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Thread: April Activities 2011

  1. #1
    jenny b

    April Activities 2011

    Take an issue that is relevant to society today and work it into a drabble featuring HP characters (not OCs).
    You can cover anything from eating disorders to sex to climate change. The last one would be interesting to see. I've left this quite broad on purpose, so as long as you think it's an issue that people need to be aware of, then go for it. Does that make sense? I feel like doing something a little different this month. PM me or post in the babble if you're not sure about the prompt.


    • Drabble can be between 250-800 words.
    • Content should not be any higher than a 3rd-5th Years rating.
    • All content that would require a warning on the MNFF Archive should be labelled appropriately.
    • This thread is for responses only. If you have a question, PM me.
    • Responses must be posted by April 30th.
    • Please post using this format:
      Word Count:
    • As with all activities within the SPEW forum, this challenge is open only to SPEW members.

  2. #2
    jenny b

    April Discussion: Review the Review!

    Since I've been mulling over it for days and I am at a loss as to what our discussion can be for this month, I'm rehashing the June discussion from last year. I thought it would be good for the newbies.

    Only this time it will have a twist - instead of choosing one of your own reviews to review, I want you to review a review by a fellow SPEWer. Get their permission first, obviously, choose one of their reviews, and then just go about reviewing it like you would a story. Don't be afraid to be critical. We're SPEWers, we can take it.

    If someone asks if they can review a review of yours and you're not comfortable with it, then please don't feel obliged to say yes.

    Any questions, PM me, otherwise have fun with it!

  3. #3
    jenny b

    April Featured Author

    Our featured author for February is Dinny/Evora!

    Her author’s page can be found here.

    • You must review the featured author for it to count as your monthly activity requirement.
    • Post the link to your review here - you may also post it in the April review thread for credit as a review.
    • Questions in this thread are not part of the monthly requirement, but they are greatly encouraged. Also, they must have something to do with the subject of writing.

  4. #4
    Hi Dinny!

    Your first story on MNFF validated. Huzzah! Was Innocence a story that simmered in the back of your mind for a long time, or a rapid brew of recent inspiration? Are you working on another story? What's your writing schedule, early morning, late at night, any random moment . . . ? Enquiring minds want to know.

    I hope you didn't think my review too harsh. I almost didn't hit the submit button, I worried you wouldn't take it as the truth spoken in love . . . or at least a whole lotta like.

  5. #5
    This looks like fun! OK, here goes nothing!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jess
    Ooh, Carole, this story is so interesting! Somehow, you managed to take four characters and paint four completely different and completely unique reactions to the death of Hogwarts ‘Golden Boy’. I thought the way you set up the story, as well as the character choice, was inspired. Each of the voices were clearly defined.

    For Pomona, I suppose I never really thought about her being a person of faith. I don’t know if I even considered how the ‘Fat Friar’ became a friar in the first place. I love how you consider details like this in your writing and fill in the gaps, so to speak. I adored how you have her that one commonality with her House’s ghost, where not many would’ve been able to share Christianity with others at a school full of magical people who probably don’t share that belief.

    I did pause at her being a Muggle-born, though. It has nothing to do with her characterisation so much as if she had been a Muggle-born, she never would’ve been allowed to teach at Hogwarts during Year Seven, just as no students were allowed to attend. I suppose it’s subjective, but it is something to consider. Personally, I like her in the story just the way she is; her story makes sense and just reeks of raw humanity.

    The end part of her segment was just… *sniff*. It made me want to hug her when she felt so guilty for praying for a Triwizard victory when she felt she should’ve been praying for the safety of the participants. Would it have changed the outcome? No, but her faith would’ve given her comfort in that time of grief, but instead, it stood as a testament of how it had let her down.

    The Fat Friar was another victory in this part. He was given a life, not just a name and the title of the Hufflepuff House ghost. He was emotive and honest, and his background felt so fitting for both the supporting role as well as for a Hufflepuff in general. I think he really made this segment one of my favourites.

    There was something base and rudimentary about Seamus and Lavender in this. Not everyone deals with grief in the same way or for the same reasons, and having these two right after Pomona illustrates this point so well. While Sprout chose to blame herself, Seamus decided that a bit of denial was in order, and physical grief was Lavender’s choice.

