Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CAGI Entry #54

Title: RELIC
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 85,000


Princess Far has always known how it feels to die.

She is a Relic, a person who has visions from their past lives, and she has spent her entire life guarding this secret. In the ancient legends, Relics sold their souls to demons in exchange for unstoppable magic, and most people believe all Relics must be exterminated. None of Far’s past lives match the horrors of the legends, but even she doesn’t know the origins of her memories, demonic or otherwise. 

After the sudden death of her sister, eighteen-year-old Far must assume membership in the kingdom’s Council, but all she knows how to do is be invisible.

When a dark order of magi invades her kingdom and thrusts her people into a world war, Far’s past-life knowledge becomes her most powerful weapon. She is the only one who knows the order's secret. But somehow, they also know hers. She must decide if exposure is worth the protection of her people.

Because if those same people learned what she really is, they’d nail her to a fiery stake. Crown and all.

The self-discovery, past-life romance, and world war make RELIC a cross between GRACELING, A GAME OF THRONES, and THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS.

First 250:

I’ve died this way before.

Before, I stumbled into the wrong place at the wrong time. But now, from the burning in the stranger’s eyes, I know he has every intention of killing me.

I wonder, does he see her too?

Her name is Far. All my life, I have been haunted by memories. I don’t know about magic or destiny or death. But they do. There are thousands of memories and dozens of lives trapped inside me. Or maybe I am trapped inside them. 

His footsteps behind me grow louder. When I try to push myself up from the forest floor, my chest smashes back to the ground.

The footsteps stop. I hear his breathing behind me. A heavy inhale. A slow, relaxed exhale. I can’t see him, but I think he’s smiling.

I squeeze my eyes shut and try to recall how it feels to be stabbed. For once, the memories don’t come. 

Of all the memories, Far's are the clearest, so close to the surface that sometimes I believe they’re my memories. That I am Far. That she is me.

Of course that can’t be true. Her tiara is my baseball cap. Her magical tattoos are my tan lines. Her creepy past-life sketches are my Shia Labeouf posters.

I’m not Far. 

I’m not.

But I can’t let it go. I can’t convince myself that I’m my own, separate person when one crucial piece of evidence is missing: Far never died. Her life ended without even a whisper, as if existence has a pause button.

I can’t help but think it is has something to do with me.


  1. Is this a prologue? It has a prologue sort of feel. I was a little confused because the query seemed at odds with the 250 - I spend half the 250 trying to figure out if this was Far, the same character from the query, or what. I like your writing style and overall you've done well. I think I'd keep reading to figure out what's going on.

    1. Yeah, it's not a prologue, but it's a short scene and does have a lot of significance later. Thanks so much!

  2. I am a little confused at the opening 250, since Far was introduced as the MC in the query, opening with the MC not knowing who she is left me a little confused.

    Within the query itself, I feel like it could be tightened up to make a really awesome query. Let me start off by saying I really loved the concept of your book, and as a fellow YA Fantasy writer, I really want to see more YA Fantasy out there! The first line, your hook, is excellent. It drew me in right away, the second paragraph lost me. I know its really important to know what a Relic is, but it feels like a lot of telling. You could cut that entire paragragh down into one sentence.
    "She is a Relic, a person who has visions from their past lives, and she has spent her entire life guarding this secret. If anyone were to find out, she would burn at the stake."
    The part about demons isn't necessary right now, but would be a great addition to a synopsis.
    That's all I really have to critique! I like the vibe of your story and I would definately read more. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for you advice! Yeah, the demon part trips some people up, but a lot of people at WriteOnCon were really persistent that I explain WHY they would burn her at stake, and then why i did (the unstoppable magic), they insisted I clarify that the old legends are probably lies. So... yeah.

      Glad to see a fellow YA fantasy writer! I have a feeling this genre will be making a big comeback, so yay!

  3. Hi, 54! Love the reincarnation theme!

    The first line here conveys this big concept, but it actually falls a little flat. To add some intensity, you could mention a feeling related to death or you could mention how many times she has died.
    This sentence is problematic: “In the ancient legends, Relics sold their souls to demons in exchange for unstoppable magic, and most people believe all Relics must be exterminated.”
    First, what is unstoppable magic? Unstoppable against what or who? You might consider leaving it at “magic” or, to convey the danger, “dark magic.” Also, should it be most people “believed” (past tense)?
    The age is dropped in a little late in the query. And for YA, I think you’ll find that seventeen is about as old as you can go to be marketable. There are exceptions, of course. But unless you have a good reason for making Far eighteen, you might want to reconsider.
    Simplify this: “but all she knows how to do is be invisible.” Maybe, “but she only knows how to be invisible.” It’s awkward otherwise.
    The last sentence of the query shifts to past tense. I believe it should go as follows: “Because if those same people learn what she really is, they’ll nail her to a fiery stake. Crown and all.”
    Your comps are fantastic, but I think it would be an improvement if you said that your story has qualities of those books (i.e. the self-discovery of Graceling, etc.) instead of saying it's simply a cross of them.

    Your writing style has a beautiful simplicity that is easy for me to connect with. Your first line is great. From the perspective of your character (as opposed to the query), I like the quiet acceptance this line conveys.
    Unlike the other comments, I don’t find the sample confusing. It does have a jarring quality when you witness the narrator accept that she is Princess Far, but I think it works to your benefit.
    This last line needs something more specific to pack some punch. “I can’t help but think it is has something to do with me.” Also, you need to delete that pesky "is." Fantastic job!

    Lots of luck to you! If you have questions, ask below in the comments or find me on Twitter (@novelista85). -Jessica

    1. Thanks so much for your suggestions! I've tried to work all of them into my query, and wow, I didn't even notice the tense switch! I get the writing thing a lot. I think it's just been shredded and edited so many times it comes across almost ethereal instead of nitty-gritty, but I like it for that. And I didn't realize there was an 'is' there! AHH! How did I not notice that?

      Thanks again! Your comments were really helpful!