I'm a university student who loves Harry Potter and writing a bit too much for her own good. I just keep ignoring the pressures of my studies to return to MNFF! Chocolate's got nothing on constructive criticism--it's my favorite guilty pleasure.
I started out in fanfiction writing a lot of Draco/Ginny, but I haven't stuck with a particular ship or genre since then. My favorite thing to do is to pick a new character that I've never written before and create a story for them. I've learned that I have a much greater appreciation for characters after I've written a one-shot in which they star. I also have a particular weakness for Contest Submissions--there's nothing like an interesting prompt to get those crazy plot bunnies running through my head.
Hope to see all of you in the review pages for my stories or around the Boards! :)
Summary: Step right up and meet the infamous Gellert Grindelwald, the second greatest Dark Wizard of all time. Come witness the bitterness, envy, regret, and the indefatigable spirit of a tragically flawed man.
Written for the SBBC's 2010 Musical Drabble Exchange.
I don't think I've ever read a story like this--and that in and of itself is a compliment, dear author. You've managed to take on a rare character with a completely unique approach; I was particularly enchanted by your repetition of the German motto Grindewald used and the "ugh" sound. I feel you used the motto just enough to be powerful, and it was particularly evocative that during this story (where Grindelwald uses the phrase himself several times), he also cites the time where Dumbledore used it. It highlights the way in which, though Dumbledore holds this man in such contempt now, they were once similar enough to be friends (...and lovers). And in regards to the coughing, I was surprised by how much character those small monosyllables added to this piece--it made this evil man seem just a tiny bit frail and it proved how much this monologue, while brave and blustery, would ring perhaps a bit inauthentic if one were permitted a visual of the speaker himself.
I really cannot get over the degree to which you have mastered indirect characterization as a tool in this story. I feel as though I have learned so much about Grindewald through his speech, almost entirely through the things he says about himself rather than narrative descriptions of his character. I see his pride in lines like "I still have a few tricks up my sleeve to play," and "The second most dangerous!" I see ambition ("It is the ambitious man, the man without fear, who takes the plunge into greatness.") and I even, surprisingly, see hurt ("And when he sought power greater than yours, you turned against him, denied him. He was another me in your mind."). I see regret--as well as a stubborn refusal to really allow himself to feel that regret, i.e. pride--in lines like "I couldnâ€™t put the stupid rabbit back in the hat."
Sorry for spitting so many of your own words back at you, but I wanted to demonstrate my point, since I think that's the greatest strength of this piece. Anyway, speaking of rabbits in hats, that brings up another point of commendation I have for you. This Grindelwald of yours, well, he's kind of goofy. He uses pretty silly turns of phrases that I don't associate at all with the grand rhetoric of villains, and that is perfect for this piece. After all, he is not a grand villain, he is a defeated one, and a very ancient man at that... he's bound to be a little bit cracked and more humble than Lord Voldemort at his prime. You've struck the ideal balance between making him a little less self-involved, considering his circumstances, and still imparting that this man was one of the most dangerous wizards who ever lived.
The only nitpick that I have for you is your word choice on some specific lines that made me pause. I'll give you two examples. First, You tried your best to put me in chains and lock me away, but from your heart, I could not escape. "Escape" probably isn't the right word--Grindelwald wasn't trying to run from Dumbledore, the opposite was true. Rephrasing it to something like, "But from your heart, you could not banish my presence," or something similar would be more appropriate. And second, You had learnt from your past mistakes: by getting too close you had offered them your power, your love â€“ your fidelity. I'm pretty sure "them" should be "me" since Dumbledore only fell in love with one evil Dark Lord (...I hope! Heehee.). Plus it'd be a more direct reference earlier on to the fact that the two had been in love, which plays a critical role in the regret and hurt Grindelwald expresses later on.
But really, these are small criticisms for a one-of-a-kind story. I hope I get bunnies like these in the future myself! For now, good work, and write on! :)
Author's Response: What a well-thought, well-constructed review. I thank you very kindly for this. I agree with your criticisms (critiques, rather, since criticisms sounds harsh). As an answer (not an excuse), I believe I used "escape" because of the song ("you can put me in chains, and I will escape"), and I think I just wanted to use it n the piece (my memory fails me at this point, lol). The "them" vs "me" part, I believe, was me referencing the two boys Dumbledore took under his charge, Tom and Harry. It was more of a jealousy thing. Grindelwald knew Albus only loved him. Hehe. But enough of that. I thank you very much for all the effort you put into this review. Well done, and well appreciated. ^_^
Summary: Remus Lupin, is torn between the sadness that engulfs him following his best friend and brother, Sirius Black's death, and his love for the vivacious Nymphadora Tonks.
He laments the death of his childhood friend and fears for the life of the girl he has fallen in love with.
The unbearable pain of separation and pangs of love and angst makes Remus Lupin let go...let go of the dead and those alive.
Hello! Iâ€™ve never read a story about this moment in the Remus/Tonks romance before, and I have to be honest, I was fascinated by the introduction. I loved the narrative detailâ€”I think you have a very strong grasp of descriptive writing and I really enjoyed the scene that you laid out for us at the start. I would urge you to incorporate the same level of flow/descriptive narrative in your depictions of charactersâ€™ actions, specifically in the section where Remus is walking toward the graveyard. I feel in that section, each action takes up a single sentence and each paragraph is very shortâ€¦ that portion lacks the amazing flow of your introduction, and I think it could be fine-tuned a little with some more prose.
I also really understood Remusâ€™ grief in this story. You do a good job of characterizing his abject despair. I also believe the dynamic where Remus feels a little left out of the James-Sirius friendship, so that was a good twist on his character which you employed to make his grief even more severe. However, one line related to his expression of grief confused me a little: â€śHe looked at James, Lily and Harry. So happy they looked. So unfeeling they were. So heartless reallyâ€”to have inflicted wounds upon a single man.â€ť How is he looking at James, Lily and Harry in the graveyard? And what wounds has Harry inflicted on him? I think this sentence would make sense if he was only mentioning James and Lily, but as it stands, it confused me a lot.
