Dr. Anna Maria Luisa, it sits underneath the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy. The wealth and power kept there is immense and the traps she has laid to protect herself are mighty. Only after a final fight and victory for the protagonist do we learn just how important the place has become.

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Hello There.  And Thank You For Your Consideration.

 

The Act of Story Statement

Damon Matthews, an up and coming shortstop, wants to become a legend in Major League Baseball.  He faces numerous hurdles on his path towards ultimate success such as the minor leagues.

 

The Antagonist Plots the Point

Damon feels that his minor league coach, Carlton Wells, is attempting to break him emotionally, psychologically, and physically.  An intimidating force at times, Carlton Wells wants to push his players as far as they are willing and able to go.  If Damon wants to get to Major League Baseball, he will have to prove to his coach that he belongs.  At the end of the day, Carlton Wells wants his players to succeed, but his methods and drills are not for the fainthearted. 

 

Conjuring Your Breakout Title

Damon Matthews

Living On Dreams

Chasing The Show

 

Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables

Genre:

Coming of Age/Young Adult

Damon Matthews has already graduated from college and started out on his journey for bigger and better things in the real world, where anything goes.

Comparables to my narrative:

“Friday Night Lights”

This story of mine could almost be in the same league and world as Friday Night Lights.  While it delves into the life of a baseball player and not a football player, sports is at the center of this tale.

“The Natural”

Damon Matthews may not be anything like Roy Hobbs, but he does have a story to tell.  Damon Matthews truly wants to become something more of himself.  He’s arrogant at times and a show-off, but he has a strong heart nonetheless.

 

Core Wound and the Primary Conflict

Hook Line:

Damon Matthews, a newly christened minor league shortstop, starts out on his baseball journey wanting to become a legend, idolized by the masses.

Main Conflict:

Damon Matthews’ urgency to attain future success and fame in baseball make him go all out.  If and when he gets to The Show, will he be able to stay there and not risk facing the prospect of being sent back down.  Through and through, he has the skill and talents to excel, but he must gradually up high numbers and stats on a daily basis.  Just like a stock broker trying to earn commission from quotas and sales, this hot-shot shortstop wants to eventually earn more green and blank checks he can fill out himself.

 

Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels

Damon believes he needs to continuously prove he belongs in this profession.  Willing to sacrifice his body and soul for this game, he won’t accept failure at any cost.  And he wants to honor his deceased mom by succeeding at the game he loves.

At the same time, he feels conflicted with his newfound feelings with a woman he meets.  She is the sister of one of his teammates, and he doesn’t want to ruin his friendship with his new teammate.  And Damon’s girlfriend back home is special to him, and he doesn’t want to ruin what he’s got with her either.

 

The Incredible Importance of Setting

Setting:

The setting is mainly in the present day town of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Damon Matthews plays for the West Michigan Whitecaps and whenever they’re not playing home games, they’re constantly traveling by bus across the Midwest to face off with their rivals and opponents.

During the offseason, Damon returns home to the Twin Cities of Minnesota to recuperate and prepare for the following season.

He also visits cities such as Chicago and St. Louis throughout the story.

This setting runs parallel to our real world, but touches it as closely as it possibly can.

 

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Story Statement:

A young woman must decide between saving her relationship and saving herself.

 

The Antagonist:

The antagonists in the story are Layel’s sister, mother, ex-boyfriend, and her inner thoughts. All of these factors play a part in why Layel is struggling with her mental health. While Layel is staying at the halfway house the calls from her sister and mother complicate things. And the lack of communication from her ex make her more and more nervous about whether or not they can get back together. Time also plays an antagonistic role. Layel’s ex will be moving to LA within three months and Layel feels like she needs to have her mental health in good shape before he leaves or their chances of getting back together will be over. The house itself has some antagonistic forces as Layel is making connections and getting involved in their struggles as well as developing real feelings about the people she is living with.

