Hello there, Sophie! I remember seeing a piece of this in Excerpts of Murtlap on the boards, and I eagerly awaited its arrival. As soon as I saw it on here, I jumped here to read it. I'm afraid I avoided reviewing for far too long, because I'm lazy and pushed it to the back of my mind... but here I am now. :) So, without further ado...
I think you did an excellent job with dialogue only. Sometimes it can be hard to show characters' emotions when they're speaking, but you did so perfectly. There were occassional parts where you slipped up, such as the one Ellie pointed out... Where she couldn't tell whether James was frustrated, sad, or just angry? I agree with her at that point, but for the most part I think you did a good job with the characters' emotions.
I absolutely loved your portrayal of Lily. I've never really imagined her as an extremely "rule-abiding" person, and not necessarily very angelic or perfect either. After all, Slughorn does refer to her as "cheeky", so I think she'd be a witty/somewhat sarcastic type of person. I love her clever remarks and teasing to what James says...
“Ah, but that would be telling.”
“Interrupted, James? What on earth were you planning on doing in here? I happen to want to wash my hair.”
Yeah, of course. Washing your hair. Right. What a tease, Lily... *smirk*
I also really liked the fact that they still refer to each other as "Potter" and "Evans" in the beginning. I like to think that they still would have called each other by their surnames even after they got together, but in a more... joking manner, instead of furious. You know what they say, old habits die hard... ;)
Your portrayal of James was very good as well. He is still the playful, sarcastic, somewhat arrogant character we all know and love in the beginning, but you show us a deeper side of him when he's pressed with a serious situation. We all know that James matured at some point, and I think his family might have held a part in that.
Now for some minor nitpicks...
When Remus knocks on the door, you make it very clear that someone wants to come inside and James is allowing them entrance. Therefore, I don't think it was entirely necessary to add "(The door opens)". I would have assumed this anyway, because James called for them to come in. In most circumstances this would mean the door is opened. Of course, there isn't anything wrong with it being there, but I did say these were minor nitpicks so... Anyway.
I agree with Gina that the dialogue about his mum is a bit too short to really give much depth to the emotions. The fact that it jumps from something serious to them making out again doesn't really bother me, though. I think James would have welcomed the "distractions" Lily could provide him with. I don't think Lily would have wanted him to worry himself sick either, so she wouldn't mind dragging him back to the prefect's bathroom.
Before I forget, I would also like to point out that I liked your Remus. Most of the characterization focus is on James and Lily, but it's important to keep your minor characters characterized as well. I think you did a good job with him. He obviously realizes that something must be wrong, but still tries to lighten the mood a bit when he walks in on James and Lily. He's just so... Remus-ish, haha.
Overall, I loved the story. Dialogue only can be quite difficult, but you tackled the challenge! Although this is nothing on those legendary Sophie reviews (they're all the rage in Hufflepuff, aren't they?), I do hope you enjoyed my rambling. ;)
The corruptible little Hufflepuffs bit really made me giggle. Especially because we're both 'Puffs... hehe. We definitely need to knock before we enter, Sophie!
Author's Response: Oh my goodness, Ashleigh! You are so very complimentary about my reviews, and then you go and write something like that! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this.
I love writing dialogue - it often seems to appear in my head - so while it was challenging to write this, I did have a lot of fun with it. I am so glad that you like my characterisation. It is, as I am sure I have mentioned before, one of the things that I always worry about. I couldn't see Lily being totally straight-laced when James Potter, Messr Marauder, fell in love with her. I have always imagined her as very witty and teasing.
I am glad that you appreciated how James started to grow up too. We know that both of his parents died before Harry was born, only a few years on from the time of this fic. It seems like that would have forced him to grow up a lot, and I do like being able to show a different side to him. I like my Remus too :P I adore him as a character, so I quite like finding ways to slip him in. He has a very clear voice in my head, so writing him is always good fun. I know exactly what sounds like him and what doesn't, but James takes a lot more work.
I see what you mean about Remus' entry. I had originally just left a couple of extra line breaks to show the pause as he opened the door, but my beta thought that it was somewhat unclear. I chose that option for consistency's sake. Regarding the stuff about James' mum, I do hope to expand on those shorter sections at some point, but at the moment I have several other things on the go, between challenges and the Brawl, so it will probably have to wait a while.
