Natalie, this is my absolute favorite thing that you've written (that I've read). I've been meaning to review it for ages, but it feels rather intimidating to review something so good, so I hope my review does it justice.
I really liked how you showed the change in Rita. As a young girl, she was so likable and easy to relate to. In the books, I saw her as almost insecure, wanting recognition, and fame. Her insecurity about her looks and her family's lack of money made her faintly recognizable as the Rita we see in the books, and as the story progressed, I thought, those similarities became more pronounced. It seemed like you centered Rita's character development on her insecurities about herself and how she compensated for them, which, I thought, worked really well. It connected the piece nicely, and it made her very relatable.
Using Rita's relationships with Margaret and Henry to shape the change in her character was, in my opinion, very effective. Margaret made Rita's insecurities very apparent. By pointing out all the things that, Margaret thought, were wrong with Rita, I think Margaret made Rita very uncertain of herself. Rita's crush on Henry along with her insecurities about herself, in my opinion, made her willing to change in any way to win his approval. I thought this worked really well. I found t it somewhat ironic that she originally she became this unscrupulous journalist to impress Henry, but as she became more and more committed to her new persona, she seemed to become less and less reliant on Henry's approval and admiration. You made Rita's transition from a sweet, young girl to the infamous journalist smoothly, concisely, and realistically, which really impressed me.
I thought that you did a fabulous job showing the different sides of Rita-- half the time I wanted to give Rita a kick for betraying the people she was interviewing, and the other half of the time I was cheering her on. I felt kind-of bad about it, but I was definitely cheering for Rita when she was publicizing all that scandalous stuff about Margaret. However my conscience was somewhat pacified by the fact that I felt very bad for Bertha when Rita was interrogating and blackmailing her. I really liked how you showed the side of her that wanted to be accepted and that wanted to get even with Margaret, but you also showed how she was willing to lie, blackmail, and do lots of other nasty things to accomplish her goals. I think it kept Rita in character, while also providing an understandable motive for what she was doing.
One of the biggest strengths of this piece, in my opinion, was how relatable it was. The focus you put on how Rita comes of age and becomes this unscrupulous journalist was what made this piece so readable and enjoyable. Like the actual Harry Potter series, you focused on themes that are just as relevant in the real world as in Potterverse (not to imply that Potterverse isn't real :D). I think it made the conflict in Rita's character very clear and relatable, and it also made her very sympathetic (since, I think, most people have had someone be really nasty to them and have contemplated (to varying degrees) getting revenge at almost any cost).
Finally, I really appreciated how concise this piece was. It felt like ever scene and even every sentence contributed to Rita's characterization and to the development of the plot, which I think really strengthened her character and the plot.
I really, really enjoyed reading this story. Prior to reading this, Rita was one of those characters, who I loved to hate. You made me see her in a much more sympathetic light. Your portrayal of Rita's life fits so well with canon, and yet it also feels unique.
Here are a few words and laurels for you: I love your writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was such a perfect way to write Rita! And now, I want to know more about her! Perhaps this needs a sequel? Like, about her various escapades later on.... Why she's banned from Hogwarts... But even if you don't, this story was great! *throws imaginary roses at the imaginary stage* Take a bow, hestiajones!!!!!!!!!!
Author's Response: THANK YOU! -bows- :)
Did you know that this was the very first fic I EVER read (fanfic, haha). And I'm SOO glad I did because it like inspired me to make an account and write.
I heart this. I think think think it might be my favourite of yours (maybe tied with Lacuna Mentis.) I love your characterisation of Rita, and all your OCs are really great.
I liked the way that you described how Rita became Rita--she's one of those characters that Jo just says "okay, she's this way, deal," but I loved your back story. I hated Margaret :D
This was just a great read :) I was looking through my reviews, and then realised I hadn't reviewed this story, and then I went to go read it again, and it was just as fabulous as I remembered :) This is going to sound really melodramatic but this story is really probably what inspired me to make an account here.
