Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Feedback Request

The final iteration of the query most recently seen here.

Fred smiles in his hospital bed after being assaulted by his straight crush, because now he has Malek right where he wants him. After Fred’s lawyers convince Malek to sign a contract instead of going to jail, he must pay Fred some “reconciliatory” visits. At last, Fred can kneel to Malek as his submissive. Guilt-ridden, Malek wants to appease Fred, but dreads playing along.

Fred gradually pulls Malek closer to becoming a dominant as Malek tackles his fear of homosexual interaction. He discovers a satisfying knack for commanding Fred and finds in him a sexual release from his frustrating life. To catalyze this transition, Fred paints Malek as king of mythical realms. Malek, fearing ridicule at university and [afraid of] shaming his Iraqi immigrant family, orders Fred to trash the paintings. Instead, Fred sells them to pay rent.

Fred’s [His] abusive father always dismissed his [Fred's] dream of becoming a famous painter, [artist] insisting that Fred take over the family business. However, not only do these [Fred's] paintings sell, there is demand for more.

Now Fred’s two dreams are coming true, and it is terrifying. If Malek gets wind of his famous paintings, he will shut Fred out forever, stripping him of inspiration and the only straight crush that liked him. [So what? If the guy is straight, how long does he expect the relationship to last? The choice between the career you would love to have and a relationship with a guy who'd rather be with a woman is a no-brainer.]

Given that you are looking for LGBT Romance and/or erotica, I believe you will find THE GLORIOUS PRINCE, complete at 84,800 words, of interest. It is the first in a planned series, but can stand alone.

I have previously resided in the US capital [comma] in 2013; the setting of my story. I wrote this novel to answer the question: What are my straight crushes so damn afraid of? [Did writing this novel answer that question? If so, what was the answer? If not, I guess you failed. Either way, if anyone publishes this novel, it won't be to answer that question, so why bring it up?]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Contact info


The query is okay. The problems are:

1. The contract, which seems silly whether it's for reconciliation visits or sex. In my experience. outside of the business world, there isn't a lot of contract signing going on.

2. The idea that Fred doesn't move on and find a gay crush or another straight crush. That he can get inspiration only from the guy who assaulted him. If I, a straight guy, had a crush on a woman and she was a lesbian, and she met my initial advance by assaulting me, I wouldn't go to great lengths to be with her as much as possible. Is that a good analogy?

I also wouldn't write a novel to answer the question What is she so damn afraid of?


St0n3henge said...

"He discovers a satisfying knack for commanding Fred and finds in him a sexual release from his frustrating life."
See, though- there are women who enjoy being dominated. If this turns him on, why Fred? Is he falling in love with him? If so, say so. if it's just a sexual fling, certainly it isn't worth all this drama.
You can't have your cake and eat it, too. You want the stakes to be high, but without a real emotional connection, there really aren't any. If love isn't involved the decisions aren't gut-wrenching and the choices are actually pretty obvious.

Classy said...

YES I got an "okay."
Thank you so much and I will take another whack at it. I'll be popping by and tiptoeing around the comment/landmine section. But to answer your questions with endearing sass:

1- Because there's a damn contract in 50 damn shades of grey and that damn book did pretty damn well. Before you trolls pounce/limp to me: NO, I don't like the book, I will tolerate the comparisons, the contract worked in that book and that is all there is to it. (Fume, I have marshmallows.)

2- We can't control who we like or who we obsess over nor can we control the degrees of said emotions. If we could, life would be fair and dull, and Romeo would've found some other teenager. If you disagree, then this will only apply to Fred. But thanks for caring about my wayward faggot.

Again, thanks to everyone who secretes anything in reaction to any of my schtuff.
Always and forever, Alyssa Edwards. *Tongue-pop*

Anonymous said...

This is a lot better. I agree with first comment that high (emotional) stakes are missing.

