Monday, March 16, 2015

Writer's Notes: Not Developing the Villain for the First Novel

Hey Readers,
    When writing a story, a decision needs to be made regarding the narrative. Either focus on point of view of the protagonists or alternate perspectives between protagonists and villains. An example of the former would be The Lord of the Rings books while the latter would be Star Wars: Heir to the Empire. I enjoyed reading both, and considered the latter but I do not feel I could properly write in that style. As you may have read in Shining, most of the story was from the point of view of David and occasionally Jenny.
    While there is certainly an audience for developed villains, I'm honestly tired of it. Sometimes we need stories that really are good versus evil. At least that is what is needed for this first novel as I set up the world it will take place in. It is actually mostly due to having to focus on world building that I don't have enough space to focus on jumping perspectives. While it will be a battle between good and evil, I'm mainly writing this novel to be an adventure and so the focus will be on the protagonists and the world they see.
    So will I never develop the villain? If we are talking about the villain for the next novel, yes and no. In some respects there won't be any development due to one nature of the character. On the other hand, there are plans for legends where he is developed due to a second nature as well as how he connects with our heroes. Yes, it is a fairly complicated antagonist, but his development will be more in Legends than in the first novel as his development is tied to revelations about other character not yet in the spotlight.
J. D. Nyle

Monday, March 9, 2015

Legends: A Duel Between Brothers

    It's been a while since I posted anything with action. So I wrote this short story as a reminder that there will be action in my new novel as well. Also because I was able to imagine it so vividly in the first place. I hope you enjoy this little piece and some revelations about these two characters.

Legends: A Duel Between Brothers

One day, the two princes were dueling inside the castle with wooden swords. They had played many matches, but none of them ever seemed as close as this one.
"Today is my day, Zel," the younger prince exclaimed, not letting up on his swings. His spirit was high today and the look on his face appeared to say he had already won. However, the older brother was not going to yield so easily. Strike after strike, the older brother fended of the younger but his arm was steadily growing weaker.
"If you think you will win without a fight, you are sadly mistaken!" Zel stated, giving a strong push for space and a change of pace. It was not everyday that the other prince would dictate the fight, but this day might have been different.
"What did you eat today?" Zel inquired as his brother rushed in and crossed blades.
"The same as you! Eggs, meat, vegetables, too bad it's not helping you!"
The younger brother seemed to have a point as Zel was showing signs of fatigue. Nevertheless, his sword was always close but never hitting its target. Zel had always been know as the superior swordsman even on his bad days. On the other hand, the younger prince was not unskilled either. One-two, parried by Zel. Three-four, closer but still no score. Five-six, making sure Zel has had his fix. There was no opening for the older prince to attack without being struck himself. Unlike his usually more peaceful brother, Zel would not settle for a draw. In this castle, even if one struck first, as long as the other was in mid-swing and finished with a successful critical hit, the duel would be considered a draw. After all, such a situation would be the case in real combat.
Blades were crossed again, Zel was on the bottom, fighting his brother's unusual strength and weight. Sweat could be seen on his face as he was struggling but then his brother had placed too much weight and so Zel was able to roll off to the side, causing the other to fall to the ground. In most matches, this would have been the end, but the younger had indeed learned from his past mistakes and recovered in time to parry Zel's first attack for a long time. Unfortunately for the older prince, it didn't last. Soon the younger brother had the edge and spirit again.
"I don't think you've ever dueled this well before," Zel commented fending off another slash and thrust.
"Are you admitting I'm better now?" the younger said with a smile on his face.
"Dream on!"
Realizing there was no way to overcome his brother's spirit this way, Zel picked himself up and rushed head on to counter the next attack. After shoving the younger one back, Zel made his retreat, running up the stairs and corridor while throwing down chairs to hinder his chaser.
The younger prince did not hesitate to chase while the prey was in sight. This was his chance for victory and he was not going to let it slip away. His mind honed in on his target and proceeded to pursue. He easily overcame the obstacles and nearly caught up with his brother in the top room when he felt something hit him. He turned to look and saw a trap rigged to fire on him as he tripped a wire on the floor. The next thing he knew, the tip of Zel's sword had successfully poked him.
"That's cheating! You rigged this trap beforehand"
  Zel laughed as he lowered his sword and stepped back. Finding a chair at the table he sat down and sighed relief. "I have to admit, you gave me a harder time than I expected, but I figured it was time to open your eyes to the real nature of combat."
"What do you mean?"
"You can't expect whoever you are fighting to not have some tricks prepared beforehand. Every fight is different. You also can't expect no one else to attack you as you pursue your main foe. If you are in battle, you would be killed by one of the soldiers in your pursuit of their captain if you aren't aware."
"That still wasn't fair. I would have won."
"Really? Try again."
The younger prince did try, but the older easily parried and countered with a successful strike, revealing he was acting the whole time.
"That was your plan the whole time?"
"Of course. Like I said, I figured I should open your eyes to reality. The idea of playing fair is so that we learn the fundamentals. However, if you don't practice more realistic situations, you'll never be able to apply those fundamentals. Swordplay is as much a thinking man's game as well as brute force. You need to develop some strategies."
The younger brother was still upset about the nature of being tricked like that. However, seeing that his brother was not really tired at all helped convince him that he still had a lot of training before he could finally win. As a result, his resolve to surpass his brother in at least something strengthened. Something he did not realize until much later is that this sense of competition had greatly accelerated his progress in many things so that only his brother was known as superior.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Writer's Notes: God's Place in Neostriker