Author's Response: Hello! :) You have paid me a fantastic compliment! What a way to start the new year. Thank you for such a lovely review. It made me grin from ear to year. Er. Did I just rhyme? :O !Natalie
This is a beautiful tale of Rita.
I admired the writing style, and especially the tone that just anticipates Rita's demise (or could be interpreted as her success of entrance into her field, regardless of what her reputation is).
I like how you incorporated her of having beetles as friends, as it symbolizes that in a sense, Rita is her own friend since her Animagus is a beetle.
I also like the bit of Bertha Jorkins and how it captures her "big mouth" that Sirius quoted her of having in GOF.
In several instances I found myself pitying Rita, with all her shortcomings and all. It's exceptionally good that you can elicit that response from readers...to make readers feel sorry for the lady who called Dumbledore a "dingbat".
The one aspect I didn't quite like was that Ramona Rosier was Thornton's former mistress. I anticipated it when you mentioned that she "returned from France", but I felt that for Henry to marry her would be too big of a scandal. I think it would have been sufficient enough of a scandal for Henry to wed Margaret's sister-in-law if he hoped to become closer to Margaret. I felt that with all the other scandals, this one nearly tipped it to the soap-story side. On the contrary, the scandal does elicit a larger impact and further contributes to depicting Rita as a more meddlesome woman.
Good job. Incidentally, I came back to this site to read a bit, and I forgot my previous account's information. This was the story that made me want to write back.
Author's Response: Hello! Thank you for the compliment, and for the crit, too! I won't deny that I gave the scandal a second thought before finishing the final draft, but it did went with Henry's desperation, and Rita's desire to dig up the worst and reveal it to the public. I also felt that it added something to Margaret's character - she knows father's mistress is her sister-in-law, and yet she is playing match-maker for her. It testifies to how twisted she is. (I do have a backstory in mind for Margaret, but I doubt I will ever write it. >.<) I am very happy to know that you experienced some of the emotions I wanted my readers to have while reading the fic. And I am extremely ecstatic to know that my fic wanted you to write back enough to merit creating a new account. ~Natalie
Wow, this was a very long one-shot, but it was so well written I barely noticed its length.
I thought this story proved that perhaps Rita Skeeter wasn't that bad in her heart. I definitely thought that she had a troubled childhood if she acted as she did in GoF and OOTP and especially DH.
What I liked about this the most was that you broke it down. It wasn't one long waffling of Rita's life. It started with her childhood and slowly led to her adolescence, and adulthood. I can understand how she got into journalism and why she felt the need to twist words as she did.
I think you gave an interesting backstory to the Rosiers. The Thorntons (I'm thinking of the chocolate brand, though :D) were also very fascinating and I smiled when I read about the family scandals -- a great source for a Rita Skeeter style article. I did think that the Thorntons would've been mentioned as a prominent pureblood family, though.
Rita's unrequited love was also another point when I pitied her. Making a reader feel sorry for Rita Skeeter, of all people, is no easy feat, so kudos to you for achieving that, seemingly effortlessly.
I also agree that perhaps an eleven-year-old is more likely to get bullied into gossiping about X family, but a fourteen-year-old is more likely to be enthusiastic about spreading gossip. So I reckon it's fine either way here.
I also loved the way Ritalina changed to Rita once Emmeline Vance called her that -- Margaret was right; it does sound like an illness! What I loved about this piece the most, Natalie, was the fact that you created an entire story for Rita Skeeter which not only provided an explanation to her behaviour but also made me feel sorry for her and sympathise a lot with.
I adored the part where Nathan told Rita how she was changing herself to become another Margaret. That's completely true -- and I'm not sure if you intended for this to happen, but what Rita did is similar to what Hitler's wife did. Hitler abused his niece sexually and I think she killed herself and then Hitler's wife, Eva Braun, changed herself to look like Hitler's niece. She changed her hair colour and her makeup and everything. I have no idea if this was intentional but if it was, it's an ingenious idea on your part.
I really enjoyed reading this, Natalie, so thanks a lot for writing it.
