Chapter 4: Elisabeth Renée
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to read this, and this is going to be a rambling rushed review before I beta the next chapter (which I promise I'll do this evening). I loved your characterisation, particularly of Albus, Annette, Gideon and the little bit of Peter in this chapter, as well as the detail of Annette taking that photo.
But I do think parts of it seemed slightly rushed. The part with Annette giving birth was slightly unclear, as well as Narcissa turning up was kind of random. And I thought she forgave Gideon rather quickly. But then at the end I think she defined his attitude towards her perfectly.
I love the way your Gideon is so flawed, and at the end when he says "I want to love you", although I sympathise with him I'm firmly on Annette's side. I liked the gesture of not letting her daughter have his surname. Also (this is horribly rambly) I loved the conversation at the beginning between Gideon and Fabian. It was very realistic and well done. Alex
Reviewer: Padfoot Patronus
Chapter 1: Giving Up
What are you upto here? Merlin, you can write! And I don't mean just the goodness of it, but the length. And I imagined this was coming as a one-shot. Mind you, I'm glad this isn't done.
Before I get to the review itself, I'll share a little something with you and well, it's something I have been thinking about and maybe we could discuss it over tea some time. So the last time I sent a chapter to V (vorona) for betaing, the main section was a conversation between James and Remus and I'd written it picturing in my mind how they'd just talk. Like someone was listening to them. V reviewed on that it sounded too much like real conversation, you know the way conversation is vague often. Because we don't always complete our thoughts and depend on the fact that we "know" the other person. I read through my piece again and decided it sounded a little too natural, because V's point I reckon was that it puts off reader when they can't figure out what it is that is being talked about, that some elaboration would do good. Maybe it was something left with me after reading your stories because this isn't my usual way. I haven't got around to changing it. What I'm left wondering now is how much of what V said about readers losing track and interest actually sits.
This chapter was absolutely full of surprise. You know what I'm usually doing when I'm reading, be it fanfiction or original fiction, I tend to glaze over if even the slightest bit of sentence is uninteresting. I just finished two days ago this novel by Karen Bajaj. He's an Indian writer and his book 'Johnny gone down' was an absolutely brilliant read. I thought it seemed like the movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang only in paper. That book didn't have my attention stray for a single second. I read every word. In this chapter the same thing happened. I felt like if I missed a sentence, I'd be lost later. In countless stories I'm just running through lines hoping to get to the parts about the characters I like, because hey I just wanna know what happens and enough with the dwindling!
So you had two things here. You know sometimes when you read fanfiction, you can anticipate what's going to happen. That wasn't the case here. At all. There was just so much information coming along, each and every line, developing your characters, their history, the plot, the story. Especially that part with Annie and Fab and Gab, I was reaching the end and thinking 'goodness, what did you lose!?' I kept thinking she doesn't have something. My first guess was that she was physically challenged somehow. Hmm.
So, here's the other thing that comes off very powerfully and significantly in this chapter. The reader has to really keep up because you don't figure out the core of it until that scene where it should reveal itself is actually over. I have said this before, your writing style has something very vague about it. I can't help but think that it indeed was very natural which is what drew me to it in the first place. You skim through what is happening but it isn't as if you fail to deliver what is most important there. As DeadManSeven says (whom you should check out by the way if you get a chance) that the reader can really fill out the unimportant details by themselves and to their fancy. It's what's central to your story that counts to be delivered.
You did it. Brilliantly as always. I looked at this critically at some points because for a moment or two, I could understand what V said, and because I was so engaged I wondered, 'could I please know what's really going on'. But here's the thing, it doesn't dampen my absolute curiosity or the certainity that I'm not going to be disappointed by the delay. Hmm. Does this answer what I mentioned in the beginning about being too natural? I really don't know about other readers, and of course I'm a little biased about your writing itself, but here's what I say, what's writing and story without a little mystery in it, a little ambigousness to fill in by the creativity in the reader's own head. I love the fact that I don't know where you are heading. The way your dialogue eventually comes off, I feel like I'm evasdropping and the best part of it, this is the sort of the story I will come back to later. Because then I'll know how it ends and still everytime I'd pick up something in the chapter I missed the first time.
Your plot is fascinating. I envy you for writing this last section with Rene and Gideon because there's this wibe coming off it of experience. Rene is so humble and can I say wise, which sounds too strict a word, but anyhow, I "felt" the years behind his words. You made me trust him. I think Gideon does too.
I loved that part about thinking of there being three people in a marriage. Isn't it like that? You got through this detail about a connection that naturally exists between twins, without ever mentioning it in so many cliched words. Annette was brief and I loved the fact that you could actually manipulate her character by showing her through Gideon's eyes when he's talking about her to Fab. It is amazing really, because we haven't seen much of her and yet we might underestimate the strength she might play with in this story just because Gideon said she cried on too many occasions. It seems natural for her to. I can't help anticipating what else you think is under her skin.
I was a little surprised at Gideon sharing his private life with his brother, but I'm an amateur there. And I think the reedeming quality of the surprise I got there was how Fab changed his words in mid-sentence, and how Gideon's words were a little like a monologue itself. I did not like the plot line of the bezoar too much. Certainly it was needed but it was unoriginal.
Hmm, what else? Yeah, and Annette's background. Awesome job of scattering it here and there. That really supports the plot of them not having a child as with the story being centred around family and relationship, yes? We can do a little guess work at Gideon's own family but I think sketching Annette's family was a great move. Makes it credible.
I wish you'd show more of alone time with Annette/Gideon. I want to see what "makes" them. I can't help but cling for the romance here as much as for the story as a whole.
This might not have been a very helpful review. But hey, I'm just spilling words as they are coming to me.
Hope you have back up chapters. I can't wait for an update!
P.S: Honoured by the dedication as always. Won't even bother telling you to give someone else the chance ;)
Author's Response: Holy crap.
Akay, you write what we used to call in our critique circles an evalation. It was called something else, but they were the most helpful things because they were just so straight and honest. It also pinpointed things, which was how I was taught to run an evaluation. I have to say that you have pointed out things that I have questioned here myself time and time again. Finally, finally, I've realized just how vague my writing is with explaining these things. I recognize that as a flaw in my pieces, and I honestly, honestly tried to tackle that one in here. My goodness, you should have seen the first or even fifth draft of this one that I've been struggling with for months and months.
Yeah, I don't know why, on second thought, if I labelled this as a romance, I focused less on the two characters. Well, in my defence, in my head, I really, really like Rene. Why? I don't know. In this chapter in particular, though, I think it's important that Annette isn't present. In fact, it may reflect Gideon's personality, but I promise you, once I draft this next chapter, it'll hopefully (maybe) fall into piece. Since we're diverging, I've been watching a few romantic ficks and thinking, 'How are the man and the woman together in every scene without bashing one over the head'?
The twin thing? Yeah, I've got you there. I'm a triplet myself, and I'll tell you, I've never, ever finished sentences of the other two. Our mother used to have us dress alike, which, you know, at that age was LAME. We three are three differenr people, though, and while we live separate lives, those are my girls. That's what I tried to portray here.
I agree with you on the bezoar as well. Oh, and I'm glad you, too, are taken with Rene. He's fun as hell to write.
You think this wasn't a helpful review? WHAT? This is the most helpful thing that I've read in ages, and that includes some things at uni. Thank you, thank you, for reading and hashing out this review, Let's hope I finish the damnn thing, yeah? Hopefully, the vagueness will become less murky.