It is my great pleasure, for the fifth and final time, to bring you the winners of the Quicksilver Quill Awards for 2013.
Before you all panic, don't worry, the QSQ awards aren't going anywhere! But a few months ago, due to various factors, I decided that this would be my final year hosting these awards. I first became involved in these awards in 2009 when, as a newbie mod, I stepped in to help finish off the 2008 awards which had been troubled by delays and other issues. After that I ran the 2009 awards from start to finish and since then have run the awards every year, always supported by some fabulous judges without whom none of it would be possible. The 2013 awards are the eighth year of the awards in total.
I love these awards - these couple of months are my favourite time of year at MNFF and I really wanted to go out on a high this year. I think I can safely say I have achieved that - the results are ready on time and this year has seen very little behind the scenes drama - especially remarkable considering that we have had fewer available judges than ever before and an incredibly high standard of nominations. The decisions were not easy, but thanks to the great team of people working on them, I think we have a list of winners to be proud of.
And so without further emotional waffling from me, let's get down to business.
As you know the QSQs are about awarding the best writing MNFF authors have had to offer that year. Nominations are received across twelve categories and separated in one-shot and chaptered stories. This year, due to a few joint winners, we have 27 winners in total across the 12 categories.
Like in previous years, winners of the awards will also receive a personalised banner, created by one of MNFF's finest bannermakers and chosen through a special competition. This year's winning banner was created by the very talented minnabird and you can view a sneak peak by clicking here (you might want to wait until after you've checked the winners though as it might spoil one category for you!
Banners will be sent out to winners in the next few days. A separate post will follow to recognise the judges who were involved in the QSQ process this year and who will also receive banners.
And now, really finally, here is the list:
QSQ Winners 2013
One-Shot – Noble Souls by Gmariam
The insight the author gave into how much of an influence Grindelwald was having on Dumbledore is chilling. It felt philosophical, especially the arguments regarding morals, and the visible influences Grindelwald had on Dumbledore was stunning. The elegance with which this story is written is just breathtaking. All in all, the judges loved the inclusion of the music and how historically accurate it was and how well it fit the story, which really made it stand out as an exceptional fic and a clear winner.
Chaptered – Pulling the Strings by Acacia Carter
This story was so well structured, with unfailing logic in every step of the investigation despite the escalation in the plot. The targets and the methodical nature of this story make it so gripping, and the characters just played off one another so well to make this happen. In terms of characterisation, this is the perfect example of what is definitely the most gripping mystery I have ever read, with stellar characterisation of both OCs and canon characters. And despite its incompleteness, it's intricate, amazingly well-honed, and stunning from top to bottom.
One-Shot – Growth by teh tarik
The author told the story of Merope and Tom Riddle so well, with such a brilliant exploration of Merope’s character — her disastrous upbringing, her desperation and just the obvious discomfort she experiences from the start of the story to the end. But what rendered the judges speechless was the exquisite style and the command the author had over her words, so much so that the story was described as “sick and gorgeous” and, above all, unforgettable.
Chaptered – Other Side of Glass by teh tarik
There was so much depth in emotion and darkness in this story, to the point that the judges could really feel the grief for Fred from start to finish. The prose was flawless, the characterisation spot-on and loyal to canon, the plot beautifully crafted and the liberties the author took in terms of style and spacing so effective. There were also so brilliant moments that would make most readers want to laugh and ache and cry at some point or another, especially the exploration of the afterlife. This story stayed with our judges long after reading, and we are all now eagerly awaiting the next update!
We were unable to choose a single winner in this category largely because we were faced with two examples of what a good humour story should be. Both these epitomise the truism that you shouldn’t sacrifice characterisation for laughs because despite having read our winners several times each, the judges were still laughing over and over.
Fear and Loathing in Florida (Mostly Loathing) by minnabird
The humour is balanced just right between bitterness at their plight and helplessness. From the confusion over Doritos (and how well they're described - ha ha), to the humidity in Florida, this is very funny with laugh out loud moments. Its humour isn't brought about by OOCness or absurdly improbable situations, but rather that it IS in-character and the situation is not all that unlikely.
Morning After by HalfASlug
The characterisation and the situation were very plausible and relatable (I mean, who hasn't woken up after a bender wondering where their pants have gone?). This screamed winner partly because it caught the stages of hangover very well, but mainly because this story also proves that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice characterisation for humour.
One-Shot – One, Two, Three by Alice Mac
This story takes an AU situation and truly brings out the pain of it. It's got a lyrical quality to it and almost reads like a very long prose poem to explore Hermione and Harry's loss of Ron. I think it did its job beautifully. It showed a journey through the grieving process for them, and it really did feel like a journey. This fic made my heart ache and I finished it feeling very sad. The emotion was so real and so powerful.
