I immediately forgot the typos after finishing reading your Pearlescent, Stacy. They don't signify compared to the vivid picture you've drawn for us of Merope and her short piece of heaven and then hell.
And anyway, I thought the lack of punctuation in the fourth paragraph seemed a characterization of Merope and how she was feeling at the time. Breathless and erratic with joy.
I hated Tom all over again.
I hated Caractacus all over again.
Merope not taking her eyes off the floor while talking to Burke was heartbreaking. It hit me strongly somehow, this broken witch and her bowed head.
And then, the clever coincidence of her taking notice of the cursed pearls, and Burke's fitting comment that sadly concurs with what Merope is going through (and the effects of the love potion).
I like how she made figurative vengeance and denunciation against Amortentia (and Burke, hehe).
Stacy, love. I really like this story. It's.. intense. In so few words you clearly showed how Merope had felt while she had been married to Tom. Also, you showed how the Amortentia potion works, and you also showed what happens after the person stops taking the potion very well.
Although I liked this story a lot, I did find a lot of things wrong with it. I'll attempt to point some, if not all, of them out to you. Just bear in mind that I don't want this to come off as rude or anything, I just want to help you with your story, love. =D
She had dreamed of growing old with him, having plenty of children and granchildren gathered around them for many years.
This sentence seems a bit awkward to me. I don't think you should have used the word "dreamed", I think it would have sounded much better if you used "dreamt", I think that's how you spell it. Also, it should be "grandchildren" not "granchildren".
She couldn't have been happier, well that is not completely true.
This also seems a bit awkward to me. You could have added more description into the sentence. It would have made the flow much smoother, and it would have gave the readers more to go by, if that makes sense. You could have said, "She felt as though she couldn't have been any happier with the way her life was, but deep in her heart, and mind, she knew that that wasn't completely true." It makes it less awkward when it's said that way. You don't really have to use those exact words, but something along those lines would have probably sounded very good. =)
Her pale skin took on a certain glow and her face which had held a smile since the beginning of the courtship no longer seemed as heavy as it first had.
There should be a comma after "face", and there should also be a comma after "courtship". You're describing the way her face looked in the beginning when she first started being with Tom, compared to the fact that her face looked completely different now. I hope that makes sense. I'm not very good at explaining some things, I know.
Her husband heading towards her, she held out her arms thinking he was coming to comfort her;
This seems awkward, too. It would sound better if you said, "Her husband walked towards her, and she held out her arms thinking that he was going to comfort her;" It would have made it sound a whole lot better. I think it's just the wording of that part that doesn't quite sound right, if you know what I mean?
Alright. Overall, this story is very good, but I do think that you rushed through it a bit. I think that if you went through and added a bit more detail throughout the first part of the story, it would make it much better. It seems as though you rushed through it, just so you could show your readers what happens as fast as you could, you know? Maybe if you lengthened it a bit, and maybe drag it out more, it would be a lot better. It's really good as it is, but it could use a little bit more work.
I like how the first part of the story was a sort of flashback. It's very interesting to find out that she was actually thinking of those things after they happened, rather than actually going through them at that moment in time.
One last thing, I think it ended rather abruptly. You could have added in more information to where she went after she ran out of the story, what the shopkeeper did (besides shouting obscenities after her), and basically, what happened to her after she left the store? Those things could all lead to another story, but I still think you could have had some of that stuff in this one as well.
Okay, I'm done. I'm sorry this is long, and I'm sorry if it comes off as rude or anything. I don't mean for it to sound that way. I just wanted to point some things out to you, and I wanted to give you some suggestions as to what could make it better and such. You don't have to listen to anything I said if you don't want to, love. =) Lol.
I don't know how best to describe the story you've told here. Sad? Possibly. I'm sad for Merope, of course, but it's a little difficult to have too much pity for a woman who essentially held a man's mind and heart hostage. I can hardly blame Tom Riddle for his actions - what would I do in the same situation? Waking up one morning in bed with someone I didn't know, with the slightly disturbing features of the inbred Gaunt family, and realised they'd bewitched me for months, married me, used my body... *shudder*. Yet, you've captured that despicable nature of Tom Riddle, Sr. Something about his nature that suggests, while he had every right to flee, he was still an awful person.
I like how you captured this trait; I think it's awkward to put a finger on. In many words, I could say that many people would probaby look in Merope Gaunt and see someone troubled, would probably sympathise with her. When we see a description of her through Harry's PoV in HBP, we don't get the same picture of filthy, twisted, mindless evil that we get from Morfin.
