The Final Retrospective
The Glitter and Gold Sub-Arc to Finale
The inspiration for Glitter and Gold is interesting. I actually started out with the song name first when I initially drafted the story, then sat around not knowing what the Stand ability should be. I think it was during Arc 2 when I finally got around to Jojolion. At the time, I was filling out later drafts of my story, which included Ozpin's BA. And as I was reading through Jojolion and coming up with Ozpin's Stand ability, I thought: why not have every Stand user sans Jojo reference a villain Stand ability in the series?
For those who noticed, Black Beatles is a stripped down The World, King & Lionheart is a more limited D4C. At the time, I wasn't caught up with Jojolion, and I thought the equivalent exchange ability fit as a big bad ability. So, Glitter & Gold took inspiration from equivalent exchange. Do note that I have since caught up to Jojolion, and I know now this is wrong. Still, origins are origins.
The Glitter and Gold sub-arc was a particularly hard section to write. One of the toughest ones to write since Free Bird. While its heavy content definitely played a role in my struggle with this sub-arc, another big part is simply me struggling to find the right words to say. The first part with Salem was relatively easy, but when it came to Glitter and Gold Part 2, it's difficult to express their mindsets to each other in a way that didn't feel contrived. Even knowing exactly where I wanted to go, I just didn't know how to go.
That's where I took inspiration from a surprising source: the FNDM conflict within itself. I sorta touched on it during my Monty retrospective on grief, but when I wrote Glitter and Gold Part 2, that was around late September/early October, which to me was the hardest part of the V5 hiatus. It was around the time when tensions broke out regarding criticism on RWBY and a lot of vitriol was shot around in the month leading up to V6. To say it was a mess is an understatement.
But as I was watching this all unfold and admittedly taking sides on the conflict, I thought about the rhetoric of both sides and tried delving into the base reasons of why each side was saying what they were saying. And I realized that was what I needed for the story. Rhetoric that was emotionally dripping, coming from a real place and born from drastically different circumstances. It needed to feel irreconcilable and bitter.
You can see how this FNDM war affected that chapter in how Cinder and Ruby talk. Two clashing goals, both aimed towards making life better but being unable to think through the other's side. Friends trading ugly blows because they can't reconcile each other's ideas. This idea of abandoning a mistake-ridden world. The hopes that what's there can still succeed in spite of past mistakes. Choices that burned people and made them hate the thing they used to love. Trust that good people can pull the direction of the world into a better path. These aren't new ideas to this story that I made up on the spot. This was the general plot direction I was taking the story regardless. But the FNDM war gave me the tone I needed to convey this right, and I was glad it was well-received.
Rose Empress Deluca was more of a winning lap more than anything else, inspired by Part 5's ending. I won't spoil Part 5 here, but I've always considered the second Ruby vs Cinder fight to be the emotional climax to the story. The second half of the Salem fight, while doing more to wrap things up in a thrilling bow than Part 5, is similar in how it followed through with its theme to bring the conflict to a proper end. Contrary to what a lot of people say about the Part 5 ending, I actually liked it because of its thematic choice. It's not as cathartic as people might want it to be, but that was never the point in my opinion. It brought its theme to its natural conclusion in spite of the abandoned catharsis, and I wanted to emulate that.
Finally, the last chapter. There's something engaging about the kinds of endings where the world itself is not particularly in a better place, but the characters are in a better position to face it. I feel it's a thing we are believing in more. I'm just 20, but I'm already surprised by the drive and initiative of my generation. The young adults are becoming more civilly active and socially responsible, the teenagers of today are fighting to escape the nightmare that is global warming. I think it's great we're believing in our power, and I will push with the rest for that better future for all.
One thing I want to mention is Ruby's condition in the last chapter. That alive, but heavily damaged state takes inspiration from my late grandfather, who passed away maybe a week after I posted my retrospective on grief. He was a soldier in the Vietnam War, who lost parts of his hand and was permanently crippled in the hopes of protecting his family in Vietnam. When Saigon fell, he did everything he could to get them all to America. He lived to see great-grandchildren, to see four generations of his family not only survive, but flourish due to his actions. I don't like having heroes in my life, but he is definitely up there in people I respect deeply. That kind of person is the person I strive to be, and what I allowed Ruby to embody.
So before I get into my overall thoughts on writing RWBY BA, I want to acknowledge my grandfather. Rest in peace, Joachim. Your sacrifices have paid off. Your spirit lives with us all, and we'll push forward with that in our hands.
RWBY BA, Two Years Later
Now that I'm done with the story, I think it's important to look back at the decisions I've made in the past and try to be honest with how I feel about them now. Starting out, the choice to write with multiple first-person perspectives within a chapter. That has always been an intentional choice. I knew for a fact that I wanted to have Ruby connected to every Stand user since the very beginning, although I'll admit that the Salem angle didn't come about until I properly drafted her out. Looking back on the decision now, I don't regret it one bit. It was fun to write, it kept the story moving, it fueled the story twists well. While this kind of perspective is jarring and likely pushed away a ton of people, I think it was for the better.
