I'm an avid reader turned fanfiction writer who aims to one day be paid for original stories, but for now is satisfied with the invaluable reward of reviews (and three Quicksilver Quill awards). ^_^
Summary: A poem about the deaths of the Potters.
Hi Meg! Author notes can add a lot to a chapter or poem, so I second Gina's idea for you to talk about what inspired you if you need words to reach the minimum required. If you don't feel an idea's particulary inspirational to share, why not talk about the vision you had in your mind when you were writing instead? I'd love to read it.
The use of "blemishes" is intriguing. Is it white marks contrasting with the Dark mark?
As much as I liked your poem's abstract quality which left it to the reader's imagination to create mental images, it left me wondering what you saw. Colors have so many different shades that convey different emotions, which is an aspect the poem lacks. It reminds me of a film sequence where you see something happening, or a flashback, and it's all sight without sound or emotional reaction.
It isn't that I appreciate the visual emphasis less, it's just an observation, part of what I hope you'll consider "a lovely long review".
Summary: "It's really rather tooth and claw. Most things want to bite or sting or kill you," Gloria Greengrass tells Winston Flint, as they walk through the woods together after Lucius and Narcissa Malfoyâ€™s wedding.
Shortly afterwards Gloria is found murdered. As the Auror Fabian Prewett begins to question the suspects, he finds himself asking who would want to kill a fifteen-year-old girl?
This is welshdevondragon of Gryffindor writing for the 2011 Mysterious May Challenge in the Great Hall, Prompt number two
Due to the current MNFF glitch, I have changed the rating to 3rd-5th years BUT this is a 6th-7th years story, and therefore should be read as such.
I'm always interested in other writers' first chapters, wondering how they'll draw the reader in and what hook they'll use to make them want to hit the "Next" button. I think your ending was well done. The scream made me almost forget to review, but the beginning starts slow, and I wonder why you didn't choose to use Winston's pov sooner. You could have let the reader see the wedding and Gloria through his eyes, have him invite her to take a walk and go from there.
I enjoyed your description of the walk. I could feel the warm stillness of the air and picture the trees and the look on Winston's face when he heard Gloria's unsettling view of nature and what she loves about it.
I'm curious to know why you chose to have Winston think Florence "rather silly" before she threatened to kill him (and Gloria) if they gossiped about her indiscretion. Are you going to have him tell about it later and have no one believe she's capable of murder?
Also, since these are purebloods, why are they smoking cigarettes? Wouldn't they regard it as something filthy Muggles do? I understand he's smoking so he could lean down and see the ring (and probably later be searched and have it found, incriminating him) but unless you put something like "elf(or wizard)-made cigarrettes" it's hard to believe he'd actually smoke them.
Your characterization of Daphne reminds me of Mrs. Bennet in P&P. I can easily imagine someone saying of her "She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper." :D
Off to read ch 2.
Summary: The Shrieking Shack has been empty for years. People think that it will always remain so. But things are about to change when a werewolf attack changes the life of Dominique Weasley.
I like the idea of werewolves out to finish the job Greyback started with Bill and Dominique caught in the crossfire. If you have her living a Remus-type existence at Hogwarts, hiding her condition from people, escorted to the shack, I think there's a lot of potential for angst and drama, both in her family and personal relationships.
I'm not sure if that's why the werewolves were there on the beach, though, because that wasn't explained. If you'd opened the story with Dominique going to the cliff even though her parents have forbidden it because she doesn't believe Dark werewolves who want to hurt her dad can find them there, that would have raised a story question and explained why the werewolves happened to be on a beach in Cornwall. Grimmauld is referred to as the safe house, which implies the family was aware of danger.
It felt like a lot of time passed from the moment Dominique ran back to the cottage to when the children Flooed to Grimmauld Place. The cottage is small enough where it would have been believable for family members in different rooms to hear the door slam and come in to find out why.
