The Editing of Northern Lights – The Psychology of Chapter 8

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!

<–Chapter 8 and the True Story          Chapter 8 Should Bring Happiness–>

10/18/14
Jumping right in because I want to try to get to Chapter 9 tonight.  I also think I had a dream about the story because I woke up with a conversation in my head, one that isn’t yet in the narrative.  It had to do with Aeris telling Sephiroth that he was the gentlest man to ever touch her (which I believe is somewhere in here, but I couldn’t find it today on my phone), and then Seph jumping to the ridiculous conclusion that Zack had been rough with her to which Aeris assures him is not remotely the case.  It was really the former general going to extremes because of his self-loathing i.e. if he’s the gentlest, anyone prior must’ve been terrible and rough, because he (Seph) is a monster.  I’d imagine Aeris would be in a sort of amused but poignant state, because Zack was way too much of a puppy to ever do anything awful, probably more awkward, silly, and a little clumsy whereas Sephiroth is more graceful and reserved.  Soooo I totally lied about jumping right in hehe.

One final thing (final? Ha…)  I was having a conversation at work today with my friend Andrew (who I’ve mentioned before) about Les Misérable, because that’s what we do; that’s what we talk about.  I was schooling him on some of the intricacies of the story that aren’t showcased in the musical, which we both love; however, Andrew is not quite up and up on the original tale.  So I was telling him how Gavrôche was Thénardier’s child along with Éponine, and both of them were killed upon the barricades.

It was a sad juxtaposition at least with Éponine because prior to Valjean’s arrival, Cosette was the drudge and Éponine and her sister Azelma (who isn’t mentioned in the musical at all along with two younger sons) were pampered and favored.  Then the roles reversed with Cosette living as a young lady of the bourgeoisie.

Andrew was trying to understand how Thénardier knew that Valjean was a convict, and they don’t really explain that, but I figured the former innkeeper probably saw the chain scars on his wrists whereas our other friend believes it might’ve just been “criminal intuition” aka you know your own.  He also might have found about about Valjean’s past in between him collecting Cosette and later.

As fore mentioned Les Mis is a huge influence for this story with the redemption arc, and I started thinking that Sephiroth in Northern Lights is a cross between Jean Valjean (redemption and penitence), the 10th doctor (forlorn with godlike powers), and a weeping angel (pretty obvious). There are many other inspirations, but these are major ones.

Oh kind of random, but I was totally attracted to Hugh Jackman in that role in the latest iteration.  I had this as my background for a while.  Yep, it topped Sephiroth…for a bit 😉

Les-Miserables-poster-Hugh-Jackman-and-Isabelle-Allen

Future Narcissist here.  So speaking of Les Mis, I’ve been listening to it for the past few days because I found this video of Gaten Matarazzo who plays Dustin in Stranger Things (ll be talking more about that later oh best believe…) singing “Bring Him Home,” and he has the voice of an angel.  He plays Gavroche in the Broadway play, and “Bring Him Home” is sung by Valjean, but omg, I can’t even.

He’s too good for this world, too pure.  I can’t wait for Season 2, which has just been announced.  So.  Fucking.  Excited.

I needed to move a part from this chapter to Chapter 10.  The location was really bothering me.  I LOVE the exchange, but the placement seemed forced.  It was Aeris almost having a flashback to the slums and what might’ve occurred had she tried to traverse Sector 2 alone.  She starts trembling in his arms, and Sephiroth reassures the flower girl that he’ll never let anyone hurt her.  I adore the sweetness of it, so I moved it to Chapter 10 where she’s already having a nightmare, and it just makes more sense.

Gondor calls for aid!  I needed help in finding a picture.  That dead-looking, monochrome world.  I kept finding images with water and trees (albeit dead ones); I need the black sun, white sky, mountains, barren.  This is the in between.

Chapter 8 - In Between

I love the first few sentences.  “He didn’t mean to sleep.  He never did.  Sleep is darkness rising.”  Wholly inspired by that Heather Dale song that provides the quote.  Sephiroth never sleeps because it’s just a gateway for his nightmares.

“Blood coated his fingers, never to be cleaned, and hers clung the hardest of all.  He would drown in the blood of the innocent and yet still never die.  It would fill his lungs, inundating every vessel as the cells within screamed to the flood.”  I added this later to Sephiroth’s nightmare at the beginning of the chapter.  There’s been a definite pattern of drowning motifs within the current zeitgeist.  Like this book on my TBR list.

Nobody Is Ever Missing

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock speaks to it in the final lines.

"Til human voices wake us and we drown."
Til human voices wake us…

Dear Esther has its omnipresent ocean water, and there’s also The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  Water water everywhere, and plenty there to drown.

I can see poor Sephiroth sinking down in an ocean of innocent blood, “pulled down by the undertow,” only halfheartedly fighting it, because he believes he deserves this bloody death for bringing such to so many.  There is an argument to be made that both Aeris and Sephiroth did drown.  Both of their “deaths” had a watery motif to them.  The theme of this chapter does seem to be blood…an endless sea of red guilt, nor does it subside by the time we reach the end.

