Monday, November 29, 2010

Query 42

Of Two or More Minds

Adrian's friends attempt a shakedown of his boss by stealing an illegal adult film and threatening to turn it over to authorities. This leaves the sexually confused theater manager playing both sides; earnestly trying to prove his loyalty to the company while reluctantly pocketing his share of the stolen cash. Actually, Adrian distrusts Lou Davis, his boss, but doesn't know the owner of the porn theater and several bookstores had partnered with a Web-based video production company deeply connected to a Salvadorian child prostitution ring. He doesn't know Lou's partners had already gained control of the business by turning Lou's weakness against him. Adrian was soon to get set up the same way but gets off much easier, the blackmail only having destroyed his half-serious engagement to Regina, his best friend and lover. But he could rationalize that as the fair outcome. A bisexual homophobe not much for sharing is probably not the reliable lover she wanted so to believe. Even if he wanted just as much to believe. Belief, it seemed, could be complete in just half of one's mind.

Comments

This could well be just an email translation issue, but the body of the query came through as a single paragraph in Yahoo mail.

I'm not getting a really good sense of the plot from this. Here's what I understand to be happening:

  • Adrian helps blackmail his boss.
  • His boss' partners turn around and blackmail him.
  • He loses his girlfriend because of it.
I'm sure there must be something more to the story, but it isn't coming through in the query. Plus, I'm not quite sure what the tone of the story is. Is it dark? Is it humorous? Including a genre (and word count) would help position the story in the reader's mind, or they could be of two or more minds themselves.

Adrian's friends attempt a shakedown of his boss by stealing an illegal adult film and threatening to turn it over to authorities.

I'm not sure the slow reveal that Adrian is connected to a porn theater works. At first I thought it was a personal copy of the film the friends (are they really friends or simply coworkers?) stole and I wondered if it was illegally copied or purchased. I didn't get it was child porn until two sentences later. And I'm still not clear if it's a personal copy or something the theater is showing?

This leaves the sexually confused theater manager playing both sides; earnestly trying to prove his loyalty to the company while reluctantly pocketing his share of the stolen cash.

I don't think this is the best place to drop the info about Adrian being sexually confused as it doesn't seem to have any bearing on the blackmail. Does "stolen cash" refer to the blackmail money? Because if it does, then "stolen" isn't the right word here and "attempt" can be deleted in the first sentence. If it doesn't, then I don't know what it's referring to.

Actually, Adrian distrusts Lou Davis,

Why does the boss get a last name but Adrian doesn't?

his boss, but doesn't know the owner of the porn theater and several bookstores had partnered with a Web-based video production company deeply connected to a Salvadorian child prostitution ring. He doesn't know Lou's partners had already gained control of the business

Since the partners are still Lou's partners, this all needs to be in present tense.

by turning Lou's weakness against him.

What is Lou's weakness? Children? I think you're playing a little too coy with the reader. Be direct.

Adrian was soon to get set up the same way but gets off much easier, the blackmail

Why is Adrian being blackmailed? Is it retribution? What does Adrian possess that he could be blackmailed over? Naming WHY he's being blackmailed would give us better insight into the character, I think. All protagonists don't need to be super-sympathetic, but the rest of the query tries to manipulate the reader into sympathizing with him, so grounding him regarding his virtues and his failings will help.

only having destroyed his half-serious engagement to Regina, his best friend and lover.

So how is the relationship destroyed? Do the partners disclose whatever Adrian was being blackmailed over to Regina?

But he could rationalize that as the fair outcome. A bisexual homophobe not much for sharing is probably not the reliable lover she wanted so to believe. Even if he wanted just as much to believe.

I'm not clear why "belief" is being emphasized. Again, I think you need to be clear. A bisexual homophobe can be as perfectly capable of commitment and living in a committed relationship as the next guy. Unless he doesn't want to. Is Adrian a player? Is he more of a commitment-phobe than he is a homophobe?

Belief, it seemed, could be complete in just half of one's mind.

So does he want Regina back? Does this mean only half of him believes he can settle down with a woman but the other half will still be searching for something?

Overall, I'm not clear what Adrian wants. A happy life with Regina that the blackmailers thwart? Is THAT the plot? Or is he shrugging off that relationship -- accepting it as the cost of  blackmail -- and if so, what then DOES he want? His bisexuality and homophobia are guns on the mantel. Show us how those aspects figure into the plot or Adrian's motivations or else leave those descriptors out. Even if you're targeting the GLBT community as your audience, from this query we don't see how they come into play.

This seems to be a character-driven story. I would lead off with Adrian and his life with Regina and how his bisexuality may already be compromising that relationship and then go into him getting caught up in a blackmail scheme, then the blackmailers coming after him and destroying what's left of the relationship. Then tell us what Adrian wants next and how the blackmail and Regina figure into his future decisions.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Sometimes, when submitting a query for critique, it would be better to send one that's longer. We can tell you what to cut, but it's hard to tell what to add because we don't know what you have.