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Hi, Nadia. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, and I will confess that I didn’t expect to enjoy a story about Rita Skeeter — she is a bit too brassy for me — but I greatly enjoyed this story because of your writing style, one good sentence after another, happy choices of words and details.
Your story is a textbook example of the old principle: Show, Don’t Tell. Everyplace where you could be writing a general statement, such as “Rita was worried about her career” or “Rita felt disrespected by her mother”, instead you give specific details: Rita’s article was printed on the last page, the photo was very small, she no longer receives free copies, her mother twits her for not being a Slytherin and asks about the downturn in her printed articles, Rita tries to avoid accosting her mother or answering her question. The whole story is full of examples like this.
The result is a fresh, lively writing style with a good pace that never drags. The story is imaginative and actually has a plot; I appreciate that. (I also liked your previous story, All That Was Left Were The Losses; it was less plotty, more of a mood piece, but with the same virtues of good sentence structure and word choice, evocative details, and imagination.)
One major reason why this story is so good is that Rita is not depicted as a one-note character. Her outward persona is the one we know already, a lively, colorful description of how Rita operates, gathers gossip, flouts the rules to suit her own convenience, obviously always treading close to the line, as indicated by her being sometimes on the banned list. But she is insouciant about that, boldly pursuing Kingsley for an interview, relentless in getting information, one way or another, from her sources, and being delightfully amoral. But you also show her vulnerabilities and self-doubts, which surely must have been there but which we don’t really see in the seven books. She is insecure about her status at the newspaper, as measured by the size and location of her printed articles, and her real anguish about losing her complimentary status. She greatly fears being discovered as an unregistered Animagus, so much so that she feels nervous just walking past the office where the Animagus Registry is housed, and she keeps her Animagus information well hidden under lock and key. She feels disrespected by her mother, as shown by her attempt to avoid meeting her mother and her discomfort about her mother’s remarks. All these features make her a well-rounded, and therefore interesting, character.
The plot is not complicated — she encounters Sirius Black, discovers his big secret (which is also her secret), realizes she dare not, for her own safety, reveal it, and goes happily back to work, apparently buoyed up by the satisfaction of knowing something that no one else knows. I loved the line, “She became a beetle to uncover juicy stories and he became a dog to…steal bread, apparently.” Fresh and unexpected. And that’s why this story is so enjoyable. Good job.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for your thorough review! I enjoyed fleshing out the character of Rita Skeeter. I like to think that there is always a bit more than meets the eye when it comes to "evil" characters. "Show, don't tell" is absolutely my mantra while I am revising my work. It helps me to create the best possible piece.
I like Rita Skeeter stories. I like them because they usually offer something a little different from the usual fanfiction fare of romance or angst. Rita is a great character - one that a writer can really get their teeth into - because she’s smart and manipulative, but there could well be another side to her. I was pleased to see from your summary that there could be a lot more to Rita than just the hard-nosed journalist, and yet you’ve still kept that essential ‘meanness’.
Your set up is good. Trying to get a scoop on Sirius is just the sort of thing Rita would be after, and I particularly liked the information she was getting from her source. Is Bertha the Bertha Jorkins from Goblet of Fire, by the way? That would seem to fit from what we know of canon, as she’s always poking her nose into things.
There were one or two things I was unsure of. First of all, I’m not sure Sirius would have made a will at that time. Of course, it is possible he made a will leaving everything to Harry before he was sent to Azkaban, but the feeling I had from the books was that his will was made much later, when he was alone in Grimmauld Place. The other small point was that I couldn’t picture Rita and Bertha drinking pints as I imagine them drinking something either more refined -like a glass of mead - or at least something in a smaller glass. That is very minor, but the image in my head of the pair of them jarred slightly as I imagined them both with pints of lager.
You haven’t updated for a while, so I do wonder where this is going. Having built up your main characters, and set your scene, I am looking forward to reading more. There’s not a huge hook at the end of the story, but the premise is enough to catch my interest.
Good story. ~Carole~
Author's Response: Thank you very much for your thorough review. I will definitely take your points into consideration. Your timing is impeccable, because after all this time, I am currently working on the rest of the story and the next chapters should be up within the next week or so. Thanks again for your review!
Hm, an interesting start :) You've characterized everyone quite well--Bertha Jorkins is just as I imagined her!--and I especially like Gary. I can't wait to hear more from you! :D ~Julie
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm so glad you like it!