I am completely brilliant, top of my class, drop dead gorgeous, star of my athletic team of choice depending on the season, the popular one, I can get any guy I want, and if you're actually arrogant enough to believe that, you're in for a surprise. :)
First, I’m still bewildered by the sudden turn your story took at the end. Nice job fooling your reader. However, one thing that might be more fun for you and your reader is to keep them confused/feel like they’re smart for figuring out the puzzle with the clues you leave them. Because sometimes when it abruptly changes like that at the end, we’re still confused. But, for the effect you were going for, this was lovely.
However, there are a couple things I’d like to point out.
First, in the beginning of the story Draco says: “It’s just homework, Weasley.” Then, in the next section, Hermione asks: “Did your exam go badly?”
So, I thought they were doing homework. And if they were taking an exam, why would Draco and Ginny both be in the Great Hall? They’re one year apart, and the only time we’ve ever seen students taking exams in the Great Hall was for O.W.L.s in Harry’s fifth year. So I’m confused as to why a 7th year Head Boy and a 6th year Ginny Weasley would be taking an exam at the same time in a big hall.
And if they really were doing homework, why would Ginny have to: finished with the time given? And, when we’ve seen students doing homework in the Great Hall, there haven’t been individual desks there.
Second, sometimes you throw in characters we haven’t seen at all yet, and it’s startling. For example:
“I’m fine, go on,” he said to Ron who was looking a little baffled.
I’m looking a little baffled too. Ron never appeared when Harry did with his two cups of tea. This is the first mention of Ron. It was a bit surprising. You need to remember to give your characters stage directions too, otherwise your readers won’t know what’s happening.
Also, when Harry spoke to Ginny, it felt like before Harry’s sixth year again. But in your story, they’re in his seventh year, so unless your story is AU, Harry and Ginny should have a different comfort level in their relationship — even if Harry’s still interested in Ginny and she’s not.
Overall, your story was written nicely. You have a nice tone in your story which is nice for the readers. It might help to be a bit more consistent in your characterization — even if you decide to twist the story in the opposite direction at the end. But, like I said, nice job with this story. It was an interesting interpretation of this pairing.
This is a wonderful AU interpretation of Draco! And, I must confess, typically Draco is one of my least favorite characters, but I really admire the way you wrote his determination at the end.
Throughout the story, you characterized Draco very well. You seemed to capture his every thought and emotion clearly and consistently. He never seemed out of character or jumbled in your story, and that was a lovely treat.
It was sentences like, “He was in no position to think, just to do what he was told.” And “the sight of his childhood home spawned more dread than his father could ever have created throughout the years,” that really brought the tone of Draco into your story.
However, in the first half of your story, there are pieces or sentences that have completely different tones, and I think it has to do with your word choice. For example, reading the first paragraph written by you, there are so many descriptive words to set the dramatic tone to the piece that it’s a bit overwhelming for one paragraph:
Upon hearing Snape’s order to run, Draco released a renewed spurt of energy, pumping his legs so hard he was sure they would catch fire. The young Malfoy couldn’t imagine a worse situation. He had failed the Dark Lord for a third time, and this time his baby-sitter had to finish the job for him. After the cursed necklace and the poisoned mead, he knew he could no longer stall a face to face with Dumbledore. He had surely sealed his fate when he hesitated to curse the ill-fated headmaster after first disarming him at the top of the astronomy tower. Instead, he stalled, allowing the old man to feed on his doubts and fears. Dumbledore had seen right through his weaknesses and had played them to his advantage, keeping Draco from succeeding.
Rather than using adjectives or adverbs to describe everything you possibly can, sometimes the sentences will flow better together and the reader will still understand how intense the moment is if you leave some of the words out. This paragraph would be just as effective if you cut out words like for a third time, ill-fated, no longer stall a face to face, feed on his doubts and fears.
Some of those phrases like “no longer stall a face to face” are descriptive, but don’t necessarily make sense in the flow of the writing. Also, I’m not sure it’s in Dumbledore’s character to “feed on doubts and fears,” but that’s my personal opinion. It sounds more like something evil characters do.
And then again in this sentence you say, they would laugh as they chucked him into Azkaban if he tried to claim that Dumbledore offered to protect him from Voldemort. And “chucked him into” is so slang that it’s a bit startling to read in your formally-set up broken-Draco piece.
Other than word choice, be careful of where you put your phrases. This sentence: As Voldemort began the incantation, there was a scream and a sudden blur across the room of long blonde hair. Might be a bit clearer if it read: …there was a scream and a sudden blur of long blonde hair that streaked across the room.
The second half of your story from, “He was furious,” on, has a much more consistent and compelling tone to the story. It doesn’t just read, it entices you to read every word at an increasingly faster pace — eager to follow Draco’s determination and fears. Nice job on that.
red and puffy face as Draco began to fall flat on his back.
I’m not sure how one begins to fall flat on their back. Either they do fall flat on their back, or they begin to fall back, but I’m not sure how you begin to do the end result. ;)
Overall, I was very impressed with your story, especially the second half. I thought you did a great job with Draco and with keeping your reader involved in the story. Nice job! Keep on writing!
Author's Response: I\'ve been considering tweaking this chapter a bit, and your insight will really help a lot with that! It\'s always helpful to hear other people\'s interpretations, because the way you\'ve written may not be perceived quite the way you imagined in your head. Thank you!
