17 seems an arbitrary number, but if it keeps you focused, I’m all for it. And focus is what matters here. If you’ve got two storylines for two point of view characters, there should be some point of intersection for them—that’s where you focus your pitch. What’s the common denominator that allows these two people and stories to exist within the same novel? Do they speak to two sides of the question “What is love?” Do they explore the same theme and come to different conclusions about it? That theme is the anchor for your pitch, as in: “In a school where money means Everything, two freshmen find out what happens when Everything is suddenly gone.” What do you know! If you’ll let me ignore the word “a”, then I hit the magic 17.
Focusing on a short pitch is soooo hard. This post is welcome. I have a dual POV story too and it’s a really good suggestion to find that point of intersection and pitch that. In my current query letters, I stress only one of the characters, because though it’s dual POV, one is a bit more central (in this author’s mind at least) than the other. But I could also try selling the “intersection” way as well. Thanks, Dear-Editor.
I find it helps me if I imagine it being said by the guy who does the voiceovers for movie trailers…. 😉
Hey, I do the same thing, Kathleen! So good to know I’m not the only one who hears voices. It really does work. (The voice we’re both hearing is probably Don LaFontaine’s. He made a career of doing trailers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QPMvj_xejg)