Desperate Dan

Photo from Wikipedia

So here’s the final character from Still, Daniel…and no, he looks nothing like Desperate above 😉

Daniel was born in November 1953 to middle class parents who lived in a semi-detached house they owned on the outskirts of Blackheath in South East London. Daniels father was an accountant, his mother a housewife. He had a younger sister who his father adored. The Hopwood’s happy family home looked from the outside perfection itself, but Daniels father was cold towards his son. He often became violent when he was drunk and used a belt to punish Daniel, often for no reason, on a regular basis.

Intelligent but introverted, Daniel didn’t mix well at school, and was often bullied. At secondary school he met Ronnie, who intervened when an older boy was picking on him and the two struck up a friendship. As an adult Daniel had convinced himself that the only reason Ronnie had rescued him was to make himself look good. Daniel would often do Ronnies homework and in return Daniel spent most of his time at Ronnies house, preferring that to being at home around his father.

With mousy hair and grey eyes he was rugged in his looks and awkward around girls. He lacked social skills and preferred his own company to that of others.

After leaving school he trained under his father as an accountant, his father’s choice, not his, and when he was 16 he was with Ronnie when they met Laura. Daniel thought at the time she was beautiful, but unfortunately, it was Ronnie who had the guts to ask her out. Daniel prayed that their relationship wouldn’t last and during the year that it did he found himself falling in love with Laura, trying to keep his distance and his feelings from Ronnie.

When Laura and Ronnie broke up Daniel began to start visiting Laura, as a shoulder to cry on, and it was Daniel she confided in when she discovered she was pregnant. With no hope of reconciliation between Laura and Ronnie, Daniel began to worm his way into Laura’s affections, and became her rock. He stood by her when she gave birth to her daughter and when he finally found the courage to ask Laura to marry him she accepted. He promised that he would treat Laura’s daughter Ruby as if she was his own, and at the time, he meant it.

When Laura became pregnant with Daniels child he began to resent Ruby’s presence. As far as he was concerned Ruby was ruining the happy life he wanted with Laura and taking up Laura’s time…time that she should be spending with him, and of course, she looked so like Ronnie. A huge argument resulted in Daniel lashing out and Laura losing the baby. They were later told that Laura would be unable to have more children. Daniel was ashamed and wracked with guilt but became even angrier with Laura, believing that she was still in love with Ronnie.

He became spiteful, aggressive and domineering, to the point where even though he knew the way he was behaving was wrong he couldn’t help himself.

Laura had a break down and was sent to hospital. Daniel was relieved that Ruby had gone to stay with Laura’s mother and during Laura’s absence he started drinking heavily and sleeping with other women. When Laura returned he tried to make amends but then his father died and all the hurt and pain of his childhood came crashing down on is shoulders.

Laura left him but he persuaded her to come back, truly believing that he would, could, change and that Laura was the only person who understood him. He tried to be kind, gentle and loving. The man he had been all those years ago, but the strain was too great. Believing that Laura didn’t love him, and wondering why she had come back, he found himself attracted to a woman at work and was making plans to leave. But Laura found out and by the time Daniel realized what a huge mistake he was making it was too late.

Laura packed her bags and Daniel knew it was the final straw and that Laura meant it. In his anger he told her that he didn’t need her and had never loved her as she left, but inside his heart was breaking and he knew that he didn’t deserve the woman he had destroyed.

So now you’ve seen all 4 sides of the story. These 4 characters have been part of my life for 2.5 years, and I just can’t let go of them. They don’t talk to me like I know some writers say their characters do, but I’m so attached to them lol

For some reason The Hubster isn’t gelling with our Daniel, but can’t say why. Is there something missing? Should he be more dislikable?

Tomorrows post will be a little bit late….as I’m up at Faber all day 🙂

16 thoughts on “Desperate Dan

  1. If your characters don’t talk to you have you tried hot seating them – just as actors do when they are trying to get under the skin of a character. Shoot loads of questions – silly ones like what colour knickers are you wearing – sensible ones like when did you last cry and answer in their voice. They won’t want to answer some questions….bet you won’t be able to shut them up….(especially Ronnie!)


    • He he he, I’m not worried that they don’t talk to me Bridget, I think it would bug the hell out if me!

      I can get inside their heads when I’m in the zone, but luckily, thy don’t get inside mine, unless offered 😉

      Thanks honey, that is a GREAT exercise!



  2. I think he’s dislikable enough! He obviously has some good points too and feels bad about what he’s done wrong – think we’ll need to see lots of that in action to make the reader sympathise with him.


    • I’m not sure I need the reader to sympathise with him, but Laura needs to, otherwise she wouldn’t stay with him for 20 odd years. Most of this wont end up in the book, it’s just my own personal info, if you know what I mean.

      Thanks Patsy 🙂



  3. Mm, I’m torn here. We should never feel sorry for a man who hurts a woman, never mind hurts her enough she loses her child, but I know as a writer, you want to add depth to a character. I think I’m probably with hubby, don’t be too sympathetic with him….