    By all rights, Seamus and Lavender barely knew Cedric at all, but having been that same age and lost a classmate, I know how it affects people. Everywhere you go, you notice something that you can associate with that person, even if it’s someone you hardly ever talked to. You might even hear a joke and wonder if said person would’ve laughed at it or thought it was stupid. I even remember being in JC Penney’s and seeing a message T-shirt that reminded me of the boy who died. I think you captured the relative… weirdness that it brings quite accurately, as well as the mental funk that surrounds the time when you find out about it. There’s the disbelief, then the confusion, and then the angst.

    When they had sex, I felt bad for both of them. It was not a good idea at all, and you showed that when Lavender later dumped Seamus, but they didn’t know how to feel. Right then, neither of them wanted to think about Cedric lying on the ground mere feet away, knowing very well that, if Voldemort had indeed returned, that body could someday be them, taken in some dark place and brought back by a screaming bystander.

    Overall, this segment was poignant in the sense of lost innocence. They hadn’t known death until this point — not really. Now they understood heartache, grief, and shame, and they started to become the Gryffindors that proudly signed their names on the Dumbledore’s Army roster.

    I think Theo was the most heart-breaking of all. In a way, he has it worse than Cho in terms of losing the object of his affection. He never got to touch Cedric or to taste the lips that peppered his dreams. Theo never got to laugh at a joke or smile at something Cedric said. He never got that dance. Cho had memories, but all Theo would have was bitterness. I wanted to hug him tightly and point him in the direction of another of Cedric’s mourning admirers *coughOlivercough*.

    It just wasn’t fair, and the way you had him listening in disgust at Seamus and Lavender’s lovemaking, convincing himself he was angry that they weren’t honouring Cedric properly and not that he was hurting because no one cared about him like that and he didn’t think anyone would. And when I read ‘No one ever did’, I wanted to steal him away and mother him, poor lad.

    Hagrid, as we discussed in SBBC, is a very difficult character to get right, but I thought you did brilliantly. There was something so simple and earthy about him, about how he dealt with the tragedy and the imminence of Voldemort’s return. From the feelings of guilt he had over having created the maze to the simple act of tearing up the shrubs one by one. It was such an appropriate gesture for him, because it was one of the few things he could do to take his mind off of everything.

    His brief bond with Flitwick felt right, as well. There are far fewer commonalities between the two than differences, yet they understood each other for that one moment. And them working together to erase the maze so no one else had to see it the next day and think of Cedric’s death, that the pitch could go back to its more innocent purpose as a place of fun and House unity. It was a major *eep* moment, as well as a cruel irony, when they finished and all they’d accomplished was to create a desolate expanse that mirrored the world that Cedric’s death had changed and the darker realm that his murder was going to bring with it.

    Overall, this was an excellent story, and if you don’t win the challenge, I will abstain from chocolate for an entire month. This was so well written, with your signature style of fluid prose and touching characterisation. This fic was gorgeous and a great distraction from the bajillion other things I should be doing but don’t want to.

    Oh, and good morning.

    This is a long and poetic review, for starters. I'd be thrilled to receive anything this long, so I'm happy for Carole too.

    In the beginning of the review, Jess immediately starts with praise on the very foundations of Carole's story, which are the characters. She does say what I'm sure Carole already knows -- the uniqueness of the four characters' reactions -- but that's OK, because she comments on it, rather than just stating it. She does very well in praising her for filling in the gaps, and sort of making her have an "aha!" moment, re the Fat Friar.

    Her constructive criticism is very nicely put: "I did pause" sounds better than "I didn't like" or "This was rubbish" etc. (Not that Jess thought that Pomona being a Muggleborn was rubbish or anything.) As well as that, she actually explains why she "paused" at Pomona being Muggleborn. She doesn't just say something negative/suggestion for improvement without giving a reason. And Carole did take this into consideration by changing Pomona from being Muggleborn to her mother being Muggleborn. So it's when crit isn't laid on, and without any reasons to back it up, that authors don't feel offended by it and do something about it -- despite Jess saying that she likes it the way it is.

    I really like the way Jess questioned something and made it a point for discussion in her review. The exploration of the what-if moments can, at times, prompt the author to write something else in relation to that point, so this was good. The discussion of how different people deal with grief, the way she pointed this and that out and said how good it was, all of that is very encouraging to the author.

