Query on POV in Queries

My last post brought up a good question.  At least, I think it’s a good one, feel free to agree or not:  If your story is told from multiple POVs, whose POV do you use for the query? 

In Friday’s post I shared three options of a Twitter pitch for the same story.  Each one was written from a different POV because I switch back and forth between three throughout the story.  The story is mainly Ciara’s.  Bolin’s story, however, is woven around and through hers.  The third POV was chosen to help move the story and shed light on some areas we otherwise wouldn’t see.  #2, the pitch done from Bolin’s POV, proved to be the favorite.

I’ll give you a second to go back and read Doing A Little Pitching.  <cue Muzak>

Back already?  <hastily puts down wine goblet and licks dark chocolate off fingers>  You just skimmed, didn’t you?  No matter.  As long as you read the pitches, you’ll be fine.

So, let’s go back to the original question.  It almost seems like a no-brainer.  Of course you’d query from the MC’s POV, right?  But if the purpose of the query is to hook an agent or publisher, and one of the other POVs can accomplish that better than your MC’s, wouldn’t you be better served using his voice?  Or is that somehow misleading?  The last thing you want to do in a query is present something that doesn’t exist in the manuscript.

Which brings up an ancillary question:  when crafting a query for a multiple POV tale, do you somehow let it be known the story is told from more than one character’s viewpoint?  I read a sample query on-line a few weeks ago that resulted in a sale.  Each paragraph in the query had been written from a different POV.  There was a comment suggesting that was the “right” thing to do so the agent wasn’t taken by surprise.  Which, of course, also got me to thinking.

Dangerous endeavor.

What are your thoughts on POV and the query?

Crack the WIP!

 

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10 responses

  1. I’d love to read other people’s thoughts on that question! My novel is told from 3 POV and until now I have been told to use only one in my query. But if you say that you’ve seen a successful query with multiple POV in it, I don’t know what to think anymore…!

    September 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    • I’m going to have to see if I can track down where I saw that query and post — possibly on Query Shark???? Hmmm But between that, and responses to my previous post, it got me thinking about those multiple POVs. Yeah, me + thinking = bad idea!!

      September 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm

  2. I have heard that you’re supposed to write your q in the POV of your protag. And your #1 protag is the one who the story is really about. If you have more than one protag meeting that criteria, then it’s best to write it in the POV of the protag who has the most at stake (or maybe even more page time?). If you’re still unsure, then I would go with the protag who opens the story. God help us if all of our protags are on page 1, lol.

    I also have heard to avoid multiple POVs in queries. A q isn’t all the long, just a page, and when you have to fit in all of the other stuff like your bio, contact info, why you’re pitching that particular agent, why you’re the best person to write the story–well, you’re down to about half a page worth of giving the actual story. There isn’t room for mulitple POVs.

    I’m assuming your protag is the female, yes?

    After reading your 3 pitches, I would say that the most interesting pitch was your first one, but it was too cluttered with all of the different conflicts happening to her. Just pick one–maybe 2–conflicts (if you pick 2, definitely pick the 2 that are in opposition to each other, that would show that she is in a corner).

    Your second pitch read the best because it is short and clear. But if he is not your protag I don’t think you want to pitch in his POV. The agents will be expecting to read the opening pages in his voice.

    See if you can revise pitch #2 to be about the female (I’m sorry, I’m forgetting her name) and keep it short like #2 is.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    • Some excellent points there! Thanks for weighing in. I’m going to do some searching to see if I can find the query example with the multiple POVs.

      September 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm

  3. I think the biggest thing is that there is no one right answer. Sometimes the “perfect query” happens to hit the “right” agent on the days the stars align and her mocha was particularly nice.

    However looking at a good query that resulted in a sale can help authors in the query process write new and unique queries as well. So it’s always nice to see “new” ways of writing query letters.

    If you can write a query from more than one POV and keep it simple, you’ll probably attract attention. 🙂

    Great topic!

    Julie

    September 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    • Thanks, Julie. That’s why I frequent Query Shark — many examples of good and bad, and really bad transformed into really good.

      September 18, 2012 at 5:16 am

  4. With 6 POV characters in my WIP, I’ll stick to the most important one. 🙂

    I think presenting the query from a secondary main could cause problems when the agent begins reading the story. If the beginning doesn’t match his expectations, he might drop it. And heaven knows we don’t want that happening.

    The problem I see with so much query advice, even from agents, is that their examples of successful queries almost always BREAK THE RULES they give! Which makes me wonder—how good are the rules?!

    September 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    • 6 POVs!!! Holy cow, how do you keep them straight? LOL 😉

      You’re absolutely right about breaking the rules. Funny, if you go out intending to do that, you get called on it every time. If you just slip one in there, suddenly it works. I like to think of query rules in the same fasion as the Pirate’s Code, “the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.”

      September 18, 2012 at 5:19 am

  5. Wow I’ve just got my head around writing multiple POVs, let alone querying them… I guess I’d try a few different approaches and see which one seems to work best.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:00 am

    • I’m still on the search for the successful multiple POV query I had seen on line. Of course, didn’t bookmark the page and now that I want it I can’t find it. Grrrrr

      September 19, 2012 at 5:40 am

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