My mystery novel features an ensemble cast of seven characters. Since I can't talk about all of them in the short span of the query letter, I've decided to focus on the antagonist. He's the main driving force behind the plot and despite appearing the least, he's ever-present in the minds of the other characters. Of course, I'll still mention in the letter that there are multiple POVs united in theme.
This, however, leads me to two issues.
1) Right now I've written a synopsis of almost 600 words where all the characters appear. The other six all influence the main plot and I can't really pick one out and eliminate him/her without losing something crucial to understanding the story. However, I'm afraid the agent reading the synopsis will have a difficult time remembering who is who. Is there an efficient way to make the agent care about each character in such a short span? Or should I do the same for the synopsis - focus on the antagonist and mention the others as the group opposing him? Thing is, they only learn to act as a group at the very end by opposing the antagonist... before that, each does his/her own thing inside interwoven alliances.
2) My very first chapter is not from the antagonist's POV. The first chapter is more of a short, 450-words event that triggers the main plot (kind of like the victim of a murder mystery dying on the first page, but with a slight twist).
The second chapter is from the antagonist's POV and how he plots the entire action that will further occur in the book. It references the event happening in the first chapter.
There are some agents I've stumbled upon who only request the first chapter. Should I rewrite my second chapter (featuring the antagonist's POV) as the first one? I feel like something from the book's voice/atmosphere/theme/understanding of the first chapter's POV character will be lost that way, even if it can somehow be worked into the plot.
I guess I should have cleared some things and reworded my questions better.
I can't combine the first two chapters. My book follows a pretty strict internal logic where each chapter is from a different character's POV. Chapter 1 focuses on character A and triggers the events in the book. Chapter 2 focuses on character B (the antagonist) who decided to hurry the entire plot of the book because of what happened in chapter 1.
I could take out chapter 1 since I already mention the event in chapter 2, but I'd rather have it shown for clarity than merely mentioned.
My reworked questions are these:
1) Would seven mentioned characters in a synopsis be too much/too difficult to track? Is there another way to avoid this confusion other than simply labeling some of them as "the group"?
2) Since in my (much shorter) query letter I focus on the antagonist (and lump the other six characters as "the group", for space constraints), and I do mention it's an ensemble cast, would an agent automatically expect the first chapter to be from the antagonist's POV? And since it isn't, would that be an instant rejection?