The action scene had a great pace and sense of dawning horror as Dominique paid the price for returning to Shell Cottage. I'm not sure I believe a ten year old has seen or read enough to have "horrible visions of what was to come," but the knowledge that her life has changed making it feel like a nightmare felt spot-on, and I'm looking forward to the next chapter.
Summary: What might've happened if Harry hadn't triumphed over Voldemort?
The dark tone is expected, but it could have been light if you'd written from a different perspective, like Bellatrix, if she’d lived and Molly had died. The use of the crystal ball makes me think Trelawney is the one gazing into the future. Is that who you meant the reader to picture?
The opening lines drew me in. They have a LotR quality. “And in the darkness bind them” sort of thing. As the poem progresses, there’s a feeling that “one by one, the free lands (of the wizarding world) fell to the power of (darkness).” There’s a palpable strain of melancholy through the stanzas as the pov character sees one bleak aspect of the future after another “stretching, stretching, stretching forever.”
I found the repetition of the “stretching” line powerful, and the first line, too, could have been effectively repeated at the end.
Darkness enslaves us, ensnares us
As it infiltrates everything.
You’ll notice I simplified “quickly infiltrates” to “infiltrates.” There’s a wordiness that I think would benefit from being streamlined.
Some of us are going to change for the worse,
Will turn off our morality to protect ourselves.
Some change for the worse,
Turn off morality for self-protection.
It’s just an example, because it’s your poem and I’m just responding to it from a reader’s (and sometimes fellow poet’s) perspective. I would have liked more imagery because words like death, torture, and threat are harsh, but general, and specifics would have created vivid mental images and evoked more emotion.
Overall, I enjoyed your use of darkness as a motif and your use of repetition gave the poem a rhythm reminiscent of goblin drums—dark and foreboding. I hope you’ve found this review helpful, and as elves would say, No in elenath hîlar nan hâd gîn.
May all the stars shine upon your path.
Summary: The Goblins are a fierce race, known for their vicious and blood-thirsty rebellions. They do not mix well with humans. Then why are they holding a conference with all the senior members of the Ministry of Magic? Bill Weasley suspects something is going on.
What happens when the goblins revolt against the Wizards in Gringotts? Can Bill and the others escape in time?
Based on a true story.
Hi, Nadia, I like your premise very much. When I read “based on a true story” I thought you meant a true wizard story, and that was interesting claim, but based on a Muggle story is intriguing, too. The Prologue introduces the goblin conspirators and gives just enough information to make me want to read the next chapter to see what happens. That was well done. In the end notes of chapter one, you say that you know the chapter is a bit overdramatic, but the story hasn’t properly started yet, and I have to disagree. Readers know that wizards will attend a conference with goblins under the false belief that goblins want to “get on good terms with them” and be in peril. That is a proper start. The melodrama comes from the descriptions.
Although the pov is third person omniscient, the goblins are described in ways that show narrator bias and make them stereotypical bad guys. Bordock “narrowed his eyes, distorting his already-grotesque face even more.” And soon afterward, “the ugly face of a large, brawny goblin came into view.” If you cut out “the ugly face of” out, the description in the following sentence would show his face and let the reader decide if it’s ugly.
and soon a large, brawny goblin came into view. The flickering light of the flames threw relief to the deep cuts scarring his face. His small eyes were bloodshot.
In the last paragraph of chapter one, if you cut the sentence about Bordock’s laugh sending a chill down someone’s spine, you’d keep the drama without veering into melodrama:
Bordock threw his head backwards and laughed loudly. His laugh reverberated off the walls of the chamber. Argunk and Gorbuk joined in with him, and together the three goblins celebrated at the doom that was about to befall.
The element I found missing, that kept a proper start from being a spectacular start, was motivation. The goblins look forward to their “long-awaited freedom,” but what does that mean? How do they feel oppressed? If you’d shown that, woven it into the dialogue that happens before Gorbuk arrives, or even when Bordock starts roaring about the victory to come, I think it would have given depth to the story. The Bangladesh Rifles had specific reasons for revolting against their officers. Reasons aren’t excuse, but they do allow understanding and complexity when it comes to stories.
