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!
<–Revelations and Sweetness for Chapter 6 The Two Day Long Finale of the Rest of Chapter 6–>
“Child, tuck yourself in bed. Let me tell a story…”
This is from Child of Light. I just finished playing a little bit more of that game, and it is nothing less than beautiful. It’s my other play/review project.
Which I have finished and have a review for here.
Grandia II I’ve played, but never Grandia (I). Perhaps I should put on that on my play/review list. I’ve been a bit lacking in my FFII playing lately, but that shall be remedied this weekend. My husband is participating in a fundraising tournament called Extra Life. The link is there, but by the time anyone will be possibly reading this, 2014 will be long over and 2015 half told, but the event does occur every year, and it’s quite a noble cause. You seek donations to help kids battle diseases, essentially earning them an…extra life. I love puns on a good day, but especially when we’re talking about saving children. I have a soft spot in my heart for the innocent, but back to Extra Life; on a specific day you play games for 24 hours after you’ve garnered your donations. Any and all games are acceptable: video games, board games, card games, tabletop RPGs, etc. Any and everything so long as you do it for 24 hours. So yes, a very worthy cause, and I highly encourage you, noble readers, to at least education yourselves on it. As such I will have the apartment to myself this weekend, and after my errands are run and done, I shall play Final Fantasy and Child of Light to my heart’s content. Perhaps I shall be super ambitious and catch up on all of my blog posts, but for now I sip my coffee and listen to the soundtrack to Child of Light on the Tube of You whilst editing and blogging for you.
This was a quick edit before attending a friend’s wedding in Lancaster, PA. I have always had an odd relationship with pronunciation. I tend to not say things quite as others do even though I was an English graduate student and am pretty damn good at speaking my native tongue. I’ve been complimented on my voice often enough and sometimes speak as though I have a British inflection especially on the phone. At best I’ve been called that…at worst people have said I “sound white.” Ughhhhhh, I could expound greatly on this “talking white thing,” but instead I’ll just let this video speak for me.
Pretty much nails it. Um, where was I going with this? Good lord I ramble, oh! Pronunciation. The name “Lancaster.” Most people around here pronounce it in almost the same manner you’d say “Lannister.” I, however, say “LAN-caster,: elongating the first syllable til it nearly snaps, similar to how one would say “forecaster.” I don’t know why. Apparently I say it like someone who didn’t grow up in this area, which is odd since I’ve lived here my entire life. This is not the only word/name I say oddly. Tori Amos is not immune to my strange manner of speech. I say her last name “AY-mose” instead of the customary “AY-muss.” And guys…guys, I also say “Sephiroth” wrong. *hears the readers drop to the floor* Yes, and what makes it worse is the middle letter/syllable in his name is pronounced EXACTLY LIKE MINE. All the pronunciations I’ve heard including in every version of One Winged Angel, it’s said “seph-EE-roth” with a rising inflection on the middle syllable. Well I usually say it “SEPH-ah-roth” with the accent on the first syllable and the middle one like a schwa. I guess it explains why I familiarly call him Seph, hehe. I…really wouldn’t if I ever met him. I’d just fall to my knees #truestory If I knew any Qabalists or theologians I’d ask them the proper pronunciation, and I’m sure they’d have some long-winded, esoteric explanation that I’d still find fascinating. I mean it IS an angel name and I suppose their pronunciation can be up for interpretation. Huh, I think I figured out why I mess up the pronunciation of Sephiroth’s name. My name is Adrienne, which is pronounced “AY-dree-en” with the accent starting on the first syllable and falling through the rest of the word…same way I pronounce Sephiroth. Heh, Shameful Narcissist indeed…
Where the hell is Aeris’s ribbon?? Did I forget about that??? Ughhh, I can’t just have it appear from nowhere. I mean you can’t have Chekhov’s Gun unless you show that Chekhov had a gun. The ribbon is very important needless to say, VERY IMPORTANT. So is the flower she gives him as I’m sure you (should) know by now if you were good and not naughty children and read the whole of Northern Lights like you should have. Seriously though guys, this editing blog is for those of you readers who didn’t grow weary of my overly descriptive, super analytical voice in the narrative and wanted an insight to my madness. If you haven’t finished reading it, please turn back now lest the story be spoiled. I’m not going to purposely do that, but it’s an editing blog and I may jump back and forth between times. I’ll try very hard to talk about whence came certain inspiration or story parts when I get to them, but I do love to ramble so I can’t be responsible if something from a far later chapter is slipped in. Fair? Fair. I can’t believe I don’t even mention the word “ribbon” until this chapter. Sigh, here’s hoping I said something before. I didn’t so it needed to be added. That ribbon is so goddamn important…
Oh extra ellipses you must be removed. Yes, I noted the irony of me using ellipses at the end of the prior paragraph if irony it truly is. Irony is one of the hardest if not the hardest literary device to accurately identify and use. It is my favorite though. That and meta. I (try to) use irony and meta in all of my stories. Soon, pretties, soon I’ll divulge that huge meta reference if you haven’t found it already. If you have, tell me now in the comments, and I will be most impressed 🙂
“’You must promise me one thing, Aeris,’ he said. ’You must keep your eyes ever closed.’