 

Titles:

The House of Rigby

(I have had this title for a while and I don’t really have any other idea. This one has always just kind of been the one).

 

Comparable Titles:

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

-        Themes of dealing with suicide and choosing to live. Magical Realism. Blurred lines between real and imagined.

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

-        Ensemble story. Magical realism. Big twist at the end.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

-        Narrative structure.

 

Log Line:

 A young woman with bpd seeks help at an eccentric halfway house to win back her ex-boyfriend before he moves to LA but she's not allowed to leave until she discovers the house's secret.

Conflict:

Layel’s inner conflict is coming to terms with her borderline personality disorder and her breakup and finding the motivation to push through and live her life anyway when she feels like she’d rather just stop.

Layel’s secondary conflict is her relationship with the residents at the halfway house as well as the house itself. While Layel is going through her struggles the rest of the residents are dealing with their own lives while also leaning on one another for support. This creates many dynamics for Layel to navigate. She is also becoming close with one of the residents and developing feels which confuses her about her feelings for her ex. On top of all that there’s a secret in the house she needs to discover in order to leave.

 

Setting:

The setting is a somewhat magical halfway house. The house comes with an emotional support lion and seems to change however the residents need it to. There’s a library and an art studio. Every resident has their own room that reflects their personality even though the room is prepared before they even get to the house. The yard has a garden and a labyrinth and a koi pond that the residents enjoy. And birds that will eat right out of the residents’ hands. The house is eclectic and well-lived in. There are soft blankets everywhere and places to sleep. And overall, it has a very comforting and safe aesthetic. Except for the turret where no resident ever goes.   

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Hi. Excited to be here and looking forward to learning. My 69,419-word book is a memoir. Here goes.

 

Story statement

Lied to by a convicted felon about the condition of an ancient wreck of an airplane he agreed to fly, a lonely, disillusioned trial lawyer and pilot tries to escape a failed relationship and foundering career by embarking on what becomes a harrowing nine-day, 3,000-mile coast-to-coast odyssey of mechanical failures and near misses that nearly take his life.

 

Antagonist

Harry Forrest is a man who can’t be trusted. A twinkly-eyed ex-con who owns the airfield where I keep my old biplane, he is also a very experienced pilot. It takes courage to fly an airplane, and a crook with courage is far more dangerous than one without it. Harry will do anything for money and he doesn’t care who he hurts or puts in danger to get it. Insurance fraud, overpriced faulty repairs and drug running are his calling cards. In 1989 he recognizes in me an opportunity. Although he knows I am a neophyte pilot with less than 200 hours of experience, he also watches me fly my 1940 WWII Stearman, which as a tailwheel airplane is extremely demanding to fly. Because of this, he knows that he can insure me for a plane that he wants to buy. He won’t fly the plane himself because the flight is long and dangerous and the airplane is not suited for the task. The plane is a 100-mph two-seat 1944 observation plane that he wants me to fly from Oakland, California to the Finger Lakes Region of New York. And Harry Forrest may know things about the condition of the plane that I don’t. This makes me the perfect foil—either he will get the plane or collect on the insurance if I die trying to fly it.

 

Title options

Scud Runner: A Flier’s Odyssey

East to the Dawn: A Flier’s Journey

The Lawyer, the Felon and the Flight

Escape to the Sky

 

Genre: Memoir, Adventure, Aviation, WWII

Comparables

Fate is the Hunter by Ernest Gann. It was published in 1961 and is still in print. This is a memoir that describes his years working as a pilot from the 1930s to the 1950s, starting at American Airlines in Douglas DC-2s and DC-3s. It also describes his wartime flying. Its pages are a succession of challenges and harrowing flights that test Gann’s skill and judgment to the limit. It is one of the most widely revered flying books ever written.

