Monday, March 06, 2017

Face-Lift 1344

Guess the Plot

The Glorious Prince

1. The Glorious Prince goes on an Epic Quest to defeat the Evil Wizard and his Rampaging Dragon. Read as along the way he rescues a Damsel in Distress, who hates being stuck in an Endless Bog of Doom, with help from his Helpful Steed before they die a Lame Death.

2. Melissa gets letters from a secret admirer who signs them "The Glorious Prince." Her affections are torn between him and the king of the zombie overlords. Then, aliens invade and she has a third choice. What's a sentient tree to do?

3. The premier ocean liner "The Glorious Prince" takes tour groups through the Bermudas, including the notorious triangle. Or, at least, it did until it went missing after a strange call about food poisoning and sea slime. Now navy seal Chuck Norin must find the ship to rescue his accountant before taxes are due. 

4. Fred, a gay guy, falls for a straight guy, but when he comes on to him, the guy assaults him. Fred threatens to go to the cops unless the straight guy signs a contract agreeing to let Fred rub his feet and paint his portrait and be his lover. In other words, treat him like a glorious prince.

5. The Glorious Prince and his cousins Prince Andrew Romanov, Prince Felix Yusupov, and Prince Nikolai Putyatin slip into the village for a bit of fun with the peasants. Can they sneak back into the castle before someone raises the drawbridge?

6. The Glorious Queen and the Glorious King finally produce the long-awaited heir, the Glorious Prince. But tongues start a-waggin in the Glorious kingdom when the Glorious Subjects notice that he bears a strong resemblance to the Glorious Gamekeeper. 

7. Raphael has killed 500 men with his bare hands and pleasured 500 women. He's the hottest prince alive, but he's in love with a kitchen wench. But if he won't marry the ugliest, but richest, princess in the kingdom, his father will kill the wench and turn Raphael into a eunuch. Also, a lovable cook.

8. Locked in a tower by an evil troll, young Jane longs for rescue by a handsome knight. So she is delighted when the Glorious Prince swoops in and magnificently the troll and sets her free. Unfortunately for Jane, the Prince is also a thousand-year-old vampire who has been feeding off her family for generations and the whole tower thing had actually been for her protection. Who'd a thunk it? 

Original Version

I hope this message finds you well. According to your website, you are interested in all subgenres of romance. On that note, I am pleased to introduce my novel, The Glorious Prince, the story of Fred, a gay Fine Arts PhD student, who falls in obsessive love with Malek (Mah-leck), a straight frat boy. [Did I say all subgenres? Remind me to update my website.]

For Fred, Malek is another straight crush he will never have, but he decides to pursue him regardless. However, after Malek assaults Fred, the former must choose between jail or signing a contract binding him to Fred with vague favors. [A contract with vague provisions is pretty worthless. For instance, if you find a publisher for this book, would you want your contract to state The publisher pays the author 10% of each sale, or just The publisher gives the author something?] Malek chooses the contract. [I'm not sure I'd want to owe vague favors to someone who's assaulted me. Then again, that's what prison would be like, except with worse food.] In their next meeting, Malek is surprised to find his former victim bowing to him and confessing his submissive urges, and Malek must bring himself to play along or risk breaching the contract. [My punishment for assaulting you is that I have to assault you? Only this time with a riding crop?]

Malek is confused and repulsed, suspecting that Fred wants to make him homosexual. He is terrified of anyone finding out about this arrangement, fearing ridicule from the other frat boys, and scandalizing his Iraqi immigrant family. [Knowing frat boys, they're gonna ridicule him anyway, for being Iraqi. ] However, he realizes that this fear gives Fred power over him, so he decides to tackle it by trying to enjoy Fred’s servitude.

Over the course of four months, Fred brings Malek closer and closer to fully dominating him as Malek gets more comfortable with his role as ‘King’. [Or ‘Queen.’] To assist this transition, Fred paints portraits of Malek, depicting him as a sultan in a harem, a king receiving homage, [a freshman philosophy professor, the CEO of Uber,] and other scenarios of power and dominance. [I'm already contractually obligated to do you vague favors, but that's not enough. I also feel I should paint your portrait numerous times.] Fred also tends to Malek’s feet, believing the act of pampering them as the key to making Malek feel kingly. [Or princely. Which one is the glorious prince?] [Wait, pampering Malek's feet is Fred's idea? If I'm Fred, and that idea pops into my head, I'm keeping it to myself.] 

Malek is flattered by the paintings, but asserts that he wants them gone, fearing anybody would [somebody might] see them. However when Fred faces financial problems, he decides to try and sell the paintings. The paintings are sold, making Malek even more important to Fred. [Important because portraits of Malek are Fred's only source of income? Has he tried selling portraits of other people? I would expect customers of a portrait artist to want portraits of themselves or their loved ones, not of some stranger named Malek.]

But Fred’s relationship with the manipulative father he loathes begins bearing similarity to his own relationship with Malek, and so he burns the contract to enact a justice he had sought for himself. [You can't call off a deal by burning a contract. When your book becomes a bestseller and you go to your publisher to complain that they haven't sent you any royalties, they can't say, Oh, that. We burned the contract. I someone signed a contract stating he wouldn't have me arrested for assault, and then burned it, that would worry me.] After this, Malek tries suppressing his new urge for dominating Fred, believing that without the contract, this would betray affection for Fred. The urge grows worse due to his dating blunders. Malek must decide: dominating Fred or no sex at all. [I'm having trouble with Malek wanting to continue the relationship if the contract is no longer an issue. But what do I know?] 

