I could get addicted to this NaMaReMo thing. I feel so accomplished! In the spirit of getting back to you as quickly as possible, let’s dive into the mailbox, shall we? From Dan:
For the “first three pages” that we are to include with our query letters, do we consider the prologue? In the case of my novel, the “prologue” is part of the narrative, separated from the main storyline by time (in the tradition of Joan D. Vinge’s “The Snow Queen”). The protagonist is a writer, similar to William Goldman’s Mr. S. Morgenstern from “The Princess Bride,” so the opening of this book is styled as the “prologue.” Do you, as an agent, want the first three pages to come out of the “prologue,” or from chapter one of the main timeline?
In all honesty, I want the first three pages to be a valid and true reflection of the voice and tone of the bulk of the manuscript. Is that likely going to be a prologue set in a completely different time as the rest of the novel? Probably not.
That said, I can think of a recent manuscript I signed which did include a prologue that provided backstory to the novel, and put the reader in the head of a different character than the rest of the novel.
So yes, there are exceptions.
But I don’t make these grand pronouncements about what you MUST do in order to make things difficult for you. I’m trying to get a good sense of your novel in a quick email, likely one of dozens I receive every day. Trust me, I want to love your book. Help me do so by letting me connect right away with the main character.