West with the Night by Beryl Markham was published in 1942 and is still in print. It chronicles her career as a racehorse trainer and bush pilot in Africa. It also vividly describes her 1936 transatlantic flight when she became the first pilot to fly solo non-stop from east to west. Although she successfully crossed the ocean, her flight ended prematurely when ice-induced engine failure caused her to crash land in Nova Scotia.

My story is similar but it involves flying a barely airworthy WWII-era airplane while crossing the 3,000 miles between California and New York.

 

Hook Line with Core Wound

A lawyer who is disillusioned by his career and betrayed by a woman he loves tries to escape by taking on the enormous and dangerous challenge of flying an airplane across the country that he’s not sure he has the skill or courage to master.

 

Other Matters of Conflict

Primary Conflict

What troubled me as much as Forrest and his claims about the plane was whether I was experienced enough for the undertaking. I was a non-military, non-instrument-rated baby with just 170 hours flying time. I hadn’t used a radio or any navigational devices such as a VOR or a Loran since becoming a licensed pilot. Worse yet, I couldn’t remember how they work and had no time or money to relearn them. Walking away from a harrowing crash during an aerobatics course two years earlier only added to the lingering fear and indecisiveness.

I had ridden an outstanding trial record with the New York City Attorney’s Office to a job with one of Syracuse’s finest firms. But my career had begun to founder because, while I was good in court, what mattered to the firm was the amount of time billed on a time sheet and I was lousy at billing time.

My personal life mirrored my professional life. Although I thought she was “the one,” when she told me she didn’t love me anymore I reacted in typical Neanderthal, iron hearted fashion and calmly showed her the door. Heartbroken, I never called, never reached out. The more I tried to get past it, the angrier I got, and the more my illusions of true love evaporated.

I began to question myself. Is it loneliness and bitterness that drives a man to do things that make no sense? Is a man bravest when he cares little about the consequences? Can that man be dangerous? Will that man be dead? Or am I just wasting time feeling sorry for myself? I have no answers.

For two weeks, I vacillated between staying and going, good sense and bravado. I dodged Forrest’s phone calls, instructing the receptionist to plead, “He’s in court,” “on trial,” “with clients” or, the more standard, “he’s on the phone.” After two weeks of evasion and indecision, I made up my mind: we’re going.

Secondary Conflict

Communicating with Lance is going to be difficult in the old airplane. It has tandem seats, meaning one seat is in front of the other. In a car, the driver and passenger sit side by side, which is how most modern aircraft are laid out. But two-seat aircraft of the old Stinson’s vintage have the pilot in front of, or in the Stearman’s case in back of, the passenger. This creates a problem, as neither person can see what the other is doing. A mirror, which unfortunately the Stinson lacks, helps but only so much. Because of this arrangement, it becomes critical to confirm who is, in fact, flying the airplane. Pilots familiar with tandem-seat flying always confirm who has control. On occasion, pilots have failed to perform this simple routine with the result being that no one is flying the plane, thus allowing the machine to follow its own whims, often with less than desirable results.

The next issue has to do with the maps. Sitting side by side makes handling the charts easier—you just hand it over. Not so in the ancient tandem-seat taildragger, as the chart has to be passed over or under the pilot’s shoulder. Compounding this problem is the wind. The only way we can prevent baking to death is to fly with the windows open. And unlike a car, you can’t just crack open the windows. They are either wide open or closed all the way. With the windows open, a 100-mph wind thunders about the cockpit and the chart, like hurricane debris, can flap and flit about. Earlier in the year when I was studying the chart, the wind grabbed it and it was suddenly glued to my face.

On my second landing in the old Stinson we skid off the runway in Barstow, California in what we pilots call a ground loop. I’m in a state of shock because I can’t land the airplane. And I’d better figure out how if we want to live. I try to focus on what went wrong and how to correct it while mechanically doing the preflight checks. Maybe I was too fast on touchdown and maybe my feet weren’t properly positioned to use the brakes. More ominously, maybe there is something very wrong with the tailwheel. But I’ve got to figure out what went wrong, and I cannot ground loop this airplane again.