Chapter two struck me as a nice series of calm before the storm moments that gave background information and set up the time of the revolt with the family Quidditch match on Thursday. Because of its switch in tone and pov from the prologue, consider using a line at the beginning like Shell Cottage, Cornwall and then a space to show the break and create a smoother transition.
My favorite line was Bill telling Fleur, “But after seeing you I feel much more… energetic.” It was spot on Bill Weasley to me. Him blushing at being caught kissing his wife, though, didn’t ring as true to my perception of the character, and it was hard to believe he’d forget a huge family dinner or mentally slap himself. His interaction with the girls, however, struck me as very “dad” with Bill promising Dominique a garden to stop a quarrel and then pretending not to see them pout after he says it’s time for bed.
The end of chapter two was sweet. I just wish it had been less so: that Fleur, instead of acting wifely/motherly and kissing Bill “once” and saying, “Let’s go to sleep now. You’ve got work tomorrow. Ze senior curse breaker does not want to be late, does ‘e?” took off her negligee and asked, “Are you still feeling energetic?” I smile to think of the grin on Bill’s face as he strips off his pyjama top and answers, “Mais oui!”
Summary: The Fat Friar is a humble Hufflepuff, and had been long before his death. This story shows events in his life, as well as his loyalty for friends.
This is my submission for the First Hufflepuff Drabblethon
I liked your characterization of the Fat Friar, the way he nudged drunkards awake with his boot and was surprised that a newborn was so tiny after assuring the couple he'd had training to deliver a child.
In the first sentence, you have "He scrunched his nose to the onslaught of smells." Since a smell isn't corporeal, it might be better phrased scrunched his nose in reaction to the smells. Something else I noticed throughout was the use of dialogue tags that repeat what the dialogue itself says: slurred, admitted, reminded, assured, corrected, scolded, joked, promised. It's called said bookism, the use of different verbs to avoid said (or asked or replied). When too many said bookisms are used, it's like you don't trust the reader to understand that when someone says "Shush" that they're scolding, etc.
I've used said bookisms myself, so I understand the appeal, and I don't expect you to change anything. I'm just bringing them to your attention to give you something to consider in future writing.
I enjoyed the story, and in places thought if we were allowed two categories this would do well in the humor category, especially during Nicholas' letter relating the reason for his beheading.
The Friar's friendship with Nicholas was unexpected, in a good way, and his decision to remain as a ghost of Hogwarts, was a nice interpretation of canon.
Summary: This is Fynnsmom of Ravenclaw House writing for the 2011 Mysterious May Challenge in the Great Hall, Prompt #1.
Sybill didn't care how the device operated, she just wanted it to work.
That's my favorite line. It's very Sybill. :D
Gosh, it's been forever since I've been on MNFF. I kept getting "this site may harm your computer messages" that made me leery of signing on. I guess they had to update security certificates or something, but whatever, I'm glad I'm no longer getting dire messages, and I'm able to review.
Heh heh on submitting without changes. I think it was their turn apostrophes to question marks glitch that did it before.
Take care. :)
Author's Response: Thank you for the review. I've had problems getting in and out of this website so I've been slow to post and slow to respond. I've also been slow in general so maybe it's just me:D All I know is that something did harm my computer and now it's been about 10 days and I haven't been able to take it in to have it fixed yet. That's one of the disadvantages of living in the middle of nowhere. That line that you like may describe Sybill very well but it also describes me. A lot of times I don't want a song and dance about how something works--I just want it to work. I guess I'd better get going on another chapter in this story. See you next time.
I admire you for writing Sybill (I think one 'l' is US and two 'll' is UK...or one by land, two by sea, heh). You make her sympathetic, which can be hard to do. I hope you work in one of her "computer generated fortunes" into the story. That would be a lot of fun.
