Back to the Drawing Board (Sort of)

Yes, I know I stated a few months ago that writing on the long gestating The Condottiere was commencing. But the thing is, in the back of my head, I felt that Echoes of Truth was not quite ready to be in the query circuit. It wasn’t quite there. Feedback from beta readers and even my query pitch paragraphs were hitting on the same problem.

Part one of Echoes set up a false promise to readers.

Some time ago, I blogged about staying faithful to the unspoken contract writers form with their readers at the beginning of a book. The story promise that hooks the reader in chapter one should pay off by the time the words The End appear on the last page. I worked hard to make sure the climax of the book matched that promise, and I think it does.

However, I hadn’t realized I made two promises, one intentional and one unintentional.

By giving a minor character more screen time, I elevated her personal journey from a background player who will have a larger role in future books to a main character. Unfortunately, she disappears at the end of Part One. This book is mostly about Connor, so the story follows him, not her. Nearly unanimously, my betas asked “What happened to Dorian?”

Now I’m back at the beginning of chapter one, kind of starting over. No! Not the whole thing. I’m just downplaying the focus on her, juggling scenes to better play to Connor’s personal journey, and also introducing a main character who is actually important to this book much sooner (chapter 3 instead of 22). I’ve completely re-outlined the beginning (now 10) chapters. Most of them are being written from scratch, but I’m able to keep a lot of the existing description.

A side benefit of reshuffling Part One is losing about 15k words from the overall manuscript. Two issues solved with one hard crank on the revision wrench.

So, I’m hip deep in revising Echoes again. The Condottiere is still tapping me on my shoulder, though, and I’ll be jumping back into 15th century Italy again soon.

In the year 1472, the mercenary armies of Federico Montefeltro lay siege on the Tuscan city of Volterra. One of his condottieri, one of his captains, is about to find something inside that could topple the fragile balance of power across all of Italy and beyond. Something that isn't meant to be found...

Comments

((hugs)) on going back to the

((hugs)) on going back to the beginning on the Echoes edits - but sounds like it's an important step you needed to take. Good luck with it, and hope you get back to Italy soon :)

Thanks

Hugs are appreciated. :) I really liked how the book started in the previous draft, so starting over has been a mental challenge. I've completed a rough version of the new chapter one, but it's not as compelling a beginning. I left it as is, something I don't usually do, and moved forward. I'll tackle it again once I have the rest of the new chapters done.

/opens Word doc again...

I did the same thing with

I did the same thing with Maiden. I split the prologue equally between the protagonist and another supporting character who had only two scenes and a mention in a side conversation for the rest of the novel. My intent had been to showcase the family dynamic of the villains, but I think a lot of readers were disappointed that nothing really developed more with that secondary character.

Somebody needs to tell these

Somebody needs to tell these supporting characters to get their own book. :)

Did you plan on having that character take a larger role in a future book or did she just stand out to readers? I remember her, but never felt she needed more screen time.

On the one hand, it's good readers identify with minor characters and that they come across as well developed. On the other hand, they also make it harder to keep a book shorter.


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May, 24 2016

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About the Author

While reading The Fellowship of the Ring at the age of twelve, Stuart A. Etter was told by his teacher that he should be reading shorter books. Undaunted, he finished the trilogy and promptly moved on to other novels ranging from fantasy/sci-fi to historical fiction to horror to thrillers.

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