One thing that surprised me about Remusâ€™ characterization in this story is that he is so angryâ€”weâ€™ve seen Remusâ€™ temper in canon, but usually it is directed at people who are trying to hurt others or at himself. In many instances, I think Remus takes blame where he does not deserve it rather than getting angry at his loved ones. So while I can understand he can say that he hates James and Lily in an extreme amount of grief, I am surprised that there is not an undercurrent of him blaming himself for not being more assertive about protecting them, because that is what I think Remusâ€™s natural reaction would be when he is not completely overwhelmed. Anger in this scene is appropriate, given how upset Remus is, but I think it might be useful to add another scene later on when some of the grief has passed where he bears more resemblance to the calm/kind Remus we recognize from canon.
I loved the Remus/Tonks scene in the story. I could see Tonks pushing Remus to accept her caring and Remus resisting in the way that you have depicted it here. That said, I donâ€™t really agree with your last lineâ€”that he doesnâ€™t careâ€”because itâ€™s so blatantly clear (thanks to the fact that heâ€™s running away from her!) that he DOES care that heâ€™s hurt her, just not enough to change his mind or balance out all his doubts and worries about their relationship. While, once again, I can see him saying this â€śI donâ€™t care!â€ť in a moment where he is overwhelmed or angry, I donâ€™t think he would maintain that stance or opinion once he has sobered up a little.
Basically, while I appreciated all of the reactions/characterizations you showed in this story within its context, I do think the story would be even better if you fleshed it out with some scenes where Remus is less angry/more stable to see what his reactions are to these situations (i.e. James/Lilyâ€™s deaths or Tonksâ€™ love) when heâ€™s going about his daily life. This would provide some balance to the emotions we read in this story, which compared to the emotions of the non-grieving Remus who we know from canon, are very bold/extreme in nature.
Good job with this story, and without further ado, write on! :)
Susan Bones had far too much time over the summer to think about her Aunt Amelia's murder, but one of these nights of contemplation gave her inspiration to pay homage to her slain family members from both the First and Second Wizarding Wars..
This fic is a giant Happy Birthday to Minna/minnabird. I know you like Susan Bones, so here's hoping I can bring you a smile on your special day. :D
There's a lot of poignancy packed into the small moments of this story. It's awfully understated, and you have an incredibly delicate touch with your characters... you manage to express this somewhat awful search for something she'll never have--her family back again--without veering off into melodrama. Even the crying scene with her mother was brief. This really resonated with me, because in my experience, that's how grief is in real life; it's a process you go through in order to keep moving, keep going about a mundane daily life. The grieving process itself was also incredibly realisti; I appreciated your understanding of the different things that people do when they are grieving or remembering very much. The urge to reinvent people who passed away at the age they are now rang true to my experience of things I've done to remember family members who've passed away, the fear of showing your grief to other people who were also close to the person because you don't know how they'll react... All in all, I read through each small moment of this piece, nodding my head, thinking "Wow, I've done that, and that, and oh, that too." And though my emotions weren't on a rollercoaster ride throughout the story itself, I looked back at the entire piece together after reading it and just... I'm being inarticulate here, but I can't explain the feeling I had. It's one of those pieces that I'll probably be thinking about three days from now, still in my mind and my heart. I can't say that about a lot of stories/films/poems, etc.
The only critique I have--and this is a personal reaction based on my own experiences, it's not anything concrete, so feel free to take it or leave it as you feel fit--is that I was surprised to see the lack of anger in this piece. I don't mean anger about what happened to them, or how they died... with that, perhaps the fact that she wasn't around and didn't get to know them before their deaths contributes to her distance from the emotions involved there. I meant anger at the...unfairness of it all. I know it sounds a little self-indulgent, but it is a very common reaction indeed, especially to catalyze the grieving process. You cry or scream... just get angry, and then... you do something about it. Thinking about this a little more as I write, maybe it's not anger specifically I'm looking for... rather a very strong emotion that catalyzes Susan's decision to go from painting still life portraits to one of her family. Doing big things (like painting) which focus on the people you've lost is sort of like a Pandora's box... you could easily get mired up in the grief again, it brings up so many emotions, and it's hard, emotionally draining... for me, there's always had to have been a strong catalyst which convinces me to open up that old wound and explore it again, even though I know the explorations are part of the healing process.
Sorry about the rambling in this review; I wrote this off the cuff as I reacted to the story. I hope some of it is a tiny bit helpful to you. Wonderful work, and without further ado, write on! :)
Summary: Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated. ~Lamartine
So many people love Teddy, so why can’t he stop thinking about the two he never met?
Hello! I think you have a nice little story here on a very poignant topic. Youâ€™ve done an admirably realistic job of interpreting the aftermath of these deaths on the characters who are still living. Having lost a parent, Iâ€™m familiar with the urge that children have to try and discover who their parents were and what they were like, and how the damage that one death causes in a family can affect children. I, too, have wanted to go back in time and learn about my parent when they were my age, and my grandmother also sometimes cries when I enter a room.
I also enjoyed your characterization of Teddy. Heâ€™s simultaneously mature as he observes how Andromeda handles her grief (leaving Tonksâ€™ room disheveled, etc) and immatureâ€”a teenage boy who makes comments like the one about the â€śassâ€ť in â€śassume.â€ť And youâ€™ve very subtly included traces of his mother in him, which I found very touchingâ€”his offhanded mention about his clumsiness, for example, both made me laugh and made me a little sad all at once.
