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