THE COLLABORATION - NA Romance

| THE COLLABORATION |

Intended Audience: New Adult
Genre: Romance
Length: around 70k

**SUMMARY**

When 21-year-old Jackie Moore receives a wax-sealed invitation to the prestigious Adwin Academy, she is forced to pick between a certain future or realizing the deepest dream of her heart- becoming a film director. She decides to pursue her passion. Before she loses her nerve, Jackie hops onto a plane and sets off for the Academy.

There Jackie finds herself relishing in the creative energy, the kaleidoscope of personalities, and the freedom to be who she wants to be. She gets put into a group with Josiah Jackson, an aspiring actor. Jackie finds herself drawn to him like an eye to the focal point of a well-composed shot- naturally, quickly, subconsciously.

She denies the attraction. Her last heartbreak is still packed away with everything else she took with her to the Academy. Besides, she’s there to pursue her passion- and not the lustful variety. Jackie focuses on developing friendships with her eclectic roommates and a few others, including Josiah. Together, they tackle assignments and become regulars at the local 24/7 cafe.

Reality sets in when the Academy announces its End of the Semester Showcase. Every student must submit their best piece of original work before they leave for winter break. If they pass, they’ll be invited back to the Academy for the second semester. If not, well, they’d better have a Plan B. Collaborations are permitted; Jackie, Josiah, and their friends band together and decide on producing a pilot episode for a light-hearted mockumentary. Drama runs rampant as the deadline approaches. Throughout it all, Josiah remains levelheaded and supportive. When Jackie learns that he has nowhere to go for Christmas, she invites him to join her.

Flying home with him, Jackie gets a flurry of nerves. It’s completely ridiculous, but then so is her grandmother’s reaction when they walk in the front door. The confusing feelings only worsen as the days pass. Resisting her attraction to him begins to feel more like a self-inflicted punishment than a safeguard.

Then she runs into her ex, Scott Snowden, at the supermarket. Every suppressed feeling of self-doubt comes rushing back. Overwhelmed, Jackie confides in Josiah. He comforts her. She falls asleep in his arms. The next morning, Jackie decides to make the first move, only to learn that Josiah left. Her ex attempts to take her back, but she refuses. Matters only worsen when Jackie receives an email informing her that she will not be invited back to the Academy.

When she returns to the Academy to collect her belongings, Jackie confronts Josiah. Upset, he retorts that her fiance spoke to him. Jackie explains that Scott is her ex- and has been the whole time. They make up and have their first kiss.

Jackie and her friends are called to a meeting with the Dean. She explains that they’ve not been invited back to the Academy because a handful of production companies have put in offers on their mockumentary. To celebrate, the group goes to their 24/7 cafe.

MAJOR PLOTLINES:

  • Jackie’s journey to self-confidence is central to the storyline. At the beginning of the story, her whole sense of self-worth is wrapped up in her wealthy fiance, Scott, and how he treats her. They’ve been dating since she was a freshman. She’s been harbouring doubts about how healthy their relationship is. When he laughs in her face about attending the Academy, Jackie gets just enough anger-fueled strength to break off their engagement. Furious, Scott completely tears her down and tells her that without him, she is no one and has nothing. Jackie struggles with this deeply.
    While at the Academy, Jackie is able to develop a sense of self apart from Scott. She gains confidence, friends, and a sense of purpose. This is all tested when she returns home for winter break. When Josiah leaves without warning and the Academy does not invite her back, Jackie nearly loses all progress. However, when Scott tries to re-propose, Jackie finds herself again and can turn him down- forever. She can truly understand that she is valuable and capable of doing difficult things, without a man. Once this has happened, she is ready to have a romantic relationship with Josiah and learn about her success at the Academy.