Author's Response: Hellooooo! Lately, I’ve been sucking at responding to reviews. It’s very ungrateful of me because the review is fabulous, but my life has been bogged down with so much to do. D: So, I want to apologise before continuing! Now that that is over, let me thank you for this! Reviews like this , as I often say, make my day. It’s good to have so many things to respond to. Thorntons: I didn’t want to use any of the existing pure-blood families, although I could have. I wanted to create a new one because I wanted a pure-blood family that was crumbling. Margaret is an only child, and after Wallace’s death, the line would end. Also, this story ends before Harry’s story starts, so it’d be a bit safe to assume that the family wouldn’t be mentioned in the books. I had a backstory planned for them, but…ah..I tend not to follow through with my plans. *slaps self* Rita’s unrequited love story: It was Carole who suggested that angle when I was mulling over Rita. But it fit in so perfectly! I really did want her to have a possibility of a normal love life in the form of Nathan, yet I also believe someone like Rita would go after what she wants to have, rather than what she could have. Rita’s transformation: One tiny one-shot would never be enough to write Rita. :D The original draft was humongous, and Fresca suffered through a lot trying to help me cull it. The story seems a bit choppy in parts, doesn’t it? But I am glad you found the final product good. And that Hitler angle! D: I never knew that. It’s incredible to have such a connection, though, so thanks for mentioning it. Thank you for reading and reviewing, Soraya! Hope to see you around the boards. ~Natalie
This was really really good. The only bad part was that I was looking forward to Harry bits and I didn't get any. But overall, this was a good story.
Author's Response: Ahhh...I never intended to write Harry. :( The challenge I wrote this for wanted more of a backstory on how the unlikeable characters got to be so. That's why I ended with Rita's final stage of metamorphosis into a cunning cow of the highest order. Thanks for the review, though! I'm glad you liked it overall. ~Natalie
that was awesome!! I feel kinda bad for rita now..but not too bad!
Author's Response: And that's what I want you to feel. ;) Thanks for the review! ~Natalie
I think I read this a while ago and forgot to leave a review... anyway, I absolutely loved this. The short fragments perfectly demonstrated the way Rita changed - I liked how in each one, she became slightly more like the Rita we know in canon. I really liked how you drew on the idea that most evil/nastiness comes from a fundamental insecurity and the joy to finally feel worth something. Your past for Rita made her such a believable character, and one we could identify with and pity, even at the end when she had become such a monster.
At the end, I was left with a sad sense of "what could have been" between Rita and Nathan, which you constructed really well. Of all the characters, I felt bad for him the most. Althought I guess you intended it that way...
The love quadrangle (I guess that's what you call it) between Rita, Henry, Margaret and Simon was a perfect backdrop and catalyst for this story, and I really liked your characters. Henry especially wasn't quite as conventional as I'd initially expected him to be.
Anyway... I'm going on a bit here, but I think this is a truly exceptional story, it's very original and believable and written so well.
Author's Response: Hello there! :) Nathan was supposed to be...yeah, the person one must feel bad for. I have been asked before by a friend, if Rita had stuck with him, would she have still gone bad? That is complex, because I feel Nathan couldn't have made her happy; he seems the ideal person as he loved her, but Rita has so much to compensate for. Coming back on topic, yes, I very much intended it that way. :) It's always wonderful to hear from readers that they liked my OCs. I do work hard at making them sound believable (and making sure they don't go the Sue/Stu road eep!), so thank you for telling me that. In fact, thank you for your entire review! It was an amazing thing to read. :D ~Natalie
Author's Response: Thanks! :)
Wonderful and believable... seems like it fits into the entire story, and I love how you intelligently use the characters and situations :D
Author's Response: Hey there! Thank you for your lovely review- it made me smile. And I do love your username. Hehe. ~Natalie
Finally, here’s a story on Rita. I have always wondered what happened to her and how it resulted in her eventual personality.
And oh my, the first few paragraphs actually made me sympathise Rita- something which I had never thought I would do, considering how unfeeling she is (in my opinion). I guess it’s probable that Rita had an unhappy past. Her articles were probably a way to attract and seek attention for herself.
