Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Feedback Request

Dear EE,

Here you are, with my thanks. One quick question, though: Should I mention that the book is in 3 voices (Fred's, Malek's, and the narrator's)? [The number of voices is of little interest. If you mean the number of points of view, most books that aren't exclusively in 1st person have more than one POV, so it's not worth mentioning.]

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Fred smiles in his hospital bed after being assaulted by his straight crush, because now he has Malek right where he wants him. Manipulative and obsessed, Fred knows that Malek has the potential to be the dominant of his wildest dreams. Already godly with his muscular physique and basso voice, he just needs a little direction in how to direct Fred. After Fred’s lawyers coerce Malek into signing a contract instead of going to jail, Malek has to meet with Fred twice a month for some “possibly sexual” favors.

Malek is heavy with guilt after drunkenly assaulting Fred, but he is also dreading meeting with him. What if Fred makes him like, kiss and stuff? Foreseeing this apprehension, Fred shows Malek the perks of having a “slave”, like massaging his feet and maintaining his shisha pipe. [The way it's worded, it could be the master massaging the slave's feet. And having one's shisha pipe maintained is unlikely to sway a straight guy's opinion of this arrangement.] A painter, he also draws Malek in scenes of dominion and power. The paintings are different from anything he’s done before, and they could free him from his tedious PhD program and abusive father.

For Malek the choice is play along, or go to jail. Disgusted at first, Malek realizes that there’s no way he’s letting a fag keep him on edge, and he should try enjoying Fred’s servitude. He finds he has a knack for domination and things become more sexual with Fred. But if anyone discovers their arrangement, it would shame Malek’s Iraqi immigrant family, and embarrass him among the frat-boys. Thus he makes Fred promise to keep the paintings a secret. Fred breaks this promise when he sells them to pay rent. [I'd be more worried about the foot massages and sexual aspects becoming public than the paintings.]

However, not only do the paintings sell, there is lucrative demand [It's the selling that's lucrative, not the demand.] for more. Well, anything is justified if it leads to pampering Malek, of course. [Selling more paintings seems unlikely to lead to more Malek pampering, since Malek didn't want any of them sold.]

But then an art enthusiast offers Fred the gallery exhibit of his career. If Fred accepts, it would shatter Malek’s trust and thus his livelihood. [Whose livelihood? They're both college students, right?] If he declines, he would keep his Prince, but remain poor, unknown, and at his father’s mercy. [Can't he just paint portraits that feature someone other than Malek? Is the buyer asking him to keep churning out paintings of the same person?]

Given that you are looking for LGBT Romance and/or erotica, I believe you will find THE GLORIOUS PRINCE, complete at just under 85,000 words, of interest. It is the first in a planned series, but can stand alone.

I have previously resided in the US capital in 2013; the setting of my story. I wrote this novel to answer the question: What are my straight crushes so damn afraid of? [If this novel answers that question, I guess the answer is that your straight crushes are afraid you'll break your promises to keep whatever secrets they want you to keep. And since Fred does break his promise, I guess their fear is well-founded. In any case, the reason you wrote the novel can be revealed to your agent after she sells your book; no reason it should be in the query.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


khazar-khum said...

Can't he just alter the facial features in the paintings so Malek won't be recognized? Change the hair color, eye color, etc? Or does the gallery owner only want Malek in the paintings?

Anonymous said...

Back for more punishment, eh?

The query seems overly long to me. Check the requirements of the agents you're submitting to. Make sure you're not pissing them off by violating their precious word count. Some of the details you've written in really aren't adding to the query. It could be simpler and cleaner (you've read the Query Shark archives?).

P2, for example. I would end this with, "the paintings are different from anything he's done before."

I would move "Fred breaks this promise when he sells them to pay rent" to the beginning of P4. I would also combine P4 and P5. Something like,

"Fred breaks this promise when he sells them to pay rent. The paintings sell like crazy. An art enthusiast offers Fred the gallery exhibit of his career. If Fred accepts, it would shatter Malek’s trust and thus his livelihood. If he declines, he would keep his Prince, but remain poor, unknown, and dependent upon his abusive father."

