Nightmares of Neverwas by Marjee Chmiel
Nothing’s wrong. Go back to sleep.
Soma’s life is nightmares.
Not “a” nightmare. Nightmares in general. They are all she thinks about.
Not her nightmares. Yours and mine. Every living creature, in fact. Soma knows the monsters within us. At night, she tends our monsters as we sleep. In our sleep we see how secretly terrible we can be.
Soma is an aspiring nightmare-writer, and her aspiration seems possible when she learns she is one of only ten humans accepted into The Scholomance —the legendary academy where students learn to compose dreams and delusions, fabricate premonitions, interject déjà vu, conduct mass hysterias, and invent cults and religions.
Her demon professors are brilliant and intimidating. The ancient Professor Skree watched humans evolve from tree-dwelling primates. He writes nightmares that remind us of our ancestral fears: falling from our arboreal homes, being chased by predators. Krasset provides terrifying releases of violence and depravity among criminals and the insane. And Soma’s mentor, Celeste, uses nightmares to shape the inspiration of scientists and artists. Soon Soma develops talents that threaten to revolutionize the field.
As Soma’s success breeds jealousy and pettiness among the faculty and students, she becomes disillusioned with what it means to live the life of the mind. She leaves The Scholomance for the lucrative, shadowy, business. Soma innovates nightmares for a 21st Century, globalized economy where her talents take her to a far darker place.
Wake up. Something’s gone terribly wrong.
Arielle & David: We love the way this pitch starts. There’s something very ominous, spooky and scary about someone telling our hero that nothing is wrong, that they should go back to sleep. It makes us absolutely think that there is something wrong. And we love the way it comes full circle at the end, where someone is telling our heroine to wake up, that something’s gone terribly wrong. And the whole academic environment you take us to is quite fascinating. The professors seem very unique and singular. It’s a well constructed pitch which leads me to believe you can actually write a book that will be suspenseful, deep and fascinating. What can be improved? We keep harping on this, but comparable titles are called for. We need to know what kind of books your story is like. Where does it fit in the bookstore? Also, it kind of peters out at the end. It doesn’t build to a climax. And how these nightmares are used, how they impact the world, is kind of confusing. Obviously you don’t want to give the whole thing away, but right now you don’t give us enough to really understand how this is going to work.