By Sydney Taylor
In a year so atypical, it may seem like the arts have diminished at Central Magnet. However, some seniors are challenging this idea through their thesis. I interviewed two seniors — Alyssa Williams and Caton Taylor—who are writing a novella and a play, respectively. Let’s hear what they have to say.
S.T.: Let’s talk process. Both of you are creating narratives for your products. How did you come up with characters and plotlines?
A.W: I’ve had these characters since freshman year for another book, which wasn’t very good. I’ve been giving them more development now. Development is about finding the characters, making them their own individual being with their interests and small mannerisms they have. For the plotline, I had a bit of difficulty coming up with mine. It’s hard to go with my topic I have, which is suicide, and not create a plotline that would be romanticizing it. I had to have a meticulous thought process.
C.T: I’m writing a murder mystery play, and those tend to be plot-driven, so a lot of the characters come about out of necessity. My thought process is “I need this to happen. Who’s going to take me there?” That said though, I think the detective character came to me first. When I had this idea, I knew my detective was unequivocally a woman, and I found out through research that that’s not always been the conventional choice. Other characters come about to follow genre conventions, but also to subvert them in a way to make things more interesting.
S.T: What do you think has been the hardest part of having a creative thesis?
A.W: For me, the hardest part would be just sitting down and writing. As a Central student, there’s always a lot of hectic things going on, and by the time you finish all of your other work, sometimes you’re too burnt out to even write a sentence.
C.T: I definitely agree with that. Actually writing the product is the challenge. The thesis itself is broken up into pieces, but you have to figure out when you’re writing your product on your own. You can’t put it off until the last minute.
S.T: What has been the most rewarding part?
A.W: I have a few people who have been reading this as I go along for feedback. When people say that they like specific parts or characters, it feels really good. Especially when they say they related to something, it makes me feel like I am connecting to people.
C.T: Doing the research helped me to see what I wanted to incorporate into my characters, which made the process a lot more exciting. Also, I’ve never written a play before, so doing this has been a new experience that I’ve enjoyed a lot.
S.T: What would your advice be for any students out there who are considering doing a creative product for their theses?
A.W: Make sure you don’t procrastinate on writing the paper or the product. Writing the thesis itself is already difficult, but then you’re writing something else on top of that, which means more page numbers. I would make sure you come up with a schedule for goals, even if you’re not writing for your piece.
C.T: First of all, I would say to go for it! Writing this creative product has been the best part of my thesis and has kept me from getting sick of it. Also, make sure you pick your mentor and your field of study advisor wisely. If you’re doing art of any kind about a particular topic, make sure that these people know about different aspects. For me, my mentor is a murder mystery writer, and my field of study advisor is Ms. Sweet, who knows a lot about dramatic writing. Between the two of them, I have someone to go to for all my questions. Shoutout to Ms. Sweet for being a great advisor!
S.T: This school year has been crazy. What do you think is art’s value in a year like this?
A.W: Writing has always been a way to stay connected to the world and put all of my thoughts into one place. It works kind of like venting, except it makes me happy. It keeps me grounded, especially when things are wacko.
C.T: What I’ve been trying to do with this piece is to both offer escape from and commentary about this crazy world we live in. I don’t know if I’ve been successful, but that’s what I love about art; it can take us away from this world, or it can tell us more about it.