You mention the success of "50 Shades," despite its own stupid arbitrary contract, but there are two problems with that comparison:

1) I remember reading somewhere that the true heart of "50 Shades" isn't all the kinky sex, but the abuse. It's about a deeply damaged individual overcoming sexual abuse through the power of love.
2) Again, that book was, at its heart, a love story. Feels like you're afraid to go in that direction. But it might be a direction that makes the book better.

The underlying nastiness of your story-- the unlikeability of the main character-- seems to be turning potential readers off. I'm not sure you can keep it and actually have a book people want to read. it might be too much.

Anonymous said...

All hail Alyssa Edwards!!!

Back to your book though, you have to know what you are trying to say in your book better than anyone else. If you disagree with critiques, that is your decision. You have a gay character forcing a straight homophobic character into a relationship. Fine. Fred wants the guy that assulted him. Well, there are females that stay with their abusers, so why not males. You have a homophobic character turn. It may be a thing. But do you really believe that line about answering a question brings anything to the query? If not, I'd listen to EE and snip that part out. Just saying. Best of luck, and hey, maybe Alyssa will read it...

InkAndPixelClub said...

From what I understand, the contract in "50 Shades" is mostly about establishing what can and can't be done in the relationship, which is actually kind of a good thing to do in a BDSM relationship. Everyone involved discusses what's going to happen beforehand and what they're comfortable with and consent is established beforehand (though saying "no" in the moment should still be okay). Your contract is more about one guy extorting vague favors from the other in exchange for not turning him in on assault charges. And there are lawyers involved, which is extra hard to believe, since I doubt such a contract would remotely hold up in a court of law.

You never mention what business Fred's abusive dad is in. Is it important to the story? If not, could you make it so he runs a law firm? Then you could switch it so reluctant law student Fred draws up his own contract that looks just legit enough to convince Malek, but doesn't have any real lawyers or serious legal power behind it.

I believe Ston3h3ng3's point is that Malek's newly discovered aptitude for and possible enjoyment of domination doesn't really make his time spent with Fred that much more appealing if Malek is a straight guy. If Malek is figuring out that he may actually be gay or bisexual, or he still considers himself straight and wouldn't even consider a relationship with another guy, but finds he enjoys his relationship with Fred, then say so. If Malek is developing feelings for Fred so that he might actually consider having a relationship with the guy without being contractually obligated to do so, definitely say so. If none of those are the case, then its hard to see how this could ever evolve in to one kind of healthy relationship (which can still include dominance and submission) and not just a guy doing sexual favors for another guy to avoid jail time.

Chelsea P. said...

I have a thought: what if the query begins with Fred's abusive father never thinking his artist son will amount to anything.

All through his childhood, Fred heard the same thing from his abusive father: you'll never amount to anything. Now, struggling to make rent, and unable to produce a saleable painting, Fred fears his father might be right--until he meets Malek, the muse of his dreams. The only problem is, straight Malek doesn't want anything to do with gay Fred's attention, and when Fred asks Malek to pose for him, Malek lashes out, landing Fred in the hospital.

Fred knows he should just walk away, but ever since he started sketching Malek, his paintings have come to life in a way they never did before. And when Malek shows up in the hospital, guilt-ridden over his violent outburst, Fred proposes a solution: if Malek will pose for ten paintings, Fred won't press charges.

Then you can get into their complicated relationship, the success of the paintings, and how Malek is afraid of his family and frat brothers finding out what's going on. I really think if you lead with the father, and with Fred's desperation to make money, it'll help the reader understand his psychological reasons for going after this abusive guy. My biggest issue at this point is feeling like there's no happy ending for Fred. If he keeps selling the pantings, he's basically outing a guy who (probably?) isn't gay in the first place, and that feels really unethical. If he gives up the career for Malek, he's still stuck with a guy who can't really love him in the way he deserves. Is there another guy in the picture? Another possible choice? Any way that he'll actually be happy?

Best of luck with your story! :)

Anonymous said...

I really like Chelsea's makeover of this query. She doesn't change any details, just... refocuses. Fred is still manipulative, Malek is still homophobic, but they become more relatable with that one stroke.

I'm sorry, but I still want to hear about the drag. You shouldn't have brought Alyssa up...Will there be drag in the story? Just a little? Please?

