Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Digital or Print

    So I've had Neostriker Shining available online for free for over a year now. I've had the first 12 chapters available on Wattpad as well. However, I've often considered that it's very difficult to read through a novel on a screen. As a result, I'm contemplating submitting Shining to be edited and then released as a paperback. However, if I release it as a paperback, there's the risk no one will buy it.
     It's an interesting dilemma. By releasing it it for free, it didn't cost me anything beyond time. However, there's the weird thing about free in that people don't care to spend depth looking at something they don't pay for. Add that reading on a screen is not the best environment for a novel, even an episodic one such as Shining, I feel like not many are reading it. In fact, I think I got more views on my one essay on Magic and on the Epiphany than I did on any chapter within 1 week. So should I instead seek advertising with few views, or pay at least $2000 in hopes that more people will read it?

    What do you think? Do you think you would enjoy reading Shining as a paperback novel for $10? At the price of $10, I need to sell at least 2000 copies to cover expenses, which is certainly difficult for a first time. If I do go this route, I would certainly add more content in the form of essays on the process of each episode. Would you consider that worthwhile? Leave your comments below.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sample writing

This week, my hand has been bothering me. As a result, I can't write the piece I intended to share about some of the reasons for why I consider Shining special. So instead, I'll share a small piece I wrote around the time I wrote Shining. You might recognize some of the themes and feelings from one of the chapters. Hope you enjoy.

I know not the year, except it be the Dark Ages. I know not where I am, except it be not my sweet home. I know not the season, except last I saw it was brilliant summer, yet it be cold and dark enough for winter. I open my eyes only to see darkness and find myself lying down. There be not much light to see if any at all. I can sense the cold muggy air and the frozen hard ground. I can smell a horrible stench but cannot identify it.
            My eyes are now accustomed to the darkness and I see in front of me a terrible figure. In the blackness, I can only see what appears to be an armored Minotaur. I cannot tell, yet my gut tells me so, that this thing be drawing up a sword to attack me and that I should run. The shadowy movements confirm it. I run. I run as fast as I can into a passage between the murky and shadow-filled walls.
            I move inside the path only to see it split. I try the left path only to find another fork, so I try the right one. I then hear something that sends a chill down my spine. My ears convey the clanking of armor and the slow pace of footsteps. However, they come not from just one direction, but all of them! I continue on the same way as before, hastening my step, hoping it be a trick of some sort, but it seemed not. I make some more turns only to find the thing I had been running from in front of me as I make another turn around a corner. I quickly change directions in what be, now plain to me, a Labyrinth of darkness. Oh! How I wish I had the string that saved Theseus! I make another turn and to my dismay find that horrendous thing once more before me!

            I know not what that thing be, except what I have described in the darkness. I know not how many there be, except I appear surrounded. If it be alone, I know not what magic it uses, except it always appears ahead of me. I do know, though, that this be true, that it seems to know where I go though I do not know myself. How will I escape? I do not know.  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

An Epiphany of the Epiphany and Storytelling

    In the Christian Bible, there's a story about magi coming from the East to pay homage to the newborn Christ. It's an interesting story in that it doesn't appear to fit into the narrative. There's no mention of why they know about the Christ and what happens to them afterwards. It's like what I feel when I hear the term Deus ex Machina, meaning that the event just happens and there's no set up for it (the phrase means "God from the Machine" as it was a device used in plays, but it also has a reputation for lazy storytelling). In fact, I've heard some Biblical scholars claim the events never happened and is more a myth leading to the verses "As it was foretold by the prophet...".  That would make sense, but I actually have a theory.
    The Old Testament books are focused primarily on the tribes of Israel. Occasionally, there are snippits of text that mention about blessings for the world, but they are very few. How can a religion that is very exclusive have people from other nations know about its prophecies? The answer is the Babylonian Exile. One storytelling technique employed here is the idea of Providence where something seemingly bad happens but it's the requirement for something great to happen. Exile and destruction of their homes was bad, but the exile allowed this exclusive nation to communicate with the world. If the idea was for the world to receive redemption, this is a crucial event.
    If you read through the Old Testament, there is one person during the Exile who is ranked important to all the nations: Daniel. Daniel is a Jew who gains favor for his Wisdom and Faith among the kings of Babylon and Persia. In fact, he is said to have been placed in charge of all the magicians and that they should worship Daniel's God. Another name for magicians? Magi.
    So there actually is a setup for the Epiphany story, but it's hidden/ignored. However, once you see the connection, can you ever not see it? Doesn't it actually appear to be fantastic storytelling? I don't think I can pull this off with Neostriker, but I do think this was amazing and I just had to share it. What do you think? Doesn't it put the Story of Epiphany in a new light?

