PDA

View Full Version : How to decribe a PoC in your query.



Jumpy2
07-12-2013, 09:45 PM
Agents and publishers are really into diversity, it seems, which is great. My question is, how do I casually state that my MC is a person of color in the query? You wouldn't do it for a white character, and if the character's race is really not an issue and does not reflect the plot or the tone of the book then how do I state the race without making it seem like I shoe-horned it in there?

quicklime
07-12-2013, 10:02 PM
Agents and publishers are really into diversity, it seems, which is great. My question is, how do I casually state that my MC is a person of color in the query? You wouldn't do it for a white character, and if the character's race is really not an issue and does not reflect the plot or the tone of the book then how do I state the race without making it seem like I shoe-horned it in there?


er, if it doesn't affect the story in any way, why WOULD you mention it?

suki
07-12-2013, 10:10 PM
I'm not sure mentioning it in the query is necessary.

Here's the complicated part -- a diverse cast isn't going to make a meh book any less meh. It's not like an agent is going to say "This is pretty derivative/meh/okay but nothing special/etc. but it has diverse characters so sign me up!" So, unless the story itself is otherwise appealing, the cultural and racial makeup of the characters is likely not going to make a difference.

So, if the character's ethnic or cultural background isn't relevant, I'm not sure there is any point in mentioning it. But I also think it's unlikely to hurt your query if you do -- so long as you do so succinctly and move on. Like, maybe, "I noted [reference to agent's expressed desire for more diverse characters] .... TITLE contains a diverse cast of characters including..."

~suki

Jumpy2
07-12-2013, 10:33 PM
quicklime, I would only mention it because there seems to be such a thirst for it. Agents are looking for diversity in characters. But maybe it's something to mention in the part where you personalize the query to the specific agent.

quicklime
07-12-2013, 11:39 PM
well, you are correct, but if it matters in some way. Otherwise I could just write any character and then make sure to add a line "Dave was black." That's not gonna make it a diverse book or sell it.

if it doesn't really impact the book in any way, I'd just leave it, but that's my 2 cents

Polenth
07-12-2013, 11:59 PM
I didn't get an agent, so I'll warn that up front. For the most part, I didn't mention it. In some query versions, I had a line in the end part like this:

"*Book Name* is a 70,000-word urban fantasy novel, told from the dual points-of-view of Ari, a Bigfoot, and Ben, a two-spirit Spokane Indian."

This was based on a query on Query Shark which introduced its multiple viewpoints in this way.

It made no difference to responses when it had that line and when it didn't. When I query my next book, I'm not going to do anything like that. I don't think anyone cared either way.

Jamesaritchie
07-13-2013, 01:42 AM
You just say it, and not by using "a person of color". If a person is black, you say that person is black, or African American, or whatever other term the POV character would use.

By and large, a character who isn't described is white by default. Too many writers are so scared spitless that they'll offend someone that they aren't even worthy of being called writers.

It's a big, wide world out there, filled with all sorts of people, and they deserve to be mentioned for what they are, not turned white by cowardly, politically correct pseudo-writers.

Susan Littlefield
07-13-2013, 08:59 AM
Personally, I don't think mentioning the skin color of your character in your query is going to hinder or help you. I wouldn't mention it. The conflict is what's important.

Becca C.
07-13-2013, 10:01 AM
I would only mention it if the agent has diverse casts on their wishlist, or if they've been quoted anywhere as saying they're looking for diversity.

frankiebrown
07-13-2013, 05:03 PM
I would only mention it if the agent has diverse casts on their wishlist, or if they've been quoted anywhere as saying they're looking for diversity.

Seconding this.

lolchemist
07-13-2013, 06:49 PM
One of my stories, I'd query as "16 year old J, an Arab-American" but only because him being an Arab-American actually affects the story. (Then again just walking down the street while being Middle Eastern can be an ordeal when you're living in America.) If your MC's race affects the story even remotely, go ahead and include it. Just be like "Jane, a Chinese-American girl" or "Rosa who is of of Nigerian ancestry" or "James who is half-Pakistani, half-Swedish" or "Ashley whose parents immigrated from Iran" etc etc etc. Just stick it in there the same way you'd stick in the age.

DennisB
07-15-2013, 02:05 AM
Interesting question, inasmuch as my darned-near-finished WIP features a somewhat heroic black woman MC. Her race is never mentioned, but her name is Keisha, which I believe offers a hint.

So, I suppose that a query that states: "Keisha is faced with a terrible decision..." would at least get the agent wondering.