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: Tom believes he can seductively coax secrets from Dumbledore's most trusted student...
Lovely story, Jenna. It could be smoothed out a bit, but very nicely written. And wonderful emotional interplay (don't you dare read that the wrong way) too.
And since I never looked it over for you... “I’m sure all of Hogwarts knows how the Gryffindor prefect won favour with her Head of House,” he said icily Dumbledore’s favourite girl, aren’t you, Minerva?” You're missing a period and quotation marks between icily and Dumbledore.:: huggles ::
I hope you know you're marvelous.
Summary: The little house with the garden is a happy place to be, despite all of it’s oddities. But it’s a house that takes a certain outlook on life, and not everyone fits. Harry and Luna are interviewing babysitters for their son. Warning for utterly silly fluff with some more serious undertones.
I'm ashamed to say I hadn't read this story before tonight. I'd heard it was good, but... Well, there isn't really any excuse, especially since I convince I have a soft spot for Harry/Luna (though recently I've found Draco/Luna to be fascinating). Now... on to the actual story.
I find it interesting how you personify the house in the first paragraph. Is it just personification, or is the house really sentient? I'm leaning towards it being sentient (this is the magical world, after all, though sentient buildings are a rarity even there), but I'm not totally sure. And if the house is sentient... I know the ending is already good and already has a feeling of finality, but there is a part of me that wants it to come full circle. It may sound odd, but I want to know how the house feels about Sarah Grey.
This one-shot has made curious as to Sarah Grey and what will happen to her over the course of Texture of Darkness. As if I wasn't already addicted enough to it >.>. Have you considered writing further one-shots taking place after this one? I'd kind of like to see how you'd show Jon growing up and Luna and Harry getting old. *Just got frighteningly believable mental images of Luna as a batty old woman* Plus I'm still curious about Sarah. If you were to write another story set after this one, I would certainly read it.
Summary: The 422nd Quidditch World Cup requires a great deal of preparation. (Winner of the One-Shot Daily Prophet Challenge)
In the spirit of being silly… or maybe that should be the spirit of being SPEW? Since this story is written as a newspaper article, I’m going to critique it as such. Journalistic writing is somewhat different than writing fiction, so it should be interesting. We’ll see how I manage. :-P
“Normally this place would simply be a deserted moor, yet for the past few weeks, Wizards all over the world have camped out at this site to cheer for their favourite team and countrymen.” I like the content of this sentence, because it gets the main point of the story out there, which is a must in a news article. However, it’s vague. It’s the opening sentence, and therefore ought to carry a big punch. I think the main reason this sentence bothers me is that you have too many pronouns and indefinite nouns, such as “this place,” “this site,” etc. I’d like the moor to have a name, because it adds colour and depth and would allow you to be more precise. On the topic of being precise, the Wizards are from all over the world, not all over the world –– they’re all at the campsite. One suggestion for how you could revise the opening: “Normally [insert name here] is simply a deserted moor, but for the past few weeks it has been a campsite for Wizards from all over the world who are here to cheer for their countrymen and favourite teams.” The only real difference is that it’s more precise, which makes it clearer.
One other small nitpick, really just a point of personal taste. I think it might be nice if you ended the last sentence of the story with an exclamation point.
It also reads like a news article. You use a mix of sources –– a fan, an official, a coach, and a player –– which feels very realistic to anyone familiar with pre-championship game sports articles. It also fits the basic inverted triangle format of a news article, with the most important information at the beginning and the details and backstory further in.
Summary: August Worthington, an ordinary Muggle boy, is obsessed with the Harry Potter series and insists that the stories they describe are real. His parents are trying to convince him they're not, but maybe August isn't that ordinary a boy after all...
I saw this story when looking through recent fics. I liked and therefore I feel the need to remedy the lack of reviews. I think my favorite thing about this story is the characters’ distinct personalities. The story is fairly short and it’s not a character study, but you still manage to give your characters’ thoughts and speech distinct textures. Good job!
I’m a crazy nitpicker, so being me I noticed a few things that could use improvement/make the story even better. In the first paragraph, you don’t really need the parenthetical. The reader doesn’t need to be told that Number Eight Windmill Road is the Worthington residence. By starting with the street and focusing in on the specific house, you’ve already drawn the reader’s attention, and the parenthetical comment distracts the reader from the feeling that she (or he) is zooming in on August’s bedroom. Don’t worry about clarity too much on this one; your reader can figure it out.There was also a place a couple paragraphs down where I thought your word choice could be more specific. There, on the living room table, was a small pile of wrapped up stuff. For one thing, both of those commas are unnecessary. The sentence reads better without them. Also, “wrapped up stuff” as a phrase both breaks the mood and is too vague. “Stuff” is one of those words you should probably think twice about before using in narration. The more specific you are, the easier it is for the reader to visualize the scene and the more real your writing seems. Maybe you could use “wrapped presents” rather than “wrapped up stuff.”
I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you by giving you so much constructive criticism. I hope you understand that I really do like this story and that I’m giving you criticism because it’s worth it. I look forward to reading more of your work! :-)
Author's Response: Thanks for the review AND the constructive criticism. I really needed that. :-)
Summary: Ron's guardian angel comforts his grief with secrets of hope and love. Written for my dear Patrick, aka TheVanishingAct
I'm afraid that I am simply here to offer a review, not Jason Issacs or a translation of this story into a foreign language. Hopefully my humble review will suffice.