J. D. Nyle

Update: I forgot to mention this detail to help explain to those who don't know who Daniel was. Daniel was a prophet who interpreted dreams and also the famous "Writing on the Wall" which meant doom. The Book of Daniel contains prophecies about the Christ, one of which is number of days which scholars have calculated to correspond to when it was expected Christ to have died. So since Daniel was a prophet and influential to all of the magi (a term for wise men), it is likely that there are some who followed his teaching and model and therefore received the prophecy about the Christ. For all we know, Daniel could have told them, "A certain Star will appear when he is born. Follow it and you will see the Light of the World." Actually, I think that would make a neat story, too bad I already have too many story ideas in my head.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!
    This week, I'll sidetrack a little from my usual insights about storytelling and wish you to have a good day. I would also like to take this time to remind you that gifts are not how many people give or receive love primarily. Perhaps what they want is a hug or quality time. Let us show love to each other and continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

    Now I'll give you a little insight in my planning for my stories. When studying societies, religion is always important, especially early on in the culture. What this means is religion is certainly necessary as I intend to build an entire "world" and therefore cannot ignore the concept and various debates surrounding it. However, it will certainly be different. I do not consider myself worthy of doing a "Christ Story" and so all stories take place before such an event. Hence, Christianity won't be present in name though I will certainly borrow from it.

     Basically, when religion appears in my stories, it's trying to explore the basic principles and focus of what religion means with definition I found while reading through the Roman Catholic Catechism: "Give God what is Due."  What this means will be an interesting topic as the question rises, "How can you have religion without divine revelation?" My quick answer is that if God is the source of all that is Good, then it means you have to align your spirit with what is good and oppose evil. Hence, the values of Love, Respect, and Mercy will be present as I want to strongly advocate virtue.

    So will Neostriker be a religious story? Not really. Neostriker is a world but religion will certainly be part of it. Therefore there will be occasional short stories about religion, but it won't be the main subject. However, because religion advocates for virtues and is a major player in the fight between good and evil, you will certainly see some of the same ideas. After all, the basis of religion isn't evil when considered from the definition I gave earlier. On the other hand, the people who take charge of religion are very much susceptible to corruption. Another way of saying this is that "religion is not a tool. Those who use religion as a tool are likely to become evil."

    Therefore, if you are paying attention to my logic, radicalism is a result of someone using religion as a tool. How can we rationally keep it in check? Consider the basic principles of religion and make sure your actions do not contradict any of them. If God is Good, then that means you cannot do evil if you want to be on God's side. If God is the Author of Life, that means you cannot take another's life except to protect your own and those under your care (self-defense). If God is Love, that means you must love even those who hate you. If God is Truth, then you cannot lie. Consider these and respect them and you should be on the right path to practicing religion properly.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
J. D. Nyle


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Legends: The Princes and the Cave

Hello everyone!
    Considering that I had hoped to finish this story by August, which obviously didn't happen due to certain events, I've decided to share the First Chapter. I actually wrote this chapter maybe 5 years ago and haven't made many changes since. When I took a look at it, I decided I liked how it was and served its purpose as a first chapter very well. Oh yes, this is finally where the prince's name is revealed. I might change it but I like how it sounds as well since it's a soft name to contrast with Zel. Anyways, hope you enjoy!
J. D. Nyle