First, I just want to let you know that this plot idea was brilliant. I absolutely love the idea of Lily being “forced” to reconcile her vague/non-committal reasons for not dating James. Yes, this was quite amusing, and I enjoyed it immensely both when Lily actually followed through and when Sirius was smart enough to figure it out and mock her.
However, other than minor punctuation errors that happen to the best of us (such as: The five of them were roommates, and had grown close over their six years at Hogwarts. Delete the comma before the and) the biggest thing that turns me away from your story is the characterization. It feels like you got a good/funny plot idea, didn’t think through all the characters you were going to use, and put people in so you could accomplish the plot.
And, although it worked and you ended up with an amusing story, I feel it could be stronger if you understood your characters a bit more — because your writing style and word choice would reflect that stronger relationship to your characters. Currently, you say several obvious things that are a bit superfluous. Once you develop the stronger characterization, you won’t need sentences like these, for example:
The five of them were roommates, and had grown close over their six years at Hogwarts.
She had been made Head Girl this year, and she certainly didn’t want to be late for her first duty as such. She was also anxious to see who the Head Boy was…
It was true; she had said exactly that back on the train at the beginning of the year. Damn Olivia’s good memory!
“Yes, actually; this shows how much you really like Potter, you know. You could have just given up your date with him instead.”
These four “example” sentences all show the same thing. They are obvious things you’ve pointed out to us that we could have seen if your characters were a bit more developed in your head.
The first sentence would become obvious to the reader simply by the banter/discussion happening in the compartment. If you wanted us to know that they are all Gryffindors and in the same dorm, have one of the girls complain about her sisters and grateful that the rest were all roommates — that way you don’t obviously point out that they had grown close. After spending six years together, most people will be close in some way.
The second sentence is in almost every J/L story in one version or another. So rather than say the obvious thing, maybe Lily asks her friends casually even though she’s a bit apprehensive. Maybe one of the girls asks her who she thinks. Or, better yet, don’t address this issue. More than likely Lily’s character would trust the headmaster. So if you understand your Lily a bit more, you won’t give us an obvious sentence that says to the reader, “Cue obvious J/L romance please!”
The third sentence is needless because she’s Lily’s “best friend and advice-giver since her first year at Hogwarts.” Of course she’s going to remember everything she said. AND, if Lily always says she’d rather date the Giant Squid then James, everyone will have remembered it — even James’ friends and various students who don’t hang out with them. So it’s almost silly to blame Olivia’s memory. Rather, it would be more interesting to blame her boldness — or her need to hold everyone to their word. Does Olivia do that a lot? What does her character actually say?
And the final example, with Olivia’s closeness to Lily, would she be this obvious and choppy in what she says after Lily practically froze to death in the lake? Maybe she would, maybe that’s really what your Olivia as Lily’s best friend does. But I think if you really understood Olivia’s background/history/what makes her tick, this sentence would be different.
So even though those were only four examples, I think your writing would be much stronger if you had a better understanding of the history your characters have together. How they really interact and what makes them so vital to your story and to your main characters.
Author's Response: Whoa, first of all thanks for such a well thought-out review. It\'s true, I\'ve never written anything Marauder\'s era before and was really just going off my plot-bunny. I didn\'t really work with the characters as much as I should have. Thanks for the tips, I will definetly work on my characteriztion skills in my future writing =]
I must confess that I do love reading missing moments from the books. I especially enjoy them when they’re written so honestly and thorough. This, my friend, is a lovely piece of insight into our dear friend Hermione and the girls’ dormitory that night. Though, I can’t help wonder why Ginny didn’t make an appearance… :) Not that that’s important to your story at all, I just know that it’s a girl thing for friends to get ready together.
But I liked this interpretation of Hermione getting ready alone — a stark contrast against girls like Lavendar and Parvati. It was a nice contrast without mentioning everything Hermione wasn’t feeling.
I also liked the edge you gave Hermione. (I guess to sum up, I enjoyed your Hermione characterization.) Her bitterness toward a certain Ron Weasley would have been slipping into her thoughts on a regular basis, and it was nice to see it written in here.
Other than it being far too short for my personal preferences, I wanted it to last longer, what can I say. Other than that, the only thing I can say is that you jumped point of view a couple of times. For example, you began this story inside Hermione’s head. We heard her think; we were getting the story in first person from her. Then you switched to third person he/she. We were suddenly outsiders observing the scene. Then you jumped back, and without warning jumped again.
Although it worked in your story, I think overall it would have flowed a bit better if you would have stuck either to telling the scene entirely from inside her head in first or third person OR completely as an observer in the third person. If you keep it in the same context, it makes it a bit harder to write sometimes, but it also keeps the reader guessing a little bit more. Something to think about for future one-shots, I suppose.
