These are the Editing Notes for my FFVII fanfiction Northern Lights (which you can find at the end of that link). I will be discussing a myriad of topics along with my frequently tangential and harried editing process. You should be able to garner some enjoyment and insight from this without having read the story and/or without prior knowledge of the original game, but if you’re a fan of paranormal romance and/or dark fantasy, you may find it to your liking. The story will be spoiled in this editing examination, though I will do my best to mark spoilers for any other narratives I mention. Thanks for your interest and enjoy!
I know it’s been forever since I’ve made any editing posts, but that was because I was putting all of my effort/energy into finishing up my WIP. Well that’s done and I’m spending the week playing catch up on whatever I can play catch up on. My neglected Northern Lights editing entries not excluded. I’m almost two years behind on this, but life and literature call, and I must always answer.
Ugh, I need to update quite a few things. I don’t like the introductory paragraph. Why the hell am I calling it an “Editing Blog” when this entire site is a blog? I think I initially thought this blog was just going to be for the editing posts or I was going to make a specific blog just for that, and initially I was on Google Blogger, but since I get more hits here on WP, I decided to post here and also expand my horizons. Ah, I’ll have to update ALL of them now won’t I? Yes…I will because I’m super anal about conformity hehe. Anyway, you don’t want to hear me rambling about this, do you? Enjoy the editing post below if that’s what you came for 🙂
Content Warning: Brief mention of suicide and sexual assault.
First there’s this.
And it’s fantastic. (Future Narcissist just located its source on Deviant Art by one Saharadesr. It’s actually entitled Turn or Burn) I really, really wanted to share this, but I’d offend half the people on my friend’s list. I’m…weird about that, and not just the offending part. I’ll try to explain, and I’ll also try to find the meme that really nails it down.
I love Final Fantasy VII. Like there are no words to truly encompass my level of love for it, but I hate talking about it with people for various reasons. One, people like to one up each other and say shit like, “Well this Final Fantasy/this character is better.” Bitch, did I fucking ask you that? (Ooh…Past Narcissist was really angry that day) I was telling you about how much I love one thing and the first thing you do is tell me how it’s not worthy of my love or imply that because I love it so hard there must be something wrong with me? Thanks, I’m sorry I shared. I know a great deal of this has to do with the circumstances surrounding the time I first played it, but that certainly doesn’t diminish the reasons.
This. This right here is it. And I hate this. The closest fandom with a similar paradigm is probably Doctor Who because of the different regenerations/iterations of the doctor, yet I still feel Whovians have more of a solidarity. Hell, they even have a fandom name: Whovians. Final Fantasy fans can’t even say that. Maybe it’s because I’m not as deep into Whoville as I am Final Fantasy, but from what I’ve seen, it’s not nearly as vehement or vitriolic.
Doctor Who is similar to the different games in the Final Fantasy series because each could stand alone though the ones prior are an important and enriching foundation, and the same could be said for the doctors…maybe. I get more annoyed at people who start with Matt Smith over Christopher Eccleston than I do with people who start with a later FF title, but that’s because the earlier doctors are so easily accessible! Also what the hell is that?? Eccleston’s seasons are on Netflix, too. I guess the really hardcore, old school Doctor Who fans could give me shit about starting with CE and that would be more equivalent to me giving someone the business about not starting with the first Final Fantasy. Both titles are graphically older and less accessible to a younger audience.
But to describe the above phenomenon fully, I must turn to John Green and his indomitable The Fault in Our Stars (of which Future Narcissist just posted a review).
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all humans read the book.”
And yet it falls into the category of…
“Books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.”
While Hazel Grace is talking about a book and I’m talking about a video game, the concept is the same. They are both narratives that touch both real and fictional (and who is who and which is which is a matter of speculation) hearts. But no one I’ve found gets this or sees it the same way. Perhaps one of you, my dear readers, will understand my “evangelical zeal,” but they say “It’s just a video game,” and I reply, “It’s much more than that,” to which I receive “the stares,” but regardless of them, I’d rather be able to peer beneath the surface of the dark and find a truth that is spellbinding. To look up from the vapid notions that celebrity scandals and Facebook drama matters. To revel in a narrative that pays homage to both the Book of Revelation and Paradise Lost, social injustice and eco-feminism. To love something that brought to life the stories in my heart. I’ll endure the stares for that…or I’ll just keep it to myself.
