Hi, Foolondahill (I hate to call anyone a fool, but…) This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on your most recent story.
Of your four stories that are posted on these archives, [i]Bliss[/i] is the one I like best. It works very well in many ways. Although it is an account of a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix at Grimmauld Place and consists mostly of just people talking, it has a lively pace and a frequent change of tone and focus, so it cannot become boring.
I have read plenty of stories, either one-shots or individual chapters, that consist of two people conversing, with polished and sophisticated dialogue that showcases the writer’s fluency in writing dialogue but does not carry the plot forward, so that nothing much happens over many paragraphs and the story ends up being boring.
Your story has escaped this fate, largely thanks to your extensive cast of characters: Remus, Fred & George, Albus, Alastor, Tonks, Severus, Sirius, Molly, Kingsley, Bill, Arthur, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and a few others with non-speaking roles. All these people have unique personalities, and you have characterized them well: Albus calm, Sirius a loose cannon, Alastor gruff and suspicious, Fred & George trying to finagle their way in, Molly still most definitely the mother and hostess, Snape being snide, Kingsley imposing, Tonks being her usual self, and Remus enduring it all and trying to keep the peace.
I particularly like your vivid depiction of Sirius. The seven books give us hints of his volatile personality, but here we see it in all its glory; it makes sense, as Remus observes, that Sirius’ words and behavior are intensified by alcohol. The result is a forceful contrast between the two men, Remus and Sirius, between strict self-control and total lack of control. This contrast is emphasized by your telling the story through the eye of Remus, who is trying to keep things together in the face of attacks by both Severus and Sirius.
The characterization of Tonks did seem a little overdrawn for my taste. She seemed to be frequently clumsy, stumbling and tripping and dropping, breaking, or bumping into things, and giggling or shrieking with laughter at every provocation. Even Remus thought to himself [i]”She was starting to sound hysterical.”[/i] The books do indicate that she could be sometimes clumsy, but not so much as a mild undiagnosed neurological disorder. But that’s a very minor issue for me; perhaps she was just nervous about being at her first Order meeting, so that exaggerated her behavior.
Another way that you have kept this story lively, although it takes place all in one evening in essentially one place, the kitchen of Sirius’ house, is by having a variety of activities: the meeting, the business with the extendable ears, the outburst by Sirius, the scene on the stairs leading out of the kitchen, the dinner scene, and the final scene at the door as Tonks leaves. This frequently-changing focus gives the story a sense of motion and a feeling of a plot.
Your story fits very well as a Missing Moment; it all seems logical and believable, so that we say to ourselves, “I’ll bet that’s how it happened.” It’s the kind of story that one could print off and tuck between the pages of [i]Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.[/i] As a description of how Remus and Tonks first met, it is sweet and low-key, with just a hint of a possible future relationship between them, and not overdone at all.
Your writing style is just what I like to read, with good word choices and interesting sentence structure, not too choppy and not too convoluted, with just the right amount of detail and introspection. You have avoided the mistake of putting in so many digressions and elaborations that the plot line gets lost in the verbiage, like a jungle trail obscured by overgrowing vegetation (and we authors obscure our plot lines at our peril). It is easy for the reader to follow the action and the course of events; there is no puzzling about what is going on or what certain sentences refer to, no non-sequiturs.
All in all, I would say that this story is very successful and is an enjoyable addition to the canon storyline. Thank you for writing.
Author's Response: Wow...that review just about blew me away. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my story, moreover to leave such a detailed, introspective review. All your feedback was very much appreciated and I am overjoyed that such an obviously talented author (I can tell from the word-flow of your review) as yourself would find it in her to admire one of my works. Thank you. (And, yes, I was trying to play-up Tonks' clumsiness/hysterics just a bit to convey her nervousness in being at a renegade-vigilante meeting, as well as meeting a charming and intelligent man for the first time.) I'll say it again: thank you.
That was a great story and I think it was told accurately. It seems like that's how it could've happened. Your characters were true to form. I'll definitely look back and see if you've written anything else.
Author's Response: Thank you very much for your review! I'm glad you liked the story and really appreciate the feedback :)