You know full well that I think you're a wonderful writer. Even when you are most dissatisfied with yourself, your diction flows across the page with grace. And this... of everything of yours I have read, this is the best. The story is as ethereal and poignant as its subject. My favorite line is heart-wrenching and gauzy, but at the same time incredibly simple: Some say angels have no true form.Another line in particular rings very true to me. So true it yanks me back in time almost seven years. A memory you try to hold onto, but never can; the details fade. Rosemary's face as she sat in the wheelchair. The last time I saw her. If I remember her eyes I cannot see her face. If I remember her hair I cannot see her skin. And if I remember her skin her face is featureless. I can remember her face whole as it was at other times, but not then. I have tried so hard to hang on to the last time I saw her, but if I remember the scene I cannot see her face. That line... captures it all. ::sniff::
I only have one nitpick (possibly because every time I try to read closely I get swept up in the story again). On the very last line, I don't think there should be a comma before "too." A very small detail, I know, and a debatable one at that. But the way I hear it, there shouldn't be a pause there. And the comma distracts me from the flow of the ending. Though grammatically, I think you can have it either way. And seriously, this one is just a matter of opinion.This story just blows me away. I've read it three times now. Or rather, I've read it more than once on three separate occasions. And I love it even more now than I did the first time. Dearest Jenna, thank you for sharing this story with me and everyone. It's strength and hope shine so brightly that it can bring light to the darkest of nights and the darkest of places.
Summary: For Spring Challenge 4: Lamb to the Slaughter. Pigwidgeon brings a note to the Malfoy manor in the summer after Draco's fourth year of Hogwarts. This is a sequal to Blue Eyes Reflecting and Blue Eyes Reproachful; the boys are back again by popular demand. Thanks to Slian Martreb for beta-reading and garyf, joanna, and MrTibbles for a helpful canon check!
That was simply wonderful! While I don’t have problems with slash, I have to admit that I’d never been able to make Ron/Draco work as a ship in my mind. But this story did it for me. I think you may have a convert…
I’ve read at least one other (it’s hard to remember) of your stories, and you’re consistently excellent at characterization. I think that’s why this fic worked for me while other Ron/Draco stories hadn’t. All the others I’d read pulled one (usually Draco) or even both way out of character. But this story didn’t do that at all. Draco was perfectly Draco, right down to his snarky and arrogant thoughts and also his interactions with his father. He was simply Draco Malfoy, gay and in love with Ron Weasley. I loved it. My favorite part of your characterization of Draco was that he found himself unable to choose between the man he loved and is position as the Malfoy heir. It was really well done and utterly believable. I appreciated the fact that you didn’t try to make him glamorous or noble or pretend that his answer was easy. The realism was simply stunning.As you might remember from the last time I reviewed you, I’m a horrible nitpicker. Except… this is really polished (and I’m really quite tired, seeing as it’s almost 2:30 am). I can’t find any grammar errors to criticize. And… this story is so well written that I don’t have any more major bones to pick. So I think I’ll just be honest and say that this story is brilliant and that I need to go read more of your work.
Summary: This is Cinderella Angelina's last-minute entry to the One-Shot Molly Weasley Challenge for Hufflepuff House. A terrible calamity occurs that threatens Mrs. Weasley's sanity. How can they get her to cope? What are the consequences? [hooray for summary questions, I thrive on them]
I was looking for something to review, and I stumbled across this through the SPEW archive. It's a really interesting idea for a story, and well done too! I also liked how you structured it... In a way the story comes back to where it started, which is quite effective, given the nature of the spell.
A few notes:
As a more general note on that section, it seems to go a bit fast. Usually when a loved-one dies, especially unexpectedly, disbelief and then anger (strange as that may sound, yes, anger) come before grief. Maybe it's that this is at the very beginning of the story and that we're starting after that, but I'd like to see it. You show the transition into grief quite well, but I want to see the steps that take her there.
I'd like to see you expand on the other characters' reactions especially. You do a good job with Molly's reactions and emotions and explain Ginny's quite well, but what of the others? Hermione just sort of appears halfway through. How did she get there? Does she know about Arthur and Charlie dying? If so, how is she coping? If not, how does she react to the news? Why does Hermione arrive when she does and not earlier or not at all? How does Ron feel about his father and brother dying? Harry? The story doesn't necessarily need all of that, but some of it would be nice. Having more interaction/reaction to reactions gives the story more dimensions and makes it feel more real. If you enrich it in only one way, I want to see more of what is going through Lupin's mind. Is he uncertain as he casts the spell? Why does he offer it? Does he feel nervous when the spell goes badly? Guilty? You tell us some of how he feels, but I want to see more, especially descriptions of his facial expressions.
Anyway, a lovely read. :: hugs ::
Author's Response: Wow, everyone wants me to expand this story. I know that it left some gaping holes - I wrote it in like half an hour, which is the main reason why it\'s not very . . . thorough. I like your ideas, though, and if I ever get around to making this longer/better, I will check back to this review. ...Can\'t remember why Hermione showed up. I think what it was is she was talking in a portion of the story and I realized that she wasn\'t exactly there before, so I had to stick in an entrance. I\'m glad you liked a few of my characterizations, though. I tried just a little on that. Good that you enjoyed it. (When you asked if you could review, I was like, \"I don\'t have any General one-shots, what did she find?\" but now I get it.) *hug* thank you and have a nice day! *D*
Summary: [WIP] Post-HBP. Eleven years after the end of the war, Hermione finds herself in a delicate situation when her only son leaves for Hogwarts and threatens her most guarded secret: that he’s not only a Granger, but also a Snape! SS/HG.
I think I have to warn you that I am reviewing this here as someone who has read as far as is currently posted –– through chapter 19 –– on OWL. Because readers here probably haven't read that far yet, I'll refrain from asking the dozens of questions I have about what happens directly after the cliffie you left there. But I'm also not going to ask questions about what happens next after chapter, because that would be rather silly of me.
