I've switched tactics and decided to focus solely on Jack as the main protagonist of the novel. It's what I should've done in the first place, but I got so caught up in creating Dan's backstory that I thought he was supposed to be the main character.
Blood in the Orchard (working title) began as a short story that I just couldn't get right. I loved the monstrous creature in the short, but had no idea how it came about. I realized finally, after about two months of tinkering with it, that the reason I could never get it right was because my readers had no reason to care about the characters in the terrible situation I'd put them in.
That's problematic, because for me, the real root of good horror is identifying with the character in some way and caring about what the heck happens to them in the story. I started thinking about where that monster came from, and why. What it represented. How it was conjured into being. And suddenly I realized the damn thing was just too fricking long to be a short piece.
So I put it aside for about six months and didn't think about it at all. But then in August... it came swimming out of my imagination again, and I took the plunge. And now here I am, almost a year later. The first draft is finished and my first readers' polished copy's birth is in sight.
Anyway, back to Jack. I realized the story really is about him and how he changes through the book. When we first meet him, he's closed-off and somewhat reserved, especially with his emotions. He feels guilty a lot, about things he can't control. He's only got one close friend and he keeps himself from getting romantically involved with anyone.
Over the course of the story, Jack changes into someone who has to let himself feel, because he just doesn't have a choice. He's fallen in love with his dead sister's best friend, and his brother-in-law has gone insane, and a whole bunch of crazy shit goes down, but at the end he realizes he has to embrace and acknowledge not only his own special abilities but also the great amount of love in his heart for his family, his friends, and his town.
That's the story I want to tell you. Dan is important, yeah. But he's not the main character. At this point, he's not much more than glorified window-dressing, something I can use to make the readers feel sad or scared. I'm grateful for the character - for all my characters - and I like him, but I'm starting to recognize his value as a creative tool.
So, this is where my focus is going... for now. Ever watch those old Bugs Bunny cartoons where he ends up somewhere he shouldn't because he didn't take that fabled left turn? Well, hopefully that's Albuquerque up ahead... because I'm definitely turning left, kids.