I'm in the process of sending out queries to agents for my story but one of my lingering concerns is that the sample material they request often doesn't even get into the meat of the story. I'm concerned that agents might be confused at the information disparity between what I've written in the query versus the first chapter that they read.

The way my book is structured, the first and last chapters are set in the present day. Everything in between is a story that is being re-experienced by the protagonist of the events in her life that happened five years ago. The protagonist in the present is a bit of a different character. She's much wiser, much more content with her life and is goal-oriented. In the past however when she was just a scared kid, she's very different. Much more selfish, doesn't understand much about the world, breaks down into tears easily etc. It's more about the journey to becoming the character we see at the beginning.

The way it's written, the first chapter is intentionally meant to be a little deceiving. I want readers to get a certain idea in their head about what this world looks like, what certain characters look like, and then by the end when we get back to the present you have this 'Aha!' moment where you realize that of course that's the way things have been all along.

I guess I'm just wondering if this kind of thing could turn agents off or confuse them. If they continue reading, they'll see what I'm going for, but with the requested sizes of sample materials sometimes, they don't often get to. I talk about this 12 year old girl in the query and the first chapter is immediately following the perspective of this 17 year old in a world that sounds nothing like the pitch. I mean the beginning of the story is compelling, but it's meant to all be sort of an intriguing precursor to the last line of that chapter which is meant to really draw your interest and make you keep reading.

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Am I worried about nothing, or is this a legitimate concern? I want to follow the submission rules of course, but sometimes I just feel like stamping a big disclaimer on the top that explains all of this. Has anyone else dealt with something similar or had experiences with an unusual opening chapter?

Source: reddit post


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