There are a few tiny plot inconsistencies that I want to point outâ€”I think you should either attempt to resolve these inconsistencies somehow, or if theyâ€™re not actually inconsistencies and Iâ€™ve just misinterpreted something, try to make it a little clearer within the narrative of the story whatâ€™s actually going on so it doesnâ€™t appear inconsistent to other readers. First, a formatting note, everything in this story starting in chapter 2 when Tonks throws a Stupefy is italicized, so you have a broken tag somewhere that you should fix. Second, Iâ€™m a little confused how Tonks knows how she died (to save Hermione Granger). Because she hasnâ€™t died yet, she shouldnâ€™t know that already; it doesnâ€™t make chronological sense. Third, Victoire says in Chapter 3 that â€śWE can never do this againâ€ťâ€¦ why does she say â€śWEâ€ť? Only Teddy went back in time, not Victoire, so that pronoun was confusing to me. (Side note: I loved their interactions together and the reconciliatory interactions between Andromeda and her grandson!) Finallyâ€”this isnâ€™t an inconsistency, but itâ€™s something I would like to see changedâ€”I would have loved to hear more of Tonksâ€™ rationale for leaving behind a Time Turner in her closet. I can see her being that reckless to allow her son to someday follow her, but what did she want to achieve by him traveling back in time? Did she want to see him grown up, did she think that he needed to see her and ask her questions? What was her rationale? I think that would make the whole plot premise stronger and would characterize Nymphadora more for the readers; it would be a great way to flesh out this plot a little bit so itâ€™s even deeper/richer.
Otherwise, youâ€™ve really done a great, great job for your first story! I wouldnâ€™t have ever guessed it was your first try at this. Good work, and without further ado, write on. :)
Author's Response: Oh my gosh, how did I not see this for so long? Thank you soooo much for the review! Thank you for the compliments; I've fixed the broken tag, and I think I'll change Victoire's line to "we can never go through this again", because that's more what I was getting at. As far as the backstory goes - my theory was that she'd just had them to experiment a bit, and that (given that I've always pictured Tonks as a forgetful person) she wrote a note for herself in case she forgot where they were. But I'll add something to make that clearer at some point - I'm crazy busy right now but I'll work on it soon. :) Thanks again for your review!
Summary: A random act of kindness trades hands.
What an interesting story--I've always wondered about Remus' family and stories about kindness coming full circle are always so reassuring and give me a lovely warm feeling in the pit of my stomach. How lovely. :)
I enjoyed the characterizations in this story. Little girl Andromeda was probably my favorite; you've got a complete lock on how little children speak and behave, and I could really envision her in my mind through your descriptions of her conversation with Chiara. (Baby Kingsley made me think that Minister Shacklebolt and Andromeda Tonks met as children... I'm still not sure whether it was THAT Kingsley or not, since his parents never entered the story.) I also enjoyed Remus a lot... you portrayed his emotions and thought processes very well and demonstrated through indirect characterization his discomfort in opening up old emotional wounds, which I thought was very appropriate for a man who's been through so much trauma during childhood and continuing into his adult years.
My biggest critique for this story is lack of clarity. Two small details--I couldn't understand why Remus had decided to go back to see Abbey after so many years; you mentioned the last time he saw her was when he was 16--why go back now? Maybe I just wasn't reading very carefully. Second, I didn't understand why he held on to the old pocketknife, of all things--I understand the idea of collecting random trinkets and learning to also leave them behind because of his nomadic lifestyle, that much was clear, but I didn't understand why the pocketknife was special enough to keep.
The biggest unclear point--I actually went back and re-read twice or thrice, trying to figure out what exactly happened to Chiara. I understand that's not the point of the plot, but it was significant enough to cause me to go back and re-read... that's the point when I consider it something to critique (unlike the other two tiny points which I mentioned earlier... those weren't big enough to really stall me as a reader). I don't know if it was intentional or not, but the reveal of Chiara's relationship to Remus also came very late, right at the end of the story. If it was intentional, you definitely succeeding in veiling it, but for me, that late reveal wasn't so much an exciting plot twist as a confusing point, because I knew that Chiara and Remus had to be connected somehow, thanks to the summary where you explain, "An act of kindness is repaid." So for me personally, that was more frustrating than exciting.
Otherwise, you really nailed the people in this story--it comes to life from off the page, and I was captivated from beginning to end. Great work, dear author, and without further ado, write on! :)
Summary: Something happens on a full moon night that James Potter didn't see coming.
This is for you, Kuri, for your remarkable patience as a beta and the endless hours on gmail.
Wow. This was really, really interesting! I never imagined that James might have suspected one of his closest friends, so this story struck me as surprising and really original. Most importantly, even though I didn't expect to read a story like this, I totally believed it--you made it make total sense, I think--so bravo. Great work!
I loved your descriptions--there's just enough of it to tease the reader and engage them, but not so much that it interferes with the flow. This story reads like a charm... It's not overly elegant with very complicated word choice or artsy assonance, but the sentences fit together very well. That probably sounds a little silly, but it's the only way I can think to put it--basically, the flow is perfect, it feels like you read it over and over again as you were editing, making sure that each paragraph has its own unique descriptions but also didn't go on for too long.
If I had to change anything about this story, I think I would add some length to it , to build the plot and layer the characterizations a bit more than you have. The Remus/Lily scene was a great start, but I think you could have followed it up with at least one James/Lily scene and one Marauders + Lily scene which develops those character relationship dynamics a bit more and then feeds into the ending of the story (the fever-dream). I feel like this situation--four guy friends + one girl who dates two of the guys in the group--has the potential to create some very complex dynamics in a social group, and you only skimmed the surface with the one Remus/Lily scene as backstory... I wanted more.
Then again, wanting more isn't a criticism, really, it's a compliment, haha. Great work, and without further ado, write on! :)
Hello! Thank you for such a constructive review. From the extent of our communication so far, I have gleaned that you have a keen eye for canon information and knack for using that information creatively. I appreciate very much that you find it an interesting take that occurs behind the canon information we know about James and his trust of his friends ("...James would have regarded it as the height of dishonour to mistrust a friend").
I had intended to work on two things here, dialogue and description, with dialogue being the element I'm not usually very good at. Since English is my second language I have a tendency to become verbose and poetic often many times when it doesn't really lend anything to the writing itself. I had to a large extent held back my hand here. Glad you seemed to think the flow and sentence structures work. Involuntarily, I often think of dramatic situations, the result being what you describe as the 'fever-dream'. I enjoyed writing that.
