Another fabulous chapter! I'm running of out things to say, my dear - I've got no CC, no suggestions, nothing but praise and admiration and giddy fangirlish screaming.
You know, I don't know how I'm going to like Venn. He seems like a nice enough young man, but there's something about him - something possessive and controlling. Perhaps I'm imagining things and you've actually characterized him as sweet which means I've missed the entire point. We all want to be adored and be the center of attention, but he seems rather self-absorbed. And what he thinks of women? Rather like they're showpieces, but then I forget what era we're in (ahh, the feminist in me comes out!). Well, despite my sort-of, maybe, kind of dislike of him, I still think you are doing a fabulous job on his characterization. Everything is consistent and you slowly reveal more and more, as any wonderful novel should.
I can't wait until we see them together - I want Helena to show him that she's not just a pretty face, but is intelligent and has had an education and is somewhat independent.
Don't be alarmed by my dislike of Venn - it's just me trying to figure him out and what's going to come from all of this. Your story is impeccable. I can tell you're really getting into the groove with this story the further I read - you're becoming more comfortable, I think, and it is starting show.
As always, so wonderful. I should be writing, but this is a much better way to spend half an hour! :)
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Well, thank you! :D
Please, no need to apologize! You're not really supposed to like Venn at this point. He'll hit his stride a little later in the story. He's still really stubborn and selfish and juvenile, with these little hints that there could be a real human under there (such as the idea of his father's jacket being too burdensome for him). He clearly has a lot to learn yet about how to treat others and what is really important in life, and only time will tell if he really does learn those things. To make a long story short, if you find yourself sort of repulsed by him at this point, that means that I characterized him exactly as I meant to :)
You'll get to see Helena and Venn interact in the next chapter, and I can't wait to see what you think. Let's just say that he's met his match in many ways.
Thanks for this fantastic review, Shelby!
-Amanda Report Review
Hello darling! Here for a bit of review tag! (I've been meaning to pop over anyway and so finally getting around to it).
I don't know why, but something inexplicable drew me to this short story collection. I couldn't tell you what, but I was intrigued. Of course, that is thanks to your summary. Usually, I like short, snappy summaries, but yours was mysterious. That's a very difficult feat to accomplish, in my opinion, without sounding like one of those corny synopses on the back of a novel. So, bravo on the summary.
And your inclusion of lines from Paradise Lost! So, so perfect! Great way to introduce the chapter and, yet again, give us that mysterious, haunting feel. Voldemort is dead here, but there remains a sense of terror. I like it. Now, your narrator, Nott. I love the contrasts in his characterization/thoughts/personality. He is at once a loving father and a loyal follower of Voldemort. He has tender, kind memories of his youngest son and wretched, torturous memories of murdering those unlike him. It's a striking, wonderful contrast and one you pull of so well. I think that, as readers, we sometimes get caught up and do not realize that we ourselves are often a study in contrasts. We think that a character should have one particular trait and stay that way, but real life, real people don't do that. We're constantly changing and struggling against the forces of nature, of life, of others, of words, of actions. It's a twisted irony, I think. Anyway, that's probably one of the things I loved most about this story - the contrasts.
"The motley louse Weasley" - It's not supposed to be funny, it's supposed to be degrading, but this honestly cracked me up. I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit. We see the Weasleys as endearing, if not poor, people. They see them as dirty, ratty blood traitors and that couldn't be further from the truth. In fanfiction, we often see the Death Eater mentality from Bellatrix stories, but I like that you've chosen someone different and almost equally malicious (were it not for his love of his sons). Gosh, I just cannot get over the beauty of the contrasts! Ah
Well, after that nonsensical ramble, I suppose I should tell you that I enjoyed this immensely. Wonderful job!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hi! What a lovely surprise of a review! :)
I'm glad you liked the summary, especially since I changed it around a lot and was a little concerned! Hearing that it drew you in is great to hear!
I'm glad you liked the PL quote at beginning, I thought some of the themes of PL, especially the confusion of good and evil, were relevant to this story. I'm glad you liked Nott, and you're right, he really is full of contrasts! I think that, like the Malfoys, none of the Death Eaters would be entirely dark or good, and that their good natures come and go. I enjoyed writing him and playing around with the different layers to his personality!