Legends: The Princes and the Cave

Ages after the fall of man, the world was bountiful with all creatures of life. The lands were mostly divided among the many kingdoms. One of the greater, and focus of this story, was the Nellenion Kingdom, the Kingdom of Nyle. In the years prior the great age for the Nellenion Kingdom, The king Laertor’s wife gave birth to twins. When the first child came out, he was crying loudly and fighting. Because of this, they named him Zel, which means “Warrior.” However, an interesting event happened after that. For when the second child came out, he was quiet and peaceful. Then with a simple yawn, his older brother by seconds calmed down. As a result of this event, the king and queen named the second one Eloim, “Peace.”
The amazements did not stop either, for those there noticed that these twins had slightly pointed ears. The king summoned the prophet Simulaen and besought him of what this meant. For it was the custom that those who had pointed ears, as legends say the first man and woman had, became prophets. The twins, on the other hand, did not have fully pointed ears but half way.
When the prophet arrived, he was greeted joyfully by the king. “Dear friend,” began Laertor, “I am proud to say that I am the father of two beautiful sons.” “Glad tidings and congratulations I bring to you, old friend.” responded the pointed eared Simulaen. “And pride you should have” he continued, “for they are indeed wonderful and shall ever be if raise them right. Now what is it that you wish to inquire of me?”
“My friend, I simply ask for revelation onto what the sign that has appeared might mean” stated the king. “And what sign do you speak of?” came as answer. “The sign of half pointed ears on them both” gave the king. The prophet closed his eyes and meditated for a short while before giving his answer.
“The ears simply indicate the blessings of the Spirit that will be with them. The part that they are half way is to mean that the Spirit has not called them to my sort of duty but to their own.”   
 When the prophet told the king that the Spirit would bless them, he feared this prophecy until he realized that both were blessed. For in the old times, history had shown that when a father was told one of his children was blessed over the other, he would make a grave mistake and cause discord among the family and eventually kingdoms.
“Many thanks, my friend” said the pleased king Laertor, “Please stay tonight as we celebrate the birth of these blessed ones.” “With honor” was the simple response of the prophet.
            As the twins grew older, the people of the kingdom adored them. They both very different, for Zel was a fine warrior from early on, taking on even the greatest of knights before the start of his thirteenth year. Eloim, on the other hand, was considered as peaceful as his name. He was gentle and kind and also thoughtful. The twins were so loved by everyone, the idea of only one taking the throne was dividing, for no one could think whom they would prefer. At the time, the prevailing idea was that of the king. He proclaimed that the two sons should both become kings of equal status and that they should rule the kingdom together. This eased the minds of the people and saw it fair.
One day, when the twins were of the age of twelve, they with their father and a few nobles went hunting in the Kylian Forest. Neither was bad with a bow, but they were not yet experts, even with their smaller ones. As they went through the thick trees and shrubs, the king and his men found a deer and gave Zel the chance to get it. With great aim, the prince did not fail. As they went out to get it, the men praised the lad.
“My son, you will definitely grow up to be a fine warrior.” declared king Laertor.
“Thank you, father,” was the cheerful response from Zel. The rest of the men and Eloim congratulated him. It is said that while Zel was the greater fighter, Eloim was better with the bow. And yet if there was anything else that Eloim was more profound in, it was getting into trouble. No malice was ever in the prince’s heart. It was simply his curiosity about the world around him. And it happened again during that hunt.
A while after Zel got his deer, he was out in the front with his father and Eloim in the back talking with the other men when they found a trio of deer. However, one noticed the approaching men and made a run for it with the others following. The hunters ran after it hastily. Soon, Eloim tripped and fell. He called after his company to wait for him but they could not hear him. These men could run fast when they are on the hunt. The blood was coursing through their veins and paid no attention to anything but their prey and the means to getting them.
Eloim had no hopes of catching up with the nobles. And so the young lad began to walk in the direction they had gone. Even though he was alone, it did not frighten him. The colors of the forest were bright and various. He came across a few little creatures and gleefully chased them around. After losing them, he dropped to the ground and lay facing the sky.
“I love this forest,” thought the boy. “It’s a perfectly fine day to walk around and enjoy the air.” So laid back was the younger of the twins that it seemed little ever dampened his spirit. So innocent of heart he was.  
Soon enough, he turned to his side and spotted a cave with glowing insects flying in. He was so close to it and yet failed to see it when he arrived. It was all too unknown to him. He had heard from a dear friend that there was a cave in this forest he was in. In this cave, he had been told there grew a special flower of beauty which glowed like the moon in the darkness. From the moment he recalled this did his mind not wander from trying to find this flower, until it was too late.
When the curious prince did not find the flower he was searching for by the entrance he ventured deeper into the abyss. He could not venture far, however, because of lack of light. Nevertheless he admired the insects that provided what little light he had. Unfortunately, after tripping again, Eloim discovered the danger he was in. In front of him was a gigantic spider creature. The size of it was more than twice his own. And as a little boy he gave a scream and tried to make a run for it out of the cave. The spider, though, was much faster and blocked his way. With the light behind this monster, Eloim could see a stinger at the rear of the spider’s body. With no second thought, the prince readied his bow only to find that he had dropped most of his arrows.  
