Thursday, February 19, 2015

Entry #21: UNCURSED

65k words
YA Fantasy

A king in a fairy-tale kingdom is down on his luck and needs some cash. The plan he hits on is to hire a witch to bewitch his daughters into cursed sleep. He figures that if they are cursed, a wealthy Prince Charming will marry into the family by coming to rescue them. But the king’s youngest daughter, Ari, decides her father must be insane. She leaves the castle to search for her long-lost mother, who alone might restore sanity to the kingdom.

Ari’s only support on her quest is a servant from the castle, who falls in love with her as much as she does him. But despite their attraction, a barrier exists between them: princess and subject, ruler and ruled. Ari must let go of her princess privileges and trust her new friend, for there is more than just one witch between her and her mother.
First 250:
Princess Ari gripped the silk dress with her fingers, tiny rips erupting as the stitches frayed.

"You're going to look just as pretty as your sisters did on the day they were cursed," said Igrior, laying his hand on her shoulder.

Ari sat on a wooden bench in front of blooming rose bushes in the castle gardens. In addition to Igrior, the castle cellar keeper, Krechna the witch had come to her pre-cursing ceremony. It was Krechna who had just given Ari this shimmering, spotless, embroidered gown.

Ari kept her gaze fixed on the midsection of the witch's flowing black robes.  Her jaw worked with furious force. It would be so easy to tear this slender dress to shreds and throw it back at Krechna's proud face--the face of the woman who in one month would cast her into a cursed sleep.

"Princess Arikovna," said Krechna, bowing her head. "It is with great honor that I give you this dress, which you may wear at your cursing. Although I was deeply moved to be given the opportunity to curse both your sisters, I have never felt so much a part of your family as I do today."

Bile boiled out of Ari's stomach. She pinched her toes against the side of the bench. "Its lovely, Krechna dear, thank you."

Each word cost a chest of gold.

Krechna tipped her long black hat, turned, and marched down the paved walkway back to the castle. Her boots made a ticking sound on the stone walkway. 


  1. Your hook is great. The way it takes a familiar fairy tale motif and flips it upside down should catch a lot of eyes.

    Minor nitpicks:
    It's hard to say with only the first page, but Igrior's appearance in the second line, then his subsequent disappearance as Krechna becomes the focus makes me think it might be best too remove him from the scene or delay his entrance. His line about the curse would make a good intro for Krechna too:
    ".... on the day they were cursed," said the witch, laying her hand on my shoulder.

    Also, would a castle cellar keeper lay his hand on a princess' shoulder? It seems too familiar a gesture between royalty and servant, although Igrior's backstory could be more important than mere cellar keeper.

    1. Thank you for your comments! They are very helpful and have already prompted a revision : ).

  2. Pitch: This is a really fun inciting incident and I love the idea of infusing a fairy tale with humor. However, you might consider spending a little less time on the catalyst and more on what happens afterwards by condensing the first paragraph and expanding the second. I’d like to know more about how her mother could help and why she’s not there in the first place. I’d also like to know more about the obstacles that lie in her way. Does the witch try to stop her? What else will challenge her quest?

    First page: This effectively gets us into the story and introduces the MC right away. More great humor, too: love that there’s a “pre-cursing ceremony.” Just a couple of comments: Has the ceremony already started? And is Ari wearing the dress or holding it?

    1. Those are great comments and I need to think through how to make it clear the dress is on her lap and she's sitting down.

      Your thoughts on my pitch are very a propos and I'll ponder them as I (hopefully) get to make a second revision.

  3. I remember this from the blog hop! Excellent reworking. Love it.

  4. PS. Would love to connect with you so give me a follow on twitter and I'll follow you back :)

  5. Pitch: I love fairy tales and this premise seems unique. I too, would like less of the setup and more details regarding the conflict. Does Ari have a hard time seeing the servant as a true suitor or is it mutual? And what does "more than one witch" standing between her and her mother mean? Obviously, obstacles but what? Finally, where does Ari get the idea that finding her mother is the answer? (As opposed to going on a quest to find a rich prince to marry her, or killing a dragon to raid his treasure, or some such thing?)

    250: I like that you have Igrior in this scene, but I assumed based on how he was introduced (and the fact that the query doesn't name the king or the love interest) that he was the king, who seems more likely to be at the pre-cursing ceremony than a male servant. Also, to deal with the opening image, maybe you could move part of one sentence up and start with "Krechna the witch handed Princess Ari the shimmering, spotless, embroidered gown. Ari gripped the silk dress with her fingers, tiny rips erupting as the stitches frayed." There's some great tension in this scene.

  6. Good Morning Afternoon Tim,
    I like the Sleeping Beauty twist as well. I think it will drive a lot of interest. When the Pitch started I was all on board of playing off of the end of the SB fairytale. Is this a post SB curse, or are you just taking the concept of the sleeping curse, and putting it on the story? I couldn't really decode that riddle.
    If you are going off of the end of SB (the mom in SB didn't die did she?) Then the girl had a long lost mother? Love affair? How did she find out about the other mom?
    I'm sure it is all explained away in a few paragraphs, but I was a little lost there in the Pitch.
    I was a little confused because you said that the witch had come to her pre-curse party but then the cursing happens a month later.. why so much time... why not have the party and curse after-party?
    She was ripping the dress at the beginning and then there was some activity and then Kretchna says how honored he is? Seems a little out of order. And if I were Kretchna I would slap that girls hand if she was ripping at a dress I made... personal opinion.
    Last comment and I hope this one makes you snicker... I read, "Bile boiled out of Ari's stomach. She pinched her toes against the side of the bench." and maybe I am a ridiculously childish guy, but I immediately reread the previous sentence to make sure I didn't miss a scene change to the bathroom... maybe want to edit words...maybe not...
    Either way I like the spinoff. Hope it does well for you!
    Fellow Contestant & Writing Friend. #35

    1. Thanks Eagles! I hadn't really thought of Arikovna on the john, but maybe I'll have to reframe the scene... it would definitely "raise the stakes", as they say.

  7. Pitch:
    While the concept is interesting, I think there is some "fluff" in the pitch that could be deleted so that you could further explain the stakes. For example, you could easily change "The plan he hits on is to" to "He" and cut the daughter thinking he's insane. Is Ari your MC? It may also be a good idea to start with her, as I was under the impression the king was the MC.

    First Page:
    This is really interesting--I like Krechna. Is she a big part of your story? If so, maybe mention her in the pitch? Good luck!

    Domenic (#28)

    1. thank you Domenic, those are excellent suggestions for revision.

  8. Hi neighbor!
    I like the first line and your premise.
    Just a few things I noticed:
    -witch to bewitch – maybe try to vary one of these?
    -While the stakes are clearly outlined, I’m wondering if agents will feel like it’s a storyline they’ve seen before, so maybe spend a few words pointing out what makes your manuscript unique? Maybe there’s something special about Ari or your subject other than just their roles. Maybe give us a little more detail about the witches that stand in their way.
    First 250:
    -I love “the cursing” and how it’s spoken almost as if it’s a betrothal.
    -You introduce Igrior and Krechna in the same sentence, which was a little too much information. I had to backtrack to remember that Krechna was the witch. Since Igrior did not reappear in the first 250, perhaps you could introduce her later, when she plays a bigger role.
    Great job! Best of luck!

    1. Very perceptive points, thank you pitch neighbor!


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