    • Thanks Rebecca 🙂

      I totally agree, but, I’m a big believer in F.E.A.R….. For Everything A Reason….. Hmmmmmm, perhaps I’ll use that as my next book title lol….anyway, where was I? I think there are very few outright EVIL people out there (but I’m sure there are some of course) and that we are all a product of our parents (nature) and upbringing (nurture). I remember seeing a Psychologist say on TV once, that if you are abused as a child (and I’m talking ALL forms), chances are you will be an abuser as an adult, even if that’s in another form. That really hit home to me. I’m not sure I need the reader to sympathise with him, but Laura has to. Women stay with abusive partners for years, why? There has to be SOMETHING that keeps them there. Pity? I find it a fascinating subject 🙂



  4. I agree with Rebecca – and I was feeling a little as though I didn’t know what to make of him. I think maybe it’s because he sounds like the good guy at the beginning and we feel for him because his life is perfect on the outside but awful on the inside and his only haven is Ronnie’s home. I was surprised when I read that he starts to resent Ruby as I wasn’t expecting that. There needs to be some hint that he isn’t as nice as he seems before they’re married I think. Some sort of warning the reader heeds but she doesn’t? x


    • Ha ha ha, thanks Bel, in a way I wanted you to be torn 😉

      Hmmmmm, interesting what you think honey, but, you hear so often about men who are WONDERFUL until they get married and have responsibility. The stress and pressure of life can make them snap. And then what about those who had crap childhoods who then see their own kids having GREAT childhoods, that must be an emotional nightmare. I had a friend once who’s hubby had a really bad childhood, no toys at Christmas, beaten by his father and when my friend had a child with him he expected her to treat their child the same, in his words “well, it never did me any harm”…..constant conflict and as you can imagine, they divorced. But before they had kids he was a lovely bloke. Having their daughter brought that side out in him, they’d never discussed it! 😦

      I totally understand where you’re coming from though, because, as my Faber tutor keeps telling us, fiction is different to real life 😉 But these are only my own notes on Daniel, so I’m not sure as yet, exactly what IS gunna come out in the book. Daniel is only talked about as a character, in Laura’s journal, so the reader never actually meets him, if that makes sense.

      Thanks honey, you got the old brain cells fired up this morning lol 😉



  5. Vikki, thanks for sharing all your characters with us. I’ve enjoyed reading about them and look forward to Still’s publication 🙂
    About Daniel: I like complex and sympathetic villains. When you can relate to them on some level, when you can’t ouright hate them, when you understand their motivation even though you may detest their actions, I think that’s a win. It’s a ‘there but for the grace of God’ situation. Maybe that’s what your spouse is uncomfortable with? Anyone with Daniel’s baggage could walk the same path and that can be disturbing. Plus, every villain needs their redeeming moment. Letting Laura go even though he still loves her is a good one. Though a little late in the game, it can be very effective if well-written.
    I like Bel’s and Rebecca’s suggestion that he’s a little hard to peg down at first, but is that part going to be written out in the novel? If not, you may be safe. Perhaps part of Laura’s revelatory moment can be that she does remember something subtle, pre-marriage, that gives her a clue that it’s Daniel that’s the problem and not her. It can be what gives her the strength to finally get out for good. The gentle soul can take her time to make the decision, but once fully and consciously made, her decision should be iron clad. No looking back.
    I also wasn’t clear on why Daniel would resent Ruby so much. That may bear some thought. Is she a reminder of how he (Daniel) betrayed Ronnie in pursuing Laura? Was Laura’s pregnancy what forced his hand and he wasn’t ready for the commitment of marriage? Does he secretly blame Ruby for the way his life turned out because he couldn’t lay the blame where it belonged (with his father and with himself)?
    If Daniel undergoes some form of transformation at the end as well, perhaps he makes amends to Ruby while exacting the promise that she never tell her mother? If he’s sincere in his reformation, he wouldn’t want to draw Laura back in even if he manages to heal his wounds. She is the price his has to pay to be a better man.
    Just some thoughts to toss around.


    • Thanks Mel 🙂

      Noooo, most of this isn’t going to be in the novel, as by the time the action starts Daniel is out if the picture.

      Hmmmmm, I’m thinking from the angle that bringing up another mans child must be hard enough (especially when you can’t have kids of your own) plus Daniel is convinced (and rightly so) that Laura is still in love with Ronnie. He kind of knows she only married him to provide a father figure for Ruby. Laura is fond of Daniel, and grows to love him, but with Ruby looking the spitting imagine of Ronnie I think he finds it increasingly hard to relate to her. He wanted Laura at any cost, but when he gets her, he realises she’s not with him 100%, does that make sense?

      Thanks honey, you’ve given me lots to think about 🙂



  6. My thoughts here:

    “Daniels father was cold towards his son” – I know there seems to be no reason, but there has to be one. Men don’t dislike their sons for no good reason. Maybe he thinks Dan is not his biological son?
    “After leaving school he trained under his father as an accountant, his father’s choice, not his” – not sure why his father would do this considering the daughter was the favourite. She would be the likely choice as his ‘apprentice’.
    “A huge argument resulted in Daniel lashing out and Laura losing the baby” – okay, does he beat her? or does she run and fall down stairs. It’s really important we know this because a man who beats a pregnant woman is not going to be ‘cared about’ by the reader (regardless of how much he changes during the story).

    It makes more sense to me that Dan’s father isn’t his biological father and this is why he starts to feel anger and resentment towards Ruby.

    Just my two cents worth – hope you don’t mind 😀


    • Thanks Dianne 🙂

      I think I was going along the lines that his father has always been disappointed with him, but yes, I take your point that that may not be enough. Hmmmmmm, yeah, that’s definitely an option, history repeating itself, I like it!

      I picture the scene where Laura loses the baby as a huge argument where she tries to stop him leaving their flat, and as he pushes past her in a rage she falls down the stairs.

      This is such a HUGE story and its why I’m tying myself up in knots trying to get the structure right! Lol. Version 4 is now just Ruby and Laura, with Ronnie appearing towards the end. So Daniel is no longer actually in it, just talked about in Laura’s journal. The original version had all 4 perspectives but it wasn’t working, too annoying for the reader lol.

      Thanks for your 2 cents worth honey, really helpful 🙂



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