  • Jackie’s relationship with her friends develops slowly, but surely. Initially, Jackie is very closed off, almost to the point where her roommates think she’s a self-absorbed snob. In truth, she’s very rusty socially, because Scott kept her on such a tight leash and prevented her from having any real friends of her own. Jackie doesn’t want to make any excuses for herself. She makes an effort to open up and make friends. This helps her create an identity distinct from who she was with Scott. It empowers her.
    With Josiah, it’s not much more than insta-attraction initially. However, because Jackie chooses to focus on friendship and Josiah is a decent human being who respects that decision, they’re able to develop a genuine relationship. This allows Jackie to see how a good man would treat her. It gives her standards to compare Scott too. When he tries to re-propose, this knowledge of what a good guy truly acts like helps support her sense of value and turn Scott down. When Jackie does decide to pursue a romantic relationship with Josiah, it is healthy and because she wants to have one with him. She doesn’t feel like she needs/has to love Josiah, as she did with Scott.

  • Jackie’s development from dreamer to director challenges her to grow from a rich girl who could have anything she wanted without trying to a hard-working woman. The Academy is strict, plays no favorites, and offers no second-chances. The process allows Jackie to hone her mediocre natural talent into a powerful skill. Furthermore, it pushes her out of her trained submissiveness into a position of leadership. She learns how to take control without being controlling. In addition, Jackie is able to surpass her male colleagues by not taking anything for granted and playing into their sexist assumptions. Jackie achieves success by staying true to who she is. This directly contradicts and destroys all the lies Scott had her believing for so long.

SPECIAL NOTES:
N/A

Thank you in advance!!

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This is the first book I’ve written where the romance is supposed to be more significant, but I’m not sure if it comes across as important as it is? Quite frankly, I almost feel as if I bit off a bit more than I can chew because I don’t want it to come across like Jackie’s whole life is dependent on what guy she does or does not have. At the same time, Josiah is very important to her development as a whole, because of the impact of their friendship.

Anybody have any advice? I’d love to know, especially if you’re an avid romance reader, because I feel like you may have insight as to how this kind of story can be done wrong so I have some mistakes to learn from.

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Nick will review your pitch when he has the time :slight_smile:

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definitely looking forward to that! I just kind of remembered that he doesn’t do a whole lot of romance, so I thought I’d put that out there in case any romance readers stumble upon this and have any feedback :grin:

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I see @BridgesTunnels replying and I’m nervous in the best way :joy::joy:

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I think overall a lot of the things you included in the “major plot lines” portion, need to be incorporated into the actual “summary” part of your pitch. Because as written right now, the actual conflict and stakes aren’t very present in this summary. You need to include that she’s a rich girl and coming out of an abusive relationship in the pitch.

Also, she confides in Josiah and they spend the night cuddled together, but then he believes her ex and runs off? That makes zero sense to me! What does she confide to Josiah if it wasn’t about what a total creep the ex was? And then why would Josiah believe this guy that he meets one time, over the woman he’s known for months and who he just spent a night spooning?

Finally the “misunderstanding” email with the school seems far-fetched as well. Why wouldn’t they invite them back, even if they are being courted by producers?

I went to NYU, and if an agent or producer made an offer to a student, that didn’t mean NYU nullified their standing as a student. If anything a Dean would want to keep these talented individuals on as students because it boosts the school’s prestige.

And there were professional actors in some of my classes. I’ll use this one actress, as an example - Olivia Burnette still booked jobs between 1995-1999. She simply worked around our school breaks. It is possible to do both. Especially if their film was already in the can, and the company was just trying to attain the rights for distribution.

And wouldn’t the producers just reach out directly to the MC and her friends? Why would they need to go through the Dean? At student showcases, the agents and other industry professionals usually approach the people they are interested in directly. After the exhibition was over, there was usually a period of mingling and they would introduce themselves to the student, hand them a card, and tell them to call. I worked at a talent agency after I graduated, and my boss used to go to showcases to see if he could find any talent for the commercial department. He never had to speak to the school deans. He might say hello to one (or to a professor) he was friendly with, but it was never in order to secure representation of an actor.

