Friday, September 14, 2012


Hi guys, I'm trying to improve this query, and I'd appreciate any help. Feel free to leave comments or to email me.

Thank you,
-- Becca

NEW VERSION -- September 22, 2012

Dear Agent,

When Emma Newberry's best friend runs away, she's determined to go looking for him. She must find him. Preferably before the Curupira, a deadly creature from Brazilian folklore, kills him.

Sixteen-year-old Emma knows Eric Wolfson by heart. When she hears he's run away, she's not surprised. Eric's recent obsession with Brazil and his steady withdrawal from both the Internet and real life lead her to believe he's followed his nightmares to South America. Struggling to respect his decision, she's heartbroken she didn't get to confess her biggest secret: she's in love with him. Unsure of what she'll discover in Brazil, and only slightly confident she can uncover clues to his whereabouts, Emma boards a plane to Brazil -- a country of which she knows nothing about the culture or language.

Emma arrives in Saudade, a tiny town filled with loggers on the edge of the Atlantic forest, and learns from a circus performer known for getting lost in her own act that a foreigner with Eric's description walked into the woods and never came out. She claims that the legendary Curupira kidnapped him. Emma investigates the area and finds the initials E.W. carved on a tree trunk. She has no doubt these are his initials, but her efforts to get the woman to speak with the authorities fall short -- after all, who is really going to believe her fantastic story?

Emma feels that her friend is in the woods, but she doesn't believe in the legend of the Curupira... until she is face to face with an entity that has the body of a bizarrely built 10-year-old: hair of fire, body covered with decomposing leaves, pointed teeth, and strange, backwards feet. It threatens to destroy Saudade. Emma and her friends dive into the adventure of their life to fight the Curupira, otherwise not only Eric, but the rest of the town, will soon become prey to Brazil's most dreaded folkloric creature.

CURUPIRA, a YA Fantasy novel, is complete at 80,000 words.  


*Crystal* said...

Hi Rebecca, it's crystal from the twitwits.
I have not landed an agent yet so please take my opinions at face value:)

One thing I noticed through out was the repeated use of starting the sentence with "emma..." So it read more 'listed' to me. I think you could condense it down a bit to keep it excited and enticing too. SOmetimes less can be more in a query. Specifically these are some little things I noticed:
Second paragraph line 4- "but, although..." But could be deleted
third paragraph line 3/4- how does going to brazil hel her find closure? That is confusing me a bit.
Then I think you can get rid of the aunt all together or the reason she is able to board the plane. That would be fun to learn when reading the ms.
Paragraph 4- I am confused by the first sentence. I'd suggest rewording.

The story sounds really interesting. I will see if I can re-work a paragraph or two to reflect my suggestions to help put my thoughts into context. SOrry this seems a bit wordy- i have found that the more critique i can get the better I have become:) Hope this helps and I will look to post another comment soon

Rebecca Carvalho said...

Thank you, Crystal. I know writers are super busy people, and I really appreciate you took some time to help me. All the best! :)

*Crystal* said...

Okay, I got dinner out of the oven so I took a few secs to do a very grammatically errors re-write. I took out a bunch of side stories that I felt made it confusing a little. This is in no way polished or very well written but I wanted to give you an example of how i think it could flow and have a little higher stakes. and of course without reading the ms a lot of my words could not go well with it but I hope it helps a little. I think the story sounds fantastic and twitwits is a great place to get beta readers and cp's. Welcome to our awesome community.

When sixteen-year-old Emma Newberry's best friend runs away, she's determined to search the world for him. Knowing that she must find him before he is slayed(or whatever it is these guys do) by the curupira, a deadly creature from Brazilian folklore.