There is something very sad about Merope, and Tom Riddle never seemed to see her as anything more than this disgusting, lower-life form. A better man might have let his pity be tainted to fury with the violation Merope committed, but this is not tainted-pity, this is just straight loathing. And you painted that image very clearly without having to stop and explain it in direct terms to the reader.
And so, because of the nature of Tom Riddle, Sr, we do pity Merope, after she's been "abandoned". And we pity her further as we see her selling something we know to be immensely valuable for a mere ten galleons.
I like that you kept up this point of view of Merope being in love with Tom, and feeling "bliss" in their "marriage", for feeling as if she's really been mistreated with his departure. It gives us further cause to pity her, to forgive her for using magic to win his love. The only thing I would have liked is maybe a darker element. I've read a couple of Merope-centric stories, and there's always that sense of "this is what she really believes, she didn't mean any harm" but there's a lack of a true picture of the serious problem that Merope has. For that point-of-view to work, Merope needs to not be quite-right, mentally. She has mental problems, she is out of touch with reality, and while that in a way excuses her actions and makes her pitiable, it also makes her very dangerous. This is something I love about her violent reaction to the necklace in Borgin & Burkes - something that clearly shows that instability in her nature. She's not just a deluded helpless woman. So, I was glad to see that addition, but I would have preferred to see more delving into the fact that this is someone with problems of a very serious and somewhat frightening nature. After all, this so-often-pitied woman is the mother of Voldemort.
Now, to the pearlescent nature of the story. I saw in another review, the issue of the repetition of "mother-of-pearl" was brought up. I have to say I thought it worked fine. There are always things you can do to fine-tune that sort of element to make it clear you're not just repeating the adjective for lack of another way of saying it (for instance, only using the word or element in a stand alone sentence, or a sentence/paragraph of a specific structure that you later repeat with the appropriate adjustments), but I certainly don't think you overused it. You described Amortentia a couple of times as that colour, but really only enough to bring or attention to it. And then you used it to describe the necklace. It was enough to fix our focus on that colour, and help the reader connect to Merope's perception of the colour.
I like how strong the connection was, and it makes sense. The colour was part of her daily life, and the human mind's tendency to create symbols for the people, places and events in our lives is very powerful; I think it would be even more powerful in the damaged mind of someone like Merope. Because, she would still create that symbol, but her ability to separate the signifier from the signified would be more difficult than it is for the rest of us (and I know I have trouble restraining my emotions when I see something that symbolises something painful.)
I think you told a very good story here, with good consistent characterisation, and a lot to think about, I think that there are too many stories that narrate a series of events without having anything really at the heart of the matter for readers to connect to or ruminate upon. I think that is necessary to a good story, it's sort of like the soul. However, while your story had a soul, I felt like you wrote it too much from your mind without stopping and examining the words. I don't mean that you didn't use good words, and say things in creative ways. It's more a lack of adherence to structure, starting with a consistent presence of technical errors such as missing commas or misspelled words. The first things that caught my eye before I was even able to get into the story were errors: it should be "grandchildren", not "granchildren", "the first time she laid eyes on him" not "layed eyes on him".
One area you have particular problems with is joining clauses and creating sentences. In various places you have independent clauses joined with a coordinating conjunction, but no comma. Or you have run-ons that would be better broken up or rearranged somehow. Also, as I sort of started saying earlier: structure. Structure is important. If you have a sentence that doesn't make sense structurally, and put it into a context that makes it clear enough, what you have left is awkward wording. Sometimes, you need to remove your sentence from context and look out how your subjects, predicates, objects and descriptions form. If you do this, occasionally you'll find that the reason a sentence is awkward is because it doesn't make sense, linguistically.
This said, I think you have two main problems. One is that your betas didn't do you justice. A beta shouldn't neglect a misspelling like "granchildren" in the first sentence. I know that here and there we can make a typo or an inattentive misspelling, and a beta can miss one here or there, but there's a line where either the beta isn't doing a good job or the author isn't making the corrections. I don't like to criticise beta-work in reviews (especially since it appears one of yours is a fellow SPEWer, *cringes in shame*) but if you have two betas and your story gets posted with this many mistakes, then you either need to say "I really need you to point out my mistakes" or you need to find someone else to do the job. (On the other hand, as a writer, it is your responsibility to improve your own knowledge of spelling and grammar. You should try to be as sufficient as possible before getting to the beta-stage. But those areas that slip through need to be caught.)
The other problem is just that you need to pay closer attention to the structure of your words. It's clear from your writing that the words are coming from your thoughts. You know what you want to say, and you say it. But you need to be more careful, go back and look at how things connect.