    The fact that Jess actually went through each segment, telling Carole what she liked/thought she could improve, it says a lot. Going through each character's characterisation, commenting on the plot, adding her own little anecdote of what grief is must've taken a long time to write this very thorough review of every part of the story, and I think Carole appreciated the thought Jess put into it. The ending, too, summarised what Jess thought of the story as a whole. The little aside about not eating chocolate for a month made me giggle

    Overall, this review was an exemplary one, and one that SPEWers should look up to. The fact that Jess writes such good stories -- as well as reviews -- is just icing on the cake for me

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Meg
    I liked how the first stanza just set the scene. The first three lines flowed quite nicely, but the line “Death is searching for me” didn’t really sound right to me. Starting two lines in a row with the word “Death,” in my opinion, sounded a little awkward.

    I don’t really feel like Bellatrix was really in character in the poem. In the books, Bellatrix is portrayed as completely fanatical in her devotion to Voldemort. So, I can’t see her not caring about the outcome of the battle, as she is completely obsessed with Voldemort’s cause. I would guess that people probably do quite a bit of reflection as they lay dying, but I don’t think their personalities would flip. I feel like Bellatrix would be a staunch death eater until she died.

    The last line of the second stanza especially felt out of character. The idea that there can be no true victor in battle is a very gray concept. To me, Bellatrix seems like a very black and white person. She enjoys torture and murder, so I can’t see her remarking that there is no true winner in war. I view her as feeling that the people in The Order didn’t deserve to live, and that The Death Eaters died nobly. She didn’t really seem attached to anyone except Narcissa and Voldemort, so I doubt she’d be terribly upset at most deaths. If Narcissa died, I see her as being upset but thinking that Narcissa died for a noble cause. If Voldemort died, well I think she’d throw a major tantrum and trying to kill anyone she could.

    The first three lines of the third stanza sounded brilliant together, but I felt that starting the fourth line with “I know” broke the flow. If it were my poem, I would take out I know and add the word “now, so, the line would read, “I now cannot be redeemed.”

    The sixth and last stanza also felt out of character to me. I can’t see Bellatrix ever apologizing for anything, except to Voldemort.

    I thought quite a bit about your repition of the phrase, “As I lie dying.” I felt that it accented the point that Bellatrix was dying, which is a vital point to the story. Leaving it in, certainly emphasized the fact that Bellatrix was dying, but I felt that your poem didn’t really need the extra emphasis. You did a wonderful job of setting the scene, and I don’t think you needed the extra assistance provided by the line “As I lie dying.” On the whole, I felt that the stanzas flowed very well together, and that having a phrase repeated between them broke the flow of the poem.

    Overall, I thought that your poem was excellent. I really liked how you had each line as a sentence. I thought that it gave the verse a slightly atypical flow, which I really enjoyed. My only big critique about the poem is the characterization; to me it isn’t Bellatrix. I felt that the characterization was more like how I imagine Snape, upon finding out about Lily’s death.


    I’m really impressed that this is a review for a poem. Personally, I find poetry extremely hard to review. It’s one thing to discuss theme and rhythm in English class, but it’s entirely another to provide helpful feedback.

    One of my favourite things about this review is Meg’s tone. She’s so polite that it makes the concrit easy to take. She sounds like she genuinely enjoyed the poem and is just interested in helping the author improve and offering her general thoughts. There’s a bit of detached feeling to the review and that only emphasizes the feeling of wanting to help the author. If she’d spoken passionately than it might come across as though she were attacking the story.

    Starting two lines in a row with the word “Death,” in my opinion, sounded a little awkward.

    This line is a perfect example of the politeness and detached honesty that makes this review so good.

    Another thing I really, really like about this review is how well-reasoned and supported her criticism is. She never says anything without providing a detailed explanation to back it up, whether it’s a stylistic or characterization point. The third paragraph of this review is the best example.

    Scanning the page of the reviews, there seems to be a general agreement that Bellatrix was wrongly characterized, but Meg’s review is the only one that really delves into why it doesn’t come across as Bellatrix from the books. Her reasoning is clear, logical, and simply put.