I love the way you say ". . . this situation--four guy friends + one girl who dates two of the guys in the group--has the potential to create some very complex dynamics in a social group . . ." and agree with you wholeheartedly. Hmm, it's making me think about wanting to write more of this :) As I go back to reading that paragraph, I think it was such a long time ago, I don't even remember how I'd intended this to be. Merlin, haha, does that make me a terrible writer? Your fantastic review has spurred me on though. Thank you for your kind words!
Looking forward to read more from you,
Summary: Percy has always put his trust in the Ministry, to the detriment of all else. But when does "trust" become "turning a blind eye"?
As the war progresses, Percy begins to have doubts - doubts that will, eventually, lead him back towards his family.
I really liked this quite a lot. I've read similar Percy stories before, but you're a dab hand at characterization... I particularly liked the "It's not my job," attitude; I could really see Percy using that as the reasoning to reinforce his overly cautious approach to authority. And you transitioned him quite seamlessly from that attitude to the Gryffindor-ian "I must do something!" attitude, using Penelope as your pivot--very smooth. After all, there was a reason he was sorted into Gryffindor with the rest of the Weasleys; there was bound to be a bit of courage somewhere down there.
My favorite part of this story, of course--the bit that really made it stand out from its other estranged-Percy counterparts--is the unexpected relationship with Aberforth. You TOTALLY make their dynamic work, and these are two characters that I never expected would stay in the same room together, let alone eat stew and chat! Bravo for that, dear author, it's quite impressive.
To be honest, there's little for me to criticize with this story. I suppose I would have appreciated a bit more excitement--namely Percy!espionage. For me the story ran a bit dull in the post-Penelope, rebellious period because I wanted to see more RAWR-Gryffindor recklessness. Of course, only to a certain degree, Percy is Percy, after all, but I definitely would have appreciated a few more scenes of Percy taking advantage of Selwyn and his general reputation at the Ministry to wreak a little more havoc besides simply doing research... So I suppose that's not a criticism of anything present in the story, but rather a plea for more writing, which is never a bad thing! :)
On that note, wonderful work and write on! :) (Would love to see your Aberforth more if you ever feel inspired...)
Times are tough at Hogwarts, and Cho and Colin have different views about how the Battle will end.
Mucho thanks to TM_Wandstick for the AMAZING plot bunny. I did a bad job with it, but it was a real good plot.
This story is heartbreaking. At first I was a little confused by the fact that Cho and Colin were in school together during what would have been Harry's seventh year... just so you know, a Book 7 Disregarded warning doesn't quite encompass this issue, because you're not disregarding events specific to Book 7. Cho's a year older than Harry in any of the books, so I think an Alternate Universe warning might be more appropriate, unless you come up with a rational reason Cho is spending the year after her graduation at Hogwarts--in which case, yes, the Book 7 Disregarded warning is adequate because you're just making up an extra fact about Cho that doesn't exist in Book 7, not changing her age/year in school entirely.
Anyway, sorry to start with such a technical warnings-centric point--onto the content focused critique! The characterizations, I felt, were very realistic. We've seen Cho be angst-ridden and Colin be naively happy in canon before, and I appreciated that you used these qualities to shape this story because it helped me to believe that these characters could meet in this way. I also got this vague undercurrent of an unrequited romance on Colin's part--I thought it was very clever, how you managed to impart that hunch to me as a reader without ever referring to it directly (or even indirectly, as far as I could tell... I honestly cannot pinpoint the line/moment where I felt like Colin might have a crush on Cho, it's a perfectly narrated dynamic).
I do think Cho veers off a bit into melodrama from heartfelt angst--though we've seen her do this in canon, so it is somewhat in character, she herself says at the start of this story that she has grown older. For me, part of maturity is a tendency to be more realistic and down-to-earth, so lines like "Now Iâ€™m tempted to think that no changes will happen to me for the better"... ring a little untrue to me, sound a bit like histrionics. I suppose someone with a poorer opinion of Cho would find this believable, based on her constant crying in OOtP, but I'd like to think she's stronger than that, especially since she did go ahead and join the DA/come to Hogwarts to fight at the end of Book 7.
I really wish the ending could have been happier. This is not a criticism in any way; what you wrote sounds realistic and sounds like a reaction someone who's been through such a trauma could have, so please don't take this as "Change the ending!"... I'm not saying that at all. But I could have just as easily seen Cho taking this as, "Wow, he was right... let me go prove to the world that he's right and live a happy life full of joy in his honor!" ... I've done that in response to some trauma myself, and I find it a pity that she took the other option.
That said, the ending--particularly the part where she leaves his body behind for someone else to find--was so moving. I imagine I wouldn't feel as torn as a reader at the end if you changed Cho's reaction a single iota.
Good work! I enjoyed this story a lot. Without further ado, write on! :)
Author's Response: Wow. I haven't logged onto MNFF in.. a long while now, but I thought of it today and decided to see if anything was new. And I saw this review and was just blown away. I don't know that I've ever received a review with the quality and effort and time put into it that this one demonstrated... I appreciate it very much. It's things like this review that make me think that maybe I should start writing again. So thank you.
Summary: The story of Susan Bones and Theodore Nott must come to an end, but she has one last tale to tell before accepting that some things are simply too broken to be fixed.
This story captured me from the start and held me, in breathless anticipation, until the end. Bravo, dear author, bravo!
What absolutely killed me were the physical descriptions of Susan and Theo. You have an immensely strong hold on the 3D dimensions in which your characters are moving, and your 2D descriptions of their physical proximity and interactions with each other allow the reader to completely envision this scene as well as interpret the emotions attached to it. The starting lines of this story are a physical description of hot breath released onto a bare chest, of how they lie together curled around each other. This serves to throw the reader into your story headfirst. And lines like, "There is silence for so long that Theodore could almost believe Susan has fallen into sleep. Her breathing is rhythmic and deep, but there is a tension in the arm that wraps across his chest and in the length of her body pressed against his that is a long way from sleep" show rather than tell this couple's familiarity with each other, demonstrating their sensitivity to each other which implies attraction, and dare I say it, love.
