Friday, August 5, 2016

Story and Philosophy

If you have read my stories and that of N. D. Moharo's, you might have noticed that the former is influence by the latter and vice versa. This relationship between storytelling and philosophy is quite amazing and natural. Stories often convey ideas and the author needs an understanding about the world and society if he wishes to tell a story about them. In addition, stories provide experiences which form the basis for philosophy. Whether the story is fact or fiction, it does not matter when it comes to philosophy, only that it contains truth, especially about human nature.

The other interesting thing is that if your philosophy changes, so does the story you want to tell. I had a goal for my next set of stories, but now I'm evaluating if that is good or if I should work more toward Moharo's latest series of stories about True Love. One thing I do love about the series is that it points out that True Love is not restricted to only romance. In fact, friendship is probably even greater than romance, which is certainly counter-cultural but makes sense when you think about it.

Now if I do consider changing my approach, it at least shouldn't affect the next novel. However, I still don't know when I'll have time and energy to focus on it. The biggest threat would actually be another novel that I've been thinking about quite often but takes place quite some time after the next novel. While I think it has to the potential to be better, that also indicates that I should write the weaker novel first. But... yeah. Being an author is quite difficult.

J. D. Nyle

Monday, July 11, 2016

Change in Update Schedule

Dear Readers,
    Due to a change in priorities and circumstances, I've changing my update schedule to be once a month instead of bi-weekly. I'm still working on getting Shining published, but that's taking a bit more time than I thought. I wanted it done by the beginning of last month, but the prospective publisher hasn't given me any details yet. I'm also waiting for some cover art. I was tempted to do it myself, but that would require me to take lessons in art and for my wrist to be healthy.
    The next novel is planned out, but the time I have to write is very limited. The addition of my wrist taking so long to recover also was a major factor. Also, there are other projects that require my attention, as well as work and family. I was hoping that I would have an additional two hours to focus on the novel, but that did not come to be.
    I do intend to eventually write that novel, along with all the others I have planned. However, it will take quite some time. For this to change, I would either need a team or a large enough profit that would allow me to quit my job. We'll see how Shining goes.

Until next time,
J. D. Nyle

Monday, June 27, 2016

Art and Profit

You may recall that I intend to polish up Shining and get it published. Perhaps I should explain a little more of my plan.

At the moment, I'm aiming to sell the book for $10 a copy. When I punch in the numbers at Amazon's services (since publishers haven't given me their estimates yet), that can equate about $1.50 or $2 per book in royalties. Considering how much money I've put into the project, I have to sell at least 1000 just to make even. However, if you consider the amount of time I've put into the project, that's not even close to enough.

Every foray into the art industry is a risk. It takes a lot of time, energy, and money to create something, even more to polish it up, and then to market it. If I can sell 1000 copies, I guess I will be satisfied, but as an unknown in the industry, I doubt I will reach that. This means that Shining itself is sort of like an investment to help get my name out there. Of course, that means I need to then write another novel in hopes of reaping any benefits. That means a lot more time, energy, and costs.

Unfortunately, as I grow older and obtain more responsibilities, this becomes even more difficult. It also means that the reward system needs to be good if I hope to use it to provide for a living. As a teenager, I used to not care so much about copyright, but when I decided I wanted to be an artist as well, and faced with the reality of how difficult it is to get by, I cannot accept that violating copyrights is okay. That is why I'm asking you that, even though a draft of Shining is available on this blog, please do not distribute it for your own profit. And when the book does come out, I'm okay with you lending it and talking about it with friends, even putting it in the local library, but please don't upload the finish product.

Thank you,
J. D. Nyle

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Reflection on the introduction to Shining

With all of the focus on the Legend of Zelda because of E3, I guess now is a good time to share a little bit more about the influence it had. The reason for the prologue is because I like the intro to The Wind Waker. As I look back, it might have had more to do with the music than the actual text. Then again, the stained-glass style was also good.

I find it interesting how the prologue gets received. I tend to hear "It's so simple and not complex," and then once they finish reading that passage they say "Wow! Didn't expect that twist." I'm also surprised when I hear people saying they liked the first chapter. While my first chapter certainly does not compare to How to Train Your Dragon I guess it does do its job. An intro is supposed to introduce what the audience should expect such as the themes, major characters, and style.