    So you may have noticed in reading through Neostriker Shining, that God is mentioned mainly only in the beginning. In the Legends I have released, there is the character Simulaen, who is referred to as a prophet. However, there are two things at play here. I cannot logically write a fantasy story that makes use of spirits without including a Supreme Spirit and Creator that has supernatural powers. On the other hand, I do not consider myself to be audacious enough to write anything to represent what God might say. Hence, you most likely won't see any "Thus says the Lord!" in my stories, even from the prophets.
    When you read my next novel, you will probably think of Simulaen as mostly like Gandalf the wizard from The Lord of the Rings. Now one thing I will differ from Tolkien on is the use of the term "Wizard" as that is by nature associated with magic and has led to confusion among readers about the nature of magic. More modern series, such as Harry Potter or BBC's Merlin have made it even more confusing. While even Tolkien includes a section in his books about how the "magic" seen was actually science beyond their comprehension, but it never explained what was wrong with magic. Having stepped back and pondered the associations and definition of magic, I now understand why it is evil by definition. I'm not going to into full detail right now as it's actually a planned section in my novel as they discuss the character of a prophet-turned-wizard. Hopefully you will find that dialogue to be interesting as it has had a deep impact on the development of Neostriker.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Legends: The Prophet's View on the Games

    This is a very short piece but I think is important for setting up the characters and some of the culture in preparation for my novel. This small piece references two board games I've designed and hopefully can use to create strategy games. While my main goal would be to create a Neostriker game, I would enjoy being a project lead on the two titles I reference here as I have the rules and structure all set up. I just need some game programming experience and artistic talent.
Legends: The Prophet's View on the Games
    One day, the two princes were playing a game of Tactics before their class with the prophet Simulaen.
    "Ha! I won!" the younger prince exclaimed with joy.
    "Good job," Zel said, happy for his brother.
    "So there is something you can beat your brother at," the prophet stated.
    "Would you like to play a round before class?" the younger prince asked.
    "No, but thank you for the offer," Simulaen politely declined. "I do not care for the game of Tactics. I find it a rather disheartening game."
    "Why? I know you enjoy playing Neman, which is almost like Tactics," Zel pointed out.
    The prophet laughed and pulled out his Neman cards. "It is true that Neman and Tactics are linked. Tactics was derived by removing the customization cards from Neman and adding set units. The idea was to make it simpler and accessible to everyone and not just the wealthy class. Both can have layers of strategy, but the concept of one versus one is my preference."
    The prophet picks up a piece and shows it to the princes. "What is the name of this piece?"
    "The Soldier," the princes both answered. After that, the prophet picked up another piece and asked the same, they replied, "the knight." Then they were asked which was more valuable and they quickly answered, "the Knight."
    "That is why I don't like this game. It assigns value to pieces and tells you which can be sacrificed. While it is possible to win with just the soldier, the tacticians still consider it worth less. No life is worth less than another. Each man is very important, not just on the battlefield, but to the lives of their friends and family. Any man who views war like a game of Tactics deserves to lose. That is your main lesson for today."
    "What are the other lessons?" the younger prince inquired.
    "How to properly play Neman, of course," Simulaen smiled and the young princes gathered their cards with excitement to play against the prophet.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Writer's Notes: Themes

Hello Everyone,
     Themes ted to be part of every story whether the author wants it or not. However, I learned that trying to make a theme work is different than letting the theme develop naturally. Long ago, I tried writing a story and tried to have a different theme for each chapter. As a result, the story was horrible. There are some elements that might cross over to my next novel, but trying to make each chapter a lesson means you under develop every theme. Because of this, Shining is probably my best work so far when it comes to novels because I didn't focus on shoehorning themes. Likewise, My plan for my next novel was to have no themes but one has come up again and again naturally in my development so it will be included.
    Now a question for you. Do you think it's best practice to try and write with no themes? Or do you think concentrating on a main theme is what makes a story and good story? I look forward to hearing your responses.
J. D. Nyle
  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Legends: Prophets and Meditation

