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August 22, 2016

I Hraet You Xrd: Revelator

*loads up blog one day*

*stares at header*

You know, I wonder how many people know who that purple-haired guy is supposed to be.  I mean, they should if they clicked on the I Hraet You tab instead of just looking for more Final Fantasy posts.  Then again, I guess it’d help if I uploaded some more chapters.  Maybe give them a reason to read through my wares.

Speaking of which, wasn’t I supposed to upload those chapters at some point?

Speaking of which, wasn’t I supposed to write more chapters?

*stares at screen*



Okay.  Soooooooooooo…I may have dropped the ball on I Hraet You.  Like, how long has it been since the last update?  How long has it been since the last chapter?  Probably at least half a year in the former’s case; probably several years in the latter’s case.  That’s not great.  In my defense, I did write up some new chapters that could, theoretically, be uploaded right after this post.  And it’s not as if I’ve got a crippling case of writer’s block or no plan on where to take the story.  Honestly, I have enough of a roadmap in place to take me through to the last chapter.  That’s kind of my thing.  My execution might be hit-or-miss, but at least I can plan ahead.

With that in mind, it’s been too long since I’ve put out anything -- to say nothing of the other work I should’ve put in by now.  Gotta make those edits.  Gotta update the character page with new art.  Gotta put out recaps.  Gotta release notes and inside info.  Gotta promote my wares.  Gotta do this, gotta do that.  The most sobering part of being a blogger -- and writer, even more so -- is that it’s not enough to just write.  You probably have to put in more work on what should be trivial stuff than the content.  You know.  The thing that actually matters.

It should go without saying that I’m not about to give up on I Hraet You.  I wouldn’t be making this post if I was waving the white flag -- if only because I’m too stubborn and delusional to stop.  On the other hand, what I’m about to say next is going to sound like I’m giving up.

Here’s the question I have in mind: what if I started over on the story?

One of several reasons why progress on IHY stopped is that I had to put it on the backburner to work on getting published -- which is to say, I put some serious time and effort into Dead on Prime.  I don’t blame you for not knowing what that is -- besides a winking reference to a Queen song -- so in a nutshell?  It’s my baby.  It’s the novel series that I hope will open the door to my future as a writing hero.  Granted that’s the same aspiration I had prior to starting this blog, but hope springs eternal.  Six installments.  Roughly 500k words altogether.  A story that pushes eight disparate city-dwellers into a race against time to stop the awakening of the lord of the dead.  It’ll be a fight to the finish, in more ways than one.

As I’ve said, Dead on Prime is actually the revival of D.O.X., another story I wrote for the sake of my wild ambition.  (And D.O.X. in turn was the end result of drastic edits to the original story, Dead Over Two.)  It took me about two years of off-and-on work to finish Dead Over Two, and two more years of the same to edit it into D.O.X.  Comparatively -- since all three versions share the same general plotline -- it took me about nine months to…well, maybe not 100% finish the story, since even now I can think of a couple of edits I could make.  But I’m in a much better place now than I ever was.  Burning down and building up my baby was the absolute best thing I could ever do.  I even dubbed the total revamp “Xrding”, after the recently-released Guilty Gear Xrd -- AKA the franchise I made several references to throughout Dead on Prime.

How fitting is it that the release of Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator has made me think about starting over once again?  Granted I can’t quite saddle all of the blame (such as it is) on ArcSys’ pride and glory.  I’ve been revamping my characters and their stories behind the scenes for months now, so it was only a matter of time before I did the same to Lloyd and crew.  And with those new designs comes a need for edits -- alterations to make the story fit the character, and vice versa.  To be perfectly honest, there’s one character I’ve revamped about six times in the past month and a half.  I literally went to bed one night, satisfied with the edits I’d made…and then as I set my head on the pillow I thought “Hey, wait, what if I did this instead?” 

I’m surprised I didn’t scream “DAMMIT!” into my pillow with enough force to blow me a foot into the air.  But I sure did think it.

In any case, it makes me wonder what an Xrded IHY would mean.  Like I said, doing that to Dead on Prime is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (which is admittedly part of a short list).  Stronger characters, a denser narrative, greater thematic heft, a better-defined setting, and of course, improved execution; to put it in video game terms, the hypothetical list of patch notes would show buffs for everything and everyone.  Honestly, I’ve already thought of things that I could do to change up -- and inevitably improve -- IHY.  With enough follow-through, it could lead to a true revolution -- if not in the online space, then at least in the quality of the story.

But we are talking about the online space, which is where the complications come in.  Obviously I haven’t committed to anything yet, even if the ideas I’ve got bumping around makes my mouth moisten.  Still, let’s say I did decide to start over -- if I Hraet You were to become We Hraet You.  What would that mean for the old version?  What would that mean for the nearly one hundred chapters I’ve already got on tap?  What would it mean for the plotting I’ve already got, especially since it’s not like I got even remotely close to the ending?

I don’t know.  I guess the pivot point of the discussion is whether or not people actually care about IHY.  I assume that the number is frighteningly slim; it’s been entered into a web serial novel catalogue (and rated with 4 out of 5 stars!), but my guess is that the number of people who actually visit that site regularly is horrifically limited -- now more than ever, if the site’s lost its sway in these modern times.  Plus, when I was uploading IHY chapters a couple of days every week, Cross-Up wasn’t even a blip on the radar.  It’s still not ultra-huge, of course, but I can tell you that the numbers behind the scenes are A) at the highest they’ve ever been right now, and B) they’re exponentially greater than when chapters went up.

