Queen Snark, (jeeze...please not!)
I am preparing to query agents regarding the manuscript for my literary novel. The narrative involves a creative/complex structure, interweaving the separate narratives of four main characters in successive chapters, and within each chapter interweaving a current-time story for the character with a story from that character's past. So, here are my questions:
1) Are creative plot structures good or bad things in an agent's eyes? If good things, should they be mentioned in the query letter, and, if so, in what sort of detail?
2) In my example, the easiest description would be that my novel entails intersecting narratives of distinct characters, as in Altman's interpretation of Carver's "Short Cuts," mashed up with the disjointed chronology of Arriaga's "21 Grams." Both of these analogies compare my manuscript to films, not to other books. Is this taboo, as it might display some lack of essential allegiance to printed words? Or is it OK, because film is an easy reference-point in today's pop-culture society?
Here, have some scissors and white out. You're over explaining everything and, in a cover letter, that is death. Succinct. Succinct, did I mention short and sweet yet?
First I'm not sure what creative plot structures are. Do they come in primary colors and attract children?
You have a plot. You have characters. You have backstory. You have successive chapters wherein each character is seen in present time and also from a previous time.
In a cover letter you're giving a very basic roadmap of what the pages will SHOW not tell. It's akin to saying "this pasta has a cream sauce not a tomato sauce" rather than listing all the ingredients of the cream sauce and how you sauteed the truffles to bring out just a hint of pig snout.
Even in a literary novel, being all artsy in the cover letter is the sign of someone in love with their words. That's never ever a good sign.
I tend to dismiss people who use film comparisons for their novels but Short Cuts would be an exception to that. I adored the film, I adore Altman and Raymond Carver IS a god. But you won't know that when you query me, and sadly, not every agent is of like mind (fools! fools!).
You'll be safer using book references.