Other than that, as I said, I enjoyed this piece. It was light and fun, and a wonderful interpretation of a missing moment from an enjoyable Christmas scene. :)
Author's Response: Why, thank you for this lovely, long review! I am so glad that you enjoyed it. I didn\'t include Ginny getting ready with Hermione, although I considered it, because I thought that Ginny would have been in the third-year-girls\' dormitory, and while I\'m sure that she could have gone up to see Hermione, I decided to leave her out to make the story a bit easier to portray, I suppose. And thank you for your insight about the point of view jumping that I did; in hindsight, it does seem awkward, although it flowed well enough when I wrote it (ah, but that\'s true with everything, isn\'t it? :D ). I definitely will hold on to that bit of advice for my future writing. Anyway, thank you so much for this wonderful review! It\'s so nice for a newbie to the world of fanfiction, someone like me, to get a detailed, thoughtful review, like this. You really made my day. :)
Hello! :) I noticed this story had zero reviews, and I was shocked. I know it’s for the Gauntlet, but I thought you might like some feedback anyway.
There are lots of things I like about your writing. For example I like the perspective on characters you take. I like the complete understanding you have of the scene each character is in. And I particularly like the element of suspense/mystery you included in this chapter.
However, I also think there are some things you could change. Now I know, again, this is for the Gauntlet, but the beginnings of every story are important. Look at the first sentence of your entire story:
The sun shone as brightly as ever even though it was still extremely cold.
Okay, you’re giving us a scene description. It’s lovely, but as the first sentence, how can something be “as brightly as ever” when we have nothing emotionally or physically to compare it to as it relates to your story? Also, how can something be “still” cold when, once again, we have nothing to compare it to? And what is the difference between cold and “still extremely cold?” I guess what I’m trying to say with the questions is that this sentence doesn’t invite the reader in. It leaves us comparing to weather we aren’t familiar with because we don’t know what it was. It’s distant and vague, and although that may have been the feeling you wanted us to have, I think you could go about it a different way.
One thing that might help with that is to take a look at your verbs. Passive verbs are frequent occurrences in this story. For example, these are from the first two paragraphs:
would have thought that / who had struck him / may have had some / was extremely lightheaded
Those verbs are just passive. They’re weak. It’s almost like you as an author are indecisive — like you’re not sure if it’s really that way or not but perhaps it might be.
If you look at your sentences in general, it’s almost like your writing is formulaic. Each sentence is direct and passively describes things surrounding it. Partially this is the repetitiveness of the weak and uncertain verbs. But it’s also that the people aren’t really emotional at all. It’s very straight forward writing.
And it gets confusing as you continue the story because the readers aren’t emotionally invested because of the passive sentences and then you change point of view multiple times in a row without extra paragraph breaks. It’s hard to focus when the point of view is Sirius through the first half of the story and then it’s Severus, Elladora, and Arcturus.
Then you throw in details like this:
To a Muggle, it would have looked like a small, skinny twig, but any witch or wizard would know that it was just merely a wand.
This is a bit unnecessary for your audience. Sometimes we like to give superfluous information, but how often do you skim past that kind of stuff when reading the HP books or other favorites when the author is recapping information? As nice as it is to review and slow the pace down, a better way to have phrased this would have been to get rid of the second half of the sentence. Just let him pull out the twig and start muttering things — we’ll all know it’s a wand. Or just call it a wand. The place for artistically describing events is when it’s something you have added that we as readers are unfamiliar with because it deviates from the canon we know.
But then you give us this bit:
Once again the group of women quietly whispered to each other, giggling until the same woman answered his question. “Why, it is 1871. Now, it is my turn to ask you some questions.” Sirius ran his hand through his hair, and rubbed his eyes. He then nodded his head in the direction of the woman, urging her to continue.
This paragraph was so refreshing! It perfectly describes confused Sirius and ladies of that time. I can see the giggling women eying him up and see Sirius’s exhaustion as he agrees to their questions.
Elladora chuckled, and began to shake her head. “Well, I haven't actually done it, but I have been thinking about beheading the house-elf we have now. He can't even carry a tray of tea anymore!”
-giggles- That was lovely. Insisting she hadn’t done it yet, but it was certainly on her mind. It’s paragraphs like these two that connect us back to your characters and make us want to keep reading.
So there are good pieces, and I do like how you handle your characters in their setting, but I think if you described the details to your readers a more confidently and less passively, your story would be more effective. It’s an exciting, mysterious story, but that gets lost when the verbs are weak. So, nice job with this, I really did enjoy it. And good luck with your writing!
Author's Response: Shanae.. I believe that\'s your name, right? I\'m sorry if I\'m wrong. \r\n\r\nThank you so much for this review. I understand exactly what you mean with everything that you pointed out to me. I will most definitely have to change a lot of things with this story. I was practically rushing through to get it done because of it being for the Gauntlet and everything. In the near future, I will probably go through and change a lot of things in it. Personally, I don\'t like the ending, so that will definitely be changed..\r\n\r\nAh, I know.. I suck at describing things. Lol. I try, but it just doesn\'t come off sounding believable.. I\'m trying to work on that more, and I\'m hoping that with my new fic that should be up soon is a lot better with details and such. =)\r\n\r\nThank you so much for the lovely review. I really appreciate all of the constructive criticism. :)
Interesting story, your writing style isn’t one I typically read, but it was an amusing situation you put poor James into. I just have a couple of comments/questions/things I noticed.
I thought it was an intriguing idea to have James go back in time to explore things and “pass” Lily’s tests. But I was kind of surprised that all he did was walk around and look at people and things. All we saw him do back in time was wander, confused and lost, and swear a lot. It was a bit anti-climatic. I kept expecting something exciting or difficult or random to happen, yet nothing ever did. James just wandered, “following” Lily’s clues/tasks.