And let’s me just say this, I absolutely love the interaction between Nathan and Rita- especially during the confession part. The characterisation was done well. The OCs like Nathan and Henry were done convincingly enough.
Well, after reading this story, I have a totally different impression of Rita.
Perhaps it’s time for everyone to pay attention to all these minor characters :)
Author's Response: hello! Minor characters! They are my favourite things to write. For some reason, I can never quite write major ones - the Trio, for instance. My brain completely gives up. But give me things like Ernie or Regulus, and I will do it in a jiffy. :) It's great to know you liked the story - it was something which consumed a lot of time when it was being whittled into shape, so it always cheer me up to see it getting some appreciation. The scene between Nathan and Rita is my favourite, too! Thank you for your review! And I do apologise for replying so late. :( ~Natalie
enjoyable. Good backstory as to what makes Rita tick.
Author's Response: ;) Thanks for the review!
Hey Natalie! Don’t be alarmed it this review gets cut in half. It happens all the time to me -_-
This was a GREAT fic, Natalie! I didn’t look at the word count at first but I must admit after about 3000 words, I was feeling daunted. I appreciate that it had to be a oneshot to fit in with the challenge rules, but I am often put off by long fics. Luckily for you this was so well written and interesting that I just HAD to keep reading!
Firstly, your characterisations= LOVE. Every character you wrote was so fantastic! Even Dumbledore, who was very brief, was believable and I could easily hear Dumbledore’s voice saying the words in my head (the FIRST and REAL Dumbledore, not Michael Gambon =p) Then of course there are your OCs, their characters were consistent, smooth and believable. Margaret’s manipulative and deceitful character was perfect. Henry’s characterisation, I found particularly interesting. I would really love to read a follow-up fic that follows Henry through his marriage and reasons behind it. His character was so interesting to me, I think, because I couldn’t really work him out. I do believe that he really liked Rita, but then he treated her so badly at times. He was always calling her his “star-reporter” and he invited her to the seventh year party, and yet he didn’t apologise for kissing her in the astronomy tower, and he didn’t tell her about his wedding plans. He seems very confused to me and I think it is amazing how you managed to keep his character so seemingly smooth and together when actually he is all over the place.
Then, of course, we get to Rita’s characterisation. Words can’t really describe. The development of her character in this fic is just so perfect. The girl we first meet is nothing like the Rita we know by the end. There is no part in this fic that I think was too rushed or didn’t make sense. I understand why it had to be so long! =p I also understand why this won first place!
I really loved the plot too. It was one of those complex but not overly complex plots. It had more than one storyline running through it and they were tied really well together. You covered a lot of time in this fic and yet none of it seemed rushed or hurried. You coped with showing a vast amount of time in a small space really well and each time frame flowed smoothly into the next.
Basically, this was a really amazing fic and I don’t have any crit >.>! The only thing I might say is to split it up now that the challenge is over? But to be honest I like it as a oneshot, it just would be very sad if people were put off reading it by the length :/ (also I’m intrigued to know what you cut out!) I won;t ramble on for any longer about how much I loved it =D
Author's Response: Russia, I am sorry for being a complete arse and not replying to this review for eons. >.< I am very happy you like it :D This is one project which nearly sucked the life out of me, so it thrills me to see it being appreciated. I dunno if I'l ever expand it, though...I have a bad habit of abandoning rewriting-plans. Thank you so much for the kick-ass review! ~Natalie
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised when I read this. The length was daunting, at first, but it was a painless and enjoyable read…so, you are forgiven. ^_~
What I really liked about this piece is how it is structured, like a chronology of vignettes--snap-shots in Rita's life. I do have one qualm with the ordering, and it is very small. Near the beginning, you kind of go backwards a bit, talking about Emmeline graduating and Rita being teased again, etc. I know you were just filling us in on the details, but, to me, it seemed superfluous for a one-shot that is structured the way yours is. Now, if that had been the start of the second chapter, it would have worked perfectly. Again, it doesn’t affect your work--it's just my reading preference with certain structures/styles. However, overall, I do like how you structured it.
