|Review:||Cassie Whitmann says:|
You know, it's really quite unusual how you come about describing things.
You describe the people physically and emotionally quite exquisitely, and yet I'm still a little perplexed by how you choose to use your setting descriptions.
The original post you made requesting a review was very adamant on making sure the story could technically stand alone, as if it were a novel on it's own. A reasonable inquiry if I ever saw one, and so I am perplexed, and I shall explain.
In comparison to the first chapter, there is more setting description going on here, that I will definitely agree. What gets me a little is how and what you choose to use it on, with the idea of what you are wanting.
You describe the 'non-canon' locations with more detail than the canon ones, which could be determined by the fact that you're basing it off of somewhere you've physically been verses somewhere you haven't.
What is the problem with this? Well, if I were to start reading this and didn't know it was related to Harry Potter at all, the original locations, which we see momentarily are described in such a nature, that they seem to hold a heavier importance than the canon, well trodden, well loved locations.
Now, with the assumption that you're kind of looking for something that could stand on it's own I think a little work will need to be done with the distribution of of description, if you know what I mean.
Make the reader see what you're seeing, believe that all the locations are real, breath life into your world. This is your story, this is your world now. It doesn't matter how many times JK Rowling described a place, you describe it how you see it, as if the reader has never heard of it before.
You say the Burrow is a sprawling cottage. What does that look like to you? To some, the idea of a cottage, is a small cozy place, with wood floors, a real wood fireplace, tucked back in the forest where the sun sets to the sound of croaking frogs and the haunting cries of loons echoing across the lake. To others however, cottages are expensive, lake-side properties with full electricity and flat screen TVs, topped off with fancy 'toys' that they spend hours of their days ripping around the water and roads alike on, the chatter from the gathering of family, friends and neighbors the last sounds before drifting off to sleep. So you see, how YOU perceive the location, reflects what we, the reader see. I'm sure both of those little descriptions gave you two distinctly different cottages in your head.
To me, the Burrow is a mash-up of real locations and fictional ones alike brought together. The living room a bit like the layout of a house I lived in when I was younger, the kitchen, somewhat like that we see in 12 Grimmauld Place of the movies, and an upstairs similar to my best friend's old house. All with a patchy, well loved, slightly worn Weasley touch we see of the Burrow in CoS.
We begin to see this love with your original places, and even then, some more can be added, don't spend forever on what your characters are taking in, but things like, he sat down on the wobbly kitchen chair. Even that gives the reader an image in their mind. I personally, immediately picture an old kitchen table set we had at Mum's with the legs falling apart like this one chair at my Dad's.
It's important to describe, but also to distribute. Locations that don't have a strong presence in the story, don't need nearly the detail that the frequented ones do.
Just like in real life, first impressions count for everything, what are the characters impressions, what makes that so?
Remember to try and use the five senses when describing places: touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound. And it's definitely not expected that you use them all to describe everything, just remember that you're not JUST limited to sight. They'll trigger a more realistic experience for your reader ;)
Great work so far, can't wait to read the new chapter! If you want more reviews let me know, hopefully this one was helpful! Keep it up!
Author's Response: Thanks very much for this - a really thought-provoking review that, I think, hits the nail well and truly on the head and sums up the way I write/have written the last few chapters.
It has really made me think hard about what I'm going for in the text and is immensely valuable for that fact. My instinctive first reaction when I read that review were "but everyone knows what the Burrow looks like" - I think that sums up where I am with the writing (i.e. lazy with descriptions of scenery and over-reliant on JKR's canon when it comes to that) versus where I could be/need to be if I want to hit the next level. My excuse is that the stories are more about the people than the places, but that's pathetically lame. I should probably clarify that I meant whether this story stands alone without reading my first one, not whether it stands alone outside the Potterverse - the answer to that is, clearly, no!
I know things are unlikely to be much better in the next few chapters (as they're already written) but I will make a conscious effort with the rest of the story to target this depth of description - I know I can be single-minded to a fault and that clearly rubs off in the writing style.