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.)