The Editing of Northern Lights – Til the End of Chapter 4

Note: This is the Editing Blog 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!

<–Darkly, Dreaming Rose, Obligations, and the Start of Chapter 4         

Interconnectivity, a Shot of Darkness, and the True Final First Edit of Chapter 4–>

9/20/14
Hello dear readers.  If this is your first day here, get thee to my first post, er, post haste!  If not, welcome back to the often random, sometimes poignant blathering of my editing blog for my recently completely fanfiction Northern Lights.

I eventually picked this for the actual cover
I eventually picked this for the story’s cover

It seems as though I never just dive right into the editing; I always have to start with something else, and I do have a list in my Northern Lights section of OneNote of all of the topics I’d like to cover in this blog.  I generally pick one based on what the chapter happens to be about unless it’s really involved and I don’t want to delve too deeply that day.  With Blood Dance I could definitely go quite deep as Sephiroth and Aeris go to her church one last time, so I could regale you with the plethora of religious symbolism in FFVII, but that is a very extensive story and shall be told another time.  Something that prolific will have to be broken up into serials e.g. my article FFVII Revelations.

I have every intention of (quite soon when I have two seconds to rub together) reading Paradise Lost and expounding on the connection with that.  I have also been entertaining the idea of doing something similar to the Ice and Fire Gurus, but with Final Fantasy and (of course) starting with VII.  It’s obviously still in the (pre) planning stage, but the idea would be to make videos about the symbolism and meaning behind the story of the game.  I’d treat it like any other story (because, well, it is and every story is worthy of discourse) applying numerous types of literary criticism including but not limited to feminist and deconstruction.  Like I said, it’s just an idea.  My husband likes it, which (no offense dear) doesn’t mean too much since he’d support me regardless.  I would probably start with the FFVII/Revelations comparison because it’s something I know fairly well, but yeah, idea.

This comes a bit on the heels of me finishing up watching HCBailly’s Let’s Play of the original Final Fantasy.  Now my original plan was to play all of the Final Fantasies myself and write up a comprehensive review of the story, gameplay, music, etc. but the original FF is hella hard, and I was kind of an idiot when I started it (I really hope I haven’t mentioned this before) and didn’t realize that I hadn’t actually equipped any weapons/armor so it was even harder for me.  Once I realized, I headdesked for quite a few moments at my own stupidity.  Suffice it to say I got tired of doing nothing but grinding.  I’d only gotten to the Earth Cave when I threw my hands in the air and decided that I’d played enough to have something to say about the gameplay/difficulty so I’d watch an LP for the rest.  I have every intention of (attempting to) play the others so I’ll be moving on to FFII very soon, and you’ll probably be hearing about my trials/tribulations with that.  I always have to have an LP to watch and my absolute FAVORITE LPer is Nintendo CapriSun (I may have a bit of an internet crush hehe), so I may go back and watch some of his Zelda videos if I can’t find anything I haven’t seen that interests me.  I can always watch The Legend of Zelda.  It’s one of those games that I love to view, but I’m not very good at playing.  Conversely, I’m not really all that fond of watching Final Fantasy played; I’d much rather play those myself.  Final Fantasy is an RPG with some adventure elements whereas Legend of Zelda is an adventure game with RPG elements.

So the dichotomy.  Whoa!  Wait a minute.  What’s happening??  You were just talking about LoZ and FF…which do represent kind of a dichotomy.  I tend to like dichotomy with a twist, a unity of opposites.  So in nearly all of my stories and nearly all of the stories I love carry this paradigm.  A Song of Ice and Fire has it in the very title, and we’re left to figure out or wait for the reveal of the ones playing those parts.  The current consensus (whether it be true or not) is Dany is the fire to Jon Snow’s ice, but Snow despite his name may have fire in his blood if the theory of his parentage is true.  The video Nemeses (which I posted in one of my prior entries) talks about many characters’ supposed antitheses.

FFVII has it as well with Cloud and Sephiroth being anathema on the surface and Aeris and Jenova being nemeses behind the scenes.  I wrote a meta on tumblr about it based on notes that had taken a while ago for thoughts even older.