I could gush and gush and gush about the style, plot, and characterization of the entire story so far, but in the interest of writing you a review rather than the novel I'm going to limit my comments to what is specifically in this chapter. The first thing that really sticks out at me in this chapter is Nathan's letter to Hermione. The writing is still very good, but you've managed to make it sound like it's from an eleven year old boy to his mother. I've noticed that many good writers seem to have trouble making dialog by and letters from younger characters sound authentic. You've done a great job. I can feel the untempered excitement and enthusiasm of an eleven year old bubbling out from every sentence, and the level of sophistication of both vocabulary and thought in the letter is excellent. One little nitpick: In the first paragraph of the letter, Nathan writes, "The teachers are very good and I love the magical classes." I believe it should be magic classes rather than magical classes. Magical classes implies that the classes are magical, not that their subject is the study of magic.
Now for nitpicks... I had to look carefully, because the story flows so well that they're barely noticeable when just reading through. But there were a couple of things I noticed on my second reading. When Hermione finishes reading through Nathan's first letter home, she whispers: "'Love you, too, son!'" I don't think those commas should be there. The second one is at least somewhat debatable, but the first is distracting. It's a suggestion and only a suggestion, but I think you should remove both of them. I also question the use of an exclamation point in speech when Hermione is whispering, but that's more a question of personal preference. It's also so nitpicky that even I would probably not have noted it if I weren't already commenting on that line.
Nitpicks aside (they're all minor, anyway), this is a truly outstanding story. I'm adoring it more and more the further I go with it. It holds also up under rereading, which many fan fics don't. Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us!
Author's Response: Thanks for making this review spoiler free. :0)
I\'m glad you liked the letter exchange. I try to keep Nathan an eleven year-old, I\'m glad I seem to be achieving it. And on the magical/magic issue, you\'re absolutely right. Thanks for pointing that out. :0)
On the characterizations, I have to thank you once more for your kind words. It\'s really good to know Nathan is believable; I love writing him. And Hermione is a difficult character for me to write, so I appreciate your compliment. And thank you for \"He\'s Severus Snape to the core.\" *bows*
On the nitpicks... You\'re right about the commas in Love you, too, son! phrase, but the one that should go is the first one. The second comma is a direct address comma. The exclamation point is for intonation sakes. Oh, and I\'ll correct homesick, too.
Thank you for your detailed review, HermioneDancr. I really appreciated it. I hope some more SPEW member could drop by. :0)
Summary: Post-HBP one-shot. Only two days after Dumbledore’s murder, Severus Snape is sitting in Number Thirteen, Spinner’s End. He is thinking about what he has done, and what rewards he has got. Little does Snape know about the vicious trap he has walked into, and the price he has to pay in return …
So here I am at last, leaving you a slightly belated review. I think Snape is one of the most interesting and complex characters in the books, so it’s probably not surprising that I picked this story to read and review. I liked how you made the story about Snape and his relationship with his mother rather than about his relationship with Dumbledore or with Draco. Very original!
You included the perfect amount of description –– not too little, but not so much that I couldn’t follow the story. However, I think you could make the descriptions much stronger if you made them less vague and indefinite. It seems small, but the difference between ‘a’ and ‘the’ can be the difference between fuzzy and crisp images. Saying there are “a few doors” and that Snape points his wand at “a large lock” on the inside of the door gives the impression that you’re not really sure what you’re describing. By removing the “a few” before doors and changing “a large lock” to “the large lock,” you make the descriptions much more definite and precise, which in turn makes them even more powerful for the reader.
He was reading a book called Magical Venoms for no particular reason, holding a glass of blood-red wine in hand, sitting on the sofa. Two things bothered me about this sentence. First was the “for no particular reason.” Very few people read books for no particular reason. This book seems to be a potions manual. If he has no other reason, Snape is at least reading it because he’s interested in potions. And if he really is reading it for no particular reason, why say so? You can convey the idea that he’s just looking through it by using another verb –– maybe ‘browsing’ –– if that’s what you’re going for. But as it stands, that phrase doesn’t add anything. I was also bothered by your description of the wine as ‘blood-red.’ Most people know what color red wine is, so ‘blood-red’ doesn’t –– speaking only in terms of imagery –– convey anything that ‘red’ does not. You probably chose it to set the mood and create foreshadowing, but there are better ways to do that. Blood-red wine is cliché, and I’m sure you can come up with a more creative way to foreshadow.
My favorite part of the story was when Snape killed Pettigrew. Snape’s anger and vengefulness felt very real, and you do a great job at describing fast-paced action. Very chilling indeed! All in all, a very interesting exploration of Snape’s situation! *huggles*
Author's Response: Thanks for this great review and the constructive criticism, Lian! I\'m glad I managed to please you.
Summary: A Gryffindor entry for the Spring Challenge, challenge number one. How did Hagrid survive his time in Azkaban during CoS? Read and find out!
You know, it’s quite refreshing to read a one-shot about one of the less written-about characters. I can’t think of the last time when I read a story where Hagrid played a major role, probably because he’s such a difficult character to write well. It’s not just his speech patterns –– although they’re enough to give most writers headaches –– it’s his rather odd mixture of wisdom, lack of (much) formal education, and a startling lack of common sense. And although I have a couple of quibbles, I think you’ve captured his character quite well.
One of the things that didn’t quite work for me was Hagrid’s thoughts on Scrimgeour. While Hagrid is quite perceptive at reading people, I don’t think he’d think about it quite in that way. Rufus, nah, he’s more like Fudge, a stinking politician. Scrimgeour’s thinking of goin' higher. I could see it in the fake way he pretended to be nice, pretended to care when he brought me over here. While I agree that Hagrid would have picked up on these things and understood them for what they were, I don’t think he would have outright drawn the conclusion that Scrimgeour was trying to go higher. For the most part, Hagrid doesn’t tend to draw conclusions about what people are trying to do or what their goals are; he’s more likely to draw conclusions about people’s motives and trustworthiness. There is, I think, a distinguishable difference.