I also enjoyed the symbolism you used throughout the story, namely the metaphor of the porcelain doll in Susanâ€™s story as well as Theodoreâ€™s allusion to the story of Scheherezade. That adds an artistic flair to the Romeo-and-Juliet-esque plot of this one-shot. With both of these symbols, however, I feel you could have pulled them even farther into your story. For example, you begin the dialogueâ€”which is the catalyst for the turning point in your plot, i.e. the point at which this romance turns into a breakupâ€”with Theoâ€™s reference to Scheherezade. For me, you could really flesh out that allusion and make it an active theme/symbol in this story by referring to it again in some oblique way at the end of all the dialogue. Something like Susan saying, "A story to save my life tonight, but I have no more stories to share with you, Theo" before they fall asleep. That line is a tad dramatic, I realize, but something along those lines would, for me, bring the story full circle, especially as the one-shot is titled after that literary character.
With the porcelain doll metaphor, I struggled with the metaphor in a technical wayâ€”magic should be able to repair porcelain. A more detailed explanation of why the magic failed in this instance (perhaps she could repair the limbs, but you would always see the seam of where the repair had been made, a scar) would resolve my lack of understanding. And tying that explanation further into the metaphor of Theo and Susanâ€™s (for example, Hannah would love him and that would heal him, but in the daylight, you could see the scar, i.e. a reference back to one of Susanâ€™s initial lines, that everything changes in daylightâ€¦ he might kill her in battle the next day.)
All in all, I want to reiterate the initial reaction with which I started this story. You captured me from the beginning and held me on tenterhooks the whole way through. There is no question in my mind that you are a capable writerâ€”your narrative talent shows the whole way through this storyâ€”and my criticisms are just little nitpicks that will strengthen an already emotive story. Write on! :)
Summary: I could say I that I hated my sister. I really could. But I would be lying. I didn't really hate her. I hated the fact that she was always first. Petunia only wants a normal life with a normal man who puts her first. So why is her sister always ahead?
Oh, that ending is haunting. I went away after reading this story and came back, and I still can't decide if I like it! It definitely makes this story very unique, and that's certainly a good thing. Great work, dear author.
All in all, I really liked the characterization in this story. You remained consistent, and I could easily see how Petunia developed into the woman she was today. You drew some surprising connections from your characterization--for example, that Petunia takes comfort from/is attracted to Vernon because he is is a decidedly average man (and therefore will put her first), and the fact that Petunia insists Dudley be an only child so that he doesn't suffer from the competition she did.
There are two bits of the characterization that fell a little short for me, and they both have to do with the post-Harry arrival section of the story at the very end. The first is the moment where Petunia states that Lily came first with the arrival of the baby. As a reader, I wanted a little more meat there, more of a direct explanation of how a baby (who is not Lily) translates to Lily coming first. For example, "Here was a baby which disrupted my entire life, my plan to have an only child. Through Harry, Lily had forced her way back into my life again, made sure I couldn't forget her supernatural powers. Now, Vernon and I had to live in perpetual fear that her son might have them too, someday." That's perhaps a bit dramatic, but do you see what I mean? The logic there and the connection to Petunia's ongoing characterization should be more clearly described.
The second point is that I don't completely buy that a childhood resentment translates into the completely awful treatment of Harry when Petunia is an adult. Particularly because she is so careful to clarify that Severus, James and Lily weren't outright cruel to her, whereas the Dursleys are actually cruel to Harry at some points. I think you could possibly describe that section in more detail as well, and show us the slippery slope down which Petunia goes from payback to (nearly) child abuse. For example, something like, "It started so simply at first. Harry had to do twice the chores Dudley did because it took me twice as long to do my chores as it had taken Lily. Dudley could go to the zoo for his birthday, but Harry had to stay home because Lily got to go away for school and I didn't. But then, as the boys grew older, it became worse and worse." And go from there into the living under the cupboard and other more serious things the Dursleys did/come up with a rationale for how they got to that point and why they kept upping the ante. A slower transition like that would make the connection between Petunia's characterization and history and her problems in adulthood more believable.
Other than that, you did an excellent job showing a huge chronological period in a single character's life without making me feel like you were only skimming the surface. I could really hear Petunia's voice in this story, I think, and that's a wonderful accomplishment. :) Great work. Write on!
Author's Response: Thank you very much! I will look at those sections again and see if I can work on them a little more.
Harry comes across Hermione crying in an abandoned classroom after the Yule Ball. A few moments of comfort and suddenly nothing is like it's supposed to be.
'It's not love, what's happening between them, and that's okay.'
Harry/Hermione, only not really
What a beautiful, beautiful story. I'm not usually one to gush, and I nearly always have something that bothers me about a story, but with this one... there's literally nothing. You've blown me away, author. I suppose the least I can do is tell you the things that I loved about this story.
The best part was that you nailed the three way dynamic of the Trio that so few authors get right. During the parts where Harry and Hermione are hiding, of course, that dynamic dulls down to basically your standard Harry/Hermione, but even in those moments, you throw in tiny pieces of Ron--for example, Harry holding Hermione while Ron watches from the stand. Or Harry kissing Hermione immediately after she's so hurt over Ron (and you know, people can't hurt you unless you love them first). The emotions between all three characters are so neatly intertwined, and you make the mess--navigating this mess, this not-boyfriend, not-love mess--seem so effortless in your words. Personally, as a reader, I'm a huge proponent of monogamy, of dating-if-you're-in-love, and I've quickly learned that real life rarely works that way. But even with what I see and accept, I'm always questioning people's motivations, whether they are being genuine, etc. The fact that you can narrate such an unclear situation and guide me past these tricky scenes without any residual questions or doubts or disbelief is very striking for me.
Last but not least, the part that nailed me, that absolutely sealed the deal on this story for me, was Harry's explanation of why and how these two Gryffindors--the ones who hold their principles above all else, these two characters who time and time again prove that their friendships mean everything to them--could do what they have done. The realization of Harry, finally, that they had been hiding, that while he did nothing technically wrong, he "broke something sacred" was devastatingly honest to me. Very realistic, and very much something I could imagine a 15 year old boy feeling and thinking (and even being oblivious about for so many months prior!).