As we start our agonizingly slow takeoff run, I can’t hold my fear in check. The desert slowly expands beneath us as Lance and I come face to face with the inevitable—we are in the air and we are going to have to come down.

Setting

Primary setting

A thunderous, two-seat cramped cockpit with wide-open windows through which a hurricane force wind blows as a sick engine roars in the background. Below is also the desert, the mountains, the great prairies, turbulent clouds and driving rainstorms.

Secondary setting

Abandoned WWII airbases and fleabag motels.

 

Nothing so humiliating as flipping by beloved Stearman on its back

image.jpeg

 

 

I had been promised a checkout in the old Stinson but all I got was the back seat for one circuit of the airplane

Stinson checkout.jpg

 

Bakersfield: first stop on the transcontinental odyssey

Stinson at Bakersfield.jpg

 

The tranquility of the Painted Desert belies its heat and paucity of features

painted desert.jpg

 

Northeast summer haze can be hazardous. It cloaks dangers such as soaring antennas, and it hinders visual navigation

Haze flying Stinson.jpg

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Hello, I've enjoyed reading everyone's material and look forward to hearing more about your work in New York.

 

Working Title: Defying the Setting Sun

Genre: Historical Fiction

Story Statement

Unwilling to waste her final years in the confines of Vienna, Ida Pfeiffer embarks on a harrowing journey alone through the war-torn Ottoman Empire to reach Jerusalem in 1842, a quest fated to reinvent her as one of history’s most intrepid explorers.

Antagonists

Ida Pfeiffer’s husband and adult stepson, Anton and Johann, embody the social pressure exerted against every step of her journey. Anton leaves Johann, who is the same age as Ida, in charge while he scrapes out a living for the family far from the capital. After Anton won a corruption trial against the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, he was blacklisted as a dissident by the Hapsburg secret police. Ostracized and reduced to devastating poverty, the ordeal destroyed not only the family’s wealth and reputation but also the remaining vestiges of affection in Ida and Anton’s arranged marriage. Although they have lived apart for nearly a decade, Anton fears Ida’s ill-conceived pursuit jeopardizes not only her own life but the tenuous status of the entire family. Determined to keep Ida where she belongs, Anton pursues her with a cunning calculation that threatens to upend not only her journey but the rest of her life. 

Title Alternatives

  1. Defying the Setting Sun
  2. Ida Pfeiffer: The Explorer the World Forgot
  3. IDA

Comparables

  1. THE GIRL IN HIS SHADOW by Audrey Blake (2021) is upmarket historical fiction about the first female surgeon based in mid-19th century London. Fans of Nora Beady’s courage to pursue her life’s purpose will resonate with Ida’s own perseverance in the face of overwhelming social prejudice.
  2. THE DIAMOND EYE by Kate Quinn (2022) is historical commercial fiction based on the true story of a Ukrainian female sniper during World War II. Similar to Ida, Mila is a mother fighting to survive a brutal situation while making complicated choices that take her ever further from her child. The novel’s action-adventure style and commercial prose closely align with the breakneck pace of Ida’s exploits.

Hook Line with Conflict and Core Wound

Ida Pfeiffer dreams of reaching the Holy Land, but propriety, poverty, and the raging Ottoman Civil War force her to bury her wanderlust. As her children mature and her marriage withers, Ida confronts her obsolescence and unearths an audacious plan to fight her way to the battle-scarred walls of Jerusalem to restore meaning to her life or die trying.

Inner Conflict

Ida’s main internal conflict arises from conflicting desires to pursue self-fulfillment while still meeting her obligations as a wife and mother. After a lifetime of neglecting her self-interest, Ida feels compelled to seize the chance to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. However, even if she achieves her goal, Ida must make an impossible decision. Give up her newly won freedom and return to obsolescence, or sacrifice her relationship with her sons in pursuit of the one passion that has brought her back to life. 

