So... About me. I'm a... college student (defined in Fantastic Humans and Where to Find Them as a strange breed of nocturnal creature drawing life force from the computer... sounds about right).
I am a strong believer in constructive criticism. I'd like to know what you think of my stories, whether you love them or hate them. I want to know what I can improve on in my writing. That's what being in SPEW is about.
First two banners by the amazing Queen Hal, Until The Dawn banner by the wonderfully talented Noldo.
After reading this Iím really very skeptical that this story belongs in the dark/angst category, but Iím not going to complain because Iím not sure I would have found it otherwise, as Iím not particularly fond of the romance category (far too much sap) and most Black family stories usually make me roll my eyes. But despite all of that, I really love this particular story.
I really like your use of the present tense. Iím not a fan of using it just for the sake of using it, but in this case it lends a sense of immediacy to Andromedaís feelings and situation that would be much weaker if the story were told in the past tense, especially given the humanity of her family. It would be very easy for this story to feel distant, but it doesnít feel distanced in the least. I think a lot of that is because of your choice of tense.
Andromedaís characterization is excellent. You can see her different sides Ė the proud pureblood and the woman who just wants to be loved Ė competing within her. As we progress from section to section, the balance continues to shift, little by little. Each section is designed to show her internal balance between the two as much as it is to show the progression of their relationship, and thatís what makes it such a good story.
My absolute favorite thing about this story is the symmetry between the opening section and the closing section. Itís not overdone at all, but itís clearly there for the reader to see and enjoy. It shows the two ends of her internal balance, and both sides still exist at each end, which is realistic (and refreshing, I might add). That symmetry is highlighted by the symmetry of the opening and closing lines, which are beautiful in their simplicity and universality. She is seventeen and alive. ♥
O Nan who believes ďítis good, to have a salivating muse,Ē this story is a true delicacy! I read bits of this story when you were working on it, long before I read it in its entirety. Those bits touched me. Then I read it all put together, and it floored me. I actually teared up. Which is more than I can say for Deathly Hallows, even.
We have (once) disagreed over parenthesis (or brackets) in your stories. But hereÖ theyíre quite perfect. The voice you started to find with I Would Give You Violets has blossomed here. It didnít quite gel then, not entirely, beautiful as the story was. But hereÖ it adds that aching note of thoughtfulness. Gah. I donít really have words to describe it, and those are as close as I can find. Hopefully they make sense to you.
I donít really have much to say, in terms of criticism. This story does what it set out to do. Perhaps it is not your most ambitious story, but the story as written, fulfills the entire potential of the story as conceived (there I go again, possibly nonsense). There is nothing that could be added without subtracting from the balance and symmetry of the whole. I love the symmetry between Billóthe firstóand Ginnyóthe last.
I found one small nitpick, but I see that it might be considered a matter of taste. In the section on Bill: (heís been in love since he was seventeen, one girl or another ó he likes the way their hair moves, the softness of their fingers). You may have done this intentionally, but Iím not sureÖ should it be with one girl or another?
My other nitpick is that one sentence struck me as more awkward than the rest. In the section on Ron: When she tells Arthur (at the kitchen table, after dinner has been cleared away) he goes very still, and this is how she knows he doesnít think their son is coming back. Itís not the parenthetical that makes it choppy (I rather like it, actually). I think itís something about the ďand this is how she knows he doesnít.Ē Itís justÖ overly complicated, diction wise. Itís not bad so much as less excellent as the rest of the story.
This shouldnít be surprising, given that you know my mathematical tendencies, but my favorite thing about this story is how you use the motif of counting to bring the story together. Flower petals, years, children, plates, heart breaks. Itís not about the numbers (as I seem to constantly explain about math). Itís the act of counting that communicates how precious the counted is. Youíve captured that beautifully. *loves*