#15 Query Corner: ‘NIGHTMARE BEAUTY’

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Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

NIGHTMARE BEAUTY is a YA fantasy.

When Rachel Summer nightmares manifest midday in a parking lot, she knows she’s gotta break her curse. Otherwise, the nightmares will destroy more than just her.

This week’s querest has been working on their query for a while. And lucky for us, they shared their older draft so we can see

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com), and you are selected for inclusion, I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

Overall Impression:

This sounds like a story I’d readily enjoy, and with the comps (comparison novels), I don’t know why agents aren’t already beating down the door!
I recommend emphasizing the curse over the nightmares because I’ve heard that dreams are overdone. As long as you have a fresh take, the plot point shouldn’t be an issue, but de-emphasizing it may make agents open to reading your pages, rather than rejecting after just the query.
A few things I’d change:

  • Put all the stats into 1 paragraph
  • Streamline it a bit

Querist’s Original:

[my comments are in blue/italics/brackets]

Dear_____,

Teenager [add her age] Rachel Summers will do anything to be rid of the nightmares for sleep and peaceful dreams, including staying at a mind management laboratory. Because she’s been cursed since she was five years old, and she is unable to tell anyone about it; Rachel feels alone. Until she meets a teenage boy named Aaron Winters who is under the same curse as she is and who lives in the same Ohio town. [this feels a little clunky]

As Rachel and Aaron grow closer as the nightmares attack them in public and in broad daylight, showing them they’re growing more powerful. While The Nightmare Witch continues to remain hidden in the dark, planning on how to continue the curse. An elderly woman continues to visit Rachel with mysterious warnings on how she shouldn’t be alone. But, when Rachel learns Aaron never told her he’s no longer under curse, [Oh! When did this happen?] she then receives a terrifying nightmare, leaving her to feel she’s lonelier than ever.

Rachel soon realizes she can’t break the curse on her own. She’ll be hypnotized, terrified, restrained, and tormented by the nightmares. Little does she know the most dangerous part will be being separated from her cursed companion, Aaron. Together, they must learn from the elderly woman’s tragic past to stop The Nightmare Witch before she invades Rachel’s body and mind to curse every child.

NIGHTMARE BEAUTY is a young adult paranormal romance complete at 80,000 words. For readers who love modern retellings, like The Brothers Grimm’s SLEEPING BEAUTY, with a hidden evil, like the film HOCUS POCUS. I have a degree in English and a degree Arts and Humanities.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Q15


The Querest’s Revisions:

Dear [Ms/Mr. Agent Person!],

A five-year-old Rachel Summers was cursed with nightmares. Now seventeen, the nightmares have grown stronger and Rachel’s desperate enough for sleep that she’s willing to spend a summer sleeping at a mind management laboratory. That’s where she meets Aaron Winters, a boy from her own town with the same nightmare curse. Instead of getting better, though, the nightmares grow stronger, until they attack the pair in public, during broad daylight.

When Rachel learns that Aaron is hiding the truth–that he broke free of the curse–she feels more alone than ever. Worse, the witch who cursed her is trying to make the spell go global. Uncertain who to trust, Rachel’s exhausted hold on her own mind and body grows weaker. She must find a way to break the curse–with or without Aaron’s help.

NIGHTMARE BEAUTY is a young adult paranormal romance complete at 80,000 words and should appeal to readers who love modern retellings, like The Brothers Grimm’s SLEEPING BEAUTY, with an underestimated evil, like the film HOCUS POCUS. I live in California with a degree in English and a degree in Arts and Humanities.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Q15] 

 


My REVISION

Dear [Agent],

A five-year-old Rachel Summers was cursed with nightmares. Now seventeen, the nightmares have grown stronger and Rachel’s desperate enough for sleep that she’s willing to spend a summer sleeping at a mind management laboratory. That’s where she meets Aaron Winters, a boy from her own town with the same nightmare curse. Instead of getting better, though, the nightmares grow stronger, until they attack the pair in public, during broad daylight.

When Rachel learns that Aaron is hiding the truth–that he broke free of the curse–she feels more alone than ever. Worse, the witch who cursed her is trying to make the spell go global. Uncertain who to trust, Rachel’s exhausted hold on her own mind and body grows weaker. She must find a way to break the curse–with or without Aaron’s help.

NIGHTMARE BEAUTY is a young adult paranormal romance complete at 80,000 words and should appeal to readers who love modern retellings, like The Brothers Grimm’s SLEEPING BEAUTY, with an underestimated evil, like the film HOCUS POCUS. I live in California with a degree in English and a degree in Arts and Humanities.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Q15]


Fun sounding revision sounds good. Best of luck to Q15!


And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!

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