It seems that the plot twists, of the misunderstanding between the love interests and the email from the school, are just too far-fetched.

It might be better to have Josiah leave because he now knows that Jackie just got out of this intense relationship (it’s less than a year prior) and he wants her to have more time standing on her own two feet, he doesn’t want to impede upon all of the growth she’s already managed on her own, or something along those lines.

And when you are querying, you’re contacting agents (sure they aren’t film producers but there’s a connection - usually directors get agents that help them land production deals), and so I think the element of the school email, and the way the offers come about through the school Dean might leave the queried agents scratching their heads a bit.

Whoops. That definitely wasn’t clear enough in the summary. She confides in Josiah about her self-doubt and insecurity, all of the internalized sense of failure/imposter syndrome she struggles with because Scott brought that all back up to the surface. Josiah was not with her at the supermarket when she ran into Scott. He has no idea that he exists because Jackie doesn’t talk about Scott at all. She doesn’t want to be defined by him or her relationship with him in any way.

Josiah believes Scott for two reasons. 1) Jackie sends a lot of mixed signals. It feels like she likes him, but she is also clearly holding herself back. This makes sense from Jackie’s POV, because she knows that she just broke off an engagement and isn’t emotionally ready. But Josiah doesn’t know any of this, because Jackie, again, does not talk about it. Not even her girlfriends know that she was engaged. 2) Scott makes a very compelling case. He basically corners Josiah and has a whole discussion with him- but it is non-confrontational. Scott makes it out like Jackie is a pathological liar and manipulative and blah blah blah. Scott is very sympathetic and doesn’t try to attack Josiah. Plus, Josiah’s own background/upbringing plays into it. Growing up, his mother constantly cheated on his father and it caused a lot of heartache. This plays a lot into why he reacts so quickly and immaturely- he doesn’t want to be the man. Jackie knows about his childhood, and it is another reason why she hadn’t told Josiah that she was engaged because she doesn’t want him to feel like it is too soon/make him think that he’s a rebound, etc, etc. She doesn’t even consider telling him about Scott until she finally acknowledges that she likes him and then, well, she doesn’t want to scare him off.

When they meet at the Academy, of course, everything gets explained. Josiah feels like an idiot, and Jackie has a much better understanding of why everything happened the way it did. He is willing to stay friends and even apologizes for making moves on her. Jackie brushes that apology off, because the flirting was mutual. She kisses him. In her mind, she knows that she likes him, she is completely over Scott (they fell out of love long before she broke off the engagement), and as long as they take things slow, she doesn’t seem the harm in casually dating.

It’s not really a misunderstanding. They’re genuinely not invited back. Adwin Academy is focused on finding talent, cultivating it, and exposing it to the entertainment industry. It’s less of a college and more of like an elite training camp meant to fast track careers. So the Academy essentially also acts as the students agency. Sort of. It’s more like Adwin puts on the showcase and then producers, directors, editors, agents, etc. come and make offers. (Or don’t.) It’s part of what makes attending Adwin so desirable. It is like the ultimate connection. The Academy also negotiates on the students’ behalves to make sure that they are being treated fairly.

Once a student has offers, their relationship changes with the academy. The Academy won’t continue teaching them because they want to go find and cultivate more talent- plus they feel as though gaining real-world experience would be more beneficial than attending classes.

I don’t think they deal directly with the Dean, honestly. They probably don’t. But I don’t have the faculty fully fleshed out, so I just said the Dean lol. How that whole meeting goes will probably improve quite a bit once I actually get there.

So yeah, lol. It’s more of like a fantasy, wish-it-was-real place that as a whole is very unrealistic. And more information that kinds rounds things out but I couldn’t seem to fit in the summary.

I’ll work on my summary with your feedback in mind. I’m not sure that I would include Jackie’s social status/wealth because it’s really only present pre-inciting incident. Money is pretty insignificant to the story as a whole. Of course, Jackie has to work hard- but she’d have to do that whether or not she had money at home to succeed at Adwin- which is why it pushes her to grow. Technically, she could ‘fail’ at the Academy and still live a very comfortable live, engaged or unengaged. Success for her isn’t based off of money as much as it is accomplishing her goals. That’s why I left the detail out of the summary initially.