In short, this story has stood out to me as one of my favorites in a long time. It's subtle, it's honest, and it's very well written. Thank you for sharing this piece with us at MNFF. :)
Author's Response: Your review actually made me tear up. It's been quite a long time since someone's been so clearly affected by my writing, and I always feel so honored when that happens. Thank you so much for your long review. I'm really glad you noted the importance of the Trio in the story, since that's exactly what I was going for. The story may be about Harry and Hermione, but it is very much about who they are, in regards to the friendship amongst Ron and the two of them. I agree with you, personally. I'm big on the whole in-love thing, both in stories and in real life. But I was struck by the idea of writing a story in which not-love mattered just as much. I'm thrilled that you think I've succeeded in explaining that type of situation. I'm also really glad that you enjoyed the "explanation" part of the story. I was honestly afraid it had gotten a bit too preachy, but I'm glad you could hear a 15-year-old thinking and acting like that. Being "subtle" is perhaps the kindest compliment for me. It means so much to me, as that's really what I was striving to achieve. Well, you said you aren't one to gush. Normally I'm not either. But your review really made my day. Thank you again, so very much. This was one of the most different stories I have ever written, in terms of genre, characters, and basically everything, so I'm glad that it was enjoyed.
Summary: Oliver Wood is retiring from Quidditch to start a new chapter in his life. Can he win his last match as Keeper for Puddlemere United? And more importantly, can he realise the true worth of a player?
This story was such a blast to read. I'm beaming right now. Under a different username, I played in the first QWC and was involved in refereeing later on as well, and I cannot begin to tell you how excited it makes me to read such a fabulous entry several years later.
First and foremost, I must compliment you on the flow. Having this story sound like it comes from a single author, when in fact four people came together to write it, is one of the most impressive accomplishments you can have while writing for the QWC, and I want to applaud all of you for making it seem so effortless in the finished product!
Second, I've got to appreciate the plot, specifically the way the characters balanced out. In this Quidditch plot more than any other I've read, I got the sense that "there is no 'I' in 'team'." This match was so personally important to Oliver as his last professional game, but what stood out to me more than anything else was how limited he was in his ability to influence the results of the game. Yes, he could save a goal or two, and fight for his team--but every single one of his teammates had to fight as hard as he did in order to bring about this victory. Oliver ends the game with that speech about how the trophy belongs to the team and not to him alone, but that was just a reiteration of the underlying theme of this plot. I appreciated your focus on all the characters of the game, though Oliver was the character to whom you kept returning to throughout the narrative. It was a good balance between the solo spotlight for our favorite former Gryffindor Quidditch Captain and the efforts of his team. In terms of character dynamics, I especially enjoyed the Angelina-Oliver tone--it's hard to bring bits and pieces of canon into QWC submissions because detailed accounts of Quidditch games are so far removed from what the books themselves are about, but in that relationship, I quickly flashed back to my favorite moments of Gryffindor Quidditch games during the book series.
The facet of this story which I appreciated most also happens to be what I perceive to be as its only flaw. The emotions woven into this game, the feelings Oliver has, the memories--all of these make this game so very personal. You have incredible descriptions of the techniques, but it's really the stories behind the game that captivate me. A good example is the Sloth-Grip Roll... when Angelina does it, it's cool, but when Oliver flashes back to his first lesson to his teammates about the technique, that really makes me smile and enjoy the moment. However, I'm worried that you included a few too many memories--Oliver keeps telling himself to focus right before or after memories happen, and to be honest, I agree with him! Oliver's the type to put Quidditch above all else, even his own personal emotions (at least until after the game ends--remember that time he tried to drown himself in the locker-room after a match where Gryffindor lost?), so I have a hard time seeing him letting his mind drift off so many times during such a critical game. If at all possible, I would strongly consider re-reading this story and looking carefully at each non-technical tangent to examine its necessity to the plot itself. If you could cut a few memories, I wouldn't find Oliver's lack of focus so uncharacteristic, I think.
Other than that, bravo, dear authors! You really, really nailed this story and it was such a joy to read. Wonderful work. :)
Author's Response: On behalf of myself and my teammates, I'd like to say thank you for the amazing review! =) We worked really hard to get this fic together, and we put a time into it. My only regret with this piece is that we were unable to claim victory in the QWC that round. I am however wholeheartedly proud of my players, this piece was a team effort, and all of them were absolutely fantastic. Thanks again for reading and reviewing. I'm glad that you enjoyed. -Captain Radcliffefan07
Summary: Draco Malfoy's sixth year at Hogwarts is as infamous as Dolores Umbridge's detentions, but what really motivated him to attempt to kill the great Albus Dumbledore?
After his father's imprisonment in Azkaban, Draco is left feeling humiliated and alone. Coming from a family where reputation means everything, he jumps at the chance to prove himself to the Dark Lord; but will he be able to go through with the momentous task of murdering the greatest wizard known to man, or will he learn to value just how precious life can be?
You have a lovely story here--it fits perfectly within canon and it's a cool plot bunny--retelling sixth year from the point of view of Draco Malfoy would grant us a radically different interpretation of canon events as well as a lot of new material which Harry and company would never have experienced during their time at Hogwarts. Your descriptions are strong--I can definitely envision certain locations which you use during your story; some particular favorite moments of mine were your description of Voldemort in Chapter 1 (not going to pull up a direct quote, but it included the phrase "a string of words") as well as your description of Draco's pomp and the interactions between all of the Slytherins on the train to Hogwarts.
My favorite part of this story is simultaneously the part I'm going to critique. You do an incredible job of showing Draco as a teenager--sulky, angry, and often unreasonable. Suddenly it is clear to me how he could so willingly and foolishly enter into a contract with the Dark Lord. I completely buy your interpretation of the events and his emotions so far. But this interpretation isn't the most flattering in the world--Draco, more times than not, in his boasting to his friends on the train or in his wary appreciation of (insane) Bellatrix, sounds downright foolish and I want to smack some sense into him! And that, dear author, is my critique: it is very difficult to keep reading a story about a protagonist with whom you don't identify or empathize. Though your depiction is completely in character, I urge you to quickly include events/reasons that will bring Draco closer to reality, closer to how we see him at the end of Book 6 when he is afraid, tired, nearly sick with emotion and completely unprepared to kill Dumbledore. The Draco we see at the end of Book 6 is a little pathetic, but readers (at least I) do empathize with him. We don't respect him or think he's a hero, but we feel something for his plight.