Since writing this, I have realised that Hufflepuffs don't actually need corrupting at all. Carole, the drunken-sexspert and Natalie, author of Desire and a Half (read it!), prove that quite clearly. However, I don't suppose James and Lily would be aware of that ;) I have enjoyed your rambling very, very much. The "legendary Sophie reviews" are really not too hard to do, as I think you may be discovering. Thank you again!
First off, I have to commend you on the style of the story. It was very unique, and a risky move, but I loved it. The reader could tell easily what was happening even though there was no narration, and I feel the style really fit what was going on. It gave the reader a lot of chances to infer, per say, especially with those time lapses in the bathroom. * winks *
I also love the dynamic between Lily and James. The bickering at the beginning, their rather … spontaneous decisions, and how they immediately pull their emotions together after they hear about James’s mum really said a lot about their relationship. They could be light-hearted and exchange wits, but they also survived through rougher patches. I especially loved that one line from James, where he says he feels helpless. That added another layer to James’s character for me, a deeper one that made him seem even more real.
Speaking of characterization, you did a great job with both of them. James was light-hearted, like J.K.’s James, but, as I said before, I really liked how he reacted to hearing about his mother, and the lines he says aloud, and how they weren’t just in his head. Many times, it seems that James doesn’t show weakness or fear, or readily admit it, and I’m glad that yours did. It made him more complex, for me.
Lily really did shine for me, though. I haven’t really seen her portrayed that way before, so sarcastic and teasing. Often, even in canon, we see her as more of a strict, studious person. I really liked your version, though, because it really fit well with the situation. She knew when to be teasing, but also how to comfort. I loved her reactions, and how you could tell how just by her dialogue when she was struggling, and when she was calm and collected. Brilliant job on her. :)
That being said, though, with the particular format some of the emotions seemed a little … blurred sometimes. I sometimes had some trouble figuring out what each character was feeling, or what they might have looked like saying it, because it * was * merely dialogue. The place it really stood out to me was the second bit to the end. I can’t tell whether James is frustrated, sad, or just angry. Otherwise, though, I really enjoyed the format. It was refreshing, and gave the chance for Lily and James’s quick-witted exchanges.
Overall, I really enjoyed the piece. I loved how you didn’t have to say ‘and then their lips met’, or something of the sort, to know that Lily and James were kissing. I know that I struggle with writing lines like the example, so I loved how you left it up to the reader to figure out what Lily and James were doing. And as I said before, I loved Lily and James’s characters and dynamics, and if you write more of these two, I would love to read it. Keep it up! :)
Author's Response: Oh, Ellie, you have just made my day! I'm guessing that this is a SPEW review (the first one I have received!) If it's not it really should be, because it is just awesome.
You seem to have understood everything that I wanted to convey, which is a huge relief. The style is very risky. Everything made sense in my head, but it was hard to tell if other people would get it without the use of legilimency :p I'm glad you thought that it was unique, but actually, if you want a real master class in this style, you'd be better off reading something by Gina (see her review below).
I am so relieved that you like my characterisation. It's one of my biggest worries when writing, so it means a lot when people are so complimentary. I think that James would ditch a lot of the bravado when he was alone with Lily. That's partially what this setting represented to him: privacy. He could be open when he was in there with Lily because they could predict when they would be interrupted for the most part.
I think that my Lily is often a little sarkier than people would expect. After her death, people were bound to deify her slightly, so we won't have got a rounded picture of her in canon. I like to add more depth to her, and I think that if she had been the angelic type, something might have been lacking in her relationship with James, the prankster extraordinaire.
I'm pretty useless at writing smut too (although I'm doing some for the current GH challenge. Eeek!) so it was quite a relief to be able to do it all by implication. I'm glad I kept it clear enough for you to understand. Sometimes it's nice to be able to imagine things for yourself.
I know what you mean about that second last section. Gina suggested that I expand some of those fragments, and I think that that particular one could really use some clarification. I think he's feeling pretty despondent at that point, and is looking for something he could do to help. I don't think he would deal well with feeling powerless, and he's looking for a way out of that. I need to tweak things to make that more clear.