If anyone who reads wonders if I put the question marks into the text, no, I did not. :D
Summary: Recently, Muggles have noticed that small things are going missing. But these small things are getting bigger.
Something valuable has gone missing at Hogwarts. The teachers are somehow involved and no one seems to know the full story. Can Nina and Cleo figure out the answer before it's too late?
This is Russia Snow of Gryffindor writing for the 2011 Mysterious May Challenge in the Great Hall, Prompt #1.
Hi Russia! I was looking for a mystery to read and found yours. The title intrigued me. Is there really such a thing as a perfect alibi?
There’s a spacing issue at the beginning, your author notes are jammed against the first sentence, but I thought your opening was well done. You gave enough information to draw me into the story while heightening the mystery. Your opening read like a prologue, and third person omniscient point of view created an effective narrator tone. I wanted to know why the thief wasn’t done yet, what the thefts were practice for.
The use of third person omniscient pov in the main body of the story, though, wasn’t as effective to me. It created an impression of observing the characters. I felt like I was being told about them instead of experiencing the story with them. If these were canon characters, I think the style might have worked better. Nina and Cleo are original characters. I’m not instantly invested in their story. I wanted to learn about them the way I learn about new people in real life, bits at a time, getting to know their personalities so I’ll care about their school schedules and what their dorm mates look like.
When does the story take place? Their Transfiguration Professor is “Professor Ashfield,” but that could mean before McGonagall was professor as much as after. All I know for sure is it is happening in October.
There seemed to be a long setup to the trip to the kitchen. I did find it puzzling that Cleo seems to be a binge eater and Nina doesn’t remark on it past, “How have we shared a room for five years without me noticing?”
At the end of the first chapter, after one of the men says in the morning they’ll notice the store room broken into and “I’m sure someone will notice that that great big suit of armour has gone.” You have “Accidently accidentally” after the quotation marks. An accident?
The ending of chapter one was suspenseful. Would the men open the door and discover Cleo and Nina hiding? I liked that you didn’t just have the men be called away, that the girls hid in the cell beneath the grate and the room was searched before the men left. I also found it very believable that the girls would go back to their common room, although I would have liked some explanation why. They didn’t think anyone would believe them and they’d get in trouble: something.
Nina and Cleo became more “real” to me in the second chapter. Nina finding the place to hide and dragging her friend along, and Cleo the type who got a boy to do her homework because she considers herself terrible at drawing. Cleo characterization is less appealing because she seems a stereotypical fat girl, someone who overeats, is lazy, and dislikes learning (places of learning make her “feel dirty”). Cleo isn’t described as fat, so perhaps you were going for a Hermione and Ron type friendship/characterization?
I did very much enjoy the girls’ banter at the end of chapter two, when even though it’s not their business and they’ll probably get caught, they decide to go back and check out the storeroom anyway. It’s been months since the last chapter posted, and I don’t know when you’ll update again, but I hope you will, because want to find out who the thief is and how the girls’ story intersects with his (or hers).
Happy Halloween, and happy writing!
Summary: Can anyone ever be truly ready to say goodbye? A HP poem, about the pain of saying farewell.
Written for the Goodbye Challenge over on Poetry, Anyone?
I love author notes and enjoyed learning what inspired you, but I think it would have better served the reader if you had put the note at the end before asking what the reader thinks. As the first thing I read, with no separation from the poem itself (which is rather symbolic), your note limited my impressions of the poem and made me question word choice.
Instead of imagining a character writing this, maybe George at Fred's funeral, hoping he and Angelina keep his brother in their hearts, I read this as you saying goodbye to the films, and only after deliberately re-reading with a "what if I hadn't read the note?" outlook could I see a different possible meaning than the literal interpretation.
The poem has a nice rhyme scheme and the rhythm and flow of the stanzas are appealing, especially when read aloud (which I did).
My problem with word choice comes from knowing that the poem's about the films. In the first stanza, I couldn't help thinking in response to It’s come so soon, but why?, "Soon? It's been ten years, and you know why--there's no more books to make movies out of."