Chaptered – Unbreakable by hestiajones
Natalie is so good at writing dark stories that draw you in deeper and deeper as the story goes on. It has a gripping plot and is really quite chilling. Unbreakable takes something that has become a trope in recent years (Ron's death) and turns it into an original story. The characterisation of everyone here is so very strong, and so very IC. The plot is incredible, very intricate, and it works on many levels.
One-Shot – Danny from Footprints in the Sand by Equinox Chick
Danny is just so realistic, so thoughtfully drawn, that one could bump into him at the grocery store or the gym or on the street and have no doubt about how real he is. Also he comes across as a person in his own right, rather than just in relation to Oliver -- more specifically, the way he perceives the Wizarding world and the way the author uses our knowledge of it and of Oliver Wood is very accomplished. Not only do we get a chance to witness the type of person he is and how he relates to other people, we get to see his humanity.
Melea from Wind's Nocturne by Acacia Carter
Despite being a non-human character, Melea is extremely well-rounded and maintains an echo of human thoughts and emotions, which fits perfectly because her character is an personification of the forest around her to connect nature to mankind, and her human qualities don't overbear that truth. And as a dryad, the mythology the author constructs around Melea is very thorough and compelling, which is coupled with superb writing.
Chaptered – Adrian Radley from Stolen Magic by coolh5000
There is a lot to love about Adrian's character. The way he struggles with morality and his beliefs while everyone around him doesn't always agree with him, and the way this affects him socially, emotionally, and intellectually was amazingly done. He has a very believable mixture of naivety and yet thoughtfulness, as he struggles to understand what is going on which is real for most people his age, but particularly poignant for a boy in his circumstances. Finally, his inner strength to do what he thinks is right by standing with his family at the cost of several friendships really sells his Hufflepuff sorting, as well as a candid view of the 'other side' of the war.
Chaptered – Love and Order by Gmariam
Marauder era stories need more than a romance at their centre, they need to acknowledge the times and the war that was being fought around them. Love and Order does this brilliantly, giving us a cracking plot and well-thought out characters. Sometimes you just have a gut feeling about a story being great. For me that story is Love and Order. I do think gmariam has done something here that is a step above the typical ME romance fic. The cast of the story is extensive, from Order members to Marauders to Death Eaters to the Ministry, and yet I never felt any of them were underdeveloped in any way. Gina took her time in building chemistry between Frank and Alice while never forgetting the era the story is set in.
One-Shot – You Can Write The Book by teh tarik
I thought the author did a beautiful job giving life to a character barely mentioned in the books. We see the world Dennis inhabits, but also his struggle to inhabit it without Colin. The imagery and characterization in this story is lovely - I just kept thinking 'wow' at the writing. The telling of Colin’s life through the pictures he took was unique and sad and beautiful. This, I think, is the perfect PH fic in that it really shows someone’s grieving, but at the same time, shows him celebrating Colin’s life, and that is what made this story so special.
Gaps Between by lucca4
This was a really excellent story, well-written with great characterisation. The author did a stunning job of fleshing out Dennis Creevy post-Hogwarts. This story is incredibly well-written and very chilling. Although the pairing isn't necessarily an original rare-pair, the execution of it, the drawing in of other characters and the events of the story made this very original.
Chaptered – Laid to Rest by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor
As a Post-Hogwarts story, this, to me, had everything. The story is dark, intense and intriguing. The author writes dark characters well, and flawed characters very well. The characterisation was excellent and even the most minor of characters were well-fleshed out and believably portrayed. The story did a great job of portraying the Post-Hogwarts world through minor characters and the whole story was impeccably written. The plot was certainly intriguing and the judges can’t wait to see how it ends!
Nineteen Days Later by HalfASlug
This story is so poignant and I found myself really believing in these events just after the war and getting drawn into the emotions. The plot really worked as well. For a story that only covered a few hours, a lot was happening and I think it was a great interpretation of the Post-Hogwarts world, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the battle. The emotions were so well written and the story moved fluidly between angst and happiness. It was great to see the stories of so many characters that we know and love continued past the books and follow the author’s interpretation of how their lives continued was the battle was over.
One-Shot – The Last Casualty by trinsy
This story absolutely charmed us. It is a fantastic exploration of what it could mean to be in the next generation, really getting into the psyche of Teddy but also of the people surrounding him. Teddy and Victoire together make a microcosm of the world they grow up in, and the feeling of loss lingers, yet hope and recovery are also there. It has great pacing, it is well-structured, and the characterisation shines.
