Meeting the team
We got a good response to our call for writers, who turned up for a preliminary meeting hosted by myself and Roy, to answer the question “now what do we do?” and explain some of the vision we had for The Snow Witch Project, that would unfold over the coming months.
The writers who arrived were a disparate bunch of fascinating souls. The training would set us on a course that would naturally select the core team, as some dropped out due to other commitments. Among those who turned up for the first meeting were old hands at performance and writing such as Christine Lawrence and Eileen Phyall. Both were writers I knew well, Christine having a dark imagination that loved the macabre, while Eileen had performed at various open mic events delivering beautiful and occasionally saucy poems. There were interested younger writers looking to just get involved in something fresh, and try out their skills in a new medium, such as Claire Nowell. Among others, we had a partially sighted woman Elena Sommers and Kim Balouch, a writer who had never done any writing at all before but really wanted to try and felt they had it in them.
That first morning of explanation and discussion was again a moment of learning for me, as I tried to make sense of what we were attempting to do. They say confusion is the doorway to understanding. Well, I was right in that doorway, that’s for sure! And here I was, happily leading a team of writers along with me to… well, who knew?!?
For me, personally, the creative process Roy Hanney and I had agreed on was the absolute reverse of how I normally write.
For me, stories are idea-driven. What I mean by this is the structure only forms itself later around the ideas as it present iself and coalesces around main artistic points and scenes that are full of concepts and strong feelings.
By contrast, this story required so much co-ordination and pre-planning that we would need to work out where plot-points would happen in our calendar of events, and then infill what those plot points would contain far later in development, once character and story were certain. So, this would be a structure-driven rather than a content-driven process. I’d never done anything like it.
The story structure
A week before this meeting with the writers, Roy and I sat down and agreed a general shape to the story. The overview we had was so loose as to be almost unintelligible.
Roy’s initial idea was that the story would be about the Hunt for Donitza who is the central character of The Snow Witch. Immediately for me this was something which didn’t really resonate. The elusive and ethereal Snow Witch, I felt, would not appreciate being hunted. She herself would need a purpose, rather than simply being the hunted person. But I watched and learned, because we needed a starting point, and I was sure the story would make itself known over time.
Apart from that, we had a loose stucture, as follows:
There is a crisis at the beginning.
Then there are clues to cause of the crisis.
This is followed by a series of revelations, leading to several live events that would require participation to uncover more clues and solve puzzles.
This would somehow culminate in a gig…
that was it!
It was the roughest of outlines, which would require us to fill in the gaps with characters, events, clues, art, games, further clues, meetings, collaborations, spellcasting and a final theatrical extravaganza.
I had no idea what I was doing, and neither did Roy. But Roy was cool about it: “This is how we will learn,” he told the group. “And if it all goes horribly wrong, well that is part of the learning.”
Of course, as someone whose beloved story was going to be the starting point of this whole project, you can bet you I wasn’t going to let it fail!
And so the training began, with Alison Norrington taking the first class, and finally telling us what the bloody hell transmedia storytelling was!