Writing “The Snow Queen” in a Day

A while back, a friend sent me a link to this post: a ridiculous and then all-too-real look at a day in the writer’s life. I laughed, because it was true. Then I laughed, because if I didn’t, I might cry. And I thought – what does my day look like?

Around the same time, I realized I’d be adapting Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen into a 15-minute Christmas Pantomime in a very short, concentrated burst. “What better day to examine?” quoth I. “I shall document writing this script!”

And so I did. Here is an admittedly-not-wholly-typical day for me: in which I wrote The Snow Queen in a day.

9:22 am. Awaken, as Guinness has decided that enough is enough and he would really like breakfast. Since I was only up until 1 am or so, I feel slightly groggy, but mostly rested.

How do you say "No" to that face?

How do you say “No” to that face?

 

10:16 am. After coffee, Cheerios, shower, and dealing with cat, I am ready to start researching The Snow Queen. First up, an English translation of Hans Christian Anderson’s original, downloaded to Kindle.

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10:37 am. Realize that when Blythe gave me a synopsis of the story on the bus, she neglected to mention the Crow that randomly sends Gerda on a wild goose chase. At the end of the story, he’s DEAD. And no one cares all that much. WTF kind of story is this?!

His tame sweetheart is a widow, and wears a bit of black worsted round her leg; she laments most piteously, but it’s all mere talk and stuff!

 

10:55 am. Read another translation, just to make sure the nuances are consistent. Crow still snuffs it.

 

11:16 am. Turn my attention to the Shelley Duvall “Faerie Tale Theatre” adaptation. It is eighties-tastic.

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11:46 am. Knowing that Blythe grew up with this series explains a few things about her.

 

11:58 am. I would make a GREAT Robber Girl. Don’t tell me otherwise.

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12:03 pm. Well, that’s creepy as f***.

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12:27 pm. Lunch of grilled cheese and corn chips, because I’m seven.

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1:21 pm. Back to it with another eighties-tastic adaptation…

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Ripley!

 

1:36 pm. Sigourney Weaver does ALL the voices in this. The characters’ lips don’t even move. It’s like an audiobook with accompanying pictures. I guess that’s ONE way to cut costs. That said, she has a very versatile voice. Start pondering what audio roles I would write for her.

 

2:02 pm. Pull out whiteboard. Assemble a skeletal plot. Tally up characters. Request final instructions from project lead before writing starts.

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2:16 pm. Attend to dayjob costumes, because EVERYTHING is getting washed this weekend.

I'm told the appearance of Victorian garments in our laundry room makes me a cool housemate.

I’m told the appearance of Victorian garments in our laundry room makes me a cool housemate.

 

3:52 pm. Still waiting. Gripped by sudden anxiety regarding garret’s cleanliness (or lack thereof). Clean furiously. Admire new Pine-Sol floor cleaner. I can indeed both see AND smell a difference!

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5:27 pm. Writing will begin post-dinner: pasta, rapini, tomatoes, and mussels. I like these sorts of meals because it looks like something an adult might eat, but takes like, 15 minutes to make.

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6:02 pm. Sit at desk. How the f*** long is this meant to be, anyway? How long was the other pantomime I wrote?

 

6:16 pm. Frolic about on Twitter.

 

6:31 pm. OKAY WE’RE STARTING NOW.

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6:35 pm. Stare at screen. Realize I have no idea how to start. And I only have ten pages, tops. Softly mutter, “Tabarnac.”

 

6:36 pm. Frolic about on Twitter.

 

7:01 pm. It’s okay, it’s okay, we can do this. Make it through an excruciating first page. Then I find my rhythm. Writing feels a bit like building a house of cards: it’s taking shape, you’ve got the groove, it’s great – and it also feels like it’s a breath away from collapsing around your ears.

 

7:22 pm. Can I make a reference to every song on the Frozen soundtrack? Only one way to find out.

 

8:46 pm. Audio break, because I realize I forgot to send Lauren our Words of a Feather audio.

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Episode Two – coming soon!

 

9:11 pm. Back to the script. It’s either fine or dreadful. I’m not sure which, but we’ll keep going.

 

10:07 pm. AHAHAHA I HAVE FINISHED. ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR.

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“The ending should be really sweet, you know?” I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN.

 

10:08 pm. Text Blythe.

 

10:19 pm. Internet woes. Call Bell and express my displeasure again. While waiting, quickly scan script and fix most egregiously bad prose. Decide that it’s pretty good for a first bash-through.

 

10:54 pm. Finally manage to send script off.

 

11:16 pm. “Katie this is fabulous!”

 

11:17 pm. Accept praise. Mentally start making edits. (Gerda should possibly not say, “Really?” three times in a row.)

 

11:30 pm. Frolic about on Twitter.

 

11:47 pm. Sleep.

 

And that’s how I wrote a treatment of The Snow Queen in a day. Again, my writing days don’t always look like this. Perhaps in the off-season, we’ll try this again… 😉

-KT

What I’m Listening To This Week

This piece floated through my head this week – appropriate enough for Remembrance Day on Friday, I suppose. It’s a lovely choral setting of Christina Rossetti’s poem, “Remember.” Pieces like this really should be treated like monologues: there’s a dramatic arc, intention, a goal and change. This choir gets that across pretty well – particularly in the rising urgency around 1:25.

 

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Posted on November 6, 2016, in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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