You do a really good job of keeping everything in order, tracked. One inconsistency, however, is where Bertha Jorkins is described a first-year when Rita interviews her but later recalls her as a second-year, at the wedding. Perhaps Rita is referring to another incident. It's not clear.
Your dialogue is great, in my opinion. It's engaging and real. Nothing is forced or contrived. My one qualm is how precocious Bertha is. I don't know many eleven-year-olds who gossip the way she does, especially referring to Henry as Margaret's toy. However, if you had made Bertha fourteen, I would have totally believed her behaviour.
Overall, I believe this was rather well-written and realistic. I love how everything was woven together to show both the growth and degradation of Rita. I would have loved a snap-shot about Rita becoming an Animagus, but that would have made a long one-shot even longer. Lol. You really made me feel empathy for Rita and able to sympathise with her, even at her worst moments. Great dialogue and great character. This is definitely a rec!
Some minor edits:
/You ran away and your parents could nothing to get him out of his misery./ -- (could do nothing…)
/You grew distant from me, you became different./ -- (The comma should be a semi-colon).
Also, don't forget your commas before ‘which’. ^_^
Author's Response: Lia,
Thank you so much for this detailed review. :) I have edited th story as per your nitpicks.
Wow! Very original and very fascinating! I have no idea how you came up with this but it fits so well into her character. Thanks!
Author's Response: Hey!
Thank you for the review. :) I wrote this for a challenge. I am glad you found it in character for Rita.
This is a great character study! I chose this one because I’ve written about Rita’s past too. Both my drabbles and “Becoming Rita” have found a consensus: Rita will use adversity to her advantage, even if it means becoming a monster in the process. I’m always very interested in different points of view, and this story is a great example. It is amazing how something as simple as a bit of back story and a change in perspective will illuminate and even justify a formerly hated character’s actions. I found this passage especially effective in conveying this duality:
Rita was no less surprised by the questions herself. However, she plodded on with them just to make the girl uncomfortable. “Nothing’s perfect,” she began dramatically. “In a group where there are so many students, things can’t always be hunky-dory. I mean, disagreements and competition must be there. It must be hard to survive all that, even worse to fail.” Rita finished her silly speech. It didn’t make sense to her; it was only an indication of how much she hated her life in general.
The brilliance of this excerpt is found in its ability to simultaneously elicit sympathy and loathing towards Rita. We can’t stand what she’s doing, but we have to agree it’s justified.
For me, the use of bullies was a very logical reason for her to turn into the monster that she becomes. I’m sure most people have witnessed bullying doing their school years, and I’m no exception. I know from personal experience that a person, however wounded by the bully, will do or say anything to hide their humiliation. It’s bad enough to be effected by taunting, it’s even worse to admit that it has hurt you. Rita needed an outlet for her feelings, and digging up dirty laundry was a perfect way to achieve this. I also enjoyed not only the emotional transformation into a monster, but also the physical transformation:
“You colored your hair and curled it just the way Margaret’s hair used to look like,” said Nathan mercilessly. “You started wearing all these showy clothes, painting your face and nails. You even changed your spectacles into those hideous bejeweled ones.”
Rita gaped at Nathan. Why was he being so cruel?
“You know what you look like? A breathing caricature of Margaret Thornton.”
The combined transformations really illustrate the change in Rita’s nature. With “Her own metamorphosis into a woman she donned rather than was” and her ability to become an animagus, the transformation was complete. I also love the beautiful metaphor in this line: “Henry was out of her life now, the fire had been extinguished – and all that remained were some charred wood and ash.” Overall, really nice character study. I especially enjoyed the transformation/metamorphosis metaphor.
Author's Response: Hey Danielle!
I can't believe I forgot to respond to this. >.< Anyway, thank you for such a fantastic review. And I really liked your drabble! :)
Yes, bullies. Bullies seem to play major roles in shaping people, and I do think in Rita's case, they were a good plot point to use. It's hard to imagine people go bad without reason, and I think Margaret was a good foil to Rita's transformation.
