PDA

View Full Version : Character names in query



Laurie
04-04-2006, 04:56 PM
In the same session of the same conference, we were told to not use character names in the query. To instead outline purpose, time frame and setting in one to three sentences.
Do agents really not want character names used? i.e "a woman" instead of Catherine?

victoriastrauss
04-04-2006, 07:45 PM
Three sentences is fine if that's all it takes to provide a snapshot of your book. But sometimes you need more, and two or even three paragraphs is perfectly acceptable. Nor do I see any reason to avoid character names on principle. In fact, while leaving your characters nameless might work in some circumstances, this seems to me like fairly bad advice in many cases. In some genres, such as fantasy, names are an important part of the setting.

Everyone you ask about query letters will tell you something different. I think there are really just a few basic rules: include genre and word count, make your plot snapshot as interesting and compelling as you can, keep it to a single page, mention your credits ONLY if they're relevant. And remember that it's a business document. Other than that, there's quite a lot of leeway. Your job in the query isn't to stick to someone else's idea of a good query; it's to intrigue an agent or editor so much that they'll want to read more.

- Victoria

Laurie
04-04-2006, 10:14 PM
Makes sense to me. It just sometimes seems there are some 'secret' rules out there used to weed people out.

And no, I'm not paranoid :eek: .... just cautious. :o

victoriastrauss
04-05-2006, 12:26 AM
There are no secret rules, though there are people who'd like you to believe there are. Most of what you need to know is easy enough to research. Be skeptical of anyone who tells you there's only one way to do things, and make sure the person providing advice is qualified to do so before you take them seriously.

- Victoria

dantem42
04-05-2006, 06:00 AM
There are no secret rules, though there are people who'd like you to believe there are. Most of what you need to know is easy enough to research. Be skeptical of anyone who tells you there's only one way to do things, and make sure the person providing advice is qualified to do so before you take them seriously.- Victoria

I second the motion. I've been complimented on my query letter by a couple of agents and I mentioned the three major characters. You don't want to overdo it -- leave repetitions for the synopsis -- but I went over enough query examples before I wrote mine to know that there's no rule on this. An agent who will toss your query because you mention a character is probably not someone you'd want representing you.