This editing session was fairly long and I’m already tired. I’ll level with you, readers; I’m always tired. I think if I wasn’t tired the world would probably end. I exercise nearly every day, and currently that nearly is definitely since I’m jogging a mile a day for a month. In addition I go to a jazzercise class four times a week. I’m up around 6:30 to jog, then I go to work, then I go to my class, then I work on this editing blog (average time to write one of these up is approximately three hours) and then I edit. I’m also a writer on this blog that I’ve mentioned ad nauseum. I do the daily cosplay and write articles about (you guessed it) Final Fantasy since I’m considered the Final Fantasy Guru. I also do book reviews so have to find time for reading, and then there’s my husband whom I routinely neglect. And I do most of this on around 1600 calories a day since I’m still trying to lose weight so yeah, tired is pretty much the world I live in. That spiel was supposed to explain how I may or may not finish this blog post today, but never fear it will be seamless for you 🙂 Why did I bother to say all of the above then? Ah well…
“He nodded to the inner wall where a table lay buried in metal platters. ‘I didn’t know what you would want so I just bought it all.’” I find this scene already adorable and didn’t know at the time of writing it that it would be a foreshadowing to an even more precious part. Sephiroth has the money; he doesn’t know what Aeris wants; he doesn’t want to wake her up; he knows she’s going to be hungry; therefore buying everything on the menu is perfectly logical to him. He doesn’t really have a sense of how wasteful this is since, well, he was elite and lived above the plate his entire “life” (Ha! I actually wrote “lie” instead of “life” initially. Even my fingers know the truth).
“The flower girl whirled and he was right there. She gave a jump with a little, ’Oh!’ Sephiroth backed away with his hands raised before and an apology at the gate of his lips.” Seph is still tall and intimidating, plus he was across the room prior. She can’t be faulted in her startle… I mean, you should never be anyway. If you’re startled, you’re startled; you don’t need to have an explanation for it. I initially had him clasp his hands behind his back when she jumped, but it makes more sense for him to have them forward. The latter shows he has nothing to hide. I don’t think I’ve mentioned whether or not he’s wearing gloves though. Hm…it would strengthen the “nothing to hide” paradigm or cast doubt on it depending on what I do. He kind of is hiding something though. Nothing too big and it’s revealed in chapter 8, and I don’t even know if I’d call it something that he’s hiding. It’s kind of a lie of omission if that, and I suppose it could be argued that him not knowing his real mother was Lucrecia is also a lie of omission, which shows what the damage of such can do (um…him not being told who his real mother was is a huge lie of omission. I have no idea how Past Narcissist was making this remotely debatable).
Sweeney Todd had a lie of omission with Mrs. Lovett saying that Todd’s wife Lucy had poisoned herself, letting the distraught barber assume she had died without revealing the truth to him. Her “suicide” due to Turpin’s assault was the entire catalyst for Todd’s actions, and if he had been told the truth, the story would’ve been far different (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) The lie of a still tongue can be just as dangerous as the lie of a live one.
“’You’re so tall,’ the little Cetra said and he fell instantly to his knees. ’Wh-What are you doing? You shouldn’t to me…’ She shook her head as he bowed his so low.” Aeris originally had a much tamer action to Seph falling to his knees before her, so the dialogue here from her was recently added in. He’s obviously doing so because she remarked on his height and is reaching up. Even now, he’d do anything for her. Such is obligation. One character lives and dwells in the now; the other is trapped by the past.
“He shook his head as the silver strands spilled, lowering his lids as they caught in his lashes.” God that’s a beautiful image. Do I have a good picture of him and his glorious eyelashes?
This is definitely an almost kiss scene, but I held off. I held strong!
“The flower girl leaned her forehead to his, and Sephiroth raised a hand to her cheek. She wanted to tell him that he was beautiful, the loveliest thing she’d ever seen. Not even her dreams could match this glory, but she would sound so stupid.” Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups.
The name of his picture is “Kiss My Eyes,” and such title puts me in the mind of the full version of AFI’s “Miss Murder.”
I love that song, but it’s the only song by AFI I can listen to. This is a shame because their name stands for “A Fire Inside,” which recalls to me a poem I wrote when I found that out.
I carry a secret,
It lives in my skin.
It does not come out.
I do not go in.
