writing

Genre Mash-up

Ok, I confess. This post is about a movie that I absolute love, warts and all. It’s uneven at times, and has elements that stretch credibility, and gives characters sudden abilities not previously established or even hinted. For all of that, Brotherhood of the Wolf is a story that I wish I had written. It’s the ultimate mash-up of genres.

Journey Versus Destination

Some books I read for the story, or to put it differenty, for the destination. Others I read for the rich characters and the interpersonal drama. Once in a while, I find a book where I simply enjoy the prose, so the journey of reading becomes the highlight. Patrick Rothfuss' novels are perfect examples of the later, so much so that his blog is nearly as enjoyable as his books.

Plan Your Big Mystery

Back in 2001, I tuned in on the first episode of Alias by accident. At the time, I didn’t really watch any television on a regular basis. But for some reason, I had the TV on that Sunday night and was introduced to student/spy Sidney Bristow and the mystery around the Renaissance scientist/prophet named Riambaldi. I was hooked.

By 2004, I was a devoted JJ Abrams fan, and so tuned in for the first episode of Lost just because he was involved. I was immediately sucked in by the characters and the mystery of the Island.

I came to Battlestar Galactica late, but quickly became engrossed in the compelling characters and the questions behind the Cylons, “Head Six,” and eventually the Final Five.

All three of these shows had solid characterizations to support the framework behind their Big Mysteries. How and why their characters succeeded is a different post. What these shows also had in common was the writers introduced Big Mysteries without having a clue they would be resolved.

Pushy Characters

While I can usually keep my characters under control, occasionally I do have one or two who initially are only supposed to appear once, but instead keep walking back on stage like they belong. In the first incarnation of Echoes, I had one who tried to bend the entire story around him. When I rebooted the manuscript years ago and started over, he was tossed out. Too demanding.

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.

Time to Stop Reading and Start Writing

Over the last few months, I’ve been reading Renaissance history and theories of alchemy until I think my eyes might pop. I now have a huge spreadsheet documenting dates with major and minor events from 1453 through 1500.

My list of historical persons who may or may never appear in this series currently numbers 114 and continues to grow. I’ve documented the lives and deaths of popes, princes, soldiers, and artists. Princesses, kings, and philosophers. Alchemists and assassins. Dukes, countesses, and cardinals. Scholars and lowly refugees.

Back from the Jungle

Well, I survived a four-day trip to the jungles of Ecuador.

Fortuitous Photo

I’m still chugging through revisions. It took long to get through part 1, but now I’m up to my three chapters a day goal, and am half a chapter away from finishing part 2. If I keep up the current pace, I'll be done in a week and a half.

My wife forwarded me some photos today of a volcano that erupted here in Ecuador a few weeks ago. Tungurahua is a few hours south of Quito and was dormant for a long time before it started erupting again ten years ago. Here’s a photo of the recent show.

Draft Three in 18 Days

I finally finished my second draft yesterday. Well, it could be labeled draft three or four, but I’ve decided all drafts prior to 2005 were drafts .0x. This draft mostly dealt with plugging plot holes, backfilling character changes, and smoothing out the prose. I’m really happy with how the story and characters build and develop now.

I had intended to cut more words during this pass, but while I cut about 15k words, I also added 9k words in new material. So, the current draft is sitting firmly at 192k. Still way too long for a first timer.

Influences of Travel

It’s no secret that my stories are heavily influenced by my experiences traveling. I spent six months between high school and college backpacking around Europe and living in northern Italy. I also spent my junior year in Finland and am now living in Ecuador. All have helped shape elements in my books to one degree or another.


Recent News

May, 24 2016

Please, hold the door!

I'm both stunned and slightly embarrassed by all the attention this week, but welcome new visitors! Make yourself at home.

My thoughts behind my 2008 joke/prediction/guess can be found on my Blog.

Thanks again for stopping by!

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.

Featured Preview

Prologue: Prisoner Bound

Damion rubbed the dull ache of age from his hands. Countless years wielding a sword had conditioned his tendons and muscles, but time had worn them down, replacing strength with chronic pain. Closing his eyes, Damion dreamed of his youth. Battle and victory marked most of his memories, but darker images tainted his successes, reminding him of his one...