Secondary Conflict (Social)

The secondary conflict arises from society’s reaction to Ida’s defiance of traditional 19th-century feminine expectations. Her sons fear for their mother’s life, Anton and Johann fear for the impact on the family. Women did not travel alone in 1842. Ida’s plan is so daring that she must lie her way onto a ship and hide her true destination from her family for fear that they might commit her to an asylum. Beyond the principal antagonists, the characters Ida meets along the way engender the same social conflict, constantly challenging her right to independence and dignity as a human being.

Setting

It is 1842, the 10th anniversary of the June Rebellion, the backdrop of Les Misérable. Europe wallows in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, which spread the French tri-color from Paris to Cairo and nearly to Moscow, but changed little for the half-starved populations of Europe. Mounting revolutionary discontent threatens to erupt across the continent. More than a decade of civil war has crippled the Ottoman Empire and left the Holy Land blood-soaked and ungoverned. Constantinople now dangles at the crux of the Bosphorus like a ripe fruit waiting to be plucked by the Russian and Austrian emperors vying for power in Eastern Europe. Even backwater towns are no longer safe from the Hapsburg Geheime Staatspolizei and the Czar’s Cossacks.

Alone and unprepared, Ida risks life and limb to forge her way from the icy banks of the Danube to the gates of Jerusalem. She must not only navigate a treacherous political landscape but survive amidst the very real dangers of a post-civil war wasteland ravaged by cholera and marauding war bands. 

Paradoxically, the mystery infused into these daunting landscapes rekindles Ida’s sense of wonder. The strange woman-fearing monks of Mar Saba of the Waste, the kind Turkish girl who teaches Ida how to celebrate the spring spirits, and even the Sultan’s stomach-churning chicken pudding captivate her imagination. The further Ida progresses, the more these exotic lands—and the people that inhabit them—capture Ida’s heart and ignite an inexplicable desire to push herself further than she ever thought possible.

 

Thank you,

Ben Henderson

BenLewisHenderson@gmail.com

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Hi everyone! I'm really happy to be here, daunted, but happy. Here are my Seven Assignments--

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Story statement 

To cure her “Curse” and eviscerate a mortal evil.

SECOND ASSIGNMENTSketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.

“His voice crackled like a wet powerline, and he grinned. Bringing a stubby cigar to his puckered lips he took a long drag before turning to take them in. Strobe lights bounced off his reading glasses obscuring his eyes from view.”

Fat Cat is a true Londoner born within the sound of the Bow Bells. A gangster at the top of his game, killing those in his way discreetly and without mercy. Taking over London one top guy at a time until he reigned over the city controlling all London nightclubs and underground activities. Nothing happens in London without Fat Cat knowing. His castle a seedy club in Soho aptly named, Fat Cat’s.

Driven by a compulsive desire to control life and death Fat Cat delves into the occult hunting power. His obsessive journey peels back a layer of reality concealing gods and goddess from prying mortal eyes: gods that hide, gods that protect and gods that wreak havoc in the mortal realm. Fueled by discovery he harnesses magic for himself, it takes years, but he  finally captures the Fates, The Moire. Draining their power will bring forth an alley more deadly than a Titan. An alley that will bend a knee only to him.  

 

THIRD ASSIGNMENTBreakout Titles

Morrigan’s Curse: Book 1 of the Raven Trilogy

A Feathered Heart

FOURTH ASSIGNMENTComparables

Neil Gaiman’s, American Gods and Anasi Boys

Nora Robert’s, Dark Witch Trilogy

FIFTH ASSIGNMENTHook line (logline)

Shunned by her clan, and angered by her mother’s self-sacrifice, Morrigan Winter searches for a cure to her “Ravens Curse” and finds herself wrapped up in a battle with the Fates that began before her birth. 