I know of this burning,
A fire inside.
I cannot chase it
But it dare not hide.
The first part of this song sounds like a gothic lullaby, which almost sounds redundant. Most lullabys have a touch of the gothic in them. I’ll go into this more in Chapter 8 as there’s a lullaby I shall be talking about there.
“If he saw her, if he looked now, he knew what would transpire. *I would kiss her until all our tomorrows had turned to ageless dust.* Then the image of her revulsion flayed him for having so foolish a thought.” More assumption. “*How dare you? She lets you protect her. She even lets you touch her. You’re not even worthy to breathe the same air and yet you want more than this? She is purity incarnate suffering a monster so that she can find someplace safe. You have no other use. Even your true mother wanted no part of you…*” So…there are parts of Northern Lights where it feels like I just got kicked in the stomach, and I forget where they are. Anytime Seph mentions not being wanted or worthy of his true mother, it’s like “ouch.”
(Oh and FYI just in case it wasn’t apparent, the * is used to denote character thought. Since I’m using italics to indicate text [in addition to Future Narcissist side notes it would appear] and some of the text has character thought, I figured it would be easier to indicate it that way. Hopefully, this isn’t confusing.)
“’It doesn’t tangle. It never tangles, not even the longest strands.’” Sephiroth has enough problems. Not having to deal with long hair that tangles is the least I could do for him. That’s one of my angel head canon things; their hair doesn’t tangle. It avoids so many issues.
“’I screamed until my lungs were empty and my voice was gone. You couldn’t break even one hair, Aeris. All of them could support my weight. The more I struggled the more it hurt, til I thought my scalp would rip off. But they’d given me something, a pair of sharp scissors, and the choice between pain and vanity…’” I changed this part to tie it together with where I mentioned his hair was chopped off unevenly…with the implication that he was forced to start it himself . The choice between pain and vanity, which is why he has none. Sephiroth sees his appearance as something contingent to the whims of those who had full control.
“’All of my senses are enhanced, Aeris, including my sense of pain. They wanted me to feel it more deeply so that I could be trained to endure.’
The whimper lived soft in the back of her throat, but the once general still heard it. He shook his head and smiled for her innocent sake alone.” Fucked. Up. I hate writing about torture, but sometimes it has to be done in order to make a point.
“’Sephiroth…please, open your eyes. There’s something I need you to see.’ She leaned back as he slowly did, and his pupils split emerald light.”
Before him the sorrow had colored her cheeks, but her lips had him parting his own. They were so red, they should’ve bled roses, and it took every ounce of will he had not to taste her tears.” I’m so glad I did the cat eye thing. It’s so rare to have a heroic character with cat eyes and I want to mess with that paradigm. In fact I can’t think of any situation where the MC/hero has cat eyes unless they happen to be a cat.
BUT even in such a situation, the pupils are usually depicted as dilated to appear as round and not slits, because slit pupils are associated with snakes/serpents, which are the ultimate evil in certain religious circles. You can see on the movie posted (holy shit! They’re making/made a movie?? I need to look into this) that the clearly villainous feline has slivered pupils, and the titular hero is again is granted rounder ones.
That book by the way is pretty good. I was really into fantasy with animal protagonists when I was in high school, and this one was of my favorites. Another was this novel that was essentially about cat Hitler entitled Felidae.
I also have cat eye contact lenses, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere.
I don’t have a good picture of me in them that I want to share, but I got them from Vision Direct and they are literally Sephiroth contact lenses.
Okay then. Well I was going to throw up the link to them, but they don’t have them available anymore. Wow, did I luck out. I’m guessing there was a mad rush on them due to the Remake announcement. Well the Google at least provides what they look like:
I think this is why I made up reasons for his pupils’ limited dilation. Granted, I think they’re sound reasons (which I explain below I believe), but I also wanted him to have slit pupils as a subversion of the villain trope since he’s a redemptive “villain.”
“’I will always weep you for when you tell me things like this. I wanted you to know it…I wanted you to see it.’ She threaded their fingers together as Sephiroth looked at her for long moments before rising again to his feet.” Aeris is only the second person who will (and he doesn’t even know the other yet), and now I has a sad 😦 Sephiroth doesn’t know what to say to that. No one has ever shown him such kindness, and now after death in the future, he gets it…from the woman he killed.