’That won’t be hard,’ the Cetra admitted. ’They were closed the entire way up.’
Sephiroth tilted his head and the half smile wavered. ’And yet you noticed my pale as your lilies. Did it burn through your sealed lids, little one?’” He is very gently teasing her, and I think this is the first time for that. Bits of a truer personality are starting to come through undrowned by sorrow’s depths, and this occurs the longer he tarries her.
“’I didn’t mean to shame you, Aeris.’
’No, you didn’t at all.’ He still heard it clear through the leather. ’I…I was thinking it for a while. I don’t know why I said it then.’ She lifted her head and froze in the beauty of a winter pale angel’s face.” Again he’s beautiful. This can never be denied, and it’s one of the main causes of why he garners so much sympathy and “hero” worship. It is exceedingly difficult for people to accept a beautiful villain. They must have some kind of excuse or tragic back story, and Sephiroth has both. This is not to condone his actions, only to explain them. Beauty equals goodness even as evil is sexy. If a character is beautiful, he/she will garner sympathy even if the author did not intend for that to happen. The question is whether the author put such in not meaning to. Because authors are part of the zeitgeist, they experience the same devices, tropes, narratives we all experience and they become ingrained. I purposely make beautiful characters sympathetic, but I do not believe one needs to consciously know they are doing so. I believe it will just happen. From what I read Loki was not supposed to be sympathetic in any way, but the way Tom Hiddleston (swoon) played him, it’s impossible (for people who pay attention and care about intricacies) to not see him like that.
Tom himself has spoken at length about Loki’s character and how he’s a broken soul. Tom is also a beautiful, beautiful man and my favorite actor. *squee and swoon* Ah that voice! Only Benedict Cumberbatch holds a candle to it.
He is not a one dimensional villain in the least, and neither is Sephiroth. There’s quite a bit of similarity between the two. Both had lies as their foundations, but at least Loki did eventually find out the truth, even if it was too late and he still (literally) went off the deep end. Sephiroth never had truth at his disposal, just more lies that further fed his insanity. In Northern Lights, the contrite and burdened version of him knows what he looks like (or thinks he does), but it’s less of an uncaring and more of a “it doesn’t matter because of what I’ve done.” His actions have diminished any beauty he ever had. If beauty equals goodness and vice versa then (in his head) he is the most hideous creature to roam this earth.
I started thinking about this whole concept (beauty equals goodness et al) in one of my college classes. My professor was talking about ecofeminism, which I’ve already spoken on, and then mentioned some kind of fallacy. I don’t remember what it was now, but it made me think up the phrase “aesthetic fallacy,” and I started thinking about what I could make that mean. Sometimes it happens that way. I’ll think of a phrase and then try to find a definition for it. It’s kind of like creating a title without having a story first like Shallow Graves…or Northern Lights, hahaha, oh wow…I almost forgot it happened that way.