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Inner conflict and “secondary conflict"

Inner conflict Morrigan: The story begins with Morrigan full of fear, shame and grief that her mother sacrificed her life early to give her a vision of the cure to her Raven curse. Sick of being the outsider, different and shunned, Morrigan flees her camp to find the core of her vision – Grincklewitch. Hoping he has the answers her mother gave her life for.

Secondary conflict: The gut wrenching attraction Morrigan feels for Grincklewitch is at odds with the mission they have to save the Fates and stop his father.

Inner conflict Grincklewitch: Grincklewitch begins the story tormented by visions of a girl with pools for eyes. In an attempt to distract himself he agrees to meet Fat Cat, a London gangster who wants them to “find” something for him. He has a bad feeling about it, Fat Cat never did anyone any good.

Secondary conflict: Discovering Fat Cat is his father and his mother was a forgotten goddess Grincklewitch grapples with the death of his mother at the hands of his father. Anger and determination fuel his battle against powers higher than him.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: Details on Setting(s)

London is a vast and varied haunt for these powerful youths. The brightly lit streets of central London; Oxford Street in October, Halloween, everyone bundling up getting ready for winter, pinched cheeks and red noses. Sweaty underground walks carrying coats and jumpers. The neon lights of Soho and dark backstreets of North London. Winding canals leading into Essex. The counties concrete streets softened by sweeping weeping willows.

Grincklewitch and Eres hide out in an abandoned hospital in Chase Farm North London: broken glass, concrete, graffiti art, and trash fires to keep warm.

I have used woods and forests as the main setting for two dream-like scenes. Both scenes are at night. I think woods and trees at night lend to the notion of being lost, wandering, searching, blundering through the chaos of unraveling secrets—which both my protagonists are. Forests add to the atmosphere of being lost, searching for answers with no clue where to start, looking for any hint of light. I realize writing this that is why the final battle happens outdoors—this is the culmination of them breaking through their inner conflicts (embodied in the dream scenes) and embracing who they are totally and without fear in the open. Boldly. For them that could only have happened with grass underfoot and wind snatching at their cheeks.

 

 

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Wow, really enjoyed the challenge of these assignments. Looking forward to next week! 