I guess I should thank my post on mai waifu Mercy Overwatch for the surge.  Although for whatever reason, there are a LOT of people that want to know how to make a good version of Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.  Can’t say I blame them; I’ve always argued that there need to be more gigantic women in fiction, and offering up something on that front is on my to-do list.

But I digress.  The way I see it, there aren’t a lot of people chomping at the bit to see the continuing adventures of Lloyd and his family (and his burgeoning harem).  Part of that is likely because back then -- and now, albeit to a lesser extent -- I was too far on the fringes of the internet to have my story reach people.  Part of that is also because the story wasn’t up to par in terms of quality; the review I got on that site blasted me for needing edits, which is totally fair.  And of course, part of that is because now that I’m almost a hundred chapters in, it’s a lot harder for newcomers to make the dive.  Can I really expect people to do an archive binge at this point, given that my obscurity was off the charts and my writing started out in a rough spot?

Optimistically speaking, it’s possible.  With enough effort online -- built on a foundation of new, top-shelf content -- IHY could make a grand revival and reach the heights it deserves.  On the other hand, WHY could make for an even grander revival.  As a fresh start, it could be the kick in the arse so direly needed.  Starting from chapter one!  Higher quality all around!  The chance to reach out to people, grab them by their collars, and force them to read about a guy with as much common sense as the average pigmy marmoset! 

Really, though, there are other ways to make it work.  As a wise man once said, work smarter, not harder.

Here’s the thing: if this is going to succeed, I need to put up a better effort.  And part of that effort would mean taking advantage of the tools at hand -- something that may have sunk me from the outset with IHY.  So here’s what I’ve been thinking.  If there’s one thing I can count on with this blog, it’s for people to come crawling out of the woodworks whenever I snipe at Final Fantasy or Squeenix-related productions in general.  That’s not always the most comforting thought, given that I’d rather gush than rage -- but it does suggest that, hey, maybe a blog heavily focused on video games should focus on video games.

Is there room for my original content?  Yeah, probably.  But I’ve noticed long before this point that the Blogger platform allows you to register and run multiple blogs at once.  So with that in mind, maybe it would serve me better to move IHY -- or alternatively, take WHY -- to Tumblr.  I’ve seen plenty of responses (likes, notes, reblogs, etc.) on other Tumblr sites, so getting a piece of that might serve me well.  Granted it wouldn’t be an instant road to success, because I’d have to learn how to use Tumblr.  I’d also have to figure out how to bring people from their online abodes over to mine -- and beyond that, I’d need to create enough of a lure to make sure they stick around.  It’s probably easier than I’m making it out to be, but I won’t pretend like there isn’t a learning curve involved.

So I guess the next step would be making sure content actually goes up, and goes up consistently.  If you’re reading this, then you should know by now that -- barring some major catastrophe, or me going on a short hiatus -- Cross-Up gets two posts a week.  Every Monday, every Thursday.  Content available by the time you wake up in the morning.  (Though that might change if I decide to switch the “go live” time to noon or the evening.  We’ll see.)  I’m not exactly starved for content, given that I try to have content prepared in advance at all times.   

The question then becomes “where does the original content fit on the timeline?”  Back in the day, I also uploaded a couple of chapters a week -- but I’m thinking that in the future, I’ll pare it down to one.  It’d certainly make things easier on me.  I’d be able to work and upload stuff at a steady pace, rather than rush out content and make my face wrinkle up like a raisin to pump out chapters.  Theoretically I could do that -- i.e. upload about 4K words’ worth of story every week, assuming I had enough of a head start -- but I’d rather not.  It’d be WAY too easy to botch it, or fall behind schedule. 

You know what they say.  Slow and steady wins the race.  And the internet.

It’s worth stressing that nothing is set in stone.  Unless I feel like I make enough progress in turning IHY into WHY -- a legitimate reason and/or genuine argument to throw out the old stuff -- then in some ways, this post is null.  I’m thinking about what I need to do, and what I should do; nothing would make me happier than entertaining droves of people with my writing, but I need to do the right thing.

And yeah, I’m sure anyone reading this is probably thinking “do what’s right for you”, but I don’t really buy into that.  My goal is to do what’s right for others -- and for the story, not for me.  Have I really gotten everything I can out of it?  Have I maximized its potential, its impact?  Have I made a good enough argument for why it should exist, let alone be read by others?  I’ll need to think about it in the weeks and months to come.  Depending on the answer, it could mean the difference between letting it stay dormant, and turning it into a glorious phoenix.

Oh wow, two Mega Man X bosses in one post.  Super-lucky.

And that’s pretty much where I stand.  Obviously, IHY (in either form) isn’t going to come back yet.  I need to put some more work into other blogging stuff down the line -- and more immediately, I need to go over Dead on Prime to start the submission process anew.  There are some changes that I feel would raise my chances of success, so it’s critical for me to focus on that a little more than not at all.  There are a lot of things that I want to do -- and need to do -- so you can bet I’ll be keeping busy from here on.

In the meantime?  Feel free to weigh in.  Any suggestions?  Recommendations?  Any content that you want to see out of me?  Now’s the time to make a statement, at least before I my next great deed has me taking a lighter to the short list of my good decisions.  I’ll welcome any input you offer.  After all, you can’t be a hero if you can’t serve the people.

And trust me: that, more than anything else, is exactly what I want to do.

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