Overall, I don't really have any big issues with how I handled the story. I'd only change two things in the whole story: I'd cut the first ten chapters in half and I'd clarify the Ozpin red herring in the Feel Good Inc. sub-arc.
For my first change, it comes down to me getting better at pacing the story and realizing that in comparison, the first ten chapters are slow to read through. I'd attribute that to the fact that everyone's still figuring out Stands and that the first "battle" (Ruby vs Jaune skirmish) doesn't come until Chapter 6, and the first real fight (Ruby vs Nolan) doesn't happen until Chapter 9. While I personally enjoyed that slow-burn style two years ago and I still do to a degree, I feel I can heavily condense those first ten chapters to match the pace of the rest of the story.
As for the Ozpin red herring, I wanted to create a sense of intrigue in what is Ozpin's Stand ability. Ultimately, it confused people more than it should. Adding a post-fight summon or adding more information in general's my likely change.
say something about the Blake Ninjas of Love
With my general thoughts out of the way, let me list out some of my general list of favorites in this fic and why:
Favorite Stand fight: still Cornerstone and Chaining Day. To this day it's what I consider to be my best character study on solid villains, it's an engaging Stand fight to write, the synergy between Neo and Roman is so compelling, the entire fight was a creative hurricane. It's an early favorite of mine, and it's still going strong to this day. Honestly can't get better than this.
Favorite chapter: Eastern Glow. It is one of the most varied chapters to write, with an excerpt from Blake's "Ninja's of Love," solid banter within team RWBY, the Tukson moment, Yang's sneaky sneaks, Jaune learning bit by bit about the history of the Arrow, the introduction to Gwen, and the best Nolan BA chapter IMO. I enjoyed crafting this chapter, every single facet of it.
Favorite Stand(s): Teriyaki Boyz. I know, I've barely utilized Fox or his Stand in the story. I still love the idea of a Stand that works in perfect synergy with the user. I'm a big fan of the N'Doul/Geb fight, aka "the Stardust fight with the blind dude," and Teriyaki Boyz fills that hole that N'Doul left... at least in my head. Honestly, I have a few ideas for Stand fights against Fox that I've never used, which probably explains my unusual fondness for this Stand.
But for those who consider my rationale cheating, my next favorite Stand is Bom Bitty Bom. The described look is just iconic, even without an actual image reference. Yeah, I didn't come up with the ability myself, but it's just so cool imagining an unstable Crazy Diamond. I also like the overall synergy of Bom Bitty Bom with Queen of Spades.
Favorite character(s): Deery/Bori, followed by Gwen. Gwen is obvious. She just has a level of spunk that draws attention, and with a solid Stand to boot. But I relate way more heavily to Deery/Bori. An intelligent woman frustrated with the direction of the world and how it's affecting her family, driven to a radical point of view in the hopes that it can make life just a little better - that feels real to me. And Bori, she's just a precious nervous cinnamon roll. I genuinely felt bad for putting her through what she's been through. No other character reached the same height of "oh man, I hate I have to do this" than Bori, with the only close contender being the Cupid. Speaking of which...
Favorite sub-arc: The Warflower sub-arc, which I include Free Bird in. Starts out strong with the Cupid fight, then just escalates with Adam vs Blake, Yang getting a Stand, and the Adam vs Yang fight. It was a roller coaster of emotions writing this arc, and I felt it was the strongest sub-arc in the story, even more than Ruby vs. Cinder I feel.
Favorite Jojo-esque moment: comparing lockpicking to fingering a girl. I've never been that satisfied with my weird Jojo moments, but this one was one I'm still proud of.
Favorite Side BA: Ozpin's BA. The Great War is an interesting setting to write in, I loved all the little moments with Ozpin's group, the tragedy that unfolds was just... wow. Reading through it again, I'm surprised I wrote that. But it's still a solid favorite of mine.
So what am I doing now that RWBY BA is done? Well, currently I've been working on a ton of OG short-stories, trying to get published in my college journal. At the same time, I've been reworking the outline for Fast 8, drafting up outlines for new fanfic ideas, writing up and editing pilot chapters of said new ideas, working on worldbuilding an original story. There's nothing concrete right now, so I can't promise anything. It's a lot of exploring and experimenting, not really getting anything out in regards to fanfiction. Then again, that was RWBY BA for most of 2016, back when I was working on the OC story. So who knows? If I do come back, you'll be sure that it'll be completed beginning to end.
So until next time, farewell everyone! And thank you for joining me on this bizarre adventure!