Thank you so much for the amazing review. I didn't expect to get such a good response for this fic, but I am so glad that I took a chance on it now.
I like the story. Good characterization of all the characters. Poor innocent Hufflepuff!
Author's Response: Thank you :) Characterisation is always something I worry about, so it's good to know that you think I got it right, As I said to BP, I wrote this before my Sorting, so I really do feel bad for that Hufflepuff now!
“The diving board certainly suggests otherwise.”
This bit made me giggle. Actually, the majority of the first section did. Especially the corruptible Hufflepuffs. You certainly made Lily less of an angel in this. Perhaps the reason the Founders didn’t make separate bathrooms was so that the Prefects didn’t make out in the corridors: they are supposed to be role models after all.
I think that the separation of the sections was well executed. Much better than I could’ve done, anyway.
The shorter sections are sensitive, and they made me feel quite sorry for James.
The last section sort of brought the whole fic full circle, back to a little bit of a lighter subject matter and the humour of what goes on in the Prefect’s bathroom.
So ends my extremely inadequate review, BP
Author's Response: Not inadequate at all, honey! Any author loves a good review, and you've clearly put some thought into this. The fact that you think my story is worth giving so much thought is a great complement. I'm glad you felt sorry for James. He is portrayed as an insensitive a*** (pardon my French - it seems to be the most appropriate word) a lot of the time, so I quite like being able to make people see him in a different light.
I really struggled over the diving board line. It went through several different incarnations, and none of them involved the diving board until my last draft. It was one of the only lines in the first section that changed at all from my first draft. I wrote the first bit before I got Sorted, so I feel a bit bad about the Hufflepuff line now, but I'm still glad it amused you. I had a lot of fun writing it. Thank you so much for reviewing. TTFN
I love dialogue only fics, I think they are a blast to write and a great challenge to try and get just right. I think you did a good job with it here. The first section in particular really captures James and Lily's moment in the Prefect's bathroom - their teasing, their bickering, everything. I l could hear it as I read it and totally grinned listening to it. :)
The thing that is tricky about dialogue only, however, is conveying a sense of narrative to set the scene without actually using it. So when the dialogue jumps through several short scenes, it gets a bit more difficult to follow. It was also tricky in that it switched from serious (James's mother is ill) to not serious (making out again.)
I absolutely think there was a lot more to James than a lot of James-haters think, and involving his family is something I've done too and could totally see. And I definitely think the war could have been a part of it as well. I think, though, that the dialogue about his mother is a little too short to really convey all that, particularly when spliced with the lighter moments and without any narrative for transition.
That said, I think the idea of it works fantastic - it adds nice depth to the characters and their relationship. It's just harder to do without narrative. So you could either take it as a jumping off point for a new fic that explores this idea even more, or try adding a bit more to the shorter conversations and try to blend them into each other, if that makes sense.
You definitely have their character and style down really well, and I'm still smiling. I enjoyed reading it and hope you write more James/Lily stories!
Author's Response: Oh my goodness! My third review in one day! I'm so glad to hear from you again Gina, as you really are the authority on James and Lily. The first section was the bit that walked straight into my head, and it hasn't changed all that much since I first wrote it down late one night, so I'm really pleased that you thought it worked so well. I struggled to find James' voice on occasion, but I guess he came out all right in the end :)
I see where you are coming from regarding the shorter sections, as it was quite hard to keep them understandable for those who can't read my mind :P. However, I was hoping that the short scenes would show how time was passing, and that while a lot was going on, they still kept coming back to the same place. It became a sort of private retreat. Maybe I will come back to that bit and add a few extra lines here and there so that it is clearer how James is feeling etc. My last fic was almost entirely fluff, so I was hoping to show some more depth in the characters this time.
Thank you for taking the time to review. I hope to write a lot more in the future, although maybe not just about James and Lily, even if they are my OTP.
I liked it, you have skills at writing! :)
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm glad to know that you enjoyed it.
I have to say this made me smile :)
It was sweet, touching, and the darker undertones just made it even more heartwarming as Lily had an opportunity to prove her love for him.
Loved it :)
Author's Response: Thank you Fenella! Coming home to find that my story was up and it had received such a lovely review has made my day. I'm glad you enjoyed it. ~Sophie