Because of the span of years, while I could identify with the feeling of being in a haze of how did time pass so fast, slow down, I had a hard time connecting with the emotion of keeping the films in our hearts when they're on DVD and can be watched anytime. The books are eternal and so are the films. Is the farewell to anticipation, to connection with the actors, and excitement over movie premiers? Farewell to childhood?
The repetition of time, farewell, heart and goodbye effectively highlight the sense of anxiety and self-comfort I think you're trying to convey in regards to the end of an era in film and secondary school. I just wish I could read about that after reading the poem.
Summary: A tribute to all those who died in the battle of Hogwarts. Poetry.
I don't know if poetry has a wide enough audience base for "plenty of feedback," but there's a Poetry Anyone group in the Beta forums you might be interested in, and I'm happy to read and give you my impressions. :)
Your poem brought to mind all the faces of students and teachers who weren't key players, perhaps, but fought and died for Hogwarts as much as those we mourned in the books. There's a simplicity in lines like "This is it, the night is black" that make me think the narrator is young, a student telling his family of what happened, or writing this poem of the Battle of Hogwarts which was read by him or her to loved ones or at a memorial day service years later.
Certain clues throughout, though, "invisible and unseen" and hope being fragile but "not but a ghost" could just as easily slant the poem's viewpoint to the ghosts of Hogwarts. The "family we'll never see again" could refer to those who died in the battle and became new ghosts.
The poem works on many levels, written by the living, the dead, or someone who was living and then died after writing the poem.
At the beginning, you seem to establish the rhyme scheme ABCB with "black" and "back." Afterward, though, the poem shifts into free verse with only the lines ending with "unseen" and "keens" rhyming.
Free verse doesn't rely on rhyme or structure, yet I found a structure that created an effective rhythm with shorter, beginning lines leading to the longer, emotional ones midpoem and then falling back into the shorter pattern for the end.
One line, "We cry silent tears and cry silent keens" is particularly striking, yet I think could have been more so if you hadn't repeated "cry." Keens are wailed and also sung. You could add layers of meaning if you used:
We cry silent tears and wail silent keens
We cry silent tears and sing silent keens
The second to last line, "Yet hope is hope" matches the simplicity of the beginning. It seems a bit pat, though. You might consider a different phrasing, something like:
Yet hope survives
And still we hope.
Thanks for sharing your poem. :)
Summary: Thousands of years before the Boy Who Lived fought He Who Must Not Be Named, a young boy gets by in a small farming village, until the magical day when a Wizard comes to town. The Wizard's tutelage begins a journey that will change them both, and alter the course of magic forever.
I believe the attempt to answer questions left a mystery in the books is one of the top reasons writers create Harry Potter fan fiction. Although yours may be "spurious" in that it's not canon, I found it genuinely plausible and truly enjoyable to read.
Ollie, later known as Ollivander, is an intensely driven character. He reminds me of Anakin Skywalker, the way he takes his mother always being there for granted and then is consumed with anger at her death. I think you use the shock and his reaction very effectively to set up his obsession with creating the perfect wand to stop death.
The wizard Malazed is a vividly drawn character and catalyst that brings about change. Your description of the children playing war games with the biggest and loudest being "Malazed the Great" creates a mental image as striking as "long, black hair matted against his hulking frame." I did notice that you repeated the description of hulking several times, which could be varied.
Another thing you could vary is the beginning of two back-to-back paragraphs near the end that start with "Angrily," and "Defeated,". I suggest cutting the first because you show that he's angry with his actions, and if the paragraph starts with "He threw a fistful of wands across the room" the next paragraph beginning--Defeated--will have more impact instead of being more of the same.
