HH Com 178

August, 1896. When Hazel Linwood abandons her French lesson and runs away with Johnny, the stable-boy, in search of an adventure, she gets much more than she had bargained for. When Hazel shatters a window of an old cottage whispered to have once belonged to a witch, she discovers that the witch is still in residence and finds herself cursed into servitude – until she speaks the witch’s one True Name.

Soon, Hazel is milking the cow, fetching water, scrubbing floors, and utterly ruining her fine lady’s hands. And as she works, the witch recounts the stories of her centuries upon the earth, tales of her otherworldly father, of the only mortal man she ever loved, of witch hunts and fairy revels. After a time, Hazel begins to see the witch not as a fiend, but as a stern, aged woman possessed of a human heart.

When Johnny returns and tells Hazel her father is ill and likely to die, Hazel pleads with the witch for leave to see him – and the witch refuses. And so Hazel, desperate for the Name that will set her free, goes to the Folk Under the Hill . . . and steps directly into the snare
laid by the Fairy Queen herself – the witch’s vengeful half-sister.

oh please everyone knows the witch is named Miss Snark! Sheesh.

This is pretty much a retelling of a bunch of usual fairy tales. You're going to have to come up with something a lot more compelling than finding the witche's name and sisterly menace.

You've gotten sidetracked in minutiae here. Focus on the big picture. Why does she run away? Is her mother forcing her to read the slush pile? Learn Latin? Cook??? "search for adventure" is too generic to be compelling.

And leave out all the time stamps (when, soon).


Kat said...

Actually, I quite liked this -- it sounds like you've found a new twist on some old tales. If I read this on a back-cover jacket, I'd flip to the front and start reading.

Crys said...

oh i disagree, in terms of the viability of the story. i think it's charming and i'd most certainly read it.

it reminds me of some fairy tales, sure, but also The Alchemist in terms of feel---with lore/fable/ legend used to convey a useful (heart-warming?) moral. which really, when you think about it, is all you need for a really great story. sometimes the simplest tales pack the biggest punch.

good luck with this!

i like it.

Writerious said...

Well, if Mercedes Lackey can rewrite classic fairy tales as full-length novels (the Elemental Masters novels), I suppose a story that begins as Hansel and Gretel and develops into Beauty and the Beast meet Rumplestilskin might work -- if it's well done.

Anonymous said...

I liked this too, especially if it's for a YA market. And I read a *lot* of fantasy. I'd start reading it based on this description.

Anonymous said...

I like this too!

MWT said...

I like the idea too. It sounds intriguing. And in some tales, the why of an adventure isn't as important as the having. It's certainly possible to set up the story so that you don't need a really big reason for why she ran off. Maybe the French lesson was boring and she wanted to get out and run, and she didn't think she was going to be gone for more than an afternoon.

I can also see why it isn't a very good hook, however. It reads sort of like a synopsis that has stopped in the middle.

Some other minor questions:
Why hasn't anyone else tried to find the secret name to free her? Johnny? Her father? Especially if she was of noble birth?

What exactly happened to Johnny after she was ensnared? Is the lowly stableboy actually on good speaking terms with her parents after all this (which is implied by the fact that he's the one who's telling her about the father's illness)? How?

Anonymous said...

The writer may want to have a look at Eudora Welty's THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM.

aries said...

Add me to the list of those who liked it. The hook could use some tightening as there are way too many details that make it sound more like a synopsis than a hook. But I'm crazy about fairy tales and love reading new ones or updated twists on old ones.

Anonymous said...

If she's getting groomed to be a replacement, then maybe that should be included in the hook. What does the witch do that beneficial, what are the drawbacks? Does she just need a friend? That would help make the hook more compelling for me. Someone just being trapped with an ailing parent and can't get out until she comes up with a name should be incidental to the plot IMO, rather than being the plot.