Emma’s journey to find her best friend, Eric Wolfson, is not a selfless one as she holds regret in her heart for never telling him how she truly feels about him. He has dreamt of a life in Brazil and when he runs off she knows without doubt that he has fled there. He had spent countless nights animating the many folklore tales and stories from the South American Culture, but the one that stands out the most is that of the Curupira. The stories say that they confuse, abduct, and entrap those who trespass on their terrain. (And I would add in a part about the initials if that is a trademark thing of them. Since it is mentioned below that seeing his initials is how she knows for sure that it was them)

With the fear of the unknown while traveling to Brazil, Emma must work on gut instinct and follow the minimal information she has learned from the locals regarding a “foreigner boy” who left town and headed into the mysterious woods. She must look past the many tales of danger that lurks amongst the woods and follow his path. When Emma finds the initials E.W. carved on a tree trunk it's the sign that she has been searching for. But her efforts to go to the authorities fall short- after all, who is really going to believe that a foreigner who knowingly traveled to their country was actually kidnapped by the curupira?

Emma must find the courage to travel the woods and seek out the curupira knowing that it her final chance of saving him. She will explore the strange lands in hopes of saving and finally expressing her love for him.

Rebecca Carvalho said...

Wow, this is really great. Thank you for helping me. It means a lot. I'll work on my second draft, and hopefully it will get better.

Rachel said...

Hey Becca, here's my critique!

When sixteen-year-old Emma Newberry's best friend runs away, she's determined to go looking for him. She must find him. Preferably before the curupira, a deadly creature from Brazilian folklore, kills him.

--> I think you can introduce the characters and run-away plot in a punchier more exciting manner. The curupira thing sounds awesome- start there! Like- When Emmas bestie Eric disappears, she's not worried about his parents getting mad- she's terrified of the curupira, a legendary brazilian creature with six hands and vemonous fangs hunting him down. And she has to go find him!

Emma knows Eric Wolfson by heart. When she hears he's ran away, she's not surprised. Eric was strange the weeks before he left home: restless, deleted his online presence, spoke of seeing the world and of dreams where he was in the woods in Brazil. She knows right away he's gone off to South America. But, although she respects his decision, he leaves without giving Emma an opportunity to confess her biggest secret: she is in love with him.

Although she doesn't know what to expect of her traveling to Brazil, Emma's gut feeling tells her to go. She hopes, a little, to find clues of his whereabouts, but knows that the probability of finding him is tiny, almost nonexistent. Emma wants to be in Brazil to at least find some closure, and to feel like she's close to Eric. It's her summer break, and under the pretense of visiting her aunt, Emma's parents let her board a plane to Saudade, the rural Brazilian town where her aunt is working on a novel. It's Emma's first time abroad, and she doesn't speak Portuguese nor has knowledge of the local culture. It’s the biggest adventure of her life.

In Saudade, Emma learns a foreigner no one knows anything clear about, other than he was a boy, has disappeared into the local woods. They say he walked into town and left to the woods without talking with anybody. In the woods, Emma finds the initials E.W. carved on a tree trunk. It's the sign she needs: the foreigner could only be Eric. But the authorities refuse to give these rumors any importance -- who would believe, after all, in a handful of people claiming that the foreigner actually was kidnapped by the curupira? The local police thinks it's only folklore, that the initials were there long before and mean ‘Estev√£o Wilson’, a lumberjack who lived in Saudade in the seventies, and that the foreigner doesn’t even exist. Emma is desperate to find him, and with only two weeks left before she has to return to the States, she befriends three locals to help her: a privileged boy, a servant, and a peasant. The curupira is known for confusing, abducting, and entrapping those who trespass on its terrain. Not the best creature to play tag with, but Emma has to find it, or she'll risk losing Eric forever.

--> the rest of this gets really summary-happy. Which isn't a bad thing at this stage. I think this helps you clarify that Erics disappearance is vital to the plot and should be the focus of your query. Use the extra paragraphs to SHOW Emma and Erics character by how they react to this situation instead of telling the reader how they feel. The fewer people and topics you focus on, the better flow and clarity your query will have.

CURUPIRA, a YA Fantasy novel, is complete at 80,000 words