The dialogue throughout the story serves the plot and reveals character admirably. When Ilia says, “No magic tonight, Ollie. Please?” she shows her feelings more effectively than when the reader is told Ollie secretly hates his family or you use an author insertion such as (incidentally, she was). My favorite line is when Ollie asks why Malazed doesn't carry a sword and Malazed says, "I am the sword." It's a great line, and it's a good thing Malazed is off screen, so to speak, for much of the story, because he's a definite scene stealer. :)
I notice details, and the ones you use, from Ollie's room being a corner of the hut, Ilia's gray robes, and her hair tangled in pieces of glass, to the well-fortified town in the Kingdom of England, establish setting and show illness, loss, and the passage of time. In the opening paragraph, however, it's hard for me to buy that most other children play in the meadows instead of doing chores equally as arduous as Ollie's work, given the time period, and it will help readers see the bakery shop (is it on the first floor of a house with the living quarters above? A separate shop?) and village if you give a few more descriptive details.
The tragedy of Ollivander's eternal quest tugs at the heartstrings and makes the ending (with the literal tugging of heartstring) even more poignant.
The Rip Van Winkle effect of the time stop spell came across, and I hope inspiration will strike you again, and you write another story giving readers another possible explanation for another aspect of magical history. ^_^
Summary: Quirinus Quirrel is obsessed with flowers, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and the girl with the violet-blue eyes.
We know so little about Quirrel; I was intrigued by the thought of him in a romance. I like the premise, a boy who stutters learning to excel at Defense Against Dark Arts to impress a girl. I found that part of the plot well established and very believable.
I would have liked to have read a conversation between Quirrel and Lester that showed why his "friend" decided to pursue a
relationship with the girl his dorm mate liked--a girl Lester described as having "nothing between her ears." You went directly from Violet accepting a flower from Quirrel and then asking about Lester to Quirrel collecting violets obsessively despite the fact that his dream girl and his friend had become a couple. It made for uneven pace.
Violet turning to Quirrel when his friend broke up with her was an interesting development. For someone characterized as shallow and self-centered by her actions and Lester's comments, she comes across as surprisingly introspective, saying that girls like her "go for what we know will make us unhappy because if everything works out perfectly, we feel like we haven’t challenged ourselves. We might try to rebound on boys like you, but we always go back to the boys like Lester, the ones who will hurt us and make us cry. Don’t ask why. It’s just what will always happen.”
At the end, I had a hard time believing if Violet could do it again she really would have given Quirrel "a violet every day" as she declares at the end when she inherits his scrapbooks filled with flowers.
When she's told he's dead, Violet thinks: "the shy little boy who always stuttered in class… the boy who had learned every aspect of Defense Against the Dark Arts to impress her… the boy who gave her a flower the exact shade of violet-blue as her eyes… the boy who…" This makes me think she knew his feelings but was callous about them when she wasn't using them for her own ends. I'm left with the impression that even his scrapbooks will be used by Violet--maybe to impress her friends with the obsessive devotion she inspired.
While Violet's characterization seemed unbalanced, Quirrel as a character seemed very real even though he wasn't described. His thoughts, actions, and dialogue did an excellent job of creating a mental image of a boy I felt sorry for even as I wanted to slap him and say, "Snap out of it!" :D
I wish the story had been entirely in his pov, but that's just me disliking Violet and thinking Quirrel could have done better. :D Thank you for sharing your story.
Summary: "You are perfect to me, yeah, you're perfect, you're perfect..."
Remus says he too old and too dangerous. Tonks doesn't care. How will she convince him that he's nothing short of freaking perfect?
This is a Remus/Tonks Missing Moment from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince between chapters 29 and 30.
Remus had to add that bit at the end, didn't he. He couldn't just be happy and live in the moment. Sigh.
I really liked your story. I currently belong to SPEW, so I should probably be writing reams about your characterization, plot, descriptions, and pointing out a few errors you might want to fix, but I didn't want to analyze your story. I wanted to experience it along with the characters--so I did.
Thanks for making me smile along with Tonks!
Review end note (heh): If you save your document as a web page and upload to MNFF you don't have to put in the HTML tags. ;)