Fine, be that way. I'll just re-watch seasons one through six.

Anonymous said...

I think I just solved the mystery... The secret buyer. It's Michelle Visage??? Make it so and I will crown ye The Supreme Overlord(ess?) Of All Drag!

St0n3henge said...

1- Because there's a damn contract in 50 damn shades of grey and that damn book did pretty damn well.

Yeah, but- she doesn't SIGN the contract. Christian WANTS Ana to sign it, but she doesn't. It wouldn't have been a legally binding contract anyway because it stipulates that Ana can't change her mind about sexual acts and decide not to perform, and that's illegal. Every individual has the right not to consent.

The contract is a SYMBOL of Christian's need to control every aspect of the relationship. This later extends to him stalking her in other countries to know where she is at all times. It's obsessive behavior. So the contract is a metaphor.

Here you're using it literally and as a gimmick.

"We can't control who we like or who we obsess over nor can we control the degrees of said emotions."

True that. But I basically couldn't tell if you were saying Malek enjoys domination, in which case he doesn't need Fred because any willing submissive will do. Or if he's actually flipped for Fred, in which case he should really want Fred's business to take off so he can be free of his abusive father and it should be a harder decision than just "No, you can't show the paintings to anybody."
I really do see the conundrum here. The paintings are Fred's work, but the subject happens to be Malek.
So if Fred cares for Malek, he'd at least feel guilty for selling the paintings. And if Malek cares for Fred, he'd try to get Fred his own gallery or something. Since neither seems to be caring for the other, I just took it that aren't that attached to each other.

Classy said...

Guys my heart is swelling with joy and you've made me laugh and smile!
Michelle Visage! hahaha!
There is some drag in the book. Of course there is. What modern self-respecting faggot doesn't watch Drag Race?
I know: A Republican.
Anywho, thank you everyone for your priceless input. Thank you Chelsea for showing me a different place to start. It is indeed an interesting angle, my dear.

I am just so stressed after reading QueryShark archives. I have to be concise, but "details are your friend." I have to have a voice, yet take note of my poise. It has to be 250 words maximum, and yet I read lots of queries longer than that. A bio is not necessary, but I am a practicing dom top. Do I end the book with a question, or just a series of events that will intuitively allude to a great conflict?

And which damn conflict do I even leave the agent with? Malek confronting his arousal? Fred deciding to sell the paintings? The paintings catching on and Malek's reaction if he finds out? How many questions is too much?! I'm so rattled, but I will find my peace. I will keep coming back here for your feedback on this. Nice to meet all of you!

I'm not discouraged. With my Fashion Tape, Anusthing is possible...

Anonymous said...

Alaska... Fanghasm! Now I see her in that plastic wrap dress... Is that so wrong?

I'm too cowardly to post my own thing, so all props to you for bravery.

Personally, I think your bio sounds fun, but I would not put it in the query. Now, when you meet that extremely attractive agent, or editor, you may choose to let it out. A little at a time...

The trick here, is letting your voice seep through the query. For some reason, it's easier said than done. I'm sure you'll get it though. You just have to...

Lip Sync For Your Life!

Good luck, don't... (You know what) it up!

-Hag in training.

Anonymous said...

I would try the rewrite as Chelsea suggested (which really does sound like a great query), and see where that leaves you. You can hint at Malek's inner turmoil, but end with Fred's conflict/ choice. He's the heart of the query, as you've written it, after all.

Anonymous said...

I am just so stressed after reading QueryShark archives. I have to be concise, but "details are your friend." I have to have a voice, yet take note of my poise. It has to be 250 words maximum, and yet I read lots of queries longer than that. A bio is not necessary, but I am a practicing dom top. Do I end the book with a question, or just a series of events that will intuitively allude to a great conflict?

That doens't matter to your story. Why do you keep bringing in your sexuality and other tidbits as if throwing those out will fix the mess that is your story currently? It won't.

Chelsa's rewrite is good. Start there. Rewrite the entire story under that pretense and maybe we could work on the query then.