Now that I look at this, in both cases Fred's livelihood is destroyed. That's not good. Change the stakes if Fred accepts: "It would shatter Malek's trust, and baby kittens would cry" or "Malek would shut him out forever." (It would shatter Malek's trust seems kind of obvious, no? Maybe so obvious you don't need to state it?)

Cut out all mention of the tedious PhD. There's nothing duller than a whiny PhD candidate. I think if Fred is driven by desperate financial stakes, or even better a true passion for art, rather than by the need to escape his poor life choices, it makes him stronger as a character.

Finally, I think you need to explicitly make the connect between Fred's sudden success and the fact that his subject is Malek. Maybe his buyers are also obsessed with Malek. Maybe Malek is his Zelda Fitzgerald; no Malek, no brilliance shining through his work, and no art career. Just a lonely future in his horrible father's basement, grading exams. Ugggghhh.

Intesar Toufic said...

Thank you as always, EE. And thank you to the commentators. Seriously, the fact that you take time out of your day for lil' old me makes this Arab faggot's heart swell.
Love to America! hahahaha
On a serious note, I totally agree that the stakes are equal no matter which decision, what I want to highlight is that there is a pocket where Malek doesn't find out and Fred becomes more and more successful, which is the ideal scenario. With the extra money, he pampers Malek, which leads to more paintings so its a benevolent cycle.

I took out the PhD part, as advised, and slashed what Malek looks/sounds like. I also combined those paragraphs before looking at the comments! Lol.

I have read every posting on Query Shark. It is my next stop after abusing EE's vitriol gland. We Arabs are very keen on being considerate.

I have trimmed this down further, and it's now at 378 words. I will let it sit for a few days before returning to it, adding final touches, and sending it to the Shark's lair.

I hope to repay your gracious sass one day.

St0n3henge said...

This doesn't seem materially different from the last one.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Fred has a really great deal going on: A relationship with the straight guy of his dreams, a new and brilliant inspiration for his paintings, money and indepedence. It's a long con over Malek, and he doesn't know how long he can keep pulling it off. There has to be a compelling reason why he would consider the art gallery exhibit and risk throwing it all away. Has this been his life-long dream? Will it lead to even greater and better opportunities? Otherwise you've got a character with poor motivation, making seemingly arbitrary decisions.

If the stakes are the same no matter what decision he makes, then you've really got no story. No conflict. No character growth etc.

Anonymous said...

I would seriously never have guessed that you were not a native English speaker!

Anonymous said...

IMO this is a misguided story from the get-go. You're wanting to create a "genre" that simply isn't there.

If you must go through with your genre, I suggest completely re-writing the story. Speaking as a gay man, the fact you have the straight guy(?) dominating the gay guy after said straight guy batters/assaults the gay guy makes me want to not read the story any further.

You want to "corrupt" the straight guy (as seems to be a common trope in the community)? Make the "binding contract" be something else than a violent physical (and/or sexual, please don't do either of these) assault.

Make it a gay wedding ceremony and Malek needs the green card. Which would turn the story into a comedy and not what you want. BUT it'd be more plausible and "nicer" than making a story out as "someone that I hate is someone that I eventually turned out to love. By the way, sorry for assaulting you. #lol #nohomo"

Also like E.E. and a few other commentators are right: Your query is too long. Here's the blow-by-blow:

Malek assaults Fred. Fred makes a binding contract with a few lawyers as retaliation to the assault. Malek agrees because it's either this or going to jail for many years. Over the course of a year Malek comes to search his feelings and finds that he actually may want a romance with Fred.

However, conflict leads Fred breaking Malek's trust and (publicly?) embarassing Malek. Malek is a Iraqi and in Iraqi culture being a homosexual is a VERY BAD thing.

Will Fred gain Malek's trust again? Will Malek come to accept his (possibly bi?)-sexuality? Find out in (title of book here).

Far, far shorter than your submission. Gets to the point. Doesn't need extraneous details.

But really, if you're going to have an assault you're going to have to justify why Fred would even bother with Malek AND not have Malek lose trust with Fred. Doing another thing like E.E. said would make me never want to have a relationship with that person. Just saying.