We also saw him run into a professor who did nothing but insult him in public and chastise him rather loudly for his wardrobe choice. And for some reason this professor also knew of the thing between James and Lily? I assume that’s so Lily could have had permission to use a time turner to send James back. But who is this professor really? Why would he be so trusting of Lily and so rude to James? Why does this professor even play along with Lily? Granted, you probably don’t need to tell us in the story, but reading your story it feels like you’re not sure what the professor does completely either. It’s like you decided he should be there so he suddenly was but no one knows why. Then at the end when Lily confirms James had passed all the tests, the professor isn’t even mentioned. It’s like he didn’t go at all. Was he there setting up Lily’s tasks? If so, why didn’t his interaction with James be part of the tasks?
As far as your ending, it has the best potential. It’s a great idea, and it’s written well. It could just be a bit more, if you know what I mean. For example, would James really instantly confess his Boggart to Lily when he knows Lily is friends with Snape? Would he fold so easily and actually cry in front of her? Did he actually give her enough details to cry?
Then the book interaction. This was also cute. I think it’s interesting that you chose to characterize Lily as a book lover/protector/obsessive kind of person. I don’t think of her that way, but it worked for this scene.
But immediately following that scene, if you read the last three lines:
He clasped her hands in his, but instead of getting up, he pulled her down. She fell on top of him and they ended up snogging each other. The book lay forgotten, its owner lost in the heat of the moment.
To say that those sentences are abrupt would be an understatement. I’m not saying you need to describe every detail, but he pulls her down, they end up snogging, and suddenly it’s the heat of the moment. It’s just so fast that I got to the end and was confused; I thought I’d missed a paragraph. It would help if you smoothed into it with either words or a description of one of their feelings or facial expressions. Or even Lily insisting more about her book before being distracted by James. It just feels like something is missing in the end of your story.
I know I gave you lots of feedback, but I feel like this story has potential. Like I said, it’s not a style of writing I typically read, and it would help if you wrote the details you see in your mind into the story so your readers can see them too. But you did a nice job with this cute, though highly improbable, James/Lily scene.
Author's Response: I guess, to give a short reply, all I have to say is that this was written for the Gauntlett entry, so I had to include some stuff. Plus, I had to complete it on time, so I didn\'t pay much attention to the details.\r\nI agree to what you\'ve pointed out. I\'ll make the changes as soon as I get time. \r\nThanks for the constructive review, and I\'m glad that you think that this fic has potential. =)
Marie! :D I’m finally reviewing this beautiful story, and I’m very excited about it because it is simply fabulous. Anyways, I heart you, and on to the review!
the training program at St. Mungo's, and essentially abandoning the rest wizarding society as well.
I think you’re missing an “of the” in that sentence. ;) Unless you meant the “rest wizarding society” to be some sort of hospital/sick people reference, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t. And that’s all for grammar that was distracting this time through.
Between a terrible break up and a full scale war, it wasn't a place Emmeline was really missing.
I missed this before. (Maybe you should make it a bit more noticeable?) Emmeline has just broken up with a boy. :( That means she’s vulnerable. Oh you’re evil, but it’s completely perfect too.
I do love the character of Emmeline you’ve created. She’s hurt and torn but very good at what she does. You’ve created inner conflict inside her before we even see the conflict of your story. Should she be loyal to her family or to herself in the wizarding world she was thrown into. You’ve taken a character we often don’t know much about and created a vivid and dynamic person that we can relate to.
Speaking of characters we don’t know much about and making them absolutely wonderful, I want to talk about Eric:
"There's always a choice, but for people like us, there's only one right choice."
"Sometimes we just know things, and the truth of it in our souls is irrevocable.”
Eric is just lovely. Yes. These sentences are very poignant. I like how they imply the morals/ethics/difficulties of war time issues without you specifically spelling them all out. It was very good. And it’s things like this that make me love Eric, whoever he is, because it’s just absolutely perfect. And yes, it makes that other character oh so completely endearing. This person you’ve created has done his job efficiently and effectively. And you have made us as the readers trust him and not trust him at the same time — trust because we have to and not trust because we don’t know anything about who he is and he’s a bit mysterious.
In other words, the characterization of this story was perfect. You’ve set your plot up so there’s conflict and adventure ahead, and we are excited to see what comes next. Lovely job. Congrats on this thrilling piece of story. :) It’s lovely.
I like this story. This is a nice opening chapter for whatever else you’re going to do with the story, and here’s why:
You introduced us to characters we already know in familiar settings, and you didn’t feel the need to recap or explain everything in detail that we already know from reading the books. For example, you didn’t redo the playground scene from the book in a different perspective. That was wonderful. You just let us figure out as we read that that was the scene you were referring to. It made us as readers feel smart. :)
You also took pieces that we know from the grown up versions of your characters and put them into the younger versions of the characters without going over-the-top. In this sense, your characters were very believable and lovable at the same time.
You’ve set us up to love the characters, but since we know their relationship ends badly we’re torn every time they’re close or sister-ly. So the tender, forgiving, happy moments are wonderful but shadowed with sadness as we read. Nice job of letting both of those emotions come through as you write.
