Hi darling! I was very excited when you request this. Mainly because I love reading fellow Gryffies work, but now that I've read the first chapter I'm even more excited because of how different this story is!
To address your first concern of this being too information heavy: No, I don't think so at all. I think you've set Emily in a perfect position to be dwelling on this. The last day of school after two terrible years of teaching seems like it would put anyone into an introspective kind of mood, and I think you really moved her train of thought along well. There were a few parts that I think felt unnecessary. Mainly when she was talking about her year on the run. I think that instead of her thinking of what the facts to to (she'd been on the run, she'd met up with people, Snatchers occasionally found them, and so on) you should focus on her feelings. We know what is was like for a Muggle-born on the run during the HP series, so we don't need the added bit about snatchers and such. I think instead if you ever wanted to edit this you could focus on what it was like for her to not know where her next meal would come from, being so cold and tired and sick of it all. You do that a bit at the end, but I think you could make it primarily about that. Wanting to stop fighting, to let yourself just be done with it all, is a really powerful sentiment so I think surrounding that in all the things that drove her to feeling, instead of just the facts, would be really powerful in that paragraph!
I love that Emily has lost so much spark. That sounds mean, right? But I'm thinking this story will be about her finding that spark again, about recovering and moving on and learning to be Emily again, so starting her out in such a dull sort of feeling, almost like she's on autopilot and has to remain that way to get through the day was absolutely an awesome choice. That gives you so much room to build her character back up, to let her grow into a person who has a passion for life again, and eek that all just makes me so excited!
Her realization at the start of the story about it being *her* that is making the class boring was really awesome, as well. I also think that you could really tie in that first section and all her thoughts about the war if you could insert something during the first part when she's still with her students about her feeling like if maybe if they understood how lucky they are to be alive during this time, if they understood what everyone had to sacrifice to get them in that school and free, maybe they'd pay more attention. That would kind of build her feelings later in the chapter up, so we'd really understand how much the war has changed her.
To be honest, all the things I'm pointing out are just suggestions for an already amazing start. You can not listen to any bit of what I've said and leave the first chapter how it is, and it would still be a really intriguing beginning.
Oh! And McGongall! She felt perfectly fine to me. I think that you put her in a good balance between being the McGongall we see with students and the one we'd imagine with colleagues. Not bright or bubbly or anything, but not as stern as she is with students. A very good combination!! I also liked that she believed in Emily so severely. That made me want to believe in her, which already made me feel like I was getting attached.
This is a really lovely start, and I hope I was able to be helpful!! Please feel free to request for the next chapter ♥
Author's Response: Thank you so much for reviewing this :) I really appreciate your comments and it gave me lots to think about.
I'm glad you don't think this chapter is information heavy, I guess you just hear a lot of "make your first chapter catchy, reel your audience in" blah blah blah so when I wrote a non-action first chapter that's all this internal moping, I worried that it might not work, but it does seem to set the tone.
You know, I hadn't thought about the whole reflections being purely about her actions/facts and not her feelings. I might have a little look at that section and see if there's some tweaking I can do, although I don't want to put too great a focus on her feelings at this point, because the plan is for her feelings to seep out slowly throughout the story, almost like she's hidden them away from herself but they start to escape. So there may not be a lot I can change there but I'll have a look at it all the same. It's always good to look at things with fresh eyes I think.
lol...not mean at all about Emily losing her spark. As the story progresses you see just how much spark she has lost - almost like who she is and who she was are two different people! This story is definitely about the rebuilding of a person who had been deeply affected by war, I mean yes there's a little bit of romance and a bit of action planned, but essentially this story is about Emily's journey. I'm glad you picked that up :)
When I wrote that bit about her class being boring, it made me smile. :) I think it's a good demonstration of how low Emily's self esteem is - how little she thinks of herself. That's a really interesting suggestion about tying in her thoughts about the war with her thoughts about the kids being bored, but unfortunately I don't think it would work, mostly because I think it would be out of character for Emily to think that way. Whilst she does get cross with her students and blame things on them sometimes, she mostly sees her student's lack of interest as her own fault. She places a lot of blame on herself (something that's explored in further chapters) and believes that her classes are boring because she's a terrible teacher. Also, I suppose this isn't obvious yet, but Emily doesn't see the war as something to be proud of - for her it is a source of fear and nightmares. Oh and this class is sixth year so they would have actually been first years during the war/at the time of the Battle of Hogwarts...I think. I need to get my timeline sorted out properly but I'm pretty sure that's right. But like I said, thank you for the suggestion all the same :)
Oh I'm so pleased you liked McGonagall...I think she's the thing I'm most worried about in this whole story! I will be interested to see what you think of my characterisation of her as the chapters progess though.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this awesome review. It was so helpful and really did make me think about aspects of this chapter that I hadn't considered before. It also helped me to think about my main character and why she acts and thinks the way she does, which was actually really encouraging because it made me realise I have a pretty deep understanding of Emily.
Really, thanks again and I'll request the next chapter once your review thread is empty :)