Friday, August 31, 2012

The Sweet Guy Tells All

The Sweet Guy Tells All

I’m sick of being the Sweet Guy. You know the guy I’m talking about. In every cheap romance novel there’s the Heroine, the Hero, and, among other lesser players, the Sweet Guy. The formula hardly ever changes; he’s always written as the sensitive male friend—not gay but might as well be—the ever-present shoulder to cry on, the one the Heroine always turns to when the Hero is being an asshole, the one she feels comfortable with sharing her feelings and deepest secrets, the one she always hugs while saying something like “Oh, you’re sooooo sweet. . .” before she goes off and porks the Hero.

I am sooooo tired of being that guy . . . and yet, women insist on telling me their stories. . .

Will the sweet guy finally get lucky? Or will his life continue to imitate art?

I wrote The Sweet Guy Tells All very quickly in the summer of 2004. Back then, I dreamed of seeing one of my stories in the pages of Playboy, which at the time was one of the best vehicles for unknown writers trying to break into the big time. The magazine famously championed a brand of lyrical, edgy, male-centric fiction in which mysterious women and poetically choreographed fist fights were de rigeuer. At a bit under 5,000 words, my story was formatted according to the magazine's submission guidelines, and sent off to Chicago with high hopes and a self-addressed stamped envelope just in case.

Of course, the typescript came back a few weeks later under cover of the standard rejection form. But, to my great surprise, one of the editors at the magazine had taken the time to scribble out a friendly note in the margain. Seems they very much enjoyed my story--thought it was pretty good, in fact; funny and well crafted. The problem from their point of view, so the helpful editor explained, was this: my male character--the Sweet Guy of the title--was too weak. No story gets into Playboy unless the main male charachter is "stronger" than the main female character. This is an immutable principal of Playboy fiction, and I was not the first writer to have a story rejected for violating the rule. No less a figure than Harlan Ellison once notably complained about having one of his best short pieces rejected for this very same reason.

The ultimate upshot of this rejection was . . . encouragement! My immediate goal had been to get published; but, I realized, I had achieved my ultimate goal, which was to write a good, entertaining, funny erotic story that readers could connect with. I never revised or resubmitted the piece; never succombed to the temptation to change the characters or their story simply to see it in print. I finally published it as a Kindle book earlier this year, complete with a beautiful blinged-out cover designed by Andre SanThomas and Sharazade.

The Sweet Guy Tells All is free on Amazon Kindle for four days, from Friday August 31 through Monday, September 3. Check it out and see what you think.

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