After finding some demand from an art enthusiast, Fred calls Malek, offering to pay him for a meeting, while secretly plotting to produce more paintings. [You sit over there, and we'll have a conversation while I stand over here painting a landscape or a still life. Oh, and try not to move.] However, what Fred did not consider was Malek having a change of heart toward Fred, allowing him more liberty with his body even to the point of oral sex. Thereafter, when the art enthusiast offers Fred a gallery exhibit, he must make the painful choice: His artistic career or Malek’s trust? [Let's see, my career or the trust of a straight guy who assaulted me. Tough decision. Screw my career, this guy lets me rub his feet.] 

There has yet to be a popular story of a straight-gay romance/erotic arrangement. [I Googled "straight gay erotic romance novel" and the top hit was a Goodreads list of 117 books. Possibly none of them is what you'd consider popular, but it's better to let the person you're writing to decide how unique and popular your book will be than to make a sweeping claim.] These reasons [That was only one reason.] draw me to believe that the novel will be well-received by the audience of the New Adult genre.

The setting is modern Washington, D.C. [Wait, a fraternity in Washington D.C. has an Iraqi member named Malek?] It is complete at 84,800 words and I find it to be somewhere between 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James and White Teeth, by Zadie Smith. [I can guarantee it will be between those two books on bookshelves, having noted that your last name begins with the letters Sa.]

I am a Lebanese gay man, I graduated with a degree in sociology from the American University of Beirut before working as an interpreter for refugees. At present, I am a scholarship recipient studying International Relations in Japan. I am also a kinkster and will shamelessly expand on this if given the green light. [My light seems to be stuck on red.] 

Thank you for your time.


This is way too long for a query letter. If someone requests a synopsis, this might be a good length; in a query, you want your plot summary to be no more than ten sentences.

The contract feels like a contrivance just to take the relationship where you want it to go. I don't doubt that there are some gay guys seeking a straight/gay erotic romance, and straight guys seeking the same thing, and it's wonderful if they find each other. But when you're the gay guy and the straight guy's reaction to your come-on is assaulting you, you either move on, or have him arrested. You don't whip out a legal contract binding him to you.   

Apparently Malek is growing to believe he acted hastily in rejecting Fred. This probably needs to be spelled out, not just hinted at. Is Malek thinking, I'm not having any luck with women lately, maybe I can live happily ever after with Fred?

If you can't find a publisher for this, you might try doing something similar but with both guys being gay. Malek hires Fred to paint his portrait, Fred falls for Malek, but Malek isn't interested, some gallery owner sees the portrait, wants more, Fred convinces Malek to pose for more, not telling him there's money involved, Malek starts to come around, but then discovers the money angle and thinks he's been played, etc.

To condense this it may help to format the plot summary into three paragraphs and focus on one of the men as your main character. 

P1: Who's the MC, what's his situation, what's his goal, what's his plan to achieve it?

P2: What goes wrong, what's plan B?

P3: What will happen if the MC fails? Succeeds? What's the big decision he must make that will determine his future?

Try writing the query with Fred as MC, then Malek. Possibly one will prove more intriguing.


khazar-khum said...

Does Malek strike out at Fred because he's afraid his family learning he's gay will cause dishonor?

CavalierdeNuit said...

So this is 50 Shades targeting a gay male audience? As a straight woman, this kind of book does not appeal to me in the same way that straight or lesbian erotica would not appeal to you. I believe most straight and gay women feel this way, and they consume a lot of books.

Aside from that, the problem I see is most adults know their sexual preference(s) at an early age. I find it difficult to believe that a straight frat boy would open up for a gay man who threatened him with a piece of paper, especially after the gay man refused to respect the straight man's wishes. In reality, a group of frat boys would lure Fred into their frat house, take him into the woods, and beat him beyond recognition.

Then again, Christian Grey is a complete fantasy, and there is no logical way he could exist in reality (google it). And that's his whole appeal.

St0n3henge said...

This reads like gay erotica on a free website.
I'd fix the plot before I worked on the query.

If you want to get an idea of better and more believable gay male storylines, go to Amazon and get books by Lucy Lennox. The book "Borrowing Blue" has some "straight" to gay characterization.

Anonymous said...

The writing is fine, but the plot, as others have noted, is fatally flawed.

It's an "idiot plot", meaning a plot that requires all the characters involved to be idiots in order for them to go along with the plot.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for Malek and Fred to share a kiss early on, causing Fred to think maybe Malek is gay (or bi) and simply hiding his sexuality (from others or himself)? Then, when Fred pursues him, maybe one of the other frat guys can lash out, and Fred can offer up the contract to Malek in lieu of turning the frat brother in to the police?

That way, Malek's not abusive, and Fred's not trying to "turn" a guy gay, both of which felt problematic to me. Granted, it's erotica, and erotica exists in the realm of fantasy, but I think you could still keep the dynamic you've created, without theoretically contributing to the (ridiculous) fear that some straight people have of gay people trying to "turn" them.

Then again, maybe you're intentionally playing with that stereotype (and the very real fear that gay guys have of being assaulted by straight guys if they happen to look at them wrong). Maybe that's the whole point.

Anonymous said...

"The problem I see is most adults know their sexual preference(s) at an early age." That's not true. People can live in denial for a very, very long time, particularly if they come from a culture where being gay is seen as not ok. I personally know people who came out in their late 20s, and others who still haven't come out because they cannot admit the truth to themselves and others. I live in a very Catholic country. There is a huge difference between knowing or suspecting something, and admitting the truth to oneself.

That said, I agree with other posters that making Malek totally straight, and not conflicted at all about his sexuality, is problematic. His character change in the second half of the story must be set up in the first, otherwise it's unbelievable. Also, he just sounds like a jerk. Are we rooting for him to get run over by a mail truck in the finale?