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Review:Cherry Bear says:
So, I'm basically a horrible person, because you won my Hooking First Sentence Challenge almost two years ago and then I sort of fell off the face of the Earth/HPFF and never reviewed your six one-shots like I promised. But now I'm back and you will get your well-deserved reviews! And I'm extremely sorry for the long wait.
I swear, everything of yours that I read is always so beautifully written and carefully constructed. You have an incredible talent for not writing too much and not writing too little; the pacing and flow of this one-shot are excellent. I also really enjoy your word choice. You have a knack for wording things in a somewhat unconventional way but still pulling it off magnificently. For example, I loved in the first few lines, when you described the owl's eyes and how they "always soaked up and swallowed his gaze." But I think my favorite part of this piece is when "Rolf briefly tasted the word suicide" and the paragraph that followed. Somehow, you make your protagonist contemplate suicide in the most logical, least angst-filled way possible, and it truly speaks volumes about the character you've created here.
I think it's your characterization that really makes this story enjoyable. It's very different from the one-shots I'm used to seeing on HPFF, in that it focuses on a very minor character (pre-Luna, nonetheless) and, in my opinion, is more character-driven than plot-driven. The story-line itself is almost simplistic (that's definitely not an insult) and I liked how you used the story to provide insights into Rolf's character, without forcing these insights on the readers. And you've definitely created an interesting character here, no question about that. I was particularly intrigued by how dependent Rolf seems to be on these magical creatures, as if he prefers their company to humans; I thought it was interesting (and humorous) that he would use magical creatures to help cope with his break-up. It definitely makes me wonder what kind of relationship your Rolf will have with Luna in the future, and I wish this was more than a one-shot so I could read more about your Rolf.
There were a few minor mistakes in here. Mostly, I noticed that your dialogue punctuation is a little bit off. When you have a dialogue tag (i.e. 'he said') in between two sentences of dialogue, it's followed by a period. For example, in
"I wish I needed you," he sighed, "You look like a wise old thing. But I already have an owl."
there should be a period after 'sighed' instead of a comma. So it would be
"I wish I needed you," he sighed. "You look like a wise old thing. But I already have an owl."
In addition, when you use a semicolon, both sides of the semicolon have to be complete sentences. So, with the sentence, "Gail had just given him the greatest gift of all; a reason to let her go," a colon would be more appropriate than a semicolon.
But, aside from all that nit-picky stuff, I don't really have anything to criticize about this story. It was well-written and funny, and I really enjoyed the characterization. I think a lot of authors could take a page out of your book on how to create realistic, believable characters with normal, not overdramatized lives. Overall, I really enjoyed this. Good job!

Cherry Bear

P.S. I just noticed the title and I love it. Has anyone ever told you that you're exceptionally clever? Because you deserve to hear that more often.

Author's Response: Hey, don't worry about it, I'm the queen of falling off the earth/procrastinating. I entirely forgot about the prize, to tell you the truth, that challenge was back in the good old days when it was actually fairly uncommon for challenges to come with prizes... These days everyone feels like they have to lure contestants in with promises of reviews and favorites and whatnot.

But now that you're back, at least for now, I remember very clearly how wonderful and detailed your reviews have always been. So even though I'm a slow responder (feel free to kick me for that), you can rest assured that your reviews, with or without criticism, tend to make my day. They are always very, very thoughtful.

I think I word things the way I do because I shy away from long descriptions, and tend to rely more on word choice or a key sentence here and there instead. I have a huge fear of boring people. ;) It's great to hear that I pulled it off here, especially in something I wrote quite some time ago. As for the part where Rolf considers suicide, I vaguely remember wanting to talk about it, without making it long, dramatic, and something that would increase the story's rating. So I did my best to tone it down and keep it brief. It's reassuring to hear it worked out.

Arrgh, punctuation! You can definitely tell I wrote this some time ago, because believe me, I know my punctuation now. ;) I will go back and edit all those out. It's embarrassing to think of the number of stories on my page where it looks like, "'I need you.' He said."

Anyway, thank you for such a lovely review! I'm glad you think Rolf turned out to be a realistic character, quirks and all.

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