            The lack of arrows struck fear in the mind of young Eloim. He was already terrified of the monster that stood before him poised to strike and now knew he lacked resources to fend it off. His hands did not give up though. They grabbed one of the few he had and took aim. The spider then made its move. Its stinger came fast upon the fallen lad only to just barely miss. The prince took his chance and fired straight up into the body where it stuck. It was a fine shot but this monstrous creature was tougher than an ordinary spider. It shrugged off the pain but it was still all the more angry. Trying again, Eloim attempted to draw another shaft from his quiver only to fumble it. The terrified boy, who could barely see his opponent, could not compose himself and released another echoing scream.
            It was a long and painful moment. Eloim was frozen in place. He had heard that some creatures, if their prey doesn’t move, won’t attack. However, this was not the reason why he did not move. He couldn’t. Fear had taken a grasp hold over him and all he could do was tremble. But suddenly, a glint of a blade came and hacked at the hind legs of the threatening arachnid. The eight legged beast screeched in pain, something the prince had no idea it could do. The creature, which no doubt had a venomous sting turned its attention to its new assailant. Eloim also took a look towards his savior and found it was his own brother!
            It was long after they began pursuit of the deer that Zel took notice that his twin was not in sight. He immediately ran back along the path he had traversed. Some of the nobles followed but for some reason they too got lost and Zel was all alone. Yet he did not care. All that went through his mind was to find his brother. He just made it to the cave when he heard the second scream. Without strategy he rushed in the cave and took his knife out to slash the assailing monster before him. Always preferred the blade to a bow, Zel did. He had more confidence in his strength than his accuracy. To him a blade was more dependable for one could always run out of arrows to use. The use of a blade to save his brother was by then instinct.
            As stated before, the monster arachnid did not like this treatment. One of its legs was almost cut off despite the single blow coming from a knife. By no means was it a weak knife either. It was a strong and sturdy steel knife, made by the best blacksmith in the Nellenion kingdom. The venomous creature was quick to turn toward this newcomer. The thing gave another screech and attempted to sting Zel again and again. However, Zel, being smaller than the creature was able to move around and through its legs. He willfully gave another hack and finished off the leg he had begun this encounter with. The arachnid had then become a seven legged monster. Its fury did not cool down. It scrambled to attack again only to just miss. Zel was indeed a fine fighter.
            Finding some courage in his bones, Eloim found the arrow he had dropped and fired it at the enemy’s head. It could be certain that till that day, that spider had never felt so much pain, yet it was amazing how much it could take. Zel did not skip a beat to diverting the seven legged fiend back to him. He went and with two strokes took out another hind leg. The monster fell on its stinger only to quickly get up again. Zel could not believe it at first. For the back of the monster appeared to be very heavy despite the darkness the limited such sight. To add to it, the legs he felt should have been weak considering how easy he cut them off with his knife.
            Zel finally took an instant to strategize. He made a run and when he reached Eloim, he dropped his quiver at his feet and continued to move, all while keeping his adversary’s attention. It would have been wise to by then try to escape, but Zel was a warrior, one who rarely thought of retreating even if it would give him the advantage. Sadly, this is where it all went wrong.
            The warrior prince was doing a fair job fighting and Eloim, a little more sensible was beginning to make his way towards the exit while fixing an arrow on his bow. The fearful lad readied his bow and fired another at the head and hit. The creature fell back but disaster had just happened. The stinger fell and hit Zel in the chest and he fell back, dropping his cold blade. Eloim, with all anxiety and worries raced to his brother’s side only to see the monster getting back up. The standing prince grabbed his brother’s steel knife and stabbed his opponent. The monster then took its chance at stinging the prince but missed as he pulled away in time. While he just escaped, he stumbled and fell back and was in a horrible position. It was then that a great light shone and blinded the monster.
            The light came from behind Eloim and so he could not make out what was happening. The white light came like a javelin and six legged arachnid finally retreated back into its abyss. When the monster went away, Eloim wasted no time returning to his brother’s side.
            “Zel!” cried the rescued brother. “I’m so sorry for all of this.”
            “Don’t worry” responded the prince weakly. “You’re my dear brother. I’d gladly die for you.”
            “Let’s pray that you won’t die from that, prince Zel.” called another voice. Eloim finally turned to look at he that saved them both. A light was still shining from a staff so that the cave brightened up. The man was Simulaen the prophet. He placed his hand over the wound and muttered a few words as in prayer. From his hand another light shone and Zel began to recover. He handed Eloim his staff and then proceeded to carry the wounded prince out of the cave. There, they found the rest of the company who had just arrived. The king would have normally scolded the twins but concern took its place for the poisoned son.