The other thing that didn’t really strike me as in character for Hagrid was his conclusion about what really happened between Black and Pettigrew. I don’t think a bit that Pettigrew was after Black, either. No, Black went after him, and killed him, and no loss there. I shouldn’t think like that, really. I don’t see Hagrid arriving at a different sequence of events, though it would be in character for him to think that the official version doesn’t make sense. There’s a big leap from “I don’t believe a bit that Pettigrew went after Black, neither. Don’ know what happened, but what they say don’ make sense” to concluding that Black must have gone after Pettigrew. Is it possible that Hagrid could have made that leap? Yes. And arguably he did.
However, taken in the context of the story, it all seems to add up to Hagrid having figured out far too much, far too conveniently, all before the fact. And that… bothers me. It’s more the totality of the conclusions, taken in context, than any one observation on Hagrid’s part. The two I mentioned are the two most far-fetched, at least to my mind. Modifying them both slightly might make the story fit all the more seamlessly with canon.
That bit of quibbling aside, this really is a lovely little story. I very much enjoyed the set of Hagrid’s memories which you conjured up –– they evoked a picture of his life very much in keeping with what we know of him. I’d never really noticed before just how patient Hagrid is, but the way you describe his patience is excellent. Understated yet overwhelming, if that makes any sense. There is something to be said for the ability to stare at the wall.
My favorite section was definitely the ending. The snowdrops were just so utterly natural, yet also the perfect transition out of Azkaban and back to Hogwarts. Hagrid’s concern about harvesting the snowdrops is perfectly in character as well as wonderfully touching. Really, how could the ending not make me smile?
Summary: Runner-up for the QuickSilver Quills Award, categ. Best Alternate Universe
“No matter the time or place, people should never call their child Marie-Antoinette. There is no happiness in this world for a girl called Marie-Antoinette.”
1983. In a world where Voldemort has won the First War, where hope has fled from an Earth moaning under the Dark Lord's iron hand, marriages are broken and others are arranged in order to preserve the sacred purity of blood. James Potter loses his wife; now they have to find another for him.
The world you’ve painted for us is very dark, yet also chillingly believable. I really like how you’ve translated the relationship between the Marauders into this world. The detail of Remus and Peter’s premature aging is especially effective.
The strongest thing about this story is the characterization. Marie-Antoinette is a complex, sympathetic, and human original character. You do a great job showing us what she is thinking and feeling, but beyond that you provide us with a sense of how she perceives the world around her. As a reader, we are discovering Voldemort’s new dark order through her eyes, which helps us to understand both the world she’s been thrown into and the young woman through whose eyes we’re experiencing it.
I feel like you haven’t shown us very much of James yet, and I want to see more of him. We can see that he’s angry, that he deeply loves Lily and Harry, and that he despises Marie-Antoinette for being the tool used by the ministry to separate him from Lily, but so far we haven’t seen very much beyond his anger. I hope you plan on developing him more as a character in the coming chapters.
The other character that I really, really like your take on is Sirius. That in and of itself is remarkable, since in general I detest Sirius. I can count on one hand the number of fan fictions that I actively like which feature Sirius prominently. You kept him entirely in character, but because of the situations that you show him in, it’s easier to see how Sirius can be charming and kind. I don’t think this will change my mind about Sirius in general, but in this story at least I have learned to like him. Your ability to change my (admittedly rather stubborn) mind like that is a testament to how well you have written his character.
The other thing I really like in this story is your description of the garden. It feels symbolic; its state seems to mirror both the lives of the house’s inhabitants (Marie-Antoinette and James) and the condition of wizarding society as a whole. The imagery of the garden is very strong, and it fits well with the story.
I really enjoyed reading what you’ve written so far and I look forward to reading later chapters as you write and post them. Thank you for sharing this with us!
Author's Response: Thank you for that long and wonderfully detailed review. I am especially happy you commented on the characterization, since that\'s what I work on the most in all my stories. For this story in particular, the characterization had to be as good as possible--an AU with an OC as the main character must at least be faithful to JKR\'s characters.
You\'re right, I haven\'t developed James\' character much. The only passage in which his true character appears is the opening of chapter 2, when I write in his PoV. That\'s the only time when we get a glimpse of his first impression of Marie-Antoinette. Given that one of the main themes of this story is the relationship between Marie-Antoinette and James, his character will be unveiled quite slowly through his young wife\'s eyes. But you\'re right, of course, there is more to him than anger and sorrow.What you said about Sirius sounds strangely like my own opinion; I don\'t like him much in canon, and I usually find him exceedingly annoying in fanfiction. I am not trying to change your mind about Sirius, and as the story advances you\'ll also see the bad sides of his character--his rash, sometimes childish actions, his stubborn mind (if not prejudiced) about purebloods in general and his brother in particular, for example. But I also like him in my story, both for his indestructible loyalty to James and for his kindness to Marie-Antoinette.
And last, I am happy the description of the garden didn\'t feel boring or overlong; I liked writing it, but I have a knack for embarking upon endless descriptions and forgetting it could be boring to the reader :). Your analysis of the imagery of the garden was more accurate than anything I could\'ve thought of to explain it myself.I am very happy to share this story with you, and it\'s extremely rewarding to get such wonderful reviews for it. Unfortunately, I won\'t update in quite a long time any of my stories--the explanation is in my profile. Believe me, I\'m the first to be sorry about it. I\'ll miss writing.
Again, many thanks for the review!
