If you aren’t familiar with Craig’s Wife, a 1925 play by George Kelly, then stop reading this post and check it out. Otherwise, read on.
Craig’s Wife is a wonderful example of what an author can do with a short span of time and a very small cast of characters. Harriet Craig has married for the security of a home. For two years, she’s lived in relative happiness with her husband (who is deeply in love with her). But things begin to unravel for her on the day the play begins. Her husband is under suspicion for a double homicide, his old aunt is moving out of the house (because of Harriet’s shabby treatment of her), and Harriet’s young niece is foolishly marrying a man with little to give her (at least materially). In the hope of gaining her one object (security), Harriet has sacrificed everything else, including any respect for the husband who ought to be her real treasure (because a woman can lose a man, but a house, never, provided she’s clever). When her husband discovers that she has no real love for him, he must decide whether his own love for her is enough to keep him at her side or whether his respect for himself is something he ought to treasure more.
Try writing a story that takes place over the span of a single day, contains no more than three, possibly four, characters and features a life altering event–the dissolution of a marriage, the exposure of a long kept secret, the discovery of long hidden treasure.by