Beyond that, I thought you did a great job describing the characters and understanding why they do what they do. You’ve set the scene up really well, and it’s an interesting story. I love Petunia’s attitude and that she is better than Lily in some ways. I love her diary. I especially love the last line:
ready to dream normal dreams of horses, beaches, and whipped cream desserts.
Yes, that was lovely. So, great job with this, and I’m excited to see what happens next!
Author's Response: Wow! You gotta love a long review. I\'m glad you like the story and hopefully I can continue to make you feel intellegent as you continue to read it.
Oh, my! I didn't expect this at all, but it was absolutely lovely!
I love your Hermione characterization. Even though she's much older than when we see her in the books, I absolutely can see her doing everything you put her to do.
It's almost like this story you wrote isn't a piece of fanfiction; it's more like something that really happened in the history of the Potterverse. Very cool.
And I love the intrigue you created in your stories by the details you added. The subtleties about Hermione's past and Honey, the not so usual house-elf. Also comments like the job description of Aurors since Voldemort's defeat and Hermione's job history. :D Yes. I thought it was brilliant.
I love the suspense you created. This was actually one story that I read every word and was excited and interested to see where you would take us next. I can't wait to move on to chapter two, and am excited to see what happens to the characters you've shown us in a situation that is not typical, but is also completely plausible!
Author's Response: Oh, wow, thanks! I\'m really glad you\'re enjoying it. Chapter three should be up soon, but I\'m afriad it ends at chapter four. Look out for the next chapters :)
This was a nice "filler chapter." You did a good job of moving us from the intro to the question you've been building, "What actually happened?"
I thought you did a nice job inviting us into the mind of your Hermione. It was slightly distracting after the court scene to have "I" repeated so frequently. I'm not sure how you can get around that while writing in first person--which works well for your story. But just something to keep in mind...
And, I'm not too sure how well the emotional issues are being portrayed. Yes, Hermione doing this may affect her husband that she cross-examines. But so far the emotion relating to her and her husband and her son and the issues it will cause by her actions... they're a bit unbelievable. It feels somewhat forced in the descriptions. I'm sure you understand the complex relationship of all your characters, and perhaps that's something we'll not learn until later. But for now it's hard to relate to that part of the story (for me) because I don't really believe the conflict within the Weasley family.
Other than that, this was a lovely piece. I look forward to reading your next chapter. :)
Author's Response: Thank you for the review, I\'ll keep your points in mind. ~ Cassie
Interesting… interesting that you left the chapter on this note. Interesting that you developed your characters this way. Interesting that you pulled the plot to this point. Interesting that your characters are the biggest emotional pull to your story even though we only really see through one perspective. Very interesting…
I do like this chapter for many reasons. One of them being the moments you let happen between Ron and Hermione. Yes, they’ve grown up. But you’ve preserved some conflicts that take many many years to grow past, and I find them very realistic. One part that really felt honest was when you said:
My husband’s eyes met mine for the first time that day, and perhaps for the first time in months. I realised then that I missed the warmth of his touch, the knowledge that he would support me through any dilemma.
That was beautiful and so accurate it was stunning. However, I must confess the following line was a bit anti-climatic: I wondered if we could ever go back to the way things were. You set up this beautiful emotional conflict, and then ended it with a line that just stopped. It ended but not in a believable way, more in a you were ready to write the next part of the piece kind of way.
Other than the touching and quite believable Ron/Hermione moments, your story still commands the interest of the reader. Because although it’s titled “Honey” and we interact with Honey, the story isn’t really about her. So you’ve created an illusion that will remain the plot of your story while allowing us to focus on the conflict Hermione has created/allowed to build up over the years in her family. It’s a very interesting and real situation and I applaud you for writing a common conflict in a way that demands interest of the readers. Congratulations.
Author's Response: I really appreciate your detailed reviews. The next chapter is currently being beta\'d and I hope to have it up in about a week. Thanks for reading! ~ Cassie
I thought this story had a good premise. I like the thought/possibilities behind what you're trying to explain: that Pensieves are part of dark magic. It's an intriguing concept to connect that to a Horcrux. However, there are a few things I'd like to point out in your first chapter.
First, you tend to drop your articles in your story. For example, you wrote: "—the other, Ben Lee, worked Florean Fortescue, " that should read he worked "with" or "for" Florean Fortescue.
Other than that grammatical issue, I would also ask what you're intending to do with this story. You kind of jumped right in without convincing your readers who your characters are. We don't know much about them except the obvious basics you gave us in your introduction. Compared to the mystery you provided in your summary, you're writing your characters pretty basic and one-dimensional. We don't really get to see them in another light or feeling.
Also, I would ask if a Horcrux can truly be made instantaneously like that. According to the HP Lexicon and the books, Horcruxes, or the splitting of one's soul, can only be accomplished by murdering another person. So I'm confused how Ben could utter a spell and instantaneously have split is soul without trying. I don't think dark magic works that way. To quote a death eater, "You have to mean it." So I would question if the events that you showed happen in your first chapter are even possible given the nature of dark magic.