“Cloud and Sephiroth are the two sides. Even their initials are in opposition. Cloud’s are CS and Sephiroth’s are SC if we consider his last name must be Crescent like his birth mother Lucrecia whose name sounds close to Lucifer in and of itself.  Her initials LC invoke this, as well. Also the crescent moon is said to look like horns, which have a Satanic association. Cloud is the failure who becomes the true hero (similar to Jaime Lannister in ASOIAF if the theories come to fruition) while Seph is the best and brightest (“lightbringer,” another Luciferian theme I might add), which is the cause of his fall. He has the most of the corrupted cells which give him his specialness but also lead to his downfall/manipulation/meta manipulation. The meta in his name can’t be ignored nor can the irony on top. The Sephiroth are the holy side where he is literally the shadow (one wing) and is left handed to drive this point home. He represents the Qliphoth (Unholy Sephiroth)but has been manipulated to think he is the true “Lightbringer” so there’s irony and meta all mixed up, and in another meta meta, he and Cloud are only the shadow of what’s really going on.  The overall theme of the narrative is the war between the sky gods and the earth gods represented by Jenova and Aeris respectively. Also people misinterpreting or “mistranslating” words or prophecies is rife in ASOIAF and meta in FFVII as Seph is convinced by the false/dark mother of specialness and therefore falls down the wrong path. He is also a shadow in other ways. His colors are black and silver(shadow and light), he has one black wing (more shadow) and what was human and good about him died in Nibelheim (died in the “mists” which is what Nibelheim translates to: mist/fog/cloud home) so he is a shadow of himself, a shadow of what he once was, a shadow born of mist (which represent the obfuscation of the truth), and corruption and dark can readily use shadows. He becomes a dark seraph, which seems an impossible thing as seraphim are literally made of light. This stands as another defense to his character as well. Also…his “rebirth” through the fire makes him a dark Phoenix motif. This could be an arguing point for why he was able to kill Aeris with no hope of revival.

I think about FFVII and ASOIAF and how the pull from the same pool of paradigms all the time. There will be essays soon.”

There’s also Aeris and Tifa, the mystic, strange, and magical vs. the girl next door.  Another main paradigm of FFVII is the nature of the truth, which is kept carefully concealed using both Cloud’s unreliable narration and Sephiroth’s distorted beliefs.  The truth lies veiled and in the fallen’s case is never ever revealed.  This is an (obvious to me at this point) meta reference to the Tree of Life’s Daath where esoteric knowledge resides.

In Northern Lights I consistently describe Sephiroth as a “winter angel” with his pale skin and silver hair.  He really is a study in monochrome save for the light in his eyes, but (as seen in the original tale) he has fire, too.  Aeris takes note of that early in NL and remarks on it later in the narrative, because of course this can’t be forgotten.

Nibelheim remembers
Nibelheim remembers

He’s also unbelievably warm even though he looks cold, another dichotomous part.  Aeris herself is the summer, something Sephiroth instantly observes, as he remarks on her scent that first night.  She smells like the season of life and warmth while he smells of vanilla and frost.  I was really trying to think of what the hell an angel would smell like and not use what I had in my novel, but I conceded to including vanilla here, too because it’s one of my favorite fragrances.  I’m pretty sure I got this idea from the movie Michael where the titular character smells like cookies.  It’s just in that head canon.  Angels smell amazing whether they’re fallen or not.

I need to figure out when when/if he’s still going to call her “child,” since we’ve broken the naming cherry with both of them.  I should have Aeris call him out on that most of the time if he does.  Old habits die hard.  Sephiroth really doesn’t believe he has the right to speak her name, but does so at her insistence.  He has lots of names for the Cetra already, the already established “child,” the amazingly sweet “little flower,” and often very simply “little one.”  She only calls him by his full name as of now.

“’I had every intention before the…incident to retire then disappear.’”  Oh dear Seph…did you really think that would ever be allowed to happen?  Not even just the Shinra, but the darkness underlying the world would never have let this occur.  You had no choice in the matter of what happened to you; yours was the most tragic story of all.  “’The future was stolen from both of us, wasn’t it?’”  Yes.  Yes, it was…

“Aeris wished she could erase the past from his memory, and the thought was so strange to have for her murderer that the maid had to leave the room.”  These strange emotions are too much for the flower girl right now.  It’s an odd dichotomy to feel sympathy for one’s killer.

“The little brown tabby she almost expected.  He seemed friendly and purred all the time.”  Oh hai!  That’s my Cid 🙂  Here’ a video of him chasing snowflakes.

,”…but the grumpy ginger tom couldn’t have been more of a shock.”  And that’s my Kin-mei.

Kin-mei“Her hand remained intact though the Mako gleam bored in from above.”  What’s the opposite of foreshadowing?  Aftershadowing?  Chiaroscuro?  Nah, not the last term…I just really like that word.  Sephiroth does blink but only at specific moments when he’s confused, (rarely) surprised, pondering, etc.