Summary: Three meetings, two people, one place. The girl and the boy, together and apart. Nothing lasts forever, but at least she remembers when it felt like eternity, when the days were soft, the nights of dark and their love, forever [Lily/James AU]
Nominee for Best Alternate Universe in the Quicksilver Quills!
Awww! Even though it’s sad, story is very sweet, in a warm and cuddly sort of way. I really like the technique of using snapshots from different points in time to tell the story. It lets you explain things that unfold slowly without resorting to endless streams of telling. You did a very good job picking the scenes as well. They’re poignant, far enough apart for to give the reader a good idea of the history of this universe (without hitting them over the head, which is sometimes a problem in other stories), but they’re also linked by the common theme of Quidditch and the imagery of light coming through the trees (or the lack thereof).
I like how you’ve presented the relationship between Lily and James. You don’t try to make James into the perfect gentleman, for one thing, which is something that irks me to no end in at least half the James/Lily stories I read. It’s a very real, playful relationship.
This is certainly a very bittersweet story, but for some reason it doesn’t make me sad at all. Maybe it’s because I’ve known canon for so long, and it’s so ingrained in me that Lily and James are dead that having even one of them alive for Harry to grow up with seems like a huge victory to me. I also find that death is one thing that I stop really regretting fairly soon after it occurs, because quickly life becomes so different that my mind can no longer bridge the gap. Maybe it says more about me than it does about your story, but while I found it bittersweet, I didn’t find this story particularly sad.
Author's Response: I think you\'ve got my story perfectly! I didn\'t really intend it to be all that sad, and for exactly the reasons you stated! My true intention, rather, was purely AU: I wanted to see what the HP universe would be like if James had died to save the world, and Lily had raised Harry. And voila! For What It\'s Worth was born. Thanks again for your lovely review. I really appreciate it!
Summary: April Fools' Day just isn't the same with Fred and George at Hogwarts. Ron and Ginny decide to celebrate the day in their own way.
Hi Amanda! I used to read your work back when I was new to fan fiction, long before either of us were members of SPEW. But I didn’t review properly back in those days, so I figured it would be fun to come back and review something of yours properly. Et voilŕ!
I really like the premise of this story. Either the challenge is so old I don’t remember it or it’s one of the many I ignored in the first place, so I have no idea whatsoever what you were writing for, but I like the result! We don’t often see stories about the Weasley children before they left for Hogwarts, so the whole concept seems fresh even to someone as jaded as me. Plus you execute it beautifully!
You know me well enough by now to know that I’m a nutty nitpicker, so I won’t apologize for it. You have a tense problem in the first sentence. She had lost brothers to Hogwarts before, but never did the Burrow seem so empty this April first without Fred and George. To keep us from being jolted forward in time in the middle of the sentence, I think you should change “did the Burrow seem” to “had the Burrow seemed.” In addition, you’re missing an “as” between “empty” and “this April.” There are other ways to do it, but I think the sentence should read: She had lost brothers to Hogwarts before, but never had the Burrow seemed so empty as this April first without Fred and George.
A couple of more minor things: She couldn’t image being so homesick while still at home. I believe that “image” should be “imagine.” ;-)
If nothing else, she knew from years of experience living with the twins that anything was possible… This is more of a stylistic difference than anything else, but I don’t think the ellipses add anything. If you want to add emphasis, putting “anything” in italics might be better than the ellipses. Not that they’re wrong –– technically they’re perfectly correct ¬¬–– but they make the paragraph feel incomplete to me. /nitpicking
Really, this is a great one-shot. You have a gift for writing very natural-sounding dialogue. I find it very difficult to pull of natural dialogue, so I really appreciate it when I see someone write it especially well. You’ve also done a great job characterizing young Ron and Ginny. They’re still themselves, but definitely younger than we see them in the books. It takes skill to maintain characterization while portraying characters at a younger age, but you’ve done an excellent job of it here.
I could go on about all the other things you did well ¬¬–– there were a lot of them –– but those were the things that stuck out at me most and I’m attempting to keep my reviews from getting out of control, so I’ll wrap it up here. You’re writing is and always has been a pleasure to read, and I look forward to reviewing more of your work in the future!
Author's Response: *hugs Lian tightly* You are just lovely dear! Thank you for pointing those out to me. I had always tripped over the first sentence too, I rather like your suggestion. And if I ever get over my laziness, will fix that properly :) I actually find that I rather enjoy writing the Weasley children as, well, children. We don\'t know a lot about their upbringing. I\'m so honored that you think my dialouge and characterization are good! *hugs again*
Summary: This is the Gauntlet Challenge Submission by Cinderella Angelina of Hufflepuff House. Susan Bones is bored with life. When she receives a mysterious summons to participate in some sort of maze, she jumps at the chance to put some spice into her existence. But what will happen to her at the end?
Hello, SPEW buddy! I'm really glad I decided to read and review this story, because it's wonderful! Very well written, good intensity, and exciting. You had me leaning forward towards the screen and gripping the desk in front of me as I read.
I didn't notice any grammatical errors (which is another sign that you had me hooked, as very few stories draw me in so far that I don't note grammatical errors on the first read), but there were a few lines that stuck out to me as not quite working in one way or another.
The body of the story (the journey through the maze itself) is very strong. It's well written and keeps the reader on edge. Actually it feels like the reader is drawn into the veil-covered maze too, because reading this section is like getting sucked into a tunnel and then emerging from it at the other side one breathtaking read later... something like a roller coaster ride. *gets mental images of a ride through Space Mountain at Disneyland* I noticed that a lot of the obstacles/occurrences in the maze are "natural" or weather related. Is there some deeper meaning behind this? I'd sort of like to see the weather/nature theme play out at some point, though I'm not sure when in the resolution that would happen.