However, I do think you've created an interesting storyline that has lots of potential. Good luck in your upcoming writing charades.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review. Sorry about the grammar issues-I\'ll fix those. The \"jumping in\" was because, rather than being the \"actual story,\" it is more like a very very very very very very long prologue, so the pace slows down later on, probably in Chapter 3. I also didn\'t want to give away the characters immeadiately (is that how you spell it?), because I wanted the reader to gradually \"discover\" the character by having their actions be described, like someone would by reading journal entries.\r\n\r\nAs for the Horcrux, heheh, yeah....that was a big mistake. It was partly because I was writing it late at night and wanted to finish it and get to bed...I probably shouldn\'t do that. However, I think I\'ll try to come up with a way to solve that later on, with a time-turner.\r\n\r\nThanks for your suggestions.
Okay, this is good. This story has a lot of potential and promise.
I find it interesting the varying perspectives used to tell the story. Interesting that you use second person perspective to tell things from the Tonks point of view and third person to tell things from the Sirius point of view. It’s an easy way to distinguish the different characters, and it’s kind of a nice approach to the story. It fits nicely.
I don’t have anything necessarily critical to say about the story, but on the same lines I don’t really have anything to praise about the story. It’s an interesting concept, and it made it onto paper.
Do I think it has great potential in the plot? Yes, anytime two people are trying to kill each other it’s entertaining and suspenseful—look at “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” for example.
However, do I think it’s absolutely perfect and fabulous the way it is now? No. And the reason I say that is it’s a very objective story. It’s trying to be emotional/dramatic/intense, but instead of just being that way, it feels forced. For example, look at this clip:
The two words on the note surprise you, and hurt you at the same time.
That’s true; you wrote it that way. But it would pull the reader in more and connect to the later information of why it was so hurtful if instead that sentence was written:
You see the letters — place in an all-too-familiar pattern that you don’t have to read the second word to know what it says — and your only thought is to maintain the façade you worked so hard to create. There is no room for the surprise or hurt invading your presence. Though your thoughts move faster than your will to restrain them.
/example. That may not even be the best way to read it, but do you see how instead of writing something that Tonks feels so completely in her body as an objective observation I wrote it in a way to (hopefully) have the reader experience the same emotions Tonks felt. I used too many words in my example, and that’s obviously not something you want to do with every sentence. But it’s important to add the details your characters feel so the readers understand the images you create in your mind.
So in your story, instead of enjoying the emotions and wondering what will happen, I find myself reading and skipping a couple of words/phrases here and there because the story doesn’t compel me to read every single word and draw me into every situation.
So yes, good job with this idea and actually getting it down, but I think you could put more personality and emotion into this story as well. But nice work and good luck in the future!
Author's Response: Wow. Long review. First off - thank you. Secondly, I am glad you liked the subject of the story. The differences in tenses is drawn from two main reasons - a- difference in writing styles, as I am slightly weird and was in the mood for second person ;) and Megan is more sane and wrote in third. Secondly - it definitely adds to the characterization of the characters. \r\n\r\nAs for your critiques, we are sure to take them to heart. It w\\may be too late for this fic - (the second and final part is already in the queue) but your words will certainly reflect in our future works. Thank you! \r\n~Sunray (& Megan)\r\n
You have some good things going on in your story, but you also have some things that need work. The biggest things to work on are descriptions and characterization.
This is in the first paragraph, and the descripion is a bit distracting:
My heart was falling a million miles per second into the earth, as I went looking for a compartment to wait for Hogwarts to arrive in.
First, everything before the comma is nice, but it feels like you’re trying to sound poetic instead of just writing. It’s almost like you added this sentence in to be creative, but it doesn’t really flow with the rest of the story. As for everything after the comma, “I went looking to wait for Hogwarts to arrive in.” It just doesn’t make sense. You don’t wait for Hogwarts to arrive. You wait to arrive at Hogwarts. Some of the phrases you’re using just make that sentence confusing. You might want to read your sentences a bit more carefully, just to make sure everything you wrote is what you meant to say and that it’s clear.
This next example is one of characterization. Neville:
"S-so what do we do?" I stammered, frightened at the prospect of me having to say it. "Snape's headmaster now. That probably means that some big changes are on their way. We can't wait for them to arrive, carrying our salvation for us."
You try and portray him as stammering and awkward, but in the same paragraph, he’s suddenly the leader and confident and making decisions to lead a group of students in a rebel force against Hogwarts before school even begins? It’s possible, but not probable at all that something like this would happen. It’s hard to have your character portrayed two different ways, especially at the beginning of your story, and have your readers believe what you’re writing.
"Yes!" Ginny and Luna both hastily agreed.
This is also awkward. Suddenly Ginny and Luna are following Neville? They’re instantly on the same team and hastily starting a rebel force before they get to school. I understand Ginny’s bitterness—that’s something you hit spot on in your characterization—but I don’t understand this immediate agreement on the plan. I know it’s something that has to happen, but I just don’t see anyone but Ginny feisty enough to start something on the train.
I’m a bit confused on your Luna. I don’t remember the Luna from canon being a giggler, but you have her giggling every time she speaks. It seems a bit out of character for her, and it’s distracting to read.
"Welcome, wizards- and witches-in-training," he started, his voice as sour and dead as usual.
I would never describe Snape’s voice as “dead.” I would describe Professor Binn’s voice as dead. Maybe I would describe an exhausted person’s life as dead. But I’m not sure Snape could ever speak in a voice that sounded dead—especially not when he’s in a position of power in front of his students.
