Monday, July 12, 2010

Interlocking Events

Drucie McDaniel, my high-school drama teacher, gave us an excellent lesson on interlocking events on the first day of class back in tenth grade. It was Drucie's first day teaching at my school and, when she walked into class, she informed us that she had been mugged on the way in. Her purse was snatched off of her arm as she walked to the train.

Was she freaked out? Yes. But Drucie had poise and was also an excellent teacher. She decided to use her experience to teach us about the importance of interlocking events for a writer. That morning, a whole series of small things had led to her purse being stolen: she had gotten to the station a little earlier than intended (right at the moment the mugger had been choosing a target) and the straps on her purse were loose (making her purse easier to take). She instructed us to write a short treatment in which a series of small events leads to one major one.

The treatment that I wrote that day was about two brothers who didn't like each other and who, through a variety of events, got stuck in an elevator together. I don't remember a lot of the details but I know that it evolved into a one-act play that was my project for the year. Over the next few years, the characters that I created in that class became the focus of a short story that I wrote for my senior thesis and now are both in my Living Little Women books. One of them, Alex, is my narrator's crush.

I wonder. Would I have written about Alex if I hadn't taken Drucie's play writing class? And would Alex be the character he is today if I hadn't written about him when I was in college? Where will this series of interlocking events end?


  1. Where will it end?

    Sarah and Alex stuck together in an elevator and ... ;)

    Really interesting post, Sam. I'm impressed with your teacher turning what happened to her into a lesson that you, at least, have remembered and used to this day.

  2. Thanks! Good to hear from you.

    In my writing now, Sarah and Alex aren't talking. Some elevator time would probably help them a lot. With Alex, you never know where it will end. It's unpredictable!

    Drucie was a great teacher. I'd say that her class was one of the best ones I've taken, along with two in college that were also excellent.