I also urge you in the future to take more advantage of the flexibility of this plot to really be creative: show us parts of Hogwarts or the students' social scene that Harry/the Gryffindors were never exposed to in canon! Obviously, the Slytherin Common Room is a place to start, but branch out--has Malfoy and company discovered secret rooms like the Room of Requirement which Harry, Hermione and Ron found? Do they have house traditions? What are the social dynamics of Slytherin and how do they affect Draco? It is these new stories and characters that can draw readers in and excite them even though they know how this story will end thanks to canon--take the time to build a world inside of JKR's world because, in this plot device of canon-through-a-different-character's-POV, you really have the opportunity to do so.
Once again, good work and good luck with further chapters! Without further ado, write on. :)
Author's Response: I'm so pleased you took the time to read this. It's actually the first peice of fan fic I ever wrote, and I've kind of abandoned it as my imagination sidetracked me onto more original ideas. Thank you for the critique, I agree wholeheartedly! I was thinking of coming back to this fic over the summer and trying to improve it, so it may well progress slowly!!
AU. Severus and Remus forge a damaged and damaging relationship in the aftermath of the war.
For hestiajones, who cheered me on to the minimum word count.
If I had to guess, dear author, I would assume that you are a meticulous writer, picking out each and every word, carefully shaping sentences until they sound exactly the way you want them. Whether or not that's true is beside the point, because I as a reader most definitely believe it after reading this story. I loved lines like, " Ron is there â€“ he and Hermione are on yet another break and Hermione will no doubt have yet another promotion before the summer." It is such a subtle summary of both their characters as well as the tensions in their relationship; I can't imagine how you condensed such a complicated narrative to so few words. The ebb and flow of your diction is stunning; it made me feel that, as I read, I was being carried along a river of your words. I'm sorry; enough of the melodrama--let it suffice to say that I enjoyed this piece immensely. Bravo!
All in all, I find the relationship between Remus and Severus, especially the depiction of their Post-Hogwarts lives, fascinating. But the narrative left me with a question which I feel needs to be answered within the story so that the ribbons around this pretty present can be tied in a neat bow and shipped off to the next reader without delay! Why is Remus with Severus? What brought them together...? After a line like, "Remus cannot forgive or forget or feel sorry for one second of his pain," I can't fathom why Remus would be reaching out to Severus day after day, seeking to be with him. In canon, they have a relationship which can at best be described as grudging respect and at worst, contempt. How did they transition from that state, to this attached (albeit volative) one? I feel a bit of an explanation--perhaps simply a well-worded line such as the one you used to describe Ron and Hermione's relationship--is needed in order to make this story feasible and resolve any residual doubts which I have.
But once again, your writing style is tremendously powerful... I applaud it and, to be honest, am a tiny bit envious of it. Without further ado, write on! I look forward to reading more from you in the future.
You do well portraying a friendship of boys turned to men where, in some ways, everything is the same. Catch a glimpse of these two men in a different light, however, and one quickly sees that everything is different. This story's strength is in the little snippets of detailed narrative--Sirius poking Remus under the table with his foot and noticing the potential of Tonks and him as a couple before even Remus realizes, or Sirius bracing himself against the wind from an open window. There I see the heartbreakingly human imperfection involved in this tragic Rip Van Winkle-esque story, of two people strugging to rediscover what they never should have lost. You're done an excellent job of juxtaposing these small details to show how complex and unclear this situation truly is--how much Remus and others who knew Sirius have to struggle to understand him and be his friend.
I wish you would dig further into Remus' emotions earlier in the story. Until the section where Sirius dies, I feel the tone of this narrative is a little detached. That makes sense, given how reserved Remus is as a character; we rarely see him react passionately the way Sirius always does. But this one-shot has a unique perspective from inside Remus' head and we have a rare opportunity to see the real, potent emotions which he so rarely lets surface firsthand. Use that opportunity to show more of him to us as your readers. For him as much as Sirius, this has to be frustrating, saddening, heartbreaking. As Sirius is reentering his life from long ago, Remus must also be searching for the friend whom he used to know, and that involves a serious amount of heartbreak. For example, when Sirius protests his house arrest, saying that he needs to do something, tell us how that makes Remus feel. Don't just stick to the dialogue that Remus expressed externally; dig into his internal journey as a friend of a former Azkaban convict, of a changed Sirius Black.
Otherwise, it's fascinating story, and you've got a strong grasp over descriptive writing that captures my attention. Wonderful work; write on!
Author's Response: Wow, thank you for leaving such a great review! You're right, I did write more on Remus thinking about Sirius's feelings and such rather than actually writing about his own feelings. In writing it, I was thinking more about what would be going through the mind of Sirius more than I was of Remus, even though I was writing from Remus's viewpoint. I do tend to have trouble with talking about the feelings of the person's whose POV it is, but I'm trying to work on it so thanks for pointing that out! I Thanks so much, and thanks for reading!
Summary: "Did I know, in my heart of hearts, what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes." When Albus Dumbledore met Gellert Grindelwald that fateful summer in Godric's Hollow, their lives were forever changed...
I appreciated this closer look at the relationship between Gellert and Albus. At first, I was having trouble buying Gellert's dialogue. To me, his speeches about Wizard supremacy were a little too blunt--he was almost pedantic rather than persuasive, and I would think given what we know of Albus' beliefs during canon, that Dumbledore would have needed a lot of gentle, subtle persuasion. I can't imagine that someone as intelligent as Albus would fall for pure rhetoric, even with the help of a healthy dose of passion. I think the beginning parts of this story when Gellert and Albus are first getting to know each other could be fleshed out with some more dialogue (i.e. strenuous debates where Albus has a strong opinion too rather than just passively listening to Gellert), as well as the insertion of more distracting lustful thoughts about Gellert. The combination of strengthening Gellert's persuasive skills as well as showing how Albus is partly buying the persuasion but also partly charmed by his newest friend would make Albus' acceptance of Gellert's radical views more believeable.
