What an interesting one-shot, BB. From the title – which is simple yet so perfectly fitting – over the summary to the story itself, it’s marvellous. When I started reading it, I couldn’t imagine where you would be going with this or how the story would unfold. But once I finished reading, I was literally blown away.
I love your main character. Thomas is an ordinary man, albeit a writer, but one that suffers from lack of inspiration. With Thomas you created a character everyone who writes themselves can relate to perfectly, especially when they struggle from writer’s block. And adding that Thomas writes to earn money for his family adds a pressure that everyone who considers writing as their profession will probably experience sometime in their lives. I loved the very realistic impression of the profession “author” you gave, painting a clear picture of it, without any sugar-coating.
The language you used and the tone of the story Thomas told his daughter I found very suitable for children. It’s easy to read, to follow and to get lost in. The simplicity of the language reminds me of the fairytales I read when I was a child. And yet, despite the simplicity, you included so many aspects that convey important messages, like the fairytales with their morals. To name just two of the morals you included and that I loved most: generosity towards those in need, and honesty.
The encounter the writer in Thomas’ story has with the man on top of the hill shows perfectly that generosity will be rewarded, and that children should be generous towards people who need it. Even if the reward doesn’t follow immediately like in Thomas’ story, it will come eventually, like Thomas himself experiences. He showed generosity towards his daughter in telling her the story when he could have gone to his desk and continue writing instead. But he didn’t and in the end he finds inspiration to write as his reward. I love your double take on the moral, interweaving two plots into a grander picture.
The other moral I found especially important is honesty. Having Thomas’ writer despair so much that he risks everything and takes the luck potion for the competition is cheating. He wins the competition, brings back the prize money and has success with his story, but the feeling of victory and the fame that resulted out of it won’t last forever. The “reward” for cheating comes when he can’t fulfil his friends’ requests for another bestseller, to use a modern word, and has another writer’s block. Though, I wonder if someone would turn into a screaming madman after only a week of no food and a wash. I found the writer’s drastic development in only one week a bit unrealistic. However, I could imagine that a longer period – like several weeks or months – could actually do that, especially if someone isn’t concentrating on anything else but that one thing. And even though I doubt the time period, I found your description of what the writer went through very intriguing. He hardly ate anything, he hardly moved. He sat in a corner, rocking himself slowly, muttering to himself. His stomach churned, his head ached, his entire boddy felt clammy. […] He was utter unrecognisable, with his skin seemingly stretched tight and taut over his bones. He was paler than the moon, and he his hair and clothes were in absolute disarray. To me, it read as if he was suffering from withdrawal of something, a drug maybe. And yet, the man’s drug is not a drug like we know it but writing. One can talk oneself into something so much that it becomes an obsession, and writing is no exception. And the effects of such an obsession you showed beautifully. I liked this, especially how you included that into your story. Fantastic job.
Another thing I loved about your story is the link to Rowling’s universe. You never gave the potions’ name, but from the description and the effects it had on the writer it’s clear that it can only be Felix Felicis. Also, that the writer is a wizard and has to do something to earn himself a living despite possessing the ability to do magic brings us back to the hard reality the profession as an author entails. With this you draw parallels between Thomas and the writer, but also between us authors on MNFF and the characters you created for this story, making it easier for the readers to get hooked in and relate to the characters. Additionally, the “name-dropping” of Shakespeare participating in the writing competition gives me an idea of the time era you set the story in, but you still keep it vague enough for the reader to use their own imagination.
Coming to the ending of the story, I have only one word to say: Superb. The way the main plot and plot of the bedtime story are tied together is just beautifully crafted, and to reveal Thomas’ family name in the last two paragraphs, having him choose the pseudonym of “Beedle the Bard”, is surprising, romantic and absolutely perfect. BB, this one-shot is the work of a master. Everything – plot, characterisation, morals, tone and language – it fits together perfectly, providing parents with an enjoyable bedtime story but also a very educational read for every generation. You have my utter respect for that.
Author's Response: The only reason I didn't respond to this review is because my jaw was hanging waay too low and was getting in the way of my hands. >.>
What I'm trying to say is that this review is bloody amazing. Completely bloody amazing. I suppose I shall try to respond in a professional and coherent manner, shall I? XD
Like I said in a previous response, I think that most of us on this site can identify with Thomas. Struggling with writer's block, wondering if all of this is worth it, not being able to churn out a single word, and yet knowing-- somehow knowing that this is our future, this is what we want to do-- to write.
A pet peeve of mine is a child talking incredibly precociously, or an adult using words a mile long while telling a story to a child. If you've spent any time with children, you know that you're not going to use long, flowery words while saying a story-- you're going to make it simple, funny, and personal.
Some of Beedle's actual stories seem to have obvious, in-your-face morals, while some have morals that are a little less so. I tried to find the happy medium between them. >.<
Hmm, you have a point about it being only a week before he goes mad... I don't think I ever mentioned that it was just a few weeks, but if that's the impression people get from that, I think I should change it. :D
Thanks again for the absolutely lovely review, Bine! It really made my day. :D