“’You should eat, little one. It’s been a long day for you, and you only broke your fast this morning.’
‘And what about you?’ she instantly asked cast in the shadow of his height.” Aeris always does that. She kind of has to, because Seph won’t think of himself.
“’But you also told me you feel hunger pangs.’
‘Not really so much anymore.’ He shrugged as she took a spoonful of soup. ‘I was starved for more than punishment, Aeris. It was another pain I was meant to endure.’” I don’t envy his life in the least. Sure, he’s arguably the most powerful being on the planet (physically definitely, mentally eh…in a way. Since his mental machinations don’t work on Aeris, it’s more debatable), but at what cost? Not worth it. “Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein.” Yes, Rammstein…yes indeed.
I hope this chapter isn’t too sappy sweet, because I don’t want to go overboard.
“’I’m so sorry if I frightened you, child. Please don’t run away.’
The shock of that steadied her fingers so that she could lace her boots, and she rose when done and went back to him, so saddened by his grief.
’No, Sephiroth.’ She reached for his hands. I’m not frightened of you at all.’” Aeris can’t imagine what those words mean to him. Oh and I changed the “child” to “little flower.” Aeris called him out on him referring to her that way hehe.
“Kalm really wasn’t a tourist town, and although there was an elevator, Aeris took the stairs.” Accidental foreshadowing for the win!
“She led him forward where eternity coalesced and pointed up so his gaze would follow. But he knew too well what that sky could contain and had no interest in paradise lost.” The original line was “heaven so lost,” but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to refer to Paradise Lost. That line hurts my heart though. Anything good that lies above is forever lost to him; he can never be redeemed 😦 This chapter is giving me a LOT of sads.
“The great star in the north was unwavering bright, and she saddened remembering his quest.” And more sads. Trying not to cry.
“Her little hands fell atop of his, and she threaded her fingers into his warmth. Sephiroth was forced to soften his grip, but this did nothing to silence the guilt. *She lets you protect her. She even suffers your touch. You’re unworthy of less than this. How could she ever be for you after what you’ve done?*” Really trying not to cry.
“’The stars sit in judgment, little one, and they don’t forgive us. They don’t… forgive me.’” This is a modified line from Advent’s The Promised Land. “Stella nobis non concessit, non concessit.”
“’Why don’t you hate me, Aeris?’ She blinked up and even in the dark, his pupils were shiver thin. ‘What I did to you was-‘
‘In the past and it can’t be changed.’” This conversation breaks my already heavy heart. Everything about it is so genuine. His guilt; her forgiveness.
“‘Hate corrodes the container it’s carried in.’ Her voice softened. ‘You know that better than most. I always knew what my life was for, and I knew how it would end. Everything that’s happened has led us to this moment. Everything we’ve suffered has brought us to now. I wouldn’t change a minute of the past to lose an instant of this.’” Aeris understands that the past had to have happened the way it did for them to be where they are now, and it’s worth it to her. If he hadn’t killed her, she (arguably) wouldn’t have been able to complete her mission. There’s a fatalistic air to the mien of VII, nor is the narrative remiss in mentioning it in “One Winged Angel’s” lines Sors imanis et inanis (Fate monstrous and empty). It’s empty because there is no other choice. Everything that happened in the narrative fed off the other as the present feeds off the past in the real world.
“’There’s a strength in forgiveness, my little flower, that hate can never match.’” Holy shit…SERIOUS accidental foreshadowing. There IS strength in the power of forgiveness…
“Aeris reached up to brush his cheek and those fronds swept over her skin. ‘I prayed for you to come, you know,’ she murmured so soft it was still half a thought.” The seventh is the saddest…this may be the saddest chapter so far. They’re both so lonely, so lost in the darkness of fear or guilt.
“Sephiroth shook the hair from his face, incredulously staring down. ’You…prayed for me?’”
‘Well,’ she admitted, ‘not exactly like that, but I prayed to not be alone.’ She looked down in regret. ‘It was very selfish. I should’ve concentrated my efforts on the people of Midgar.’
He lifted her chin back up to his light. ‘I think just once you can afford to be selfish. I’m sorry I’m what you received. That seems a poisoned gift.’” Yeah, seriously Aeris I’m pretty sure this once you can have one “selfish” prayer.