That's such a wonderful point about how readers like to interpret characters, and I've definitely been guilty of that myself! My characters feel much more realistic to me through these contrasts, and I'm so happy that you enjoyed them! :)
Haha, I thought that line was funny too! I see Nott as being wicked and hard-hearted like Bellatrix, but without the bloodlust factor... he actually does have something to protect and live for in his sons.
Thank you so much for this really lovely review!! :D Report Review
Good gracious, such a good read, Amanda. You really have a talent for this genre and era. I think it's the way the dialogue and description compliment each other. I've always admired you for your wonderful style and voice as a writer - I'm really starting to adore your dialogue. I don't know if I told you in one of the other reviews, but I LOVE anything historical with good dialogue. I love that noble air, sentence structure, and vocabulary that accompanies pieces like this. It is making me fall in love with this story so fast, soon my reviews are just going to be fangirl squees over how wonderful everything is (but wait, that's what they are already!).
And your mention of "The Canterbury Tales" - to die for! I took a class specifically dedicated to Chaucer and he's one of my favorites. Speaking of Chaucer, I love that she reads but that she's also this closet girly-girl who draws and wishes for a perfect wedding and perfect dress. God, that is so me, it's crazy. She's so refined and so unlike my headcanon. I guess I always pictured her as bitter and haughty - I love your take on Helena though. She's so realistic. And how you're tying in Salazar! It's so genius!
I really don't have more for you other than I love coming to this story. It's going to be an HPFF classic - it already is, in my opinion. Can't wait until next time, Amanda!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hi Shelby :)
The dialogue can be challenging at points. When I started, I struggled between making it too high-sounding and letting it be too casual. Now and then I slip and accidentally use a contraction and then go back and spell it out. But yeah, I'm glad the final product works! It's nice to be able to return to this story after writing, say, a next-gen piece, because I really get to play with the elegance of the period.
I wanted my Helena to be normal, a girl to whom I could actually relate. She's clearly got a rebellious streak--and who wouldn't, when her mother is one of the Founders of a wizarding school in a time when most women weren't really allowed to do much at all--but she's still girly and curious and hard to pin down. The world is her oyster and she has a lot of interests. I guess you could say that I'm trying to normalize both Venn and Helena, and in doing so, I want to expose the good and bad parts of each of their characters.
Oh, and I'm pleased that you like Salazar :) He's definitely going to continue being a big part of the story, as will Rowena. Helga and Godric will also make appearances later on.
Thank you so much for this loveliness!!
-Amanda Report Review
Hello! WeasleyTwins/Shelby here for May Gryffindor review tag!
I must be honest when I say I'm not a fan of Severus/Lily. Never have been - I always thought that he didn't love her, but was rather obsessed with her. I put aside my prejudice so that I could do your story justice in my analysis and review and I'm so glad that I did!
Firstly, both your initial and final paragraphs are beyond reproach. I really enjoyed the scientific little twist you put into your descriptions - hemotoxin, neurons - it all worked so well. It elucidates Severus's emotional struggle as he faces impending death, but also the physical struggle that his body must face before death. It's both a striking and frightening image. I think what draws me to that description is the fact that it is so unlike anything I've seen in fanfiction. I am an advocate of the unique and unusual. I like things to be different without being ridiculous and you definitely accomplish that in those sections of description.
And oh my holy Harry Potter. Really. The memories that you chose to create and write about were perfect. I was so hoping as I began the chapter that they wouldn't be similar to those we see in The Prince's Tale. Oh no, they are creative and heartbreaking. It's funny the little things we remember that come to mean so much to us - that is one aspect I like about Severus/Lily. He cherished the inconsequential moments and that is a lesson we should all learn. You did it so well, my dear, so splendidly. A session of studying Potions becomes a memory that nothing, not even certain death, can make any less valuable.
HPFF continues to surprise me by bringing me to authors like you and stories like this. I cannot understand how so much artistic vision and talent can be contained in a human body. Something as loving and heartbreaking as this makes me wonder what kind of original masterpiece you could write. I don't know if you can tell, but I fell in love with this story. Absolutely fallen in love.
Thank you so much for the amazing journey - it was a joyful, if not sad, read. I will be visiting your page again very soon!
Shelby Report Review
Hi darling! I should be working on chapter three of TS, but I figured this was a much better way to spend half an hour! And it certainly was!