So when I think about the prologue and first chapter, I guess I underestimated how well it does its job. One unintentional theme is that things seem simple at first, only to reveal there's a twist at the end. Some are really obvious while others will require some digging. Now that I reflect on it, the first chapter with the prologue really do help set the themes, despite none of them being intentional. So maybe it really is a good one, and my dissatisfaction came from seeing it so often and then comparing it with the first chapter for my next novel. However, since the books are completely different, the introductions should be different as well.

What were your thoughts about the first chapter? For those who read the story, do you see how it established the themes you could expect? How would you think it could have been made to better reflect the story? Look forward to hearing from you.

J. D. Nyle

Friday, June 3, 2016

Games as Storytelling Platforms

If you read through Shining, you may have noticed that it might feel like a video game. That is true for a few reasons. Even though my original intent was to avoid the video game feeling, it still snuck in. More recent edits have trimmed it back to resemble more of a novel, but it did benefit from some game design choices.

When designing something, especially a combat system, it's important to be consistent. By assuming that the story could be a game, I had to determine the power of various attacks and the health of everyone. I was able to determine the rules and this made combat consistent.

Games also allow for more avenues in storytelling because it can make even tedious tasks boring. We might not care to watch help missions in a TV show, but in video games, they are fine and therefore provide plenty of opportunities to expand the world.

Another benefit is the choice system. Even though most video games are linear in their stories, the ability to show different outcomes is amazing. For example, what if David made a different choice in Episode 12? In a movie or TV show, unless time travel is a plot point, this cannot be done often. In video games, this can be done and fully explored if the developers are willing to take up the task.

So are video games the best storytelling format? Maybe for some stories, like what I've heard for Rachet and Clank, but not all. I just wanted to convey that it is a legitimate medium that has its advantages. Would Shining be a good video game? There are things I would like to do if it was, but I think it wouldn't be as enjoyable as a comic/manga. In addition, the novel format also has its advantages, but that's for another time.

J. D. Nyle

Monday, May 16, 2016

What you can expect from the printed edition of Shining

    So I'm still determined to try and get Shining published in print. Of course, since the full story is already published on this blog, do I expect many people to buy it? Perhaps. Something I've noticed is that people don't care for reading novels online. However, those who can actually go through the entire text online probably actually enjoyed it and would like a hardcover copy. If I get my way and make it only $10, then it could work. If people are willing to pay $15, though, that would certainly help cover the fees I had to pay.
    However, I'm not going to simply copy and paste what I posted and publish the book that way. I've already sent the text to an editor and got back the results. Now I am absolutely not changing the story, but I am correcting the grammatical errors present. Since I didn't major in English, I don't know exactly the rules for everything so I'm accepting most of the suggestions.
    In addition, the editor pointed out some wording that would sound insultingly sexist despite no intention to be so. When I examined it, I agreed that it wasn't any good to have them so those have been edited or taken out.
    I've also inserted a mini Episode 10b. It can totally be skipped, but it was something I planned to add to the print version since before I started sharing it online, I just was too tired to write it then. There's no action, only dialog for development purposes. The idea was to show what happened to one of the characters between chapters 10 and 11. It also helps to slow down the pace a little before the action starts up again.
    There will likely be an appendix to help keep track of the various enemies and abilities. Since there are so many enemies, it could be confusing for the reader. Hopefully the appendix will help keep everything straight.
    Something you may notice is some wording has been changed to better reflect my opinion on Magic. The problem is that Shining was written before I fully developed that idea and, even though it wasn't intended to look like that, it does seem like Zel is the source of David's powers. I guess the best way of interpreting that is to consider Zel's nature and therefore Zel is not the true source but the intermediate. I may perhaps try and change the wording more to better reflect the philosophy to emphasize that David was chosen.
    The last thing I've planned is to add notes at the end of each chapter. These notes may reflect on specific characters, ideas, or the development of that episode. There is a lot of details that I could possibly write another book about the development of Shining. However, it'll probably just be 1 page per episode here in order to keep the book a fair size.

    The result is that you can know exactly what you are buying. If you want to sample the work, you can read what I've published here or on Wattpad. That way you can determine if you are interested in the story. If you are and you want more tidbits about the development, the printed edition should be perfect for you.

J. D. Nyle

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Legend: The Wandering Warrior Part 1

It's been a while since I've shared a Legend. Part of it was the development of this one is a pretty big one as it ties to the next novel. As a result, I need to make sure everything is planned well up to the point it ties in. It also means that it may be revised. This is labeled as Part 1 because it is intended to have a 2nd part that properly leads into the novel. However, that one is more critical to get correct so it will probably be a while before I publish it.