            “He has begun to heal” started the prophet, “but I will need to take him to my place to continue the treatment.” No debate met his statement. The group proceeded to the home of the prophet where he finished his treatment of the lad. Laertor questioned the other twin as what had occurred but the boy was still in shock of it all and would not answer. Nor did he ever readily tell the tale of the events of that cave for the rest of his life.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Magic Confusion, LOTR, and Shining

(Those who haven't read Neostriker: Shining, scroll to the bottom for important terms and definitions)

Society today has an interesting practice when it comes to words and meanings. They change the definition of something but then try to imply it was always the case. For example, the definitions of “witches” and “magic” are being changed while the creators imply that it was always this way. I find it interesting and terrifying because of the implications of changing these definitions can have.

When you take something that is by nature evil, such as magic, and then strip away the elements that make it evil, you have something completely different. Even though you may end up with the same word, the substance that makes up the word is now completely different. However, if you were to go back in time, people would not accept your "new definition" because it would not correspond. While you may be able to "re-cast" the old word to fit your new definition, you cannot impose your new definition on old interpretations of the word. The fact that you had to change the definition means that you understand they are different. Hence, what we must be careful of is that when we teach our children the concept of "good magic," they might not be able to distinguish the old definition and therefore think what is evil to be okay.

Definition of Magic

Now what does this have to do with Neostriker? There were no witches or apparent magic in Shining. As for my next novel, there won't be witches yet, but there will be magic according to what I have determined to be its original meaning. Magic is the use of evil spirits (or evil nature) to do "your will" with the twisted notion that you have power over them. In the new and modern confusion, you can see traces of this definition present. The problem is that authors did not properly convey this when they wrote their stories and their influence made it even worse.

By “authors”, I'm referring to the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. When you read their stories, they indicate that their meaning for "magic" is different, but they never explained why or how it's different. So when new authors recall their stories, these new authors remember that, "since those guys used magic for good, it must be okay." In these minds, magic is a tool and the evil stems from the purpose it's used for. A recent series I saw that followed this line of logic was BBC's Merlin. However, this isn't what Tolkien or Lewis had in mind when they used the word.

For the old and venerable authors, magic is how the humans described what they saw but could not rationally explain it. The analogy would be that if we took a flashlight to medieval times, they would not be able to understand the concept of electricity and therefore it would appear as "magic". In Tolkien's case, there is a section of the Fellowship of the Ring that explains it's advanced science that we would be unable to comprehend.

Now it could be said that Tolkien failed to easily convey the difference between the "magic" that corresponds to my earlier definition and "magic of nature". For example, powers that are intrinsic to the nature of the being can be considered as okay and as a tool. In this case, Gandalf as the wizard (or Tolkien's equivalent of angels) is okay, but a normal human who studies to become a warlock is not. This is because, even in the magic of nature, there is evil when one tries to grasp for it, such as the One Ring from Lord of the Rings.