“’They’ll be more blood I’ll have to shed?’”  He finished gently, touching his thumb to her lips.”  There’s something sweetly intimate about the thumb on her lips and brings me to my ubiquitous concern with these types of stories.  I’m always worried that I rush the romance, but it’s one of my favorite parts to write.  My stories tend to have a core of sweetness though horror rings it round.  A fellow fanfic writer Ardwynna Morrigu tends to have more rawness to her tales that I just can’t match but a sweet sorrow, too.  It lends her stories a glittering edge that can’t be replicated and is one of the reasons that while I might be disturbed by a tale such as Fly Away, which I can never read again, I can’t regret the experience.  And omg she just started another story After the Fall and just posted a chapter update and I cannot WAIT to read that eeeeeeeeee!!!!

*ahem* Now that I’m done meta-fangirling (fangirling over a fangirl’s work).

“Letting her go, he backed away and then took a step to the side.  Aeris with lips half-parted gasped as her eyes turned to liars of sight. It was as though he’d stepped behind a curtain of air that covered complete his large form.”  Seph realizes their proximity and uses this demonstration to distance himself.  He was enjoying that moment far too much, and here we come to the sidestepping.  I got the idea for what I call “the sideways world” a while ago.  It was while I was writing Northern Lights, because this was definitely one of those ideas I didn’t have going in, but I’m glad it came to me, very glad.  It solved so many problems to do with travel and also is a head canon answer to some questions in the original tale.

“The Planet hummed along quite smug.”  The world is almost like a third character or chorus.

(Future Narcissist has to butt in.  Um, did I really not mention where the sidestepping idea came from??  Wow, I swore I did.  This, children, is why you should never swear without being sure.  So years ago I read this Piers Anthony book called Harpy Thyme [I SWEAR I mention this.  I remember looking for the picture.  Oh well *grumbles*]

It’s a story in his well known Xanth Series.  I read quite a few of them back in my high school years, but within the story at hand there are these two women from Mundania (Earth to any Mundanes reading this hehe) who were in Xanth long enough to develop some magic, and they had the power to sidestep.  It’s been years since I read the book, so I don’t quite remember the rules their particular sidestepping entailed, but the concept stayed with me, and it returned en force as I was writing Northern Lights.  In the interim of those years I also conceived of something called “the sideways world,” but that’s still in the works for future and original novels.  Back to the Editing Blog.  Future Narcissist out!)

Side note (did I honestly not notice this potential pun the first time around?):  I just totally took a break from updating this blog to read and review the next chapter of Ardwynna’s story #noshame

“She would’ve fainted in shock if he hadn’t caught her swiftly in his arms.”  Yeah…so Aeris is a bit of a fainting flower here (and elsewhere I mean when they first met, but fucked if I wouldn’t have passed out or pissed myself to boot), but it’s the second time she’s ended up in his arms, a bit less afraid and a bit more voluntary than the first.  Sephiroth’s inner monologue is brutal though, while hers is just a constant litany of how beautiful he is.  Sharply delineates the difference in the two characters.  Aeris isn’t without her confusion or conflict though.  She feels completely safe in his arms and that makes NO sense whatsoever, but it is what it is.

“The beauty of the truth is that it need not be proclaimed or believed.  It skips from soul to soul; changing form each time it touches, but I have seen it, and someday you will, too…” –Mark Helprin “Winter’s Tale”

Why not? I’m in a book cover mood right now.

This just came popped into my head.  Showed up in my mind, but I suppose it’s fitting as the words are spoken by a girl who dies young and is then chased through time beyond the veil of death by the man who loves her.  I almost used the above quote for a chapter, too, though Helprin’s words do show up in Chapter 23.

I was going to put in this other conversation about his eyes and how the iris looks like it was slashed open, but that wouldn’t really be appropriate here.  She was beside herself with terror of his gaze only that morning.  It really wouldn’t be fitting that she’d contemplate them without a trace of that fear.  She needs more time to get used to him and his idiosyncrasies.  I’m thinking Chapter 7 for this.

“Aeris focused on that tangible thought as his embrace echoed through her skin.”  She’s trying to focus on the mundane, because that moment was almost transcendent, but he has no normal to offer.  Seph literally just disappeared between the air, into seams of the world she didn’t know existed, that even the Planet itself knows not…  Speaking of the Planet, it’s super smug right now as though it’s saying “I told you so.”

“’The world’s a little greyer though you can’t really tell down here, but you…you look the same.  Bright amongst shadows, a little flower blooming in the slums…’”
His soft words flooded her cheeks and Sephiroth tilted his head at her blush.”  He really doesn’t get why she’s blushing.  He’s presh.

When it comes to Sephiroth’s eyes I’m really trying to use different shades of green for different things.  They’re normally emerald.