How many times do I mention drowning in this story?  Let me count the ways.  31 per my search of the term.

“The blood was receding but left always its stain in the recesses of his mind, when a noise so near split his lids as bisected green shifted down.”  *shivers* I’m trying to keep the balance.  Obviously he’s a heroic character in this narrative, but he still carries the eerie and strange.  It’s supposed to break the general hero paradigm as characters with cat eyes are usually not protagonists.  I have an idea for a story where the main character is a cat, because how often does that happen?  Even in the movie Cats and Dogs the dogs are the protagonists and the cats are the enemy.  Granted in the sequel the animals all work together, but the antagonist is still a cat *hmph*  When I was in high school I read this book Felidae that was essentially about a cat Hitler with a badass name: Claudandus.

Felidae Cover
That’s him on the cover. Claudandus not Hitler.

Seriously that name kicks ass.  The protagonist is a cat named Francis who serves as a feline detective of sorts investigating a string of cat murders in his neighborhood.  I remember loving this book as a teenager, but when I reread it as an adult, oh my god…the German to English translation left much to be desired.  I was far more forgiving back then or I just didn’t know any better.  I had a similar issue with the very first Redwall novel in terms of the writing/editing, but then again it is midgrade/YA so some things can slide.  Tad Williams’ Tailchaser’s Song is excellently written (by my more recent memory) and has a pretty much all feline cast.  The bad guy is still technically a cat, but is more like a pissed off, dispossessed cat god.  Yep, you read that right.

Tailchaser's Song Cover

Holy shit…this was his first book, too. Not saying that because it’s bad, but it’s kind of out of left field, so either they were looking for animal fantasy fiction at the time or Williams had a decent in.  If I think back, I did read a lot of animal based fantasy novels back then: Watership Down (1972), Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1971), Fantastic Mr. Fox (1970), and Tailchaser’s Song was published in 1985 so I surmise that was the time frame for animal fantasy/fiction.  I really haven’t seen any novels with the paradigm published as of late so maybe it’ll come back around.  I always grow terrified that angels are going to come into vogue and just as soon over saturate the market before I can edit and requery my novel.  Something to become neurotic about another day.

“Upon his lap with her head on his chest was nestled one tiny flower, and his arms were wrapped around her as if this were the most natural of things.”  Seph awakens from nightmare and Aeris is on his lap, wrapped up in his embrace.  It’s far, far better than a dream come true seeing as those are only horror.  It was a bold move on her part, but I can see it being easier while he slept, especially considering how the fallen was in the throes of torment, and she’d already caught his hand.

“’…I can see the blood in my lids and that spurs the horrors on.’”  *shudders*  That would be an effect of glowing eyes wouldn’t it?  Shine a light on your shut eyes and you’ll see red.  Imagine that light never really going out.  It probably dims when he closes them, but he’s said before that it’s a persistent gleam.

“’I know…you were thrashing quite wildly, but you stubbornly refused to cry out.  I had to do something and somehow managed to catch a hold of your hand.’”  Sephiroth is appalled that Aeris would do this.  His first thought is that he could’ve hurt her within the contortions of grief, and if someone is having night terrors that’s not something that you should ever do (or so I believe).

I…don’t know if the dreams/visions I have would be classified as night terrors.  Where I’m falling, falling and end up landing on a sword or I get impaled/mutilated and I can feel it all.  I don’t want to lessen the impact of real night terrors by adding my unknown visions to the list.  I just don’t know. I don’t like them, but the catalyst for them is known whereas I believe night terrors often come from a questionable source.  They can be caused by PTSD though.

I both polled the audience and looked this up.  I think it’s safe to say that Seph is suffering from PTSD.  This is obviously a fantasy/paranormal romance fanfic, but if you are accurate in familiar and/or relatable things, it makes the suspension of belief for the fantasy/paranormal elements much more possible.  Also depression…definitely depression; I don’t need to look that one up…yeah.  Severe punishment as a child is a leading factor in PTSD, and I’ve already set that paradigm up.  He was molded into a general, and let’s not forget his fuck face father who was willing to experiment on his own son to make the “perfect soldier,” which means he was essentially tortured as a child to accomplish this goal. Then he was mind raped by an eldritch abomination he believed was his mother, did terrible, awful things including killing the woman he’s currently vowed to protect.  Now a hundred years later, he’s alive where others “far better” are dead, which I’m pretty sure defines survivor’s remorse.

Alright enough.  Once I get into things heavy and psychological it’s time to call it a night.  The depression revelation really got me when I realized it, but then you write what you know, and one of the main plot coupons of the story is a main character searching for his mother’s grave.  Yeah…

Until later my lovelies.  I’d drown myself in wine, but I have to be up at 6:30 tomorrow morning to jog before going to work.

<–Chapter 8 and the True Story          Chapter 8 Should Bring Happiness–>

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