Problem 1: Grasping

When you look at the One Ring, I recall it being referred to as a "magic ring", and that is key. We often assume that its power is simply to make one invisible. However, that doesn't make sense when you read the "Ring Monologues" each character has when presented with it. In fact, both Isildur and Sauron had the ring but never turned invisible. The ring's power was actually to amplify an aspect of the nature of a character to the point that it corrupts. Hobbits are described before as already good at hiding and so invisibility makes sense. Sauron was powerful and so the ring granting him even more power makes sense. Gandalf mentions that he would initially use the ring to help his magic for good but he would eventually become worse than Sauron. The thing is that evil happens when a character tries to grasp for the Ring or, in Sauron's case, all of the rings. However, when the ring comes to a character, they are eventually able to get rid of it, with the exception of Isildur. Those who grasped: Sauron, Boromir, and Gollum. Those who didn't grasp: Bilbo, Frodo (until the end), Gandalf, Aragorn, Faramir, and Sam. The ones who grasp are seeking magic to do their will, but those who didn't were able to overcome their own desires for the good. In this sense, you can say magic is the tool for the author to develop his characters, but you should still never grasp for it.

Something N. D. Moharo says is that "tragedy occurs when someone does something they were not supposed to or not do something when they were supposed to." This falls in line with what I am saying about grasping. For example, if I'm driving and want to make a turn, I need to check to make sure there is no one in my way. Even if I really want to make the turn now, I must wait and allow the right moment to come. Otherwise, I might hit someone. That would have happened because I turned when I wasn't supposed to; I grasped at the ability to turn instead of waiting for my turn. One problem with magic as I defined it is that you are trying grasp for something to happen instead of letting it happen (more on that in my novel).

Problem 2: Calling of Evil Spirits

The second problem with magic is the calling of evil spirits. Evil spirits don't change. Hence, the only reason why evil will help you is if they believe you will cause a greater evil. Therefore, the use of magic will lead to evil unless you are able to break from it.

This part of the traditional definition is perhaps played with the most. When authors say that their definition of magic is that it’s a tool and of the nature of the character, that can be okay. However, if that’s the case, they cannot use spells or enchantments. The nature of spells indicates that another spirit is being called and therefore contradicts the idea that magic is part of the nature of a character.

The second aspect authors may play with is by suggesting that spirits can change. However, there is a philosophy that probably stems from Thomas Aquinas or Aristotle and Buddhism (if I'm interpreting the idea of reincarnation correctly) where spirits cannot change unless they have their own body. It's interesting because it could mean that the test of the angels was that they were given bodies. In fact, it could be that C. S. Lewis was onto something when writing the Magician's Nephew in that "angels" actually had their own world with a morality similar to our own and its time finished before our own world began (or maybe they existed before the dinosaurs). Anyways, hence the old understanding of magic is that evil spirits will always be evil, hence summoning them is evil.

Problem 3: Possession vs Inspiration

The third problem with magic is what essentially becomes possession. This occurs when you seek a spirit's power and they give it to you, linking you to them. You may think you are in control, but slowly and surely, you surrender one part of yourself after another. In stories, it'd happen like this: "I cannot do that now, but if you do this, then you'll have that power." Sometimes authors are nice and blatantly write it as "surrender your soul and you will have all the power you want." Now let's mark a distinction. Evil spirits possess; good spirits inspire. That's important because that's how it applies in Neostriker.

When I wrote Shining, I didn't have this full understanding of magic. As a result, you get an idea that it's the Asens that give David his powers, but it's supposed to be that they guide David to manifest and grow his own spirit. I actually determined this when preparing for my next novel (still trying to figure out a good name for it) so when I went back to edit Shining for publication, I tried to hint towards and explain this logic properly. The funny thing is the misconception actually makes sense in Episode 11 and is completely appropriate. In that episode, an evil spirit/Dark Power starts the process of "surrender for power". To contrast, Zel as a good spirit only assists, guides, and protects. With inspiration, there is still fullness of freedom in your actions, and nothing is sacrificed except for perhaps your ego.

Something you must be careful of is the nature of possession. Throughout human history and the cultures of the world, no one is able to free himself from possession. It always requires someone else or God to intervene. This is because of three things: 1) the evil spirit is more powerful than you simply by nature otherwise you wouldn’t use them; 2) The spirits can convince you that they are part of your mind and hence the actions are your will; 3) Only those siding with the powerful Good Spirit (aka God) can cast them out.

