Oct 25, 2011

QUERY: Amelia's Monsters

*Note* I posted this a long time ago on this site, but I am re-posting this to see how it has held up before I finally submit it.

Dear Agent,

Since she was twelve, Amelia’s nights have been plagued with visits from monsters. Each night they would terrorize her through the darkness of her closet, calling her Amelie and telling her that they’ve been waiting for her. No matter how many times she turned them away, they would return, bringing with them the terrors of the night. And they followed her no matter where she went.

Now fourteen, Amelia is getting a fresh start in a brand new home in a gated community. Sadly, not even the gates can protect Amelia from her deepest fears. When her cousin Lily comes to visit, the monsters return and steal Lily in the night. With Lily’s life in danger, Amelia must face her fears and enter the monsters’ world to rescue her cousin. But with each step into their world, Amelia discovers a tangled past that connects her to their world and the one they call Amelie.

8 comments:

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

Hello! Basic plot looks good and is nicely condensed. I'd like a bit more characterization on Amelia. Who is she and what makes her an engaging protagonist? Just a sentence would do.

Also, genre and word count should be included. It sounds to me like this is either MG or lower YA.

A bit about grammar. The one sentence should be, "...terrorize her from the darkness..." I believe, as through doesn't seem to be the right preposition for the job.

You can also drop the Lily's name and simply refer to her as Amelia's cousin. Less names = better clarity in queries.

Specifics might also help. Instead of "terrors of the night" you could tell me what they're doing that makes them so heinous.

Otherwise, this is a really decent query. It's clear, concise, and you've done a good job summarizing the major plot.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

gj said...

This is just a grammar peeve of mine, but "ever since she was twelve" is clearer than "since she was twelve."

Also, that beginning makes me expect the character will be fifty years old or something, not merely a couple years older. Might be better to go with "For two years, Amelia has ...." I know two years is a long time in kid perception of time, but the person reading the query will be an adult. One hopes.

Anonymous Author said...

This looks like an interesting story idea. You do need to add in your genre and wordcount.

This is awkward:

Each night they would terrorize her through the darkness of her closet

The conditional "would" is unnecessary here and distances us from the action.

"The darkness of her closet" is confusing and unspecific-- isn't the room also dark? Can't she shine a light in the closet? Is it the closet itself that's terrifying? Bear in mind we don't know anything about the setting except what you tell us in the query.

The first paragraph also shifts from present tense (actually present perfect) to past. Most of the first paragraph ought to be in present tense, like so:

Ever since she was twelve, Amelia’s nights have been plagued with visits from monsters. Each night they terrorize her through the darkness of her closet, calling her "Amelie" and telling her that they’ve been waiting for her. No matter how many times she turns them away, they return. And they follow her no matter where she goes.

In the second paragraph, you're back in present, which is good. But the ref to Amelia's "deepest fears" is vague, are we talking monsters again? Better to say so. And "sadly" is an unnecessary addition; don't tell us how to feel.

In fact, I'd take out a lot of the terror and replace it with the stuff that Amelia actually does to, er, ameliorate her situation.

Kendra Young said...

Hi! I have a couple of questions. Have the monsters stopped tormenting her? The first paragraph says they “would” torment her – then the second paragraph says the monsters return when her cousin comes to visit. This makes me wonder why they stopped coming – is the cousin the trigger that makes it all start again?

If they haven’t stopped, I think the first paragraph would serve you better if it were firmly in the present tense. Something like this, “Fourteen year old Amelia’s nights are plagued by monsters. Each night they terrorize her through the darkness of her closet – calling her Amelie – telling her they’re waiting for her. No matter how many times she turns them away…”

I would also scratch this sentence from the second paragraph, “Sadly, not even the gates can protect Amelia from her deepest fears.” In my mind I see monsters in her bedroom closet, so when I read this I thought, “Well, duh.” I wouldn’t expect a gated community to protect me from monsters in my closet.

I agree with the other posts. There are some basic issues with grammar that should be addressed and I would like more details about Amelia and the terror she’s experiencing. However, I really like the story premise and would like to know more. I like middle grade and young adult fiction, and this does sound like something I would read. Good luck!

Anonymous Author said...

Rick, comment eaten again. Tnx.

Rick Daley said...

Anon- Thanks for the heads up! You're live now...

Miss Emma said...

Hello!

I want to say first that i agree with all these previous comments. I too wanted more specifics about what the protagonist actually does. I think part of the problem is that (while you managed to keep his query short) much of what's on the page here is actually set up and unnecessary. Cut down to the bare essentials, the query reads something like this:

Fourteen year old Amelia’s nights are plagued by monsters. Each night they terrorize her through the darkness of her closet, calling her “Amelie,” telling her they’re waiting for her. When the monsters steal her cousin Lily in the night, Amelia must face her fears and enter the monsters’ world to rescue her cousin. But with each step Amelia discovers a tangled past connecting her to their world and the one they call Amelie.

Nothing is lost and the pacing has improved. The reader is less bogged down with reiterations and backstory.

The only other thing is the last sentence, "with each step Amelia discovers a tangled past that connects her to their world and the one they call Amelie." That last sentence is your money shot, what entices us to read the full. It works as is, but "discovers a tangled past that connects her to their world" is a little clunky and vague.

Of course i don't want you to give away the mystery, but i want something a little more concrete like "discovers clues about her family history" or something to make it less vague, more deliberately obscure. Maybe even replacing "their world" with something more weighty and official, like "the world beyond the closet" or something might be enough to achieve the intriguing specificity that I'm looking for.

what ever you do, just make sure that last sentence really sings and you'll be good to go.

good luck! i think your almost there.

theWallflower said...

You seem to waste a lot of the query with setup. The second paragraph has the inciting incident and what the protagonist wants.

I would also like a little more about the protagonist fleshed out - what sort of character is she - and what she must do to recover Lily.