EmeraldThey turn neon when he’s doing his “glamour” bit.

Neon GreenThen they’re jade, a hue we’ll be seeing later.  Much more opaque to obscure…

JadeAnd finally there’s Mako, which I generally use for when he’s angry or impassive/blank.  It’s the raw, roiling green of that which gives his eyes light.

Really…both of them?  Their eyes are the color of the northern lights.  There are so many things that reference back to that name, and I had no idea when I first heard it, loved it, and decided a story would be it, that I’d manage to weave that in.

  • Aeris was born beneath them.  Per the wiki, the flower girl was born in Icicle Inn, which is in the north and conceivably beneath the northern lights.
  • Sephiroth’s eyes are (arguably) the same color (as mentioned above)
  • The northern lights are haunting, eerie, and beautiful as I hope this story is
  • The look like the Lifestream

Aeris in the Northern LightsThe more research I did on the northern lights, the stranger things became.  I wasn’t creeped out per se, but it was odd to discover the that the cause of the aurora aren’t entirely known, but their existence does have to do with how solar particle interact with the earth’s magnetic field, and if we didn’t have that magnetic field, we’d all be quite cooked.  Sooooo, the northern lights are kind of a visual proof of the planet’s protection….

I hope I don’t sound shamefully narcissistic, but I honestly don’t feel like I make this stuff up (obviously not the characters, I mean d’uh), but the situations.  I really feel like it just comes to me from somewhere, and I feel very lucky to be able to decipher it.  I used to read tarot, and writing draws from the same place that does or did in my mind.  It’s more trying to figure out what I’m being told/shown rather than coming up with things.  Yes, now you know; writers are insane.

“’Wh-What are you doing?  Your eyes…they’re…somehow different…’” she trailed off as if silenced by the light.
“’You still know me, little one?’” he asked, shutting them for a few brief moments.  When he opened them again, the incandescence had returned to its original emerald gleam.
“’Yes, of course, why wouldn’t I?’”  Aeris always knows him.  Now it could be implied that because she’s seen him before (and well fuck was literally killed by him) that she’ll never be duped, but I’m hoping the implication goes in the opposite direction to suggest that that’s not the case.

“’I can make it seem like I’m not me,’” he explained.  “’I still have the silver hair, green eyes, and angel’s face, but people don’t equate that to who I am.  They see me, but they don’t see me, if that makes any sense.’”  There is a disorder I believe discovered/proposed by the British-American neurologist Oliver Sacks where you see the composite parts of a face/person, but can’t put them together into the whole.  I never read it, but I know of his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, which deals with visual agnosia.  I’m not going to go so far as to say that’s what Sephiroth is doing, but his bit of “glamour” is a more ubiquitous form of mental manipulation.  Instead of focusing on one person in particular, he projects himself in a certain way to everyone in general.  Is this more ethical?  I’ll leave that question to you.  He’s doing this in order to hide himself for Aeris’s sake, a very ends justify the means paradigm that only muddles the mind on one thing instead of many.

“’Oh okay.’”  She nodded.  “’So it’s as though while you look like you, you’re not the Great General Sephiroth.’  She couldn’t help the giggle behind a cupped hand until she saw what that title did.”  Aeris understands completely what he’s talking about and also immediately realizes his feelings towards his former designation, aka he hates it.  It’s part of that past he can’t escape, the shadow beneath his skin.

Honestly guys, watch this video.  I love the original version, but these kids are phenomenal.

“’Yes…’”  He let his gaze sear through the sector.  “’So I can take you through the city.  I can protect you and no one will know it’s really me.’”
“’Maybe…’”  Aeris slid closer so she had to look up again.  “Maybe one day they can.’”  Aeris fervently believes that one day Midgar can see him with eyes unjaded, but Sephiroth has no such hope.  He’s the pessimist/realist to her optimistic faith.

I called it at page 31.  It wasn’t 32 as I was hoping, but the scene changed, so it was a good place to stop.  I, as of now, have finished all of chapter 4’s first edit, but I will write up the second half tomorrow.  I’m thinking my procedure will be to do the first edit in how ever many days that will take and keep my notes.  Then write them in between the actual editing.  So the editing blog might be updated a little behind the actual editing, but dear readers, I suppose you only know that because I’ve told you.  So now you can be genre savvy.

Until next time I leave you with my many thanks to your devotion to my story and this blog.  A writer is nothing without readers.  You are the unity to my opposite.

Adieu.

<–Darkly, Dreaming Rose, Obligations, and the Start of Chapter 4         

Interconnectivity, a Shot of Darkness, and the True Final First Edit of Chapter 4–>

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