Then in DADA, I’m confused at the lack of reactions to Professor Carrow’s question and assignment of the Unforgiveable Curses. Don’t any of the students remember their fourth year when the Death Eater in disguise, Professor Moody taught them a similar curriculum? Or are they just all silent. I’d think that Neville, in his thoughts at least, would be replying/responding more to Carrow’s questions than thinking that Hermione would know if she were there. She did know, but so did Neville in fourth year. And all of them should have known because they all learned it then.
Also, I’m not sure a foot “nudging” Neville is enough to make sure he’s okay. And you never mentioned him being near a wall at all when he was getting the curse. I was startled to even see that he had a scar so immediately. Scars don’t happen that fast, he would at least have had a wound of some sort at dinner.
The best part about your story is this line: They were here to destroy Hogwarts; we were here to save it. I believe that captures the essence of what you’re after. If you could make this the focus of your story, and everything that happens, I think your story would connect more. So although you have a lot of characterization issues, I think you story has potential because of that last significant line: students saving the school. It’s interesting… good luck in making it happen!
This story is nice. You did a good job of describing Andromeda’s emotions. She’s lonely and lost and without family, and you covered all of that.
Sometimes your sentences were really choppy, though that short structure all together helped to convey the helplessness and disoriented feeling someone who had lost everything would have felt.
I find it interesting that you chose to jump right into how Andromeda met Ted in the middle of her mourning. It kind of fit, but felt slightly out of place. It’s like the descriptions you used were only half-hearted. It didn’t quite feel like you meant what you wrote.
She remembers her little girl desiring to be an auror. and herself being worried for
I’m not sure if the period should be a comma or the and should be capitalized, but that’s something small you might want to change.
Overall, I thought you told a basic story. A girl fell in love, had a family, and everyone died. I would have liked to learn a little bit more of the details that draws you to this character. Why did you chose a story about Andromeda? Why does she connect to you? Why is she important to you? The reasons you write about her, or why she’s important to you (if she is) should come out in your writing. We as readers want to feel the same connection you have to your characters, but we can’t feel it unless you share with us more of the details in a more convincing way.
So, nice work on this story, but I look forward to reading some of your stuff as you continue to develop as a writer!
Hm… this is interesting. I’m actually very intrigued by it. I like the liberties you took by making the story AU. It’s actually a nice change for me to read. But I suppose I don’t read much dark/angsty so I wouldn’t know how different it is from other stories written in a similar style.
I like the perspective you give from inside Draco’s head. It’s nice to see him as an objective person while inside Azkaban. It’s nice to see him grown up a little from who he was in Hogwarts.
Interesting about his wife… I would have thought there could be more description there. Not necessarily more emotion, but if there were more description or thoughts, that story sequence would have connected with me more.
I also thought that there would have been more with Draco and the guard. Or at least more of Draco’s thoughts around the guard to conclude the unexpected visit from his wife.
Also, perhaps I missed something, but I wasn’t quite sure why Draco was in Azkaban. I didn’t think you got sent there for substance abuse? Or were they after him for another reason because he was in hiding? I missed that part of your story, was it clear?
Anyways, nice work with this, it made me think, and it was nice to read from his perspective in prison—the one place that made him more rational. Interesting.
Author's Response: I don't read (or write, for that matter, with this as the sole exception) D/A either, so I don't know how it fits into the genre. It's funny, I only have one Romance story on the site, when out of the hundreds of pages of fanfic I've written 99.9% of it is solely that! Good point about Astoria. If I ever journey into the dark lands of editing I will look into it! Ohh, Draco was in Azkaban because he killed the Muggle bartender--it wasn't said explicitly; I just hoped it would be clear with the "flash of green light" thing... Hmm. I'll see what I can do to make that clearer! Thanks so much for taking the time to write a thoughtful review; I really appreciate it! :)
I really like the concept of this story. I find it precious that you allow James and Lily a moment with the son they never knew. It’s a nice concept that when Harry truly realizes his father’s Animagus form, his father was really, really there. Literally rather than figuratively.
Push! Push! Push!
I’m not sure this was the best way to open the scene. It didn’t quite convey the tone the rest of the story is written in. Yes, James is pushing and willing to escape the wand, but these three words in command form almost cheapen the emotions of the story. They instantly change the entire tone of the scene, and it doesn’t match the emotions of James finally being back on the school grounds he knew so well with the people in his life he cares the most about. Something less distracting would have opened the scene better, in my opinion.
to escape from the depths of my only child’s wand.
Although the phrase “from the depths of” is a bit cliché, it works in this sentence. I like the imagery you created that wands have deep inner magic other than the thin stick people hold, that they truly have a deep, magical core. That’s a nice touch.
and followed the direction, that the wand I had just left, was pointing in.
This part of the sentence is choppy and a bit confusing. It would have been clearer if the commas weren’t there. The commas divide “that the wand I had just left” from the rest of the sentence, essentially saying “followed the direction was pointing in.” But that’s not what you meant even though that’s what you wrote. So get rid of the commas. You could even get rid of “I had just left” and the story would still be clear because you already opened the scene with James escaping the wand. To repeat it in this sentence is a bit redundant, but it also makes the wording confusing.
Dementors. But why weren’t they effecting me? And why was Harry there, when I’d just seen him?