The only bit that could really use some improvement comes towards the end: Justin. The Susan you've written is an evolved, interesting, complex character. She jumps off the page. She's multidimensional. She's real. But Justin as you portray him at the end of the maze... isn't real. The boggart version of him in the maze itself had more personality. Her reactions are all interesting and intense, while his are a bit unoriginal. If you ever decide to come back to this story for more than minor editing (and as always, I understand completely if you don't), I'd suggest filling out his character. As it is he's a bit clueless and very in love with Susan, both of which are fine. But there's nothing about him that makes it seem really alive. And his romantic streak seems... a bit too perfect to be real. Maybe that's part of what I'm reacting to... I don't see real guys acting and reacting in that way.
Okay, enough about my reactions to sugary romance. Despite my opinion on that one line and my problems with Justin, the ending still works for me. It's a bit on the fluffy/cute side, but there's nothing wrong with that. For the most part, the ending is done in an original way, taking it beyond simple sweetness. I especially love your portrayal of Susan. She's doesn't push many boundaries, but that's part of who she is. She's still strong, courageous, and very human. She isn't perfect either intellectually or emotionally, she's not always in control, and she doesn't always know what she wants. And if you were ever to write some sort of sequel to this... shall we just say that it wouldn't take much convincing to get me to read it?
Author's Response: Thanks so much, SPEW Buddy! I liked your review very much, it made me happy. Do you think, perhaps, that you didn\'t find any grammatical errors because there weren\'t any? Nearly impossible, I know, but my beta is pretty good. I knew you wouldn\'t like the romance, as I didn\'t like it either. At this point I was just wanting to get the story done so didn\'t spend a whole lot of time on Justin\'s character or his dialogue, though I\'m glad you think Susan\'s a good girl. About the drifting...it didn\'t come out the way I wanted. I wanted to portray more that she was already settled into a good life, there was no reason for her to feel this way...oh well. Thanks again for your review! Maybe I\'ll think about a sequel...maybe Susan will star in the next Gauntlet.
Summary: Hedwig reflects upon her life, and her relatioship with Harry. Written for the One Shot Owls challenge by lily_evans34 of Ravenclaw.
Hello there, SPEW buddy! I have to confess that I tend to read pet-centric stories whenever I see them, mostly out of morbid curiosity. So… reading and reviewing this was a nice way to let myself indulge.
My biggest critique for this story is that you don’t seem entirely clear about Hedwig’s voice as a narrator. Her word choice and comprehension of the world around her seem extremely high, yet from the story we can tell that she takes a fairly uncomplicated view of the world around her –– that the realizations she is making are in fact revelations for her, even though she’s lived with Harry for five years. It doesn’t make a wholly consistent character.
Beyond the inconsistency between the narrator’s voice and thoughts, I really liked the content. I’ve seen several interesting stories showing differing perspectives on Harry’s anger during OotP, and this one is definitely up there. The idea of exploring how Harry’s anger and lethargy might affect his pet is refreshing and original. You do a great job exploring it, and I think that’s what makes this such a good story. *hugs*
Author's Response: Lian squee! *SQUISH* Yes, I know exactly what you mean about the narrator\'s voice. I submitted this on such an impulse that I don\'t think I actually looked it over once. *shifty eyes* But looking back - that\'s the one thing I would have changed about this. Thanks so much for the review, dear! And I\'m glad someone likes pet stories! *giggles*
Summary: Gauntlet Challenge (Trial Run) submission by songbook99 of Hufflepuff house.
Hermione must get past the obstacles set out for her to claim her prize.
I read and reviewed Leslie’s gauntlet submission last review period, and I thought it might be interesting to read another one this time and see how it differed. Plus I just like Hermione, so finding a new Hermione-centric story was great. Apparently Leslie’s also reviewing this story right now, so I guess you’ll be getting two perspectives. And without further ado…
In general you did an excellent job using canon details in this story, but I noticed one repeated canon error. The four-point spell doesn’t make your wand point in whatever direction will lead you towards your goal. According to the lexicon, the four-point spell is “performed with the wand laying flat on the open palm of the caster. When the words are spoken, the wand rotates to point north.” In GoF Harry used the four-point spell to his advantage by figuring out roughly what direction he had to go in to move towards the center of the maze. So Hermione would have to do that too, and when it came to decisions she’d know which path was going towards the center, not necessarily which path would lead her there.
Later in that same paragraph (and I’m cutting in and out in the middles of sentences here), you have: “Hermione followed the stone path running through it until she reached the stone bench at the end. She looked at the items on the bench before opening the notebook to see if she could find the answer to her problem there.” This section confused me a bit; I kept going back to see if there was a sentence in there that I’d missed. It works to refer to both the path and the bench with definite pronouns, because you qualify both as you introduce them. But the use of the definite pronoun with notebook left me scratching my head and rereading. It was the first I’d read of any notebook, and I had to think for a moment before realizing that the notebook was one of the things on the bench (unless I’m just plain confused and the notebook mentioned is Hermione’s, which is possible). Also, the word ‘items’ isn’t very descriptive. It would be nice if you could be slightly more specific about what Hermione sees on the bench. I realize that it’s difficult to find a substitute since there is an assortment of objects, but ‘items’ just sounds sterile to my ear.
My above nitpicky comments aside, I really enjoyed this story. I’m not going to go very in depth about the plot, as I believe (though I could be mistaken) that you wrote it as an example for the challenge participants. I thought it was interesting enough to read and review more than one story modeled after this challenge, and I think that says more than anything I can write.
Hey there, L. I really appreciate your review as it does give me quite a few things to think about.
