Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Concept of Lucy- Part 1

Strange as it sounds, the image of Lucy started for me as a hand knit sweater, made with that multi-colored, really soft, expensive yarn; well, expensive by my standards. I found it at Wal-Mart for about $4.50 a skein, or whatever they call them, and they are smaller than normal skeins, so that sweater probably cost around $75.
It was like the camera angle pulled back from that sweater, and this young girl, Lucy, was wearing it. She had gorgeous long blond hair and Daniel’s blue eyes. She was holding a paperback copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and waiting at the trailer park’s entrance for the school bus.

I saw her get on the bus, the faceless driver greeted her, and she sat down directly behind him. Ah, I thought, there’s a big clue to Lucy’s character. The bus driver likes her because she’s quiet and doesn’t cause problems, but high school is an agony for Lucy because she’s too shy to make friends. Lucy is more comfortable with adults than with kids her age.

I think Lucy’s background runs something like this; her mom was diagnosed with the cancer that would eventually kill her when Lucy was only about 8, Jaime was 7, and Daniel was 15. Mom taught Lucy all the “female arts;” baking and embroidery and weaving potholders, and Lucy was very emotionally attached to Mom, as was Daniel. 

As Mom got sicker and needed more care, and as a firefighter, Dad worked 24 hour shifts, they decided to let Daniel stay home and home-school so that he could take care of Mom and the girls. Lucy was so miserable being away from Mom, they decided to let her stay home also. Jaime, who I’ll deal with later, was made of an entirely different yarn.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Little Pieces of Daniel- Part 2

Another old man, a tall one leaning on a cane, with Daniel’s bright blue eyes and straight nose, comes into the picture. This is Uncle… Frank, and he must be a great-uncle if he’s that old. Why he isn’t a grampa, I don’t know.

I do know that Frank is a retired GM man. I don’t think he’s a millionaire, so he wasn’t a top manager, but he’s well enough off that he had planned to spend his retirement years traveling the world with his wife.

He must be something like an engineer. The problem is, I know a car engineer, and all he wants to talk about is car stuff, which I couldn’t care less about and have no intention of researching, for the same reason. Obviously, if Frank was an engineer, he’d want to talk about cars, so I think I’m just going to leave it very open as to what he did. 

Anyway, his wife dies before they can get much traveling in, and he’s majorly depressed and lost without her for several months. I think it’s his brother who suggests that Frank visit the town where they grew up. It is much different now, of course. The house where they lived had been torn down and was now a mall. 

This too sort of depressed him, but he found the old pharmacy, now a greasy spoon restaurant, where he got his first job. There he finds our old man with the tattered sweater, savoring tomato soup and asking the waitress for more crackers, not because he wants more, but because he’s still hungry and can’t afford more. 

Frank is a kind hearted man, and offers to buy this man his lunch. In the course of their conversation, he finds out that “Burt” is a retired doctor, and his very first case in this town had been saving Frank’s sister’s life. 

Frank eventually decides to buy the dilapidated trailer park where Burt lives when he finds that many other residents are in Burt’s situation, or worse, and the owner is heartless. And thus, Frank finds his joy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Little Pieces of Daniel- Part 1

Little pieces of Daniel’s character and story kept coming to me at odd times, which is something that seems to happen to a lot of fiction writers, isn’t it? One morning, I woke up to the sound of the guys next door pounding in roofing nails, (at 6:30 in the morning; I wasn’t happy,) and suddenly knew that Daniel knew how to fix things around a house, a valuable skill he must have picked up from his dad. 

I could see Daniel at 15 years old, even at 12, watching and learning from his dad how to fix a toilet, but more likely, doing something like making his first cabinet door. I don’t think he likes fixing things, and figuring out what’s wrong with it, as much as he likes creating things with wood. 

When I pictured him working in my mind, he didn’t seem to be in a house, or even an apartment. It took a few days to figure out Daniel was fixing something in a trailer, and an old one at that.  I thought, a trailer? Daniel isn’t a trailer type person; you know, the proverbial trailer trash, and sweet, delicate Lucy most certainly isn’t. Young girls who wear hand knit sweaters made from the expensive yarn, don’t live in trailers, nor do young men who are smart enough to be fire fighting students. So how did they end up there with their youngest sister? And where was Dad? How come he wasn’t there? 

Well, I’ve heard from several writing sources that one good technique to use when you’re stuck on a plotting problem, is to work backwards. Pondering this conundrum on my walk one night, I saw that an old man in a patched sweater was watching Daniel fix the door of his trailer. The old man had a scratchy voice and was quite bent over, so must have been a very old man, but he was telling Daniel about the old days, when he used to doctor people around here. Ah! I thought, the old man is a retired doctor. Then why is he living in poverty? Doctors, even the old ones, make quite a lot of money during their working life, so why was he so poor now, having to live with another old man, possibly his brother, just to make his bills? (I haven’t figured that part out yet.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What If Harry Was A Muggle?

What if… Harry Potter was a muggle? That is the thought that crossed my mind when I first conceived the concept of “Daniel.” Harry is extremely brave, he’s kind hearted, in wanting to keep his friends out of danger, he wants to work alone, even though he knows he can’t always figure things out without them. 

When the Harry Potter series ended this year with "Deathly Hallows Part 2," the actor who played Harry, Daniel Radcliffe, was 21 years old. I’ve read several interviews from Daniel, and he’s a smart young man, with a good head on his shoulders, who hasn’t been corrupted by Hollywood. He’s had many excellent mentors that have helped to keep him straight, including wise parents.

But it wasn’t Daniel (Radcliffe’s) characterization that kept niggling me with a story line; it was Harry’s, although his background kept changing on me, and is now totally different. He had a mom, who died of cancer when he was about 18. With his mom’s long illness, and his dad’s long work days as a fire-fighter, “Daniel” basically raised his two sisters, Lucy and Jaime, and took care of his mom. Daniel had to be a man long before he reached the legal age, much like Harry.

By the way, I emphatically DID NOT simply steal Daniel’s name, or what he looks like. The character himself has told me repeatedly that is what his name is, and he won’t let me change it. So there.