  1. Story Statement: In a world lain waste from environmental neglect and religious wars, Glory Days Inc. offers respite from the bleakness of life via their virtual time travel excursions. Lizzie, the adopted daughter of the founder and CEO, desires a greater role in the company. She sneaks onto an excursion to show her father she is capable of doing more. While on the trip, she uncovers a plot that threatens her family and humanity. Now she must uncover the truth of her past, confront the evil masquerading as morality and find a way to save humanity. 
  2. Antagonist: H.B.W. - the Humble and Blessed Whitfield, holds the highest religious post in the American government where he controls the morality standards for most of the world. Grief from the loss of his daughter fuels his conviction that morality must be enforced at any cost. He preaches repentance from sin and love for the sinner, while delighting in enforcing draconian punishments for those who fail to comply with the morality laws. In public, he weeps for the daughter that burns in hell. He holds the liberal agenda of the early 21st century responsible for her demise. He whips crowds into feverish energy to stomp out sin and save others from hellfire. In private, he struggles with his own desires and plots against those who oppose him. Armed with secret knowledge about the Glory Days Inc excursions he implements a plan to change history. He will stop at nothing to stomp out liberal ideology and implement morality laws before his daughter is lost to him. Convinced that this is a mission of love given to him from God he will stop at nothing. The carnage that results from his actions emboldens his conviction that he is on a righteous mission. 
  3. Breakout Titles: 
    1. Glory Days 
    2. The Daughters Account 
    3. Invisible Threads of Time
  4. Comparables: 
    1. The Future of Another Timeline - MacMillan - Annalee Newitz - A focus on young women protecting other young women with time travel and changing the past to protect the future a key battle point
    2. Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood meets Back to the Future. As in Handmaids tale our heroines life is controlled by the morality standards and hypocrisy of the mono-theocracy, however, it is when she travels back in time that she confronts the evils and must discover her own path. 
  5. Hook line: In a dystopian future, an intelligent young woman defies her father’s wishes and steps into a virtual time travel excursion in a desperate attempt to prove her worth. A sinister plot to change history interrupts her travel forcing her to choose between surrendering to society or discovering her self-worth and fighting for freedom.
  6. Conflicts: 
    1. Inner Conflict: Lizzie struggles with panic attacks and nightmares. Her father provides a safe but sterile home and tries to shelter her from the negative messages about women prevalent in the morality laws of the current era. She has become meek and timid in her desire for love and approval, even as she longs for a bigger life. When she stumbles across the sinister plot, at first, she cannot even fathom what it means and tries to ignore what she’s learned, but what she’s seen has stirred her nightmares, causing her to believe that perhaps her nightmares are flashbacks of real events. She must learn to speak up, ask for help, confront evil, and love her unique, special self. 
    2. Hypothetical Scenario: Lizzie has always idolized her father, Daddy G, in her memories, but James to the rest of the world. She has a habit of hiding and eavesdropping, and during one such meeting, she sees her father not as a harsh, distant man but as someone who is hurting. She has always thought the coldness she felt from him was because she wasn’t good enough. And now he seems small to her, which angers her, but as she processes this, it humanizes him and leaves her loving him more and taking a closer look at her own self-worth. This exchange motivates her to try and win his approval another way. 
    3. Secondary Conflict Scenario: Lizzie has uncovered her past and knows the memories of having two daddies are real. She’s found Daddy B (Byron), her father’s former husband, and now understands why they split when she was little. She feels compassion for both men, and the more she understands their motivations behind the split, she knows she must bring them together to stop H.B.W. but bringing them together risks their safety and will open an emotional pandora’s box that terrifies her as the memories from her childhood flood back. 
  7. Setting: Lizzie and her father, James, live in northern Canada, where they can still spend little chunks of time outdoors. They live in a small cottage on a lake and have a large underground facility where the head offices for Glory Days are run. A dozen trusted employees also live in the community and enjoy some privileges not afforded most of the world. Just 100 kilometers south, the terrain becomes too dangerous for most mammals to be outdoors. After the wars, most people who survived relocated to concrete church towns where most of the buildings were underground. Most people have their sleeping quarters, complete with a private office for their work life. Almost all work is completed virtually, and artificial light and vitamins provide the sun's mental and physical benefits. As travel is no longer possible, Glory Days Virtual Reality Time Travel Excursion provides carefully curated trips back in time to idyllic settings for positive back-to-nature experiences without leaving one's sleeping quarters. Excursions in this story include fishing trips on the Rideau Canal, Hiking in the Green Mountains, and Skiing in Switzerland - only places that idealize the human experience with nature. When the time travel hopping begins in earnest, the locations become dark exposures to the hatred that has erupted throughout humanity's history. 
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First-Seven Assignment for Shakespeare in the Park 

I.

Story Statement:  After falling for a man who claims to be Shakespeare, a modern-day science teacher finds herself asking an unexpected question: whether to believe or not to believe 

Longer version:

Joy's an extraordinary genius with an ordinary life as a chemistry teacher at an Upper East Side school. She wants someone to romance her a little, make her feel special. When she meets a guy in Central Park who insists he’s Shakespeare and showers her with verse, she laughs him off as a cosmic joke. But his words stay with her. They’re brilliant and perceptive, and they inspire a confidence she hasn’t felt in years. As she gets to know him, Joy becomes intrigued by his genius and detailed, first-person accounts of history. Despite her scientific judgement, she slips into asking an unlikely question: whether to believe or not to believe.

II. Antagonistic Force

1.       Primary plot – Joy-Shakespeare romance

Antagonistic force: Shakespeare’s belief that he is the actual Bard. 