You\'re definitely right about the Point-Me spell. In my haste to make sure I got response to all the prompts done on time, I spaced on that little detail. When I get the time, I\'ll go back and fix that.
Likewise, your comment about the bench, notebook, and items make quite a bit of sense. When I wrote everything for the individual prompts, the only person going to see the writing was my guide through the Gauntlet, who knew all the details of the prompt. Anyway, after having read through that part again, I realize just how confusing it can be. Like the first, when I get a chance, I\'ll make sure I edit that as well to make it clearer.
Now, for the ending, that will take a bit more thought. I\'ll have to go back through and really read the whole thing and take your comments into consideration. Hermione does have quite a bit of natural curiosity, but I was happy with my ending...though it was written a while ago, and I\'m sure there\'s a way I can enhance it. So, I\'ll just have to take a look at that as well.
I\'m glad that you enjoyed reading my little story about Hermione. She\'s one of my favorite characters and I really feel like I can identify with her. so, I\'m glad you think I did a good job. Thanks again for the review!
Summary: Part of the Triwizarding Tournament is the traditional Yule Ball. Two people ascend from the dungeons to attend and enjoy themselves in their own ways.
Hello again! Here I am, back for another Snape fix! As usual in your writing, the characterization was excellent. I don’t think I can decide which is better: your Minerva or your Snape. Frankly I adore them both. But since this wouldn’t be much of a review if I did nothing but squee at your characterizations, I will move on to what nitpicking I can manage.
You have: Minerva sighed. “Checkmated. I am. On the bright side, for you at least, I don’t think our Mr. Potter has learned to dance.” It’s a small point, and debatable, but I think a comma after ‘Checkmated’ would make more sense than a period.
Maybe I’m just exhausted (it’s happened before), but I can’t find anything else that needs fixing, either at the macro level or the micro level. I love the dry humor of the banter between Severus and Minerva. Their characters –– and their odd sort of friendship –– simply fly off the page. He is terse, dark, and guarded. She is brisk, observant, and a mix of gruffness and warmth. Their dry humor is what connects them.
Summary: She had never known what to say to her sister. But now that she is ready, it is too late.
Andromeda one shot.
I decided to read this story because I like character studies and the premise sounded intriguing, and I’m very glad I did. By now I’ve read quite a few stories about relationships between sisters in HP, including several about the relationships between the Black sisters. However, most of them (with a couple of notable exceptions) tend to ignore Andromeda, so it was refreshing to read a one-shot that not only included her but was actually about her. The relationship you’ve portrayed between the two women is realistic and believable, and I think you did a great job showing Andromeda’s struggle to let go of her cruel older sister.
The overall quality of your writing is very good, but I do have some technical nitpicks. The first sentence reads: The sky was a deep grey, obscuring any sunlight that the cold, November evening decided to present. First of all, ‘any’ doesn’t make much sense in context. The verb, ‘decided,’ is very definite sounding, and ‘any’ comes off as indecisive and confusing, because the verb informs us that the sun has decided how much light to give. Replacing ‘any sunlight’ with ‘what little sunlight’ or something similar would sound much more definite and sure of your description, which is especially important in your opening. Additionally, you don’t need the comma between ‘cold’ and ‘November.’ I’m afraid I can’t explain why it’s grammatically correct (since I learned grammar on my own, thanks to the American school system), but when you have an adjective followed by a proper noun describing another noun, it’s not necessary to put a comma after the adjective. I’m not sure if it’s technically wrong, but it sounds awkward to have pause there. And… I think that’s all I have to say about that sentence, except that the imagery is very nice.
You both were always closer to each other than me. I was always the outcast, constantly pushed away. Even now, I’m still that person. Personally, I think the first of these sentences would read better without the ‘both,’ but that’s a stylistic preference. Including the ‘both’ does add emphasis, so it’s actively serving a purpose in the sentence. I only mention it because barren simplicity can sometimes make a strong sentence have an even stronger impact, and this section is really the heart of the story. My real nitpick on this section is the last sentence: “Even now, I’m still that person.” This section is so strong, so immediate, so emotional. And… this sentence sticks out awkwardly amid that. It’s the abstraction that weakens it. Compared with the ‘outcast’ to which ‘that person’ refers, ‘that person’ is an empty abstraction. And… you don’t need it. If you undo the contraction and move the ‘am’ to after ‘still’ for emphasis and take away the noise of ‘that person,’ you get a shorter, stronger sentence: “Even now, I still am.” It’s similar enough to convey the same meaning, but I think it fits much better with the sentences around it.
Your writing is already very strong and very emotive. Between you and your beta, there are almost no actual mistakes in this story (and I assure you, I appreciate that). You’ve got all the mechanics under control and used them very well in conjunction with a strong plot, well-developed characters, and excellent exposition of emotions. The only general thing I can suggest is to tighten and polish more. Take the time to go over your writing and play with word choices –– and deletions –– to heighten the effect of your words. Think consciously about every time you choose to use a contraction –– and every time you choose not to. Consider not only what adjectives and adverbs you choose (which you are clearly doing, by your descriptions), but also where you choose to use them. An excellent beta can help you see opportunities to do that sort of thing, but only to a certain extent; only you can know exactly what kind of effect you’re going for. Anyway, this is a wonderful story and it was a pleasure to read and review. :: hugs ::
Author's Response: *DIES* Just...*DIES* *is honored to have her review page graced by teh awesome that is Lian* I honestly can\'t thank you enough for such a brilliant review. You know, you\'re completely right about what you said about word choice and everything. I\'m more careful about that now, and looking back on this fic, I can see what you mean about my word choice contradicting itself. Thanks again, it was a real pleasure to read your review! =D *hugs back*
Summary: One day in the life of Katherine Waters. After washing her face, she looked at her reflection in the mirror.When she was young, Katherine loved mirrors. She spent hours studying every angle and every pore in her face, but now she hated them. They were a constant reminder that her life was drifting away.