I am seriously happy you got what I was trying to write here. :) And your review is so thought provoking and amazing I feel like writing something right away. o.O
WOW! This was AMAZING! You fleshed out Rita so well! And really gave an extremely plausible explanation for why she's so nasty! I even felt a little bit sorry for that woman, and it's not because I'm going insane.
I loved all the characters you placed around her, and the early history you gave her. I just can't stop saying wow! It was genius!
Author's Response: *grins happily* Thank you! It was very hard though. I mean, I still don't like her even after writing all that. :(
This story is brilliant. Amazing. Depressing at times. It sucks in slowly, and before you realize it, you are reading about the Rita you hate, but at the same time, she's the same girl at the beginning that you pitied and liked a little bit, and somehow they are the same person. Writing a transformation like that can be tricky - you picked amazing moments, showed it at a wonderful pace, and nothing felt forced or fake.
It almost seems that now we have someone else to hate to balance against Rita - Margaret is such a horrible person to her from such an early age that we immediately side with the weaker person - which in this case happens to be Rita. We feel justified, vindicated, when she writes her story, though we of course have an inkling of where it might lead. "She had waited four years for her revenge. Two hours was nothing in comparison." Oooh, that is good! We just…dislike Margaret so much that we ignore Rita's faults for a bit, and get sucked in with her; we watch her as she starts to go down that "slippery slope"…
I like the small mentions throughout that give clues to Rita without becoming overwhelming or cheesy - the girl who taunts her is actually the girl she is jealous of, and she therefore ends up imitating her. She is lonely as a child, and bonds with the insects, which helps explain her Animagus form.
I think it is simply a character flaw with Rita that she starts to believe she's in the right…which you also show developing. She gets sick the first time, then she questions it hesitatingly with Henry for reactions - and gets positive feedback from the man she loves. Then she becomes more comfortable with it. Once she gets her revenge on Margaret, she actually attempts to argue her points with Dumbledore, and we get the impression that she hasn't heard a word he said. And then her dinner with Nathan was heartbreaking…it just keeps going and going…the ending scene, with her ultimate revenge on a man who also used her…the entire piece is quite tragic now that I'm thinking about it, lol.
Deciding on Rita for this challenge was a great choice - we know nothing about her past, and she's not really a [i]bad[/i] person, so to say…everyone just hates her. She is clever, ambitious, but manipulative, and cunning…I just can't say enough how brilliant I think this piece is, and you showed all of these throughout. Not just that she possesses them all, but how, and why she allows herself to let her reputation rule her life.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
Author's Response: Brilliant review, mate!
I mean, I write for reviews like these, to be honest - it sums everything up, everything that I hoped would get across to the readers.
I don't know how Rowling envisaged Rita's childhood; she could have simply grown up that way. However, she was such a perfect subject for the prompt that I had to write her. She did seem lonely and starved for attention, so that was the first thing I caught on. The love triangle came later on but it helped in tying up all loose ends.
Love you, Natalie.
What an interesting concept - Rita's transformation. So believable and interesting. How she changed!
Sorry for the quick review after such a long story. I loved it :D
Author's Response: No apologies needed. :D Thanks for leaving a few words at least. Glad you liked it.
OH! OH! OH! Natalie, this is quite brilliant. I love the background to Rita (Ritalina). The way you've written this, it all makes sense. From her childhood as a poor girl obsessed with beetles, to that eleven year old stuck on the carriage door (I wanted to hex those girls so badly) and her metamorphosis as the hard-nosed unscrupulous journalist. I've picked one line (amongst many) that really stood out for me Her own metamorphosis into a woman she donned rather than was? Brilliant.
The one thing I would have liked to see is her becoming an Animagus - I'm guessing that you'd written that and had to cut it. You know something, I didn't notice that this was a long story because it flowed so well and was really well plotted.
Great job! ~Carole~
Author's Response: Wow, Carole! That's exactly the kind of energetic review which leaves me glowing. : D
As for the Animagus episode, sadly, it never even made it to the original draft. I thought about adding it, but it didnlt have much to contribute to the storyline I had in mind, so I left it out. But THANKS for the lovely review. I;m glad you liked it.