Okay, so you know how I love the snippets of the Death Eaters. Love, love it! I really like how you give us that glimpse into Lucius's mind - I've always thought that he was never truly enthused about Voldemort and you just confirmed my head canon! And that brief moment with Bellatrix - gosh, thought I would die. I'm supposed to hate her, but I'm oddly fascinated with her obsession with Voldemort and her twisted psyche. The entire section was brilliant. Just brilliant. Great description and characterization all-around.
I did notice one tiny (very miniscule) thing - aren't Lucius's eyes grey? I checked and the HP wiki said that they were, but it's your story and your creative license, so feel free to ignore me.
I'm really jealous of your dialogue. It is so good, Jami, so good. Are you sure you don't whip up these chapters in like an hour and then send them in all perfectly wrapped in a bow? I think you do. Oh, and this last section with the four in their forms! Oh. My. Holy. Harry. Potter. Where did you get the idea to write it from James's POV while he's in form? That is so genius. It was honestly fascinating and I was enthralled the entire time.
"Blue against grey. Steel against sky." - That last sentence, Jami. Don't ask me why, but my heart skipped a beat and...I think this is your shining star here. You know I always find the smallest things and think they're the best and this is one of them. It's short and striking. Steel against sky. It's more than the color of their eyes, but describes their personalities so well and in only three words. Three words. At the same time, they could be only one or they could be both. The steel of Sirius's resolve against Voldemort and the Death Eaters, to his need for freedom, for the sky. It's all so perfect. I can't handle it. SO MANY FEELS.
This review didn't make a bit of sense, it's just a squee. One big fangirlish squee. I can't wait to get to the next chapter!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Shelby!! How am I supposed to respond to such a completely amazing review?
Bellatrix is one of my very favorite characters to write. It was hard to not go with her PoV for this chapter, but I do like getting a bit from all different Death Eaters. And I wanted to show a more... sane perspective on what was happening, haha. But I totally get what you mean about not hating Bellatrix, because she's so, so fascinating! For me, she and the rest of the Death Eaters are a really nice way to balance out the Marauders not really understanding how bad things are outside of the castle.
I'm so happy you liked my descriptions! That's such an awesome compliment coming from you ♥
Haha yes, I'm pretty sure you're correct and Lucius's eyes are grey. Why I decided they're blue, I have no idea :P. Thank you m'dear!
Aww! You're going to turn me all mushy! How am I supposed to respond to your amazing compliments? Can I just sit here and grin like an idiot?
I had so much fun writing them transfigure into their animal selves. And putting a sort of... method behind it. I think that what they become is such a huge part of all the boys, that I really didn't want to just skim past their transforming. I'm so happy you liked that section!!
Aw Shelby!!! I'm so excited that you like that line! Actually I'm just on cloud nine with this entire review. Belle and Sirius have become one of my favorite parts about writing this story. And now with all your sweet words you're giving ME SO MANY FEELS!
Thank you so much Shelby ♥ ♥ Report Review
Hello! I'm here for a bit of review tag!
When I was trying to decide which of your stories to read, I was instantly compelled by this one. We all have those moments in our lives that define us and our lives, so I like the concept.
I myself have written and read quite a lot of stories using fragmentation and I thought you did it well! Not only is there a fragmentation between stories, but even within each section itself. I don't mean that the story is missing information or characterization, but highlights the things that Narcissa remembered the most. You really bring out her humanity in this piece. She doesn't really remember every aspect because you don't give us tons of descriptions - that would seem too stilted, in my opinion. That being said, I really enjoyed this story. I don't always read the Malfoys because I normally hate the way fanfiction writers characterize them as totally evil people. However, you've made them very human. We're not disconnected with their personalities like many other fanfiction stories, but given the opportunity to like them.
The only bit of criticism I have concerns your dialogue. I like the formal, old-world feel of the dialogue because it reflects their position as purebloods. However, there were a few places that deviated from this formal tone and jilted me out of the story a bit. One, in particular, is this line: "Dobby, be quick and prepare and bring me some milk for Draco." - I would suggest looking over the dialogue, especially in the last section. This is just my opinion, however.
Overall, I really enjoyed this piece. I thought it was admirable and made me actually like Narcissa!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hey! Thanks for reading and reviewing. Sorry for the delay in responding.
I am pleased you liked the concept of this, thanks.
