Avoid Being Turned into a Toad: what you need to know when you’re writing the Witch
By Sarah Elliott
From Winnie to Willow to Wanda, women with magical powers feature in films, TV series and stories throughout the ages. Synonyms for the witch rise or wane in popularity over time including enchantress, sorceress, hag, necromancer, wiccan, and crone.
I met my first witch in a storybook. I can’t remember which story it was, but I do remember that she was old, hag-like, cruel, crooked-nosed and had an evil cackle. Every witch I ever came across since then was the same, until Glinda, the Witch of the North portrayed in the film musical The Wizard of Oz (inspired by the books by L. Frank Baum). Glinda was a witch with a serious glow-up!
(Fun fact: The Wicked Witch of the West was named Elphaba in Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked (1995). Her name was based upon the initials of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), The initials “L.F.B.” each gave one syllable to the name: El-pha-ba.)
Our wonderful writerly imaginations have spawned a whole spectrum of witches. Like many things in society, perceptions and definitions change over time. This is certainly the case with the witch. Look at the definitions below. Which one fits the witch in your story?