I’m not going to nitpick the whole story; rather than pointing out errors that you may or may not get around to fixing, I just want to do something that you can apply to your writing process in future. So, to demonstrate the critiques I’ve made, I’m just going to take one paragraph that represents a couple of the problems I mentioned, and run through it.
After a mere three months of marital bliss she found that she was with child and the predicament could not have agreed with her more. People usually saw a plain, pale looking girl with a heavy face and dull lank hair but it seemed as if she had transformed overnight. Her pale skin took on a certain glow and her face which had held a smile since the beginning of the courtship no longer seemed as heavy as it first had. She could also no longer be considered plain though she was still no beauty, except in the eyes of her adoring husband who told her how gorgeous she was at least ten times a day.
If I had been betaing this story, I would have made the following notes & suggestions:
- "After a mere three months of marital bliss" is an introductory phrase - a comma should follow.
- "predicament" is a word with a negative connotation ('an unpleasantly difficult, perplexing, or dangerous situation'), yet it's clear that the intention of this paragraph is to describe the positive effects of the circumstance. I would suggest using a word with either a positive or neutral connotation
- "People usually saw..." - In context, this seems okay, but structurally speaking, it doesn't work, and it gives the sentence an awkward feeling. If you remove the context, the sentence beginning with "People usually saw" actually says "People, on regular occasion, saw a particular girl", with details as to her physical appearance. This is different from your intention, which is clearly to describe what Merope's usual appearance was before her pregnancy. So, suggestions for improving that: Look at the structure on it's own and make sure you're providing the right details: "When people looked at Merope, they usually saw..." actually fits what it is you're saying. Also, you can reconsider the phrase "people usually saw" altogether; sometimes finding a different way of phrasing the ordinary is good, but sometimes it's only illogical. Merope doesn't seem to be the out and about sort of person that people "usually see" to begin with, and you aren't really discussing the community's perception of her. So here, you can just skip the framing and go right into saying what it is you mean.
- "pale looking" - should be "pale-looking".
- "dull lank hair" - two adjectives, therefore you need a comma. Also, "with a heavy face and dull lank hair": a good opportunity to replace an "and" with something a little more descriptive, such as "surrounded by".
- "...but it seemed as if she had transformed overnight." This is an independent clause, so you need a common before the coordinating conjunction. However, I have another issue with this clause, and how it contributes to a confusing paragraph; more details in a comment below.
- In the next sentence, you start to repeat words from the previous one, "pale", "heavy", "face". Using the same words in consecutive sentences is something you usually want to avoid, unless you're using the technique of parallelism (ie, repeating an element to give a sense of rhythm.) "Pale skin" can just be "skin"; you just told us she was pale-looking and now you're pointing out that she has taken on a glow, so it's unneccessary. Instead of saying her face was no longer heavy, you can say that she seemed "lighter".
- Now. With this sentence, and the one before and after it (From "She had always been a plain girl..." to "...at least ten times a day.") you're switching back and forth between various times and ideas. It's hard to tell what the narrator's present tense is. First you write a description of how Merope had appeared in the days before, then say that she had transformed "overnight". Then, when describing this new Merope, you confuse the reader by including mention of a smile she's had since she started "courting" Tom, and it's hard to tell whether her face was no longer "heavy" because of that, or in addition to that. I think the main problem seems to be the fact you're talking about Pre-Tom Merope, Tom's Wife!Merope and Pregnant!Merope all in one paragraph, and they're three different stages of a person's transformation. But the paragraph begins with the intent of a before & after - an overnight transformation - rather than a gradual change brought on by these related, but seperate events, which is what you actually end up describing. So, you need to rearrange it into a more logical order, starting with what you want to say, and then describing it as it happened, and not switching around between three stages.
- Also, her face "no longer seemed as heavy as it first had." First seems wrong, "always had" or "had before" works better, because we are referring to her entire life up until this moment.
- "told her how gorgeous she was at least ten times a day", whether this is meant literally or as an exaggeration, it's a bit clichéd, and it sounds like an exaggeration, which doesn't seem the right device to use in this paragraph. It's a combination between the slightly ill-fitted connotation of "gorgeous" and the unneccessary "ten times a day. It should be enough to note that she is still no beauty, except in his eyes.
- Also, the last sentence is a run-on. Three separate ideas sort of lumping into one. It needs to be broken up, I would suggest separating the note about Tom seeing her as beautiful, using a hyphen to highlight the afterthought that it is.