Chaptered – Uncovered by Death by Equinox Chick
This story manages to construct a Next Gen world that feels as real as a continuation of canon. This is about Draco's son finding a footing in a world full of people his father resented, a world in which his family's dark history is still freshly remembered. The mystery in it is so compelling and the suspense is tightly held.
The Girl In Madam Malkin's by the opaleye
This poem is beautiful, emotional and painfully sad. Everything about this poem's language and structure works toward its theme of brokenness and grief - I love the stuttering, choked feel of the line breaks. Everything about this poem is subtle and that subtlety adds a richness simply because the message isn't forced on the reader. It's honestly one of the most heart-wrenching poems I've ever read. The language was simple but effective
The Absent Guests by hestiajones
I loved the simplicity of this one, because it let the emotions come alive. I just thought it was so sweet, and the language worked so well to draw Petunia's little orderly world. This was such a lovely, startling and compassionate portrayal of Petunia. I love the voice of this poem, especially the tiny bits of humor with which the narrator presents Petunia's otherwise quite sad situation.It has a very striking opening, but it was the ending lines of this poem that really made it for me, that captured Petunia's voice so beautifully. It had a particularly good use of repetition.
One-Shot – Blackberries by Equinox Chick
Blackberries is a beautiful portrayal of George and Angelina coming together after a long time, but it's so much more than that. It's George figuring out how to live without Fred, all the while trying to ignore his love for a woman he still believes was Fred's girl. The two struggles are happening together at the same time, and therein lies the originality of this fic. The characterization was flawless; Carole did a wonderful job of showing George's serious side, and of capturing Angelina's personality over the course of a handful of flashbacks. The structure is fabulous, with the call of the Quidditch match ratcheting the drama up throughout the fic and breaking up the memories until it climaxes with her injury. This structure was a brilliant decision.
Chaptered – Love and Order by Gmariam
Love and Order is brilliant in the way it so beautifully fleshes out two near-OC characters, surrounds them with great supporting characters and an incredibly suspenseful, gripping plot, and develops of their relationship...it perfectly accomplishes this interwoven plot, characterization, and romance, all of which are basically invented by the author. Gina has essentially created Frank and Alice from nothing, given them unique personalities and challenging jobs, got them both into the Order and pulled them into a gripping plot placed in the middle (or beginning, rather) of the first war. The magic in this fic is really impressive, much of it created or tweaked by the author. The emotions are real, and we get to know Frank and Alice as they learn more about one another and are placed in extremely dangerous situations. This is actually a fantastic Marauder Era story, because it really makes the world come alive, but it's also a great canon romance of a tragic and very very relevant couple.
Seven Simple Years by HalfASlug
It's hard to fathom what an amazing accomplishment this series of missing moments is. The scope is really something. To start with, the characterization is magnificent. Ron and Hermione's thoughts, feelings, and actions are completely convincing at every age they are shown at, from when they're first-years till they're would-be seventh-years. It's not easy to capture the 14 year old Ron, but the author does so well with this that it feels like canon. In every chapter, they, and their thoughts and feelings and situations, seem so real. I think that the depictions of Ron and Hermione's complicated, ever-changing feelings and thoughts towards each other were the fic's greatest strength; they were really spot on.
One-Shot – Heart's Desire by Squibstress
When a story grips you like this one, it’s hard to forget. It has everything we want in a fic - from fleshing out older characters, to creating vivid worlds, relationships, and personalities for them. There is something truly magical about the storytelling, here. It’s a bit old-fashioned, and truly enchanting.
Chaptered – A Palisade of Persuasion by Equinox Chick
This fic is stunning. Daphne and Lee have such a palpable chemistry. And while the romance is central and integral to this fic, Carole has fleshed it out with so many wonderful and vibrant peripheral characters that add so much colour and life to the narrative, too.
Same Sex Pairing
One-Shot – Footprints in the Sandby Equinox Chick
Danny was a brilliant and realistic character, and the depth of his characterisation as an OC was simply amazing. His interactions with Oliver seem so natural and believable, and it was a refreshing change to see Danny be content with his sexuality, even if the way others feel about it is more complex. Danny’s voice was written with remarkable clarity, while Oliver’s more vulnerable side came out in this story beautifully, and their romance was written in an honest and unsentimental manner that really made the story shine.
Chaptered – Rat by DragonDi
This was such an ambitious and memorable story that hit many high points in terms of plot and characterisation. The author’s presentation of Remus/Sirius as a pairing was done so beautifully, and in an AU situation at that. Its divergence from canon also means the relationships between the Marauders could be examined more closely, and the author carried this out so well. What was great about this fic was that while being an incredibly gripping, suspenseful story, the pairing was always at the forefront, and there was something so thrilling about reading romance interweaved with action.