I really love the paragraph before this one. I love feeling Prongs run again, and the joy it brings him. The feeling of running and noticing trivial things such as the wind attempting to stop you but being able to push through it as though it were nothing. However, then you write the quoted three sentence paragraph. And it is so different than the previous. It’s almost as if this is a different writer. Yes, your James is confused in the moment, but this seems out of the moment, nearly out of character. James is not a questioner, he’s a doer. So this throws the tone of the story yet again.
Also, in both paragraphs you use “effect” and I believe it should be “affect.” Minor detail, but it will be easier on the readers if it’s correct.
Bowing my head, I charged into the midst of the eerie, black creatures. I circled them; no fear flowed through my veins. My hoofs were making no imprint on the forest floor. I began to wonder what was wrong with me.
Again, you create this beautiful imagery, and then you tack on the last sentence. Yes, James isn’t the same James; he’s not even the same Prongs. But the way you phrase his confusion doesn’t sit right in the tone of the rest of the story. Maybe you’re trying to make us uncomfortable—in a way feeling what James is feeling. But I think you could do it in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the story. In a way that makes it more natural; in a way that makes it truly feel like one last venture on Hogwarts’ grounds for Prongs.
Also, just for wording purposes, did you mean Prongs charged “into” the midst of Dementors or did he charge “through” them? Into implies a stopping, while through, in my mind, implies a scattering. It may not make a huge difference to you, but the more you understand your word choices, the more writing tools you’ll have to create more varied stories.
Anger surged through me, and I galloped around my friend.
Again, a minor word choice, but did James gallop around his friend because he was angry at Sirius’s appearance? Or did anger surge through him “as” he galloped around his friend? The way it’s written, it feels as though it should be “as.”
Harry Potter. I wished I knew him. Standing before the boy, I steadily observed him, slowly lowering my head so that I could soak him in properly. I didn’t take my eyes from him. Not once.
I love this paragraph. I love that there are so many emotions James is feeling now, there is so much love emanating from him, and you convey it so simply we can feel the purity in James’s thoughts. It’s beautiful.
I gulped down the guilt. If I had looked after Harry and Lily better, he wouldn’t be in this position now.
This is the only time you ever mention James feeling guilty for anything while having this experience. Yes, I’m sure James feels guilty he left his son alone and probably blames himself for dying and not being there. But you don’t take the opportunity to explore his guilt or develop or even explain it briefly. So this one sentence feels out of place, particularly after the deep love he’s just felt for his son, particularly after the reminiscent feelings of what he was like while he was at Hogwarts and wondering what his son is like. It just doesn’t fit in the frame of mind you’ve set for James so far.
The only other thing (apart from the scar) that wasn’t mine, were Harry’s eyes. His eyes I knew so well. I had looked at Lily Evans enough. He had her emeralds, and I wished she were here now to see them.
I love that James recognizes Lily in their son. But then you say, “I had looked at Lily Evans enough.” Well I should hope he’d seen her enough, not only did he have a psychotic crush on her at school, they were married and had a son together. This sentence, again changes the tone and makes the writing feel more amateur than the rest of the pieces you have in it.
And then at the end of the scene, James reflects on Sirius and his friends, but Sirius differently, I assume because he’d just seen Sirius? Instead of asking where Remus and Peter were and about Sirius separately, I would just wonder what had become of them all together. That would flow better and not be as distracting.
(And I really loved the paragraph where James had to leave. Very well written. Very concise yet beautiful.)
What about Sirius? How could I tell Lily about that?
I’m not sure what you mean by this… why could he not tell Lily about what just happened? Is he referring to their Animagus forms? In your story does Lily not know about them even after they’d spent more than a decade together? I’m just confused about this question and why James would even ask it.
This time, instead of sitting and wondering, I plunged right in. I knew exactly what I was going to say to my wife. Everything. That’s no less than she deserved. Lily Evans had been through just as much - if not more - than I had. She deserved to hear it all.
Again, as much as I love the imagery and conviction James conveys in this paragraph, I’m not sure I completely understand it. Was he trying to protect Lily from the knowledge that their son was fighting Dementors? That Harry almost died? What is James hiding from Lily? What does it matter that Lily had been through so much and deserved to hear the truth?
If anything, I would think James would rejoice from this experience and although Lily might know/not understand why James had left, they would share the joy in one of them being so near their son once again. So it confuses me that after the beautiful moment, James would need to convince himself to tell Lily everything. I think you meant it as a beautiful conclusion, but it would work better if it was more uplifting, more joyful, to match the tone of raw emotion James had felt throughout the rest of the story.
If you couldn’t tell, I kind of liked it. :) I did have a lot to say, but I really was impressed with a lot of things that happened in your story. Nice work on this piece, and I look forward to seeing more great pieces from you!
Author's Response: Thank-you so much for that lovely review! I never expected to receive something this good. When I write, I just tend to write, and I don't think much about how things fit into the story, but this feedback has really opened my eyes. I'm definitely going to go back sometime and rewrite the whole thing, taking your comments into account. Because this review makes sense! How can James's emotions go from one extreme to another? I'm really pleased you took the time to do this review, it has really helped. You picked out some real good points. I'm not sure when I'll get time to edit my story, but I'll definitely do it. I'm really pleased you liked it, and thank-you so much for this review - it's the best, exactly the kind every author needs. :)