American Strays

Book Cover

APOCALYPTIC COMEDY DRAMA EPIC GOTHIC ADVENTURE FAMILY FANTASY MYSTERY POLITICAL RELIGIOUS SATIRE HORROR BIOGRAPHICAL

20th Century (multiple decades),2000s,Contemporary,Across Centuries

Douglas Richardson

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Logline

A carnival barker's worst nightmare brought to life: a compendium of freaks, physically and psychically scarred, seeking redemption and attention.

Genre

Apocalyptic,Comedy,Drama,Epic,Gothic,Adventure,Family,Fantasy,Mystery,Political,Religious,Satire,Horror,Biographical

Short Summary

TBD


TBD

Setting

Hollywood, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Boston

Based on a True Story

No

Plot - Premise

Tragedy,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Quest,Voyage and Return

Plot - Other Elements

Coming of Age,Philosophical Questions,Meaningful Message

Mature Audience Themes

Information not completed

Main Character Details

Name: Zachary R.

Age: Story spans his entire life, which ends approximately in his early 40s

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Complex,Crazy,Heroic,Adventurous,Modest,Desperate,Religious,Empathetic,Engaging,Visionary,Selfless,Honorable

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Development Pitch

Nothing in their life stories resembles yours, except their humanity and pathos. A carnival barker's worst nightmare brought to life: a compendium of freaks, physically and psychically scarred, seeking redemption and attention. Chloe Red and Kay Sutter, age and youth, guile and beguiling. H. Charles Branhoover and H. James Branhoover, each with a hand holding that of Death. Bernrd Red, firstborn son without a legacy, self-styled cooler, preppy hoodlum. Zachary R., failed chosen one, father and husband, benevolently misguided by an angel of sorts. From the rivers of Pittsburgh to the streets of New Orleans, cut-rate rooms in a Hollywood youth hostel and ashes floating on the depths of a bottomless lake, these American Strays enter and exit one another's lives, bringing justice and misery, humor and mercy, asking more questions than providing answers.

About The Author

Douglas Richardson is a novelist and poet who lives in Santa Ana, California, with his wife Jen and cat Wes. American Strays, the book submitted for consideration here, consists of three stories: The Corruption of Zachary R., Trust Fund Baby, and Kay Sutter Through the Ages. Douglas submitted the first two stories to Kirkus Reviews and received excellent reviews on both.

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: Weak Creature Press

Year Published: 2016

Hard Copy Available

No

ISBN

978-0984242474

Genre

ROMANCE, MATURE AUDIENCE, DRAMA, FANTASY

Brief

A intertwined group of misfits wanders in an out of each other's life. Sometimes they influence one another for the better and sometimes they are very detrimental. Their saga and families span from Pittsburgh and Boston to New Orleans and Hollywood. They haunt themselves with memories of their messed up pasts.

Overall Rating

FAIR

Point of View

THIRD PERSON

Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: FAIR

Characterization: FAIR

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: GOOD

Pace: FAIR

Premise: FAIR

Structure: FAIR

Theme: FAIR

Accuracy of Book Profile

The development pitch helps summarize the characters, but the actual character descriptions only list one character suggesting Zachary R. is the protagonist when there are multiple main characters. Saying psychically scarred is uncommon in its usage. Although correct it evokes more a supernatural mental scar rather than other people causing their trauma. The wounds that the characters face are crippled by later in life are mostly shown in their origins so are measurable physical and emotional abuse or events. Saying "psychologically" or "mentally" might be less confusing.

Draw of Story

Zachary R.'s mixed timeline is a compelling reminder that people in asylums are, were once or could be again capable of an outside life with a family. Unpacking what led to people's troubling decisions or thought processes such as jumping from the Hollywood hostel provides tension as characters head down a troubling path but also provides understanding.

Possible Drawbacks

Having non linear timelines not only between characters but within the characters own narratives creates confusion at times as there is a lot to keep track of with multiple characters that aren't always intertwined yet. Either keeping the chronological timeline linear between characters or keeping each characters' timelines linear would make the structure easier to remember the details of the large cast of characters and their personal plot developments.

Use of Special Effects

THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that the characters are all on the outskirts of normal society. There is a curiosity to what made them unusual and also how they function on a day to day basis both physically and mentally despite their scars.

Fanbase Potential

This could have a medium size fan base as the depictions of trauma could be controversial to some groups who feel the representation is different than their own experience. The theme's message is somewhat unclear and there are few redemption arcs which is a storytelling style that is uncommon to Western audiences.

Awards Potential

This could have some potential if the overall purpose and message are made more clear. Trauma in general is a solid source for conflict, but in and of itself needs a linear direction in order for the actors to feel authentic over the passage of time.

Envisioned Budget

MEDIUM BUDGET

Similar Films/TV Series

FREAKS, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, GODLESS, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

What’s New About the Story

There is a large scope of character traumas and lifestyles even within the same family just due to parent's options while they were raising their kids. This comparison between how a few small decisions can have a lasting impact is intriguing. Showing more comparisons between connected lives that have diverged over a single variant could develop this idea further.

Lead Characters

Zachary R. is resilient and hopeful despite being heavily beaten as a child by his mother. Bernrd Red is entitled and rebellious despite his family background.

Uniqueness of Story

The premise of fringe people creating more fringe people and repeating the cycle of trauma has been portrayed in similar fashion before. In this piece the wording is much more poetic, but perhaps switching up the multiple third person POV to more omnipresent like Zachary R. could provide further unique insight to the trauma's execution.

Possible Formats

TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Streaming

Analyst Recommendation

WORK IN PROGRESS

Justification

While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

Tips for Improvement

The non-linear multiple pov creates a large interconnected web of characters and timelines that is further twisted by giving each character a non-linear timeline. This makes following the character development more difficult so either by streamlining the characters to follow the same chronology or thematic development in the different parts or by streamlining the chronology within each character to follow how they will become interconnected could help keep track of their arcs more easily especially involving internal conflicts.