J. D. Nyle

Legend: The Wandering Warrior Part 1

               The wind pushed a green cloak against a figure as he traversed the rocky landscape. The figure did not mind as his sights were square ahead and he had grown used to the wind at his back. Eventually, he came across a fallen tree and the wind paused so he sat.
               "Someone's body is claiming to be a hungry and weary traveler"
               The cloaked figure turned his head and found an elderly man with a staff seated on the tree bark. He laughed and stated, "After wandering for days with barely a loaf of bread, I don't blame that said body."
               "If that's the case, how about you hunt for the two of us?" the elder suggested. "I may have neither blade nor strength, but I can pay you well when I reach my destination."
               "Is there a specific thing you had in mind?"
               "A wolf. They are creatures of great strength and I have heard they can survive without eating for days. If we can eat one, perhaps we may recover our strength for days."
The wanderer laughed. "I doubt very much that, but how do you suggest I obtain wolf-meat if I am weak myself. Wolves normally stick in packs. Even then, how should I expect to find any?"
               This time the elder laughed as he said, "I would have thought that a warrior such as yourself would be able to think of something. I can at least assist you with direction. I saw traces of a pack alongside where my back is turned. Perhaps there you may find one we can eat."
               The wind picked up again, moving in the direction the sage-haired man indicated. Taking note of this, the green cloaked figure accepted this quest.
               Soon, the wanderer found wolf tracks and indeed they appeared to belong to a pack. Examining the tracks, he determined the general direction and speed they were moving. He followed them carefully, paying attention to his surroundings so as to not let them get the jump on him. Every crackle of the fallen leaves caught his attention, accounting for the swoosh of the breeze that followed behind him.
               Some time later, the cloaked figure found his prey. A large tree had fallen and laid on top of a lone wolf. He could see that effort was spent and wasted on escaping. The other point of interest is that there were no traces of the rest of the pack.
               The warrior unsheathed his sword and moved toward the ensnared beast. Then after taking a long look, he returned his blade to its scabbard. Carefully patting the back of the wolf's head, he spoke words of encouragement. When the wolf had calmed down, the wanderer assisted in freeing it from its wooden burden.
               Free at last, the wolf gazed at its rescuer and then scattered off. The wanderer then took note of the change in the wind and followed it back to the elder.

               When he returned to the elder, he was surprised to find another man serving him soup. The elder smiled at the confused warrior and instructed, "Sit down and eat some soup. Kind Karlos has brought enough for all of us. The laborer deserves his rest and food."
               "But I failed in bringing what you requested," the wanderer replied.
               "But not in what I had intended you to do."
               Seeing that the elder's bowl was empty, Karlos said, "Prophet Simulaen, would you care for more soup?"
               "That would be marvelous, Karlos. Please prepare one for my friend here as well."
               "Prophet?" the wanderer interjected with a surprise on his face.
               "Ah! Yes, I am indeed a prophet. That is how I knew you would be here. That is how I knew about the wolf. Now how about we make things fair and you share your name with me."
               "Uh, yes. My name is Celram... But you meant for me to save that wolf?"
                "I guess it wouldn't have mattered much if you killed it, but I preferred to see your kindness rather than ruthlessness, despite your desperation. I know now that I can indeed trust you with my mission."
               Celram accepted the bowl from Karlos and waited for the prophet to answer.
              "Karlos, your soup is one of the best I have ever had," Simulaen said before focusing on Celram. "You should try the soup before it gets cold, my friend. You will need your strength for the task I'm about to give. As to why you'll accept it, that's quite simple. You will find what you are looking for."
               "What am I looking for?"
               "You know the answer, and I'm telling you that you will find it. Or rather, it will find you."
               Celram pondered for a moment. "What is this quest you will have me do?"
               "To help some people," Simulaen replied. "Karlos, do you have what I requested?"
               "Yes, prophet Simulaen. I brought it in a bag like you requested."
               Karlos brought over a bag and opened it before Celram. It contained a good amount of gold.
               "This should cover your expenses," the prophet said. "All I want you to do is help those who need it. Your quest is over when you find what you are looking for. One more thing..." The prophet dug his hand into a pocket and pulled out a ring. "This ring is yours to keep. When you find what you are looking for, then you will know what it is for."

               Celram accepted the ring and gave it a quick flip with his thumb. It made a nice ring. "Okay," he answered and took to his meal. The wind had stopped.