Here’s an interesting reference. The term “poisoned gift,” while I’m sure used elsewhere always puts me in the mind of Piers Anthony’s Xanth Series. I want to say it was the novel Harpy Thyme (Xanth novels are made up of puns, so obviously I have to love them), but don’t take me at my complete word.
In the story there’s a man named Veleeno(sp), which we’re told means “poisoned gift.” I tried googling poisoned gift, but I found a video for a band I’ve never heard of named (ding ding!) Poisoned Gift. Anyway, I like the idea of the poisoned gift…which Sephiroth is not, as you can see from Aeris’s response.
“’No,’ she insisted, ‘not poisoned at all! You were exactly what I needed…’ The edges of summer were moist with dew and Sephiroth thought his heart would tear. For in that moment he blessed the light that poured out of his eyes. To be able to see that beautiful smile made it worth it to be a monster.” I wish I could say I laid on the feels in this chapter alone, but that would be a bold faced lie, and I won’t be accused of spreading what’s blatantly untrue.
“’It’s a joy to me, Aeris,” he admitted, “to hold you in my arms, but if you don’t want me to tou-’” His sort of odd way of talking kind of makes sense. It’s been a hundred years since he’s seen/spoken anyone and the business of language is to change and evolve. Imagine what people would’ve sounded like in 1914 (1916 now…wow was it really nearly two years ago when I wrote this??). Wildly different from how we speak now, n’est-ce pas? Aeris has been back for two years since resurrection, so long enough to pick up on the changes. I like how Sephiroth will tilt his head when something she does or says amuses him.
“He shifted her to just one arm as he opened the door to the inn.” He has such an easy, effortless strength. He doesn’t even have to think about it. Ugh, so hot ♥♥♥
“While she showered he stood by the window, letting the breeze try to tangle his hair. The bright northern star filled his eyes with its shine and bowed his head to the pain in his heart. He wanted to pray, but had no right to speak to the Planet or shades of the dead.” More sad. Aeris makes him smile again though with her innocence, candor, and forgiveness. She really wants him to understand that even though he may have been made for a particular and frankly selfish purpose, he doesn’t have to be what they made him to be. This time Sephiroth’s fate isn’t set.
“He saw it, but hardly dared to believe, her lips pressed soft to his brow. Emerald shut fully as he dared not breathe and cut this moment short. Aeris let silver locks sweep her cheeks before she pulled back again.” This scene reminds me of a picture, not of Aeris and Sephiroth, but oddly enough of a very young Amy Pond kissing the 11th doctor’s forehead while he’s all raggedy.
(What I love about this picture is one, I found the source through the power of the internet, and two, it’s kind of a mirror image to the one I posted above of Sephiroth kissing Aeris on the brow, and I’m just noticing this right now.)
“’You consider me… a friend?’” Seph is incredulous and probably the only man ever who’s overjoyed to be in the “friend zone,” (which FYI doesn’t exist). Again he expects nothing from her. The fact she’s not reviled by his touch is a miracle.
“’There’s nothing you can ask that I’d ever deny.”’ This becomes important later. Sephiroth is an angel albeit fallen, and per an aforementioned quote by Cas from Supernatural (yeah, I’m quoting him and I’ve never even seen the show…), angels are soldiers, which is hilarious in the terms of the original game and this story. I didn’t finish Crisis Core, but I believe all of the elite ended up growing one wing (feel free to school me in the comments if you wish), and, well, when you refer back to the Bible and other books about them, that’s what they are. They’re God’s messengers and warriors; they do his work, and they have to have something to serve, some mission, someone to follow, someone to obey, someone to live for, a higher power that gives orders. That angel/soldier thing is a pretty solid parallel. Even though Sephiroth was a general, there has to be a higher calling. There must be an absolute…
“His voice so low could make even things terrible sound like they were spun with gold.
‘Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go…’”
The day begins and ends with Eliot’s Prufrock, but the beginning is at the end, and the end is at the beginning. It’s a fitting paradigm (the OS is a book end) that shows more contrasts. When Sephiroth first reads, Aeris is terrified, but this second time around, she’s lulled. I can envision her falling asleep leaning on the pillows at the foot of the bed, and Seph finishing the poem, shutting the volume before putting her back under the covers, and turning out the lights once more. It’s an appropriate ending for a supremely sad but sweet chapter. Thus was the first edit of Chapter 7.
When next we meet, the second of seven shall occur. Until then all my best.