Its great to hear that you think that the fragmentation worked well, and that Narcissa's humanity shown through with her important moments. Yeah, I thought too many descriptions would take away the feel I was trying to give to the story. I glad you enjoyed the story and liked my portrayal of the Malfoys.
Thanks for pointing out that bit about dialogue. I'll look through it again when I get the time and edit as needed.
Thank you so much for your words, and I am glad you liked Narcissa! Report Review
Hello Jami! It's about time I got back into the groove of reading and reviewing BTF!
I don't even know what to say to you anymore, I really don't. I'm getting so involved with the characters, I can't even think of anything mildly intelligent to say! All I want to do is flail around like the fangirl that I really am. Since I first discovered HPFF, I've read tons and tons of James/Lily and Marauder era stories. Tons. But I can honestly tell you that this is one of the best ones, if not the best, that I've ever read. I'm so in love with this story and the characters right now. SO MANY FEELS.
"I am partial to the wet dog look" - I was dying. I've only got two days left of student teaching and I'm finished with the actual teaching, so I'm sitting in the back of the room - Anyway, I have to tell you that I almost interrupted the teacher doing a lesson because I was desperately trying not to laugh. One of the best humorous lines in fanfiction. I love it!
I do have one small suggestion (and it's super nitpicky, so don't beat me up :P). "With a gentle whoosh of it, something intoxicating reached her nose." - The "of it" part of the sentence threw me off quite a bit. For me personally, I'd take those two words out to make the sentence flow better. That's really the only thing I saw, Jami, and it's not even a big deal, really :)
"The first time they kissed, they would be each others. Not just friends." - I ADORE THIS. I don't know why, can't explain it, but I ADORE THIS. It's just about the sweetest things I've ever read. It's not overly sappy, but just right. If I'm right, James is thinking this particular part and that just makes me melt. I'm going completely fangirl here and say that is so dreamy. Honest to goodness, DREAMY. If I were Lily and I somehow read his mind on this part, I'd jump him. No joke. Literally on the more perfect lines of the story so far.
I'm so glad that I'm able to pick this up again. It didn't occur to me until now that I've seriously missed this story and its plot and characters. I'm not sure this review made any sense or said anything decent, but just know that I think its wonderful!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: SHELBY! This was such an awesome surprise!!!
I really want to just ignore your entire paragraph because I have no idea how to respond. But instead, I'm just going to say THANK YOU and flail around like an overly excited fish. You really, really made me smile ♥
Hahaha I can't say I'm upset that you almost interrupted the class :P But I'm happy you managed to pull if off ;)
That's an awesome suggestion! I'll head in as soon as I finish responding and edit it. Thank you so much for pointing it out ♥
That thought of James's made me want to take him from Lily. I'm so happy you think James is dreamy too. He can get such a bad rep in FF, that showing that he can be both dreamy and not a playboy at the same time makes me happy.
Aww I'm so happy you missed the characters! I wish I could say thank you in a better way, but I have no idea how so I'm just going to have to tell you how amazing you are.
I hope you like the next chapter! I think you'll really enjoy an idea I played around with about how the boys transformed into their animal forms. Hehe.
Thank you!!! ♥ Report Review
What another wonderful chapter! Your dialogue is impeccable. I love that old world feel of the dialogue and the description. Their speech is formal and thus fitting for their stations. I like that Salazar seems to be a wealthy, nobleman. It seems very appropriate for what little information we get in canon about him.
I only have one small suggestion. The line of dialogue, "I have received adequate rest," while formal, seemed very stilted to me. The rest of the dialogue is wonderful, but there's something about this line that just didn't sit right with the other dialogue and description.
Other than that little piece, I thought everything else was sublime. I am supremely jealous of your writing abilities! I can't wait to continue with the story!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: The dialogue was tough, but I've gotten a lot of compliments on it and I'm pleased to hear that you like it as well. As for that line you mentioned, I seem to recall not exactly liking the way it came out when I wrote it. I'll have to go back and see if I can find a smoother way to say that and still keep the same tone.
Keep your eye on Salazar--he's going to be a major part of the story, even if the plot doesn't focus directly on the Founders themselves in many places.
Thanks for another fabulous review :)
-Amanda Report Review
Amanda! I just couldn't resist stopping by, I really couldn't. I have this special love for the Founders era. It's so difficult to find a good Founders story and I'm positive you've got an award-winning one right here!
