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.
Summary: CoS missing moment. Why was Penelope Petrified with Hermione? Did Hermione tell her about the Basilisk? What really happened that day?
Hi Abi! Sorry for being such a dilatory spew buddy, but I suppose DH rather distracted me from reviewing. I love missing moments, and I love Hermione, so it’s rather awesome that you wrote this story. I’m glad you took the dialogue from the books but then wrote the scene from another character’s perspective. I always think it’s really cool when people manage to do that without it sounding odd. And it sounds perfectly natural, so you should be proud.
There was one sentence in particular that could have been better written. In the first paragraph, you have: But as riveting as Quidditch was, Hermione wasn’t paying any attention. I think that this meant to be sarcastic, given that it’s Hermione and Quidditch that you’re talking about. However, using the word ‘But’ makes the intended sarcasm less clear. I think ‘Yet’ might be more effective, and you might think about putting ‘riveting’ into italics. You might consider rewording the entire sentence to get rid of the ‘was’ at the end of the clause.
I like the way you characterize Penelope. She doesn’t sound quite like Percy, but she’s both concerned with the rules and slightly pompous, so we can really see how they might go together. I sort of question a sixth year using the term ‘fraidy-cat,’ especially one whose British, a Ravenclaw prefect, and was raised in the wizarding world, but otherwise I thought her dialogue was quite believable.
My favorite part was the bit of humor at the end, when Hermione responds to Penelope’s assertion that “Those kinds of things never happen to me.” It’s a brilliant retort (very Hermione), and it made me chortle out loud. I really enjoyed reading this; I can’t say how happy I am that you wrote it. *hugs*
Summary: Joseph Carlyle could never get the Patronus Charm to work quite right. He struggled with it through school and it nearly cost him a passing grade on his charms N.E.W.T., dashing his hopes of becoming an Auror. Despite the fact that there were a number of other candidates with more attractive resumes, despite having to work as a cook in a Muggle restaurant, and despite having to live with his wife’s parents when they learned she was pregnant, he never lost his passion for his dream career.
Will he ever succeed in obtaining the job he always wanted? Will it be everything he ever hoped? Will he be able to support his family? Or will the critical gap in his Defence Against the Dark Arts skills cost him dearly?
This story took first place in the June One-Shot Challenge – The Best Patronus Ever. I would really like to thank MissPurplePen and joybelle423 for all of their work and suggestions for improvement.
Awwww! What a sweet, sweet, lovely story you’ve written! Beautifully put together too, which is more rare than you’d think with one-shots. I particularly liked how you started each segment with a single word. The words really set the tone and help pull the story together in an interesting way. My only complaint about them is that the last two, Memories and Remembrance, seem a little too similar for two such different parts of the story. It’s a little jarring, because the first pulls you back into the past, as the title suggests, but the timing of Remembrance is, upon reading, clearly quite a ways after Memories, chronologically. I wasn’t exactly confused by it, but it did cause me to pause and think “Wait, what?” for a moment. The sudden, unexplained death of the son creates enough of a disconnect on its own (though, that part works beautifully and I wouldn’t try to change that), without binding the last two sections with their similar titles. Perhaps you could change Remembrance to Mourning? I don’t know. Only you can really know what’s right for it.
My only other criticism is that there are a couple of short paragraphs where you rely too much on telling (or explaining) emotions. In particular, I’m bothered by the paragraph beginning His uncle did not ask Joseph to explain what he meant. What his nephew had been through… The sentence about “What his nephew had been through” is unnecessary and brings down the level of your writing. You don’t need to tell us that––we’ve seen it. Moreover, you shouldn’t have to tell it. If you want to communicate the uncle’s understanding, you can just leave the mention of his reticence and maybe add a description of his facial expression or something like that, allowing the reader to comprehend the uncle’s empathy on their own. There were a couple of other cases when I thought you explain characters emotions too much, but that was the one that stuck out at me most.
Criticism given, I really did enjoy this story. It was beautifully written and heart wrenching. You started early enough in Joseph’s life that we were really able to empathize with him and care about what happened to him and to his family. You did a great job making Joseph into a very real and very human character, and you did a great job of showing his personality in how he approached obstacles in his life. The pacing is good and the story is compelling. All in all, excellent writing!
Thank you so much for the in depth review, HermioneDancr! I really appreciate that you put that much time and effort into it. You do have a couple things there I would like to respond to quickly. First, the funny part about my one word titles is I nearly dropped them out of the last version until my one of my betas influenced me otherwise. The original title of the “memories” section was “gifts”. I changed it when one of my betas expressed some concern over the timeline in the story getting confused. However, the version she got did not include the two paragraphs that immediately follow “memories” as it appears now. I added those the day I submitted the story. So, I may just change it back. I’ll have to look closely at that.
I agree with your criticism about relying too much on telling. I have a tendency to over-cook things sometimes, but I am much better at spotting it in someone else’s work as opposed to my own. Once again, I’ll take a look at the passage you specifically called out.
Thanks so much! I love your feedback and am glad you took the time to give me so much of it.
Summary: She is seventeen and alive. [Andromeda's rebellion. One shot.]
After reading this I’m really very skeptical that this story belongs in the dark/angst category, but I’m not going to complain because I’m not sure I would have found it otherwise, as I’m 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. I’m not a fan of using it just for the sake of using it, but in this case it lends a sense of immediacy to Andromeda’s 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 doesn’t feel distanced in the least. I think a lot of that is because of your choice of tense.
Andromeda’s characterization is excellent. You can see her different sides – the proud pureblood and the woman who just wants to be loved – 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 that’s 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. It’s not overdone at all, but it’s 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. ♥
Summary: Molly Weasley lost two boys in the first war. She doesn't think she can bear to lose another.
O Nan who believes “’tis good, to have a salivating muse,” 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 here… they’re quite perfect. The voice you started to find with I Would Give You Violets has blossomed here. It didn’t quite gel then, not entirely, beautiful as the story was. But here… it adds that aching note of thoughtfulness. Gah. I don’t really have words to describe it, and those are as close as I can find. Hopefully they make sense to you.
I don’t 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 Bill—the first—and Ginny—the last.
I found one small nitpick, but I see that it might be considered a matter of taste. In the section on Bill: (he’s been in love since he was seventeen, one girl or another — he likes the way their hair moves, the softness of their fingers). You may have done this intentionally, but I’m not sure… 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 doesn’t think their son is coming back. It’s not the parenthetical that makes it choppy (I rather like it, actually). I think it’s something about the “and this is how she knows he doesn’t.” It’s just… overly complicated, diction wise. It’s not bad so much as less excellent as the rest of the story.
This shouldn’t 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. It’s not about the numbers (as I seem to constantly explain about math). It’s the act of counting that communicates how precious the counted is. You’ve captured that beautifully. *loves*