Everything else I just genuinely struggled to condense down into the summary. I felt like too many of the nuances required explanation that weighed the summary down. In previous iterations, I ran out of words before I got to the third act lol.

But I’m more than willing to take another hack at it! Thanks for taking the time to give me feedback! If you’re willing, I’d be interested in knowing if any of it makes more sense with explanation and/or if the explanations don’t make sense themselves.

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Okay things make a lot more sense now and you do need to find a way to include some of these important explanations into the summary.

But that’s why pitch summaries are so hard!

For example - cut out the wax seal bit and the generic “prestigious“ and include that it’s “intense training ground for film talent, with deep industry connections” or something of the sort.

And I still think it would make more sense for them to receive multiple offers from agents, instead of the school acting as agents negotiating deals for them with production companies.

You’re supposed to be writing Contemporary Romance, not Fantasy, so creating a school that does things that aren’t based in the way the real world entertainment industry works is a bit much.

Plus maybe it will be a bit like the philosophy of manifesting what you want, by putting it out into the world… so your character gets multiple agent offers, and hopefully you will too :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Ooooh manifestation! :joy: Not a bad thought.

I’ll work out the school/agent details so that they’re more realistic, because I definitely want it to feel at least semi-plausible.

Looks like I’ll be tackling the pitch summary again for sure! -cracks knuckles-

Thanks again!

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Good luck! Pitch summaries are maddening! :crazy_face:

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They make me feel like I don’t know how to write lol! It’s definitely a great exercise though.

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I think they make us all feel that way. So take comfort you’re not alone in that thought!

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Generally speaking I think this summary of a romantic plotline is relatively fine. I have a handful of issues with it that you can take as you want as this would be more than suitable to write as is.

  1. Jackie has to choose between a guaranteed future and a risky venture of following her dreams. This doesn’t have a cost or consequence, nor does it have relevance to the ending or to her personal growth. Once she makes the choice, she just cruises through the academy and no problems related to that choice come up. She isn’t anti-Josiah due to feeling too rich for him, she isn’t bad at making films because she’s never connected with common people, she seems to have no difficulty meeting an oddball group of friends. That’s a major detail, particularly when it’s upfront. It has to pay off or have some relation, otherwise she could just not be a rich kid and just be a regular person who got into their dream job.

  2. Jackie’s ex is a piece of conflict to give the plot conflict. He’s not particularly relevant to the rest of the plot. I’m aware this is a long-running staple of the genre to have the main character allude to a shitty ex at some point in the start so they can show up in the third act just to make a mess, but it’s not a good staple (thanks 2000s romantic comedies). If the ex is going to be a defining conflict point that sabotages the relationship, make his impact a consistent point of tension throughout. Currently the conflict is choosing rich vs creative in act one, making a show together in act two, and then a wild ex appears in act three. Stand by one and move along it. Conceivably, all three could be linked around the central theme of her wealth (she makes the choice, she’s then struggling to work with others because of her lack of ability to connect, she lacks support from her family who turned back on her, an ex shows up with a proposal thinking he is being rich prince charming to save her from her poor life, she initially agrees because this creative life isn’t what she thought, she turns when she realizes it is or whatever), but they currently feel too disjointed and are basically just the conflict for that act. Remove the ex and have the conflict be between the two lovers or have him being the conflict at every stage.

  3. While the whole thing is functional, I’m currently lacking the sort of edge that this story would bring to the market. What is the interesting hook that makes me really want to read or pick this over any other story in the same space? What would make me want to keep going? There’s an outside chance this comes up in some parts of the execution (the characters are super funny? Super hot?), but I’m not seeing it in the plot itself.

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thank you so much for the feedback! Will definitely be taking it all into account. :grin: