PDA

View Full Version : Query for novel with multiple protagonists



stealingvowels
08-27-2015, 04:56 PM
(Returning here after a long hiatus – let me know if this is not the ideal place to post this kind of question!)


I am in the process of writing a query letter for an 85k fantasy novel with three protagonists, whose POVs switch throughout the story. All of them are equally integral to the story, and their plots intersect heavily.


I am struggling to compose a query letter that introduces three separate protagonists. Most of the advice I've seen about query letters encourages writers only to focus on the main character. However, if I were to choose only one of the protagonists to introduce in the query, it would be a serious misrepresentation of what the manuscript is actually about.


Can anyone help me with this?

mayqueen
08-27-2015, 05:50 PM
Visit QLH and look through the threads there, especially the successful queries. It will give you a good sense of what a query should contain. There's also a thread of made-up queries for famous novels, which includes one for Game of Thrones. Basically, yes, your query should only be one character with one interesting problem and one set of stakes. Yes, it's hard if you have multiple protagonists. But you only have 200-250 words to entice an agent.

I'm querying a novel right now with three points of view. My query focuses on only one of them. I've done this as well in the past. It was never an issue.

ETA: That isn't to say that a multi-POV query would never work. As with all writing, if done well, you can break the rules. But the rules generally exist for a reason and any writer should master them before breaking them.

stealingvowels
08-27-2015, 07:26 PM
Thank you for your response? What/where is QLH?

Maggie Maxwell
08-27-2015, 07:30 PM
QLH is Query Letter Hell (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?174-Query-Letter-Hell-SYW). It's in the Share Your Work subforum (password: vista). One of the most educational subforums here. Be sure to read the stickies and the threads mayqueen recommended. You'll get a lot out of them.

stealingvowels
08-27-2015, 09:07 PM
Thank you!

lbender
08-27-2015, 11:47 PM
You can also try Query Shark (http://queryshark.blogspot.com/), Janet Reid's blog on queries. She has archives that include all kinds of queries, including examples with multiple POV's.

Jamesaritchie
08-28-2015, 12:53 AM
Even when you have multiple main characters, one character should still be the focus, should still carry the day. Whether it's something like LOTR, or a movie such as The Avengers, one character must somehow rise above the others, get more focus, and save the day.

Making several characters equal usually means making no character the reader can latch onto and follow.

quicklime
08-28-2015, 05:18 PM
what everyone else said. I think, stealing, you need to get comfortable with the fact a query isn't a synopsis--its job isn't to cover the entire book, just to give an agent enough meat to get a sense of what's going on. A character they want to learn more about. Not to cover the entire book.

Maggie Maxwell
08-28-2015, 11:55 PM
You can also try Query Shark (http://queryshark.blogspot.com/), Janet Reid's blog on queries. She has archives that include all kinds of queries, including examples with multiple POV's.

Great advice. I've been slowly making my way through the queries and stumbled on this one, which is an example of the sort of query you'd want to do with multiple POVs: Query 199 (http://queryshark.blogspot.com/2011/03/199-ftw.html)

stealingvowels
08-29-2015, 01:36 AM
Thank you for finding this!! Query Shark is a tremendous resource but it is easy to get overwhelmed when you're looking for something this specific. Thanks to everyone who responded to this thread!

Roxxsmom
08-29-2015, 01:42 AM
I have a similar issue with my novel, but in the end, I focused on one character's arc and his interaction with one of the two others for my query (while hopefully implying that she also has an interesting and important arc). Is one of your three characters the one who gets the ball rolling at the beginning of the story? If so, that's the one you should probably focus on. Remember that queries tend to be about the set up for your story, not the entire plot. This doesn't mean you can't mention the other two (up to three names in a query is usually all right, I've been told), but the usual approach is to look at it from the perspective of one, even if they're not the only pov or focal character.

whiporee
08-29-2015, 07:54 AM
I think you have to pick one (and while all three are intregal to the story, there's really only one main MC) and go with that. You should mention that you have three POVs and the story alternates, but hook with the MC and make their plight the focus.

Roxxsmom
08-29-2015, 08:12 AM
I think you have to pick one (and while all three are intregal to the story, there's really only one main MC) and go with that. You should mention that you have three POVs and the story alternates, but hook with the MC and make their plight the focus.

Well, not necessarily with fantasy. Who's the "main" character in George RR Martin's books, for instance? Or Joe Abercrombie's? But there's often an arc that gets the ball rolling for everyone else, at least. If there isn't, I'd pick the one the story starts with.

stealingvowels
08-29-2015, 04:14 PM
Exactly what I was thinking – this kind of structure has become mainstream enough in fantasy lit since ASOIAF, I don't think it's really pushing the envelope that much anymore. Luckily there is a character in my project who "jumpstarts" the story, even if the other POVs are ultimately equally integral to the plot.

quicklime
08-29-2015, 04:52 PM
even before "modern fantasy lit" there were books with broad casts and multiple main characters....The Stand for example