    Although most of Meg’s review is critical, I do get the feeling that she genuinely enjoyed the poem. I think this is an important to point to get across when writing a mostly negative review. (Unless, of course, you didn’t enjoy the story/poem, but that would then beg the question, why are you reviewing it?)

    I think this a really beautiful review. I wish that when I was a newbie I reviewed like this! My only, er, issue with it—and this is really more of a personal thing—is that the author, Sly Severus, hasn’t written anything since early 2009 and, thus, seems unlikely to receive it. Personally, I try to review stories by authors I know are active because it just seems more helpful that way.

    But, Meg, this review is gorgeous and I know I would have loved to receive it! I’m so glad that you’re now in SPEW.


  7. #7
    'Til the end of the line Ravenclaw
    Kill the Spare
    ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Forever and always in rarepair hell
    Title: One of Your Lot
    Word Count: 761
    Rating/Warnings: 3rd/5th Years -- Substance Abuse

    There are more things in this world that tempt and lead us astray than there are things that keep us from doing so. A few, a precious few, are privileged to be blessed with enough of the latter to keep them on the straight and narrow. And others? Well, that’s why you here, isn’t it?

    He used to come see you once a month. And every time he came to you, he left with what he wanted. He was a good customer — always had enough coin to pay for the product and never complained about the quality. It was easy to laugh at how pathetic he was, his face flushing as red as his hair when he mentioned the word ‘heroin’. You knew what he wanted but made him say it anyway, just to see him squirm.

    But then he started to come by every week, and thus his nonchalance grew. Still, he paid in cash, and you couldn’t really ask for more. Quick, quiet, and easy, it was, dealing with this bloke. You might even have said that you sort of liked him. Not like a mate you take to the pub, mind, but a decent enough type that wouldn’t make you nervous if you were a family man and he moved in next door. So he had a little habit; it wasn’t anything to get worked up about.

    It was always going to happen, the time when his visits would come closer and closer together. Every day it is now; you think he’s hitting the bottom of the barrel. Where he used to pay in Galleons, he now pays you in handfuls of Sickles and Knuts. Here soon, he will be asking if he can pay you later or try to pay with whatever he can beg, borrow, or steal. They all do this, and you help them wherever possible, but eventually, they all run out of ways to pay, and you run out of reasons to deal to them.

    His face is pale today, paler than usual. You know that look, the one that tells of a sleep debt that has been poorly paid. He bought extra yesterday, and you think he’s used it all already. He wouldn’t be back otherwise.

    “What for ye today, Ginger?” you ask, playing the same game of making him beg for it. You are already bored with it, but it’s habit by this point.

    “Same as yesterday,” he mumbles.

    “More this time, eh?” you muse aloud, not expecting an answer. Nonetheless, you pull his new order of the day from your coat pocket, having prepared it just for him. He licks his lips as you do it, like a tiger waiting to pounce on its prey. He does that more and more, and this time, he snatches it from you.

    “That’s four Galleons, two Sickles, mate,” you say, letting him slide this one time for his impatience.

    He digs in his pocket, and the day you have been dreading finally comes; he doesn’t have enough. With a sigh, you take back the bag and say, “You haven’t got it. Come back when you do.”

    “No,” he screams, his throat scratching with desperation. He takes a swipe at me, trying to get it back.

    It is then that you hear the voices in the background, and you’d know them anywhere. He doesn’t hear them like you do. He is too lost in his own darkness to hear what was going on in reality. That is when you recall your own wisdom from moments before he arrived. There really are not enough good things to outweigh the bad, and the rest turn to you. This man has turned to you. Now is when you need to do both of you a favour.

    Thrusting the bag back into the man’s hands, you sink back into the shadows as the Aurors approach. They have been following you for some time, and it seems like fate that they have come when he is here.

    They find him, you see, and the lead Auror says, “Oh, George…”

    So this man is known, is cared for. You feel good about the decision you made, because this George has never truly been one of your element.

    There are more things in this world that tempt and lead us astray than there are things that keep us from doing so. A few, a precious few, are privileged to be blessed with enough of the latter to keep them on the straight and narrow. And others? Well, that’s why you here, isn’t it?
    Jess WritesJess DrabblesJess DuelsJess PoetsJess Draws

    Gorgeous banner by Dinny / Evora.
    I'm no longer active, but my inbox is always open. I'd love to hear from you!