So the Aesthetic Fallacy became the idea that as a society we will always find sympathy with a beautiful character despite what they (the character) may have done. Any evil deed will be explained away using insanity, coercion, manipulation/mind control, parental issues, or something other factor as an excuse. With an ugly character none of this is needed. We are conditioned to accept an ugly character as evil, but if they are beautiful, there HAS to be a reason for it and a way for them to be redeemed. Fairytales use this trope ad nauseum, which may be the reason our culture is so enamored of it, and Disney freaking loves it. I have yet to see the trope reversed with beauty. I have never seen a beautiful character who is purely evil in their true form with no reason/explanation, but if a character is meant to be ugly and good, best believe those “opposing” ideas are presented early. A perfect example is Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. During the commentary they say that they immediately cast Quasimodo in a good light the instant you see his face so that you’re associating that “ugly” face with something good. (Quasi is also more Ugly Cute, let’s be honest. More movie examples of that here) He’s tending to a lost baby bird. It’s hard to hate a character who does that. He’s also very lonely and secluded, and most people can relate and empathize, and that tears it. If you can empathize with a character, you’ll like them (sigh…). With beauty we instantly empathize, but with an ugly character we have to be given something else. Additionally, his voice actor is excellent, along with being a tenor like most hero characters. In contrast Judge Frollo is a bass because evil sounds deep. I subvert this in Northern Lights since Sephiroth has a low voice as seen (er, heard rather) in Advent. He and Cloud follow the baritone/tenor rules to a tee, with the latter presenting as the typical heroic tenor. Final Fantasy uses this trope quite often probably most famously in FFVI’s Opera.
Interestingly Maria/Celes is an alto. It is called the Aria di Mezzo Caraterre. Please correct my assumption, dear readers, if you are so musically inclined, but I always thought the “mezzo” party was ascribed to Maria/Celes’s range. I was always impressed that the former general (ha) could belt out those notes with very little practice or operatic training. If I haven’t mentioned it before Celes is my favorite character in VI. I love the redemption arc.
Holy tangent Batman; this was supposed to be a short blog post! Well I started talking about beauty and voice tropes and well these things happen.
“I have you, little flower,’ he promised, and then the wind whipped the silk scent away. It would’ve been cold but he radiated heat as his arms closed around her tight.
I have you… Those words should’ve brought raining horror. They should’ve driven her mad with fear, but in this moment they were the most wonderful words that she could ever hear.” Aeris knows she’s safe. Ironically, with her murderer the flower maid is the safest she’s ever been.
“When her eyes opened, they were uncertain like lost leaves, but the summer green flooded his vision far fairer than emerald that gleamed so cold.” I like this…the comparison between their eyes. Hers are warm like summer, his are emerald gleaming cold. I don’t think I ever once describe his eyes as warm, because they’re not. They’re cold, glittering pools of emerald ice with darkness slit at their core, but they’re still kind when they look at her. Cold does not necessarily mean unkind. In the Season 5 Episode 4 analysis of Game of Thrones James (my favorite theorist) says this about Stannis Baratheon. It’s around 1:07:00.
It’s very odd to write about a good/hero character who doesn’t have warm and inviting eyes, but that’s how he is. Their dynamic works because she can see through the façade. His eyes show that the intent behind them is more important than what’s contained in their hue. They are the color of the northern lights and the northern lights, while beautiful, are anything but warm.
The left/right hand thing is so damn hard to remember. I’m right handed and I’m used to writing about people who are right handed, so I have to rearrange my thinking. Sephiroth uses the Masamune left handed so I have to picture it on that side. He also has one right wing, which just makes it more complicated. I’ve seen so many pictures that fuck this up. I have one hanging in my dining room right now and another hanging in my meager foyer. Ughhhhh, so annoyed! I paid $70 for it, too! It’s a pic of him fighting Link who is also supposed to be left handed and isn’t! So, well, I guess I found out that there are left handed hero characters. My boss is left handed and she’s adorable.
I was going to put a picture of it here, but I don’t want the artist to potentially get pissed at me for seeming to deride their artwork. I’m not really. It’s a fantastic piece nor could I render such myself in the visual form (I’ll talk later about my beef about fanart vs fanfiction), but the handedness thing is like this stupid detail that grinds my gears when it’s inaccurate. Oh well…I’ll just tell myself that both Sephiroth and Link are bad ass enough to be ambidextrous, and they’re choosing to fight with their non-dominant hands.
That’s all for tonight, dear readers. I leave you with this final video. It’s the Battlerock Galaxy Theme from Super Mario Galaxy. This song is…phenomenal. The gorgeous long noted strings and it’s in the minor key so there’s that tone of the forlorn. If it’s a battle, it’s an operatic one at that.
All my love, my lovelies.