Summary and Closing

In summary, Old Magic is the use of evil spirits (or evil nature) to do "your will" with the twisted notion that you have power over them. This old meaning indicates the three things evil of magic: Grasping for something you shouldn't be; Calling upon evil spirits; and what amounts to as possession. Therefore the opposite of magic is: patience and self-sacrifice, the avoidance of evil spirits, and inspiration.

Not too long ago, N. D. Moharo, in a mutual exchange of ideas, brought up in my mind that people are skeptical about the idea of the Holy Communion changing from bread to the body of a God but they practice something very similar when it comes to definitions. I saw this to be true when I was playing a demo for a game and I came across the concept of good witches. I originally meant to cover the evil nature of witches but magic was the first step. However, I do hope you appreciated this insight not only into the philosophy of magic, but also the look into the process of writing Neostriker: Shining. If you want a more clear explanation on how Neostriker is advocating the defeat of magic, feel free to say so.

J. D. Nyle

Terms and Concepts

P.S. For those who haven't read Neostriker: Shining, here is a brief explanation of the terms used:
    David is the main character of the story who has the ability to don special armor and become a "Neostriker". It's revealed halfway through that this armor is a manifestation of his own spirit/soul called "neo" and therefore the term "Neostriker" means "Spirit Striker".
    Asens are also revealed halfway through to be spirits. Zel is the Asen who helps David grow and become more powerful.
    The Dark Power is the source of evil and hence, for the purpose of this essay, can represent magic.

For those who want to read Shining, I shared the entire story here on blogspot. You can find the links to each episode/chapter at http://neostrikershining.blogspot.com/p/full-story.html or click "Full Novel" on the top bar

I also shared half of it on Wattpad if you would like to read it on your tablet. If you like the story, please tell your friends. I would totally love to publish a hardcopy version to make it easier to read but I need support. At the moment, the only thing I can add to it is a page for each episode devoted to how I designed the chapters, characters, and ideas that changed. Unfortunately, that alone isn't enough to convince publishers that it will sell so I need some vocal support. Maybe we need a twitter campaign #publishNeostriker

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Is Drama Required for a Complex Story?

    When we think of stories, tv shows, or movies, they tend to contain some sort of drama. However, I've been wondering if the stories we like the best are actually the ones without said drama. Google defines the word as "an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances." with this definition, I guess it's impossible to come up with a good story that doesn't have drama as we desire at least one of those things. However, when I think of drama, I tend to think of only the "Emotional" variety which tends to be Romantic drama. That kind of drama, I can do without.
    I've mentioned before that my next story will have no romance, at least of what can be seen initially. While I plan to introduce a character that will add some meaning behind some actions later, she won't appear in the novel. Will she be like Jenny from Shining? I actually don't know yet as I have determined part of her personality and role, but there is certainly room for more details. To be fair, I am still working on developing my main cast for the upcoming novel that she has been developed mostly to help me work on the others.
    When I think of the good stories, romance is often the afterthought made mostly to give motivation to the characters like in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. However, it isn't required as shown in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series and Tolkien's The Hobbit. Likewise when I think of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I enjoy the story and there are no serious romances. We may think of these as Children's Stories, but there are lessons to be learned from them. They may be "simple" in our eyes but they are often the best. This is because when we desire too much obvious complexity, every time we read the same story, it's no longer as complex. It's the simple complexities that make a story engaging again and again. Yes, Shining could be considered a simple story, but if you read it multiple times, you may notice that there's something new to be understood each time. Over the course of writing it, when I would go back to read over what I wrote, I found many subtleties that intrigue me just by the way it all fits together or references something I liked unintentionally. The biggest surprise was actually the final battle, so when I noticed it, I edited the wording a little more to emphasize it without completely revealing it. However, once you recognize the unintentional reference, it's hard to not see it.
    Of course, Shining does include drama so I can't say it's the perfect example of a "simple" story without it. What I can say is that I'm taking lessons I've learned from my attempts to make things "complex" and that the best complexities are the unintended ones. When you strive for the simplicity, you find that it's actually a complex problem to solve and how you solve it is where your creativity is shown.
    Drama has its place but I think we have depended on it too much for the study of humanity. If you intend to write a story, I challenge you to avoid all hints of romance and see how your characters develop. The result might end up being a timeless classic like Naria or LOTR.

J. D. Nyle