For me, this story's strongest point is the ending. In the fight scene between Albus and Gellert where Ariana dies, Albus' emotions are so vividly portrayed. As a reader, I'm right there with him as he's torn between his best friend and his family, his dreams of glory and his responsibilities. The last lines where Gellert is nowhere to be found and Albus finally realizes the truth--that literally sent a chill down my spine. In the epilogue, it's great to finally see the Albus we know and love from canon--strong enough to break free of Grindelwald's influence, and wise enough to realize the mistakes he made (as well as to do his best to move on).
All in all, good job, author! This story has a particularly strong finish and I enjoyed reading it. Without further ado, write on!
Hermione gets the cat, the flat, the food, and the furniture. Ron gets the family and friends.
Harry gets the boot, his little book, the blame, and the shame. Ginny gets a new bloke and a haircut.
'The One' is an insidious myth, and 'Meant To Be' smacks of a hope to which no one has a right.
It's a shame the two of them bought into it for so long.
And it's too bad old habits are so hard to break.
I just sped through all four chapters--this is SUCH a lovely piece you've got going!! What astounds me every time I find little gems like this on MNFF is how a great writing style can completely immerse me in a plot. I've seen Harry/Ginny break-up stories where scarred!Harry makes an appearance or Hermione/Ron break-up stories where Harry and Ron remain friends and the Trio's relationship is strained... all of this has been done before, but you really have put a whole new shine onto the general framework with your beautiful characterization. Over and over again, you use just enough description to indirectly characterize the three of them, and I just find these chapters to be wonderfully refined. You're a very talented author, that much is clear, and though the plot is clearly just in the beginning stages at this point, I'm looking forward to reading more from you. Bravo! And of course, write on. :)
Author's Response: Thank you very much. I really do prefer-- I'll say a more diffuse approach to characterization. I like to have lots of things going at once so a character can react and interact. That way they don't have much opportunity to sililoquize.
You are right. This has all been done beforeâ€¦ but I thought I might try my hand at it, anyway. I hope my version of events is unique enough to continue to be worth reading.
As for being talented, I appreciate you saying so, but really I'm just a charlatan, dreading the moment I am to be found out. Hooefully, I can make it through this fic, first.
Again, thank you so much for reading and for the review.
Summary: Neville is completely oblivious to what he's revealed, Harry doesn't know how this affects their friendship, and he's got nothing in the liquor cabinet except peach-flavoured swill.
This is AcaciaCarter of Hufflepuff, writing for the Great Hall Cotillion of 2012.
Hello! I found this story on hprarepairs; one of my favorite authors of all time (snegurocha_lee) recommended it on her LJ and said that Harry/Neville might be her new OTP (one true pairing) after reading this story... and I've got to say, I agree with her. I never quite realized how much I could like these two men together. The pieces of them that fit together--after all, their birthdays are so close together, either of them could have been the Boy Who Lived, and they both have lost a set of parents to Voldemort. God knows how we as fanfiction authors haven't put two and two together before this, but thankfully, you did.
I've grown to really admire your grasp of Neville. You just nail him in every story of yours that I read. In this story, he's the perfect mix of unsure!Neville and calm/gallant/warm Neville who always loves his friends (and *Harry*) so much.
And when I like stories a lot, usually the only critique I can come up with is to ask for MORE of the story. In this case, we run into these characters when they've already fallen in love. It's easy for me to see Neville loving Harry in that way, but much harder for me to see Harry reciprocating, particularly since the canon Harry/Ginny is so freaking passionate. While going back to the Harry/Charlie discovery might be a bit too much, I would have loved to see a few more build-up scenes pre-Neville's Patronus where... somehow we'd see hints of how/why/what specifically Harry appreciates and loves about Neville.
But a critique asking for more story isn't really a criticism, haha, so without further ado, great work and write on! :)
Summary: Title borrowed from the song, If I Die Young, by the Band Perry
When the question is posed, Severus makes a promise he can't keep
This was a really different side of Severus that I saw... very emotional and soft, but I think it's in character because that's really very much how he felt about Lily in the memories he shared with Harry. I think I would have appreciated more of a context for the story, which you could show us through Severus' emotions--for example, is this when he's convinced himself that he should defend Harry? Is he already defending him at Hogwarts, how does he feel about that? Basically I feel like this memory and the attached emotions could have occurred to Severus at any point after the death of Lily until his own death, which is over 15 years of time! A little more context--and perhaps a reason why this particular memory came to Severus at whatever moment it did--would flesh out this story and give the emotions and characterization even more complexity and depth. Good work, dear author, and without further ado, write on! :)
Author's Response: Thank you for your awesome review! You said that context would have been useful, and I can see your point. When I was writing the story, though, I forsaw this problem, and felt that trying to put some context would deter the flow of the story. I felt that this story, however, occurred before Harry went to Hogwarts, and most likely happened when Dumbledore asked Snape to protect Harry that fateful night, because having to make that promise again would probably spark this memory. Or perhaps it could have happened when Snape found out that Harry was destined to die young, just like his mother. I hope, though that a lack of context doesn't turn your attention away from what the story was about. And maybe I will change the story later to fit in context... Thanks again for your review! I enjoy them a lot! :) ~Nagini
Summary: It had been three years since his wife's death, but the first woman to make him feel something is the last woman he'd have thought. The fact that he's closer in age to her father than to her does not help matters.
Otherwise known as All Soraya's Fault.
Important note: I used the Student/Teacher warning as a precaution; the relationship in this story is between a teacher and his former student, for whom he had no feelings while she was under his tutelage. Just to be clear.
Another important note: I'm not JKR. She has a much nicer house.
Ooh, I like this very much! You write a killer Neville, as I think I might have said to you in a previous review. I"m anticipating much more "former student/child of my friends" angst from Neville in future chapters...and of course, I'm really looking forward to how this develops, and especially, to seeing more of Molly as a character, since the glimpses I've caught so far are quite wonderful. :)