Using those notes & suggestions, the paragraph is turned into this:
After a mere three months of marital bliss, she found that she was with child, and the happy news could not have agreed with her more. She had always been a plain, pale-looking girl with a heavy face surrounded by dull, lank hair, but over the months an increasingly pronounced transformation had taken place. Since the beginning of the courtship her face had held a smile that lightened its former load, and now her skin had taken on a certain glow. She could certainly no longer be considered plain, though she was still no beauty - except in the eyes of her adoring husband.
So, yes. I really like the premise of this story, and the way you told the story, paragraph for paragraph. I would like to see it written, though, with more attention paid to the technical elements of it, because often the sentence and order of events is confusing and your meaning gets murky, and it’s a shame, because the heart of the story is an achievement.
Author's Response: *jaw drops* I was absolutely speechless when I first read this review. You've given such great advise and awesome criticism that I'm at a loss for how to respond. Thank you so, so much for such a concrit review. ~Stacy~
This was an interesting take upon the challenge. I really liked the thought and idea that you used. My favorite part was when she smashed the pearls. It was a very classic move, but the power in the emotion behind it was also wonderful.
Also, you knew this was coming from me; I just can’t help myself, but in this sentence:
It had been a whirlwind courtship, they had ran away together and gotten married.
“ran” should be “run”.
I loved Tom’s reaction to waking up next to her. It was very dramatic, as I am sure it would be, and entertaining. I liked the iciness you added to him in that moment, with the sarcasm.
I know that the theme of this challenge was color, but I think that the repetition of the “mother-of-pearl” throughout the fic became more repetitive than adding emphasis upon the color. If you changed a couple of them to hint at the color, but not directly state it, it would be more effective. The only other thing I have to comment on is that I think you could add more to it. I would love to see more of this wonderful writing. Overall, I think it was a job well done.
Keep up the work,
Author's Response: Haylee, dear, thanks soooo much for the wonderful concrit review! I love all reviews but these happen to be my fave. >.< rnrnI was really worried about all the repetition of the 'mother-of-pearl' phrase, but I was somewhat lost on what to put as a replacement and it was a rush job. *excuses, excuses* *rolls eyes at excuses* I'll work on it next time though! :-Drnrn*smirk* I'm the world's worst at verb tense so I'm not surprised a mistake like that was found! >.< Ah, well, I'll have to go and change it. :-prnrnThanks again for the lovely concrit, Hayley! You know it's always welcome here! rnrn~Stacy~
i really like this story ... it was an interesting idea for the color of loss. most submissions i saw were black or gray and i thought it was great to see a color most people would think was beautiful representing something quite the opposite to someont
Author's Response: I was hoping for that effect! :-D I'm glad you liked it and thanks for the review! ~Stacy~
Hullo, Stacy, dahling!
Interesting plot idea you have hear. Not many stories are about Merope and Tom, but you did it justice.
Merope's appearance was visible and stuck to the books- you didn't try and make her beautiful or anything. I thought her characterization was great, even if we never really saw much of her in the books.
Tom's disgust was nicely written, too- I felt so bad when he left Merope sobbing!
Yes I did, you treacherous guttersnipe!
I suppose that wasn't supposed to be funny, but I giggled anyways. It reminds me of a word Roald Dahl would use to describe someone he didn't like. But I suppose that's how people talked back then, but even if they didn't, you made it believable.
And you included Burke! I thought it was cool how you didn't mention his name.
Very nice story, dear, even if it was sad ^_^
Author's Response: Ah, yes Burke. I can't really take credit for the idea of not mentioning his name. It borrowed the synopsis of that scene from Sammy/MissyQuill's Fear, and she's done a much better job of it than I. You should definitely check it out. >.<
You made it, and in the nick of time too. I'm so very proud.
This is an amazing piece. I don't think anyone who wasn't aware from earlier on would ever dream that you put this together on such short notice.
On to the review:
I feel that you have captured Merope really well. All the feeling she has about her husband and after he left, just wow.
In a way, I could feel why she wanted to stop giving him the potion. When things are usually going right in our lives, we make the mistake of thinking it will continue to do so. We tend to get too confident.
And that last burst of rage really shows that no matter how dulled by pain she may be, she is still a human who hurts every time she sees a reminder of the past.
A job splendidly well done, love.=Sammy
Author's Response: After two months I'm finally getting around to responding to the reviews! *headdesk* :-p Thanks for all the encouragement and help you gave me with this, Sammy, dear, this fic wouldn't have been the same without you. *huggles*rnrn~Stacy~