    "Prophet Simulaen, is it true what they say about prophets? That their ears are pointed so that they can hear the Spirit?"
    "No, My Prince. The ears are more of a symbol than of actual purpose."
    "Then why do we say that it is so? Are there no prophets who don't have pointed ears?"
    "My Prince, ask yourself 'What do ears represent?'
    "Hearing?"
    "Listening. Our culture has long thought of the ears as the ability to hear, but hearing is just noise unless we listen. There are some who have perfect hearing but they do not understand what is said because they do not listen."
    The prince pondered for a moment. "So the pointed ears help you listen to the Spirit better?"
The prophet shook his head in disappointment. "I said before that the ears are merely a symbol, a visual reminder. Everyone could listen to the Spirit if they wanted to. Do you know what the Spirit is?"
    The prince replied, "No. Not exactly I guess. Just the creator of the world, right?"
    "Not just that, but the source of all that is good. For it to be the source of good, it must be Good itself. Tell me. Are there times when you hear a thought in your head about an action you should take?"
    "Not really," the prince answered trying to recall any situation but failed to do so.
    "Perhaps that's because you haven't prepared yourself. Some people don't realize it, but they always do what they are inclined to do. For people like your brother, it is always a good deed and that is called 'Virtue.' However, for people like you and me, we must meditate to prepare our minds. This is because there are good inclinations and bad ones." After saying this, the prophet paused for a moment, allowing these words to sink into the young prince's mind.
    "So the good inclinations come from the Spirit, who is the source of good by being Good, right?" the prince finally spoke up.
    "That is correct," the prophet smiled, seeing that the prince was grasping at least a little of what he was saying. He then continued, saying "The reason we meditate is to allow the mind to reflect whether an action is or was good or evil. The more you contemplate by emptying your mind of the rubble your senses give you, the easier it becomes to distinguish the good from the evil. When you make the habit to choose the good, you obtain a virtue. When you obtain virtues, then you become like your brother whose thoughts are so quick to recognize a good action he is inclined to do that he does not need to meditate."
    "But how do you meditate? I've tried it before. It's so hard."
    "Of course it's hard at first. It becomes harder the longer you go without having done it before. This is because if you allow the bad choices to take reign, you don't gain virtues, but instead vices. These are habits you need to break in order to become virtuous but all habits are hard to break in their nature. In order to break them, you need to strengthen your will to overcome them and act in virtue instead."
    "I don't think I can do that. Sometimes even if think an action is bad, I feel too inclined to do it." As the prince said these words, he noticed the prophet quietly laughing to himself. "What's so funny?" he inquired, feeling a bit insulted by his teacher.
Simulaen let out a deep breath and regained his composure. "So you have heard the Spirit before but you didn't recognize it."
    "What do you mean?"
    "If you think the Spirit's voice is something you feel in your ear, then you are wrong, unless you are referring to someone speaking on behalf of the Spirit. The Spirit speak through your conscience first by reminding you what is wrong. What I have mentioned before is only another step towards communication."
    "Now I'm confused."
    "Alright, I'll try to explain it again in a proper order. All things that are good come from the Spirit, which is the source of good because it is Good. That means that when you feel inclinations towards doing good, you can say it comes from the Spirit. The first way the Spirit tries to communicate with you is reminding you what you should not do. After you make a habit of trying to avoid evil and start searching for what is good, then the Spirit will try to communicate by inclining you to do good deeds. However, because you still have inclinations to do non-good actions, you need to start meditating to help your mind be able to correctly identify the good from the evil. If you continually choose the good inclinations, then you obtain a virtue. The more often you practice, the easier it is to distinguish right from wrong."
    The prince sighed. "I'm definitely going to need to think about all of that for a while."
    "As you should," the teacher smiled again. "It is always a good practice to reflect on what you have been taught."
    "So how should I start meditating?"
    "Well, you must recall that a purpose of meditating is to clear your mind of distractions. Find something that helps calm your mind and allow you to focus. I personally found focusing on a ball of light above either a field of grass or calm water inside my imagination helped me a lot. It's also important to realize you do have to start small. You won't be able to focus long, but you should be able to do a minute or two. If you set aside time everyday to meditate, you will eventually be able to meditate longer and easier." The prophet then looked and saw that his pupil's mind was near exhaustion. "That will be it for today. You should go and let your mind rest."
    The prince bowed with respect and appreciation, saying "Thank you, teacher Simulaen," and left to ponder their discussion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writer's Notes: Diversity

Hello Readers,
    When people hear of diversity, they think about different skin colors and genders. However, that will not be the case in my next novel. I'm planning on not indicating the normal skin color so no one can tell if it's white, asian, middle-eastern, or hispanic based. Also, there won't be any female characters in the main party, though at least one will be introduced for future epics and legends. Even then, her part may not be as you have come to expect in the traditional or liberal sense. It may be a fantasy story, but it's not Final Fantasy (which I have not played), so don't expect heavy magic users in the main party. The story will be about the quest of a prince and his company of knights, like an old Arthurian legend or fairy tale (not the Disney variety). Lastly, there will be no romances portrayed. I don't think we have enough stories that are romance free so there will be some talks about the women they love, but not much detail and you won't see it.
    So you might be wondering how I'm going to include diversity in a such a party. The point is character and city diversity. I don't know how well the characters will develop, but I want to make sure they have distinct personalities that play off each other. The cities will get some diversity thanks in part to the different kingdoms or governments that possess them. The plan is for the quest to take the company through at least seven different villages or cities. Hopefully that won't be too overwhelming a goal for my 24 chapter novel. Otherwise I might have to cut out a few cities and save them for Legends.

J. D. Nyle