Antagonists:

·       Joy, who envisions her soulmate as someone who is neither delusional or four hundred years old.

·       Fredrico, the ex, to whom Joy is still attracted, at least at the beginning. He's marketing genius, Page Six-documented hottie, and e-business entrepreneur who’s gambling sites include BigCalls.com. Fashionable, gorgeous, and the epitome of cool, he sees all other human beings are fungible, but his aloofness and wit entertain Joy, and as his girlfriend, she was wined and dined and treated to a life of luxury.

·       Suzanne (see #3, below).

·       Nicholas Spence, the most attractive parent at the school, a psychiatrist who pursues Joy. Without meeting Shakespeare, Dr. Spence dismisses him as a run-of-the-mill mental case in need of a social worker.

 2.       Status-quo subplot

Antagonist: Regan, the corporate-minded incoming headmistress who intends to increase enrollment at Joy’s elite, Upper East Side school through edutainment. For the science faculty, like Joy, this means replacing lectures with extravagant lab demonstrations. Regan's agenda offends Joy’s academic sense of rigor, as she’s a trained theoretical chemist who focuses on rigorous concepts. It also terrifies her, b/c she’s clumsy and afraid of Bunsen burners.

 3.       “My Fair Lady” subplot

Joy asserts that she can pass off Shakespeare as the ultimate AP English teacher at her school—she just needs to teach him some teen slang and a few memes.

Antagonists:

·       Suzanne, Joy’s no-nonsense best friend and dean, whose fault, aside from her occasional harshness, is an obsession with attractive men. Originally, she dismisses Shakespeare as a nut. Later, after being turned on by his powerful readings from Titus, she decides he has charisma and becomes a secret advocate. 

·       Regan, the micromanaging headmistress who inserts herself into the hiring process as the ultimate decision-maker in selecting the next AP English Teacher.

·       Joy, who is more out of touch than she realizes and teaches Shakespeare outdated pop culture references instead of the newer ones he needs to engage today's students.

 4.       Joy’s returning to research subplot

Antagonists:

·       Joy. Although she wants he status of a university professor, she doesn’t really love science as much as teaching it.

·       Regan. If Fredrico had proposed to Joy on their five-year anniversary, as Joy expected, she would have quit teaching high school, affording her the time she needs to retool her research career.  

Antagonistic force – Lack of funds, time needed to regain skills.

 5.       Is he or isn’t he Shakespeare?

Antagonist: Joy, her inner scientist won’t let her go there . . . at least not first.

 6.       Joy’s relationship with her long-time boyfriend Fredrico.

Antagonists:

·        Reagan, for whom Fredrico leaves Joy at the beginning of the story.

·       Suzanne, who refers to him as Fredric-hole.

 III. Breakout Title

·       Shakespeare in the Park 

·       The Taming of the Bard

·       My Fair Bard

 IV.        Genre/Comps

Genres: Romantic comedy, Upmarket Fiction

 Shakespeare in the Park might sit on a bookshelf alongside Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey, For the Love of Bard by Jessica Martin, The Dead Romantics, Ashley Poston, and This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub (not a romance, but similar setting, themes). Full of wordplay, this story should also appeal to subscribers of Wordle and fans of the movie Shakespeare in Love.

 V.          Logline

 

A modern-day science teacher looking to mend a broken heart is wood by a man who claims to be Shakespeare.

 

VI.          (Forthcoming)

 VII.        Setting

Modern-day Upper East Side. At Joy’s private school, teachers are politely treated as servants by Real Housewife of New York-type parents. The school is filled with students who are social media driven—more interested in what teachers “like” than know.   

 Central park. The lush greenery is where Joy retreats after being dumped by Fredrico and where she meets Shakespeare and the magic of their relationship begins.

 Background: Joy’s from New Orleans, an old fashioned, slow-moving city in contrast to the fast-paced NYC.

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