This story was the runner up for challenge #2 conflict of the June/July monthly challenge.
Harald! Just as you just got around to reviewing me, I’m just getting around to reviewing you. My general setting as a writer is dark and slightly philosophical, so this seemed like a good choice for me to read and review, though it was difficult to pick!
The portrait you’ve created is interesting, and unusual in fan fic, particularly in fan fic not centering around the Malfoy family. It’s really not so much a portrait of a woman, or even of a family, so much as it’s a portrait of a society. A society sick with wealth, clothed in false appearances, and crowned with hidden misery. It sort of reminded me of a wizarding version of The Great Gatsby, compressed into a oneshot. Not sure if you’ve read it, but if you have… Katherine would be something like Daisy, I suppose.
Okay… now for nitpicking. In terms of mechanics, it’s all very good except for some issues with past tenses. I’m only going to give one example, because explaining it properly will mean a rather long quote. But I noticed it in several places, including:
Katherine didn’t reply; she kept staring at the wall and breathing deeply. Victor got out of the bed and headed to the bathroom to prepare himself for another day of work at St. Mungo’s. Viktor was a Healer and Katherine worked in administration. They met when they were just trainees.
This is one of the more difficult aspects of storytelling, in that it’s easy to get tripped up when shifting backwards in time. In the last sentence of this paragraph you’re shifting further into past time, into past relative to the previous sentence. The first two sentences are in the present tense, and then for the third sentence you shift into the simple past for description, which is correct. But the last sentence describes reality as it was so it should be in another tense –– I’m not quite sure of the English name for it, but in Latin it would be called the past perfect, and I think that may be it. In any event, the last sentence should read: They had met when they were just trainees. There were similar issues in a few other places, but I’m not going to bore you by going through all of them. It’s just something to keep in mind.
My only other real criticism is that you seem to spend too much of the story explaining things. You’re trying to make Katherine’s actions and reactions make sense, which is definitely very important, and you certainly achieve your goal of making her comprehensible. However, at some point explaining everything makes the story less alive. It’s the basic principle of “show not tell.” You give the readers what we need to understand the character, but you explain it rather than let us draw our own conclusions. What you’re trying to do is very ambitious and quite difficult, making it much harder to show, but you can write it so that the readers understand Katherine’s past and draw their own conclusions about her behavior. Have you experimented much with flashbacks? I think that used properly (i.e. not overdone, with moments carefully picked to reveal as much as possible), flashbacks might be an excellent way to show rather than tell without sacrificing the rich background and character depth and you’ve created.
My absolute favorite part of the story was Katherine’s confrontation with Eglantine. The dialogue was so vibrant, and the emotions were so palpable. I could really picture the scene in my mind, complete with dark red tinted theatrical lighting on their faces contrasting with soft candlelight reflecting on an ivy plant on the table (none of which were even there, but the emotions were so powerful that the rest of the scene simply filled itself in). Well done!
Author's Response: Hey Lian, I\'m glad you chose this fic to review because it\'s the one with least reviews. I\'ve never read the wizarding version of the Great Gatsby, but I read the original book so I know what you\'re talking about. The past tenses and such are what are most dificult to me. I have to keep it in mind the next time I write. Thanks for pointing that out. The more I think about it the more I realize it\'s true about the explaining instead of showing thing. I could\'ve done more flashbacks. I love what you wrote about Katherine\'s fight with Eglantine. I like to know how the reader imagined things. Thanks for the review!
Summary: A day in the life of the young Dumbledore brothers while they're home from Hogwarts for the holidays. Written for Eliza.
There is something about the closeness of siblings that’s really amazing, isn’t there? Something we only children never get to experience, as much as we (might) want to. Sometimes I’ve written stories about particular characters so as to experience sibling relationships vicariously. I think that’s part of the reason I decide to read particular stories, as well. It seems to me like you search for that closeness through your writing as well: Sirius and Regulus (with you I think his name deserves italics, right?), Aberforth and Albus. And maybe, just maybe, you have a great deal of affection for younger brothers, though I shan’t allow myself to speculate. But it comes through in your writing that you’ve put a lot of thought into what it means to have a sibling relationship, and (to an outsider like me, at least) you’ve captured the special-ness of siblings –– of Brothers –– quite well.
Your grammar and punctuation is generally very good, except for one thing. It is customary to put a period after the abbreviations Mr. and Mrs. I know some people don’t bother with them, but using them shows respect for your own writing. And it ought to be respected, dear.
I do have one more serious piece of criticism: scrap the first paragraph. Seriously. It was probably good for you to write, because it helps set the scene in your head, but the second paragraph would make a much better opening. The description of all of the books overflowing the study and slowly taking over the house is definitely worth keeping, but it would work better if it were mixed with the action, perhaps between Albus leaving the kitchen and his entering the study. Most of the rest of the paragraph doesn’t need to be stated explicitly. For instance, the attitudes of Mr. and Mrs. Dumbledore towards their children come through clearly in your storytelling. If you were a less able writer that kind of exposition might be necessary, but you are a good writer, so it’s not. Besides, the second paragraph would work so well as an opening!
So, my favorite moment was definitely when Aberforth summoned the dumpling from the kitchen. It seems like such an appropriate way for a Dumbledore to exercise his magical talents! The image totally made me grin. I also really liked how the brothers worked together to create the four-point spell. It’s a great idea, and totally sweet (Yes, I’m totally a sucker for brothers. Hence why I’m reviewing this). *hugs Marie* Take care, dear, and keep writing.