  8. #8
    Title: Unsure
    Word Count: 315

    “Lily, We can’t murder our baby!”

    “We’re nineteen! We can’t have a baby yet!” Lily’s bloodshot eyes glare at James.

    “You’ll still be a brilliant mother.”

    “I don’t care. I won’t be able to do anything. I’ll be completely useless.” She rubs her blotchy face with one hand, and with the other pulls her legs closer to her chest.

    “No you won’t, you’ll be able to do tons of other things for the Order!” James sits down on the floor next to his wife and puts an arm around her.

    “Like what?” She accuses.

    He pauses for a moment, “I’m sure Dumbledore will have loads of jobs for you.” He begins to rub her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her.

    “No James, we’re not ready.” Lily rises to her feet and exits the room. Once outside, she bursts into tears. She can’t go see Dumbledore; he’ll just tell her how important life is. Sirius would take James’s side like always. She considers going to see Marline, but quickly dismisses the idea. Then it hits her; she’ll go see Remus. He’ll understand why she can’t have a baby.


    She wakes up alone in a bed at St. Mungo’s. She relaxes between the smooth cotton sheets, before she remembers why she’s lying there. She sighs and relaxes, she’s okay now. Everything’s back to normal.

    Upon leaving the hospital an hour later she sees a young woman holding a newborn baby. Suddenly she feels almost regretful, if she hadn’t aborted her pregnancy, that would be her in a year. She keeps walking, repeating all the reasons she can't a baby yet. It doesn’t stop the feeling of guilt clogging her throat. She can’t go home to James; he’ll hate her. She apperates to her mum’s house and curls up on the sofa with a mug of ice cream. Surely her mum will understand.

  9. #9
    Fifth Year Gryffindor
    I See Dead People... In Mirrors
    lucca4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    With Teddy <3
    Title: Just One
    Word Count: 334
    Ratings/Warnings: 3rd-5th years; Substance abuse (alcohol), violence
    A/N: I don't know why I chose Dennis. In my mind he has a much happier story .

    It was just one drink.

    Or three.

    Or five.

    Or maybe he had to admit he didn’t know how many. All he knew was that the alcohol — so bitter and sour and cold — made him forget for a while. It took away the pain of death and grief and gave him a feeling of floating somewhere far, far away where the hurt that had become this world could not touch him. The god-awful headache he would be promised the next day only heightened his senses to everything superficial, leaving thoughts about his brother far behind.

    Tonight, Dennis had one more than usual because the pretty girl next to him batted her eyelashes and told him she thought she’d seen him somewhere before. She left soon after he had bought her the drink, and an expensive one at that. His anger felt red hot underneath his skin as he left the bar without leaving a tip and furiously started the engine to his car.

    He didn’t think. He didn’t remember. Because this was a night just like any other: Dennis’s mind was blissfully full of Firewhiskey and vodka and whatever the h*ll that one mixed drink had in it. He wasn’t here; he was somewhere else.

    The road looked fuzzy and distorted and part of him thought maybe he should turn around and stop. And why were those cars coming at him head-on? He swerved, muttering to himself about the stupidity of drivers these days.

    He didn’t realize he wasn’t on the road anymore until he felt a violent thunk-thunk under his tires. Just a flat tire, he told himself uneasily. He could smell the alcohol on his own breath as he got out of the car and stood in the freezing night air.

    And then he started to cry: horrible, awful choking sounds that seemed to stem from his heart itself. There was no more pretending, no more numbing the pain, not now, not anymore.

    The front of his car was covered in blood.

    Thank you to Hokey for the beautiful banner. And thank you to everyone who nominated and judged --I'm so grateful to you <3.

  10. #10
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    Lockhart Removed My Bones!
    welshdevondragon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    London/ Newcastle
    Here's my review. I hope it's helpful- and I'm in awe that this is your first fanfic.

    I was going to ask you questions about whether you were working on another story/ what it was about, but Kerichi already asked those. Here are a few questions she didn't ask.

    What made you choose to write about Marauder Era?

    How long have you been reading fanfiction/ writing it?

    Do you write OF? Which do you prefer - fanfiction or OF?

    That's all
    Banner by Minna.

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