Dialogue-only stories are a challenge I'd be leery of taking on, so I admire you for experimenting with fiction, and I think you did well answering the multi-layered story question: Do you regret it? I also think you wove setting into the dialogue with marvelous effectiveness. With specific, telling details, you gave the reader a mental image of Azkaban, the wall, bars, water dripping, humidity, and even the layout of the prison.
What I found lacking in the story was believable characterization and distinguishable voice. These are grown men, but they sound like schoolboys.
"You're mean, Rodolphus. I hate you."
"You're stupid, little brother."
Rodolphus’ words about Bellatrix seem petulant. "She would even lick his shoes if he asked for it . . . I'm finished with her. She's betrayed me . . . She's dead to me."
“Sound” was the ultimate problem for me. When a story is limited to dialogue, it's like being in a dark room listening to a conversation. Each speaker's voice should be distinct. Here, they're brothers, but they read too much alike. Take out the names and a lot of times it would be hard to know who is speaking.
Here's a quote from a short story/scene from Tell You What I’m Gonna Do by a writer named Michael A. Kechula who won a 'Talk it out' writers' contest. In these opening lines, setting, plot, and two distinct characters are established entirely through dialogue.
“Hey, Kid, give it a try. Ten chances for a dollar. Toss a ping-pong ball in the basket. If it stays in, you win the best prizes on the Midway.”
“But your shelves are empty. Where are the prizes?”
“In your head.”
“Whadda ya mean?”
“If you win, you get whatever you want. Name it, and you got it. But you gotta tell me within one second after the ball settles in the basket. If you take longer, you lose.”
“I bet if I win and say Mustang convertible, you’ll give me a little toy car.”
“No way. See all those trailers parked over there? They’re loaded with prizes. New cars. Designer clothes. Gold jewelry. Anything a teenager like you could ever want. You name it, I got it.”
In Mr. Kechula’s story, the “kid” ends up trading his immortal soul for a Mustang, cheated by the ultimate barker. In yours, Rodolphus regrets marrying Bellatrix but doesn’t regret serving the Dark Lord. As I said before, I do think that was done well. “Rolph” isn’t just a yes-man. He’s more complex—and sympathetic—than his wife.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review, Paige. I agree that I could have done more to distinguish Rodolphus and Rabastan more, but I also believe that when you are in prison, surrounded by Dementors, that you're afraid of what will happen, more so because none of the two knew what happened to the Dark Lord and if he would come back to get them out there. We need to remember that they were still quite young, Rabastan more than Rodolphus. And I believe that when a young man is faced with such unknown darkness and future, he will break at some point and become a whiny child. Rodolphus is more composed, but he gets down to Rabastan's level of speech because he knows that there is no other way to talk to him than in the way he did.
Anyway, thanks again for the review.
This is a very interesting take on not only life in Azkaban but on the relationship between the two Lestrange brothers - so well done for that. It's hard in this particular category to sustain the tension, purely through dialogue, but you've managed this very well.
There were one or two places where, to my rather annoying Brit-picky ears, the dialogue sounded a little too American and casual. For instance:
You’re going nuts, Rolph.
Personally, I think this pair would say 'crazy' or 'mad'. And a later reply of Rodolphus' 'As if.' strikes me as too modern for someone who is in the rest of his dialogue rather formal.
The moments where they slipped from adult speech to the language of children "You're mean." were well placed and helped to add interest to the setting. I particularly liked how you gave Rabastan a bit of a conscience regarding the Longbottoms. Mind you, killing them would probably have been a blessing for them.
Well done ~Carole~
Author's Response: Thanks, hon. I probably should have given the story to you for Brit-picking before submitting it. lol. But I'm glad you liked it. :)