You mentioned on your MTA page that you like that the parameters of this era allow you to be more formal in your language and gestures - I would have to say that I can already tell that's going to be a strong point for you in this story. This chapter was short and elegant, there's no other way to put it. You also mentioned that you love to explore the human condition. Maybe I've taken way too many English courses, but I feel the same way. There's something about reading, even more so writing, about the human condition that I absolutely love. I love to read about those like me and those different from me - our experiences are so diverse and unique, and our interpretations and the results of our experiences are likewise unique - it's wonderful. I think that this chapter really highlights your special ability to write about the human condition.
I don't know what to say to you, Amanda. I just want to fangirl all over the place and wave little flags and throw confetti in the air. This chapter was so phenomenal. I could reign praises on you all day long. I'm definitely going to struggle not to finish this today.
You are a wonderful writer with so much talent and ability. I cannot wait until the day that I can buy your original fiction! Amanda, I've got no constructive criticisms. It was fabulous - there aren't enough adjectives in the English language to describe you, your writing, and this story.
ShelbyAuthor's Response: You're so lovely for coming by, Shelby, thanks!
I really love characterization because people can take the same character in so many different ways. It's fascinating to explore the archive and just see how many Severus Snapes and Rose Weasleys there are to meet. It's awesome to run into an author who sees a character the same way you do, but I also love finding a totally different (but genius) portrayal. It's so lovely to hear that you feel like I have a certain talent in that arena.
Thank you so much for this fantastic review. I wish I could leave a better response, but you've left me a little lost for words. Suffice it to say that I hope you enjoy the rest as well!
-Amanda Report Review
Hello! I'm Shelby (aka WeasleyTwins). I'm getting back into the groove of reading and reviewing here at HPFF (I'm an older member who lurks in the shadows) - anyway, I kept seeing your name pop up here and there, so I thought I'd drop by and read and review one of your stories.
Oh. My. Holy. Harry. Potter.
I have to be honest when I say that I did NOT expect that. Who are you and where in the world do you get your talent? I was utterly astounded. I'm an avid reader in and outside of HPFF and thus rather picky. I like to read something worthwhile. Something with feeling or adventure, something that hits me. And oh my word, did you just send me into a spiral of emotions. I don't know whether to be awe-struck, jealous, depressed, or hopeful. I envy your abilities. How long have you been writing? Now that I'm done fangirling and acting a fool -
Your descriptions are to die for. I'd consider myself a critic of descriptions, in particular, in any story. I don't want to read an excess of nature and feelings and actions, I want cohesion, something that strikes me to the very marrow of my bones. By goodness, that's exactly what you've done - my English major sensibilities are all dancing around doing the mambo. Your descriptions are literally perfect - it isn't purple prose in the style of the Victorians nor is it the sparse, bland descriptions of many stories of the 21st century. Rather, it's these snapshots that you bring to life with your style and diction. There is no other way to describe it as other than striking - like a spear to the heart and in the moments before it reaches your chest, you see everything and feel everything with such clarity. I enjoyed the mixture of scenic and action descriptions coupled with the emotions related to the events of the moment. It was enthralling and I was utterly entranced.
I did notice one mistake - you seem to keep with canon, at least, that's the way it appears - however, when you first mention Doris, you describe her as "Muggle" which the boys wouldn't know about until Colin goes to Hogwarts. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I just thought I'd point that out! :)
I've read several oneshots about Colin, but never something quite this loving - you portray him so well and his characterization is so wonderful. It took everything I had not to cry. He's not this obsessed little boy, but an inquisition young man with a passion for capturing a moment that sometimes only a photograph can do. I applaud you for taking an alternate route than that of tradition Colin fanfics and giving him so life and purpose. Seeing Colin through Dennis's eyes is wonderful, just astounding. We only truly understand the magic of a friendship and relationship when that person is dead.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the beginning "and you can write the book" - the metaphor and theme is prevalent throughout the entire oneshot. Dennis is writing the book, not that of Harry, but of Colin, of a boy whose memory lies in the hundreds of photographs. Speaking of photographs, I thought that your description about them were amazing - Dennis spoke to the audience as if we could see the photographs, sitting in his living room as he reminiscences about his brother. That particular technique is ingenious and effective - it is the icing on the cake.
I'm not quite sure what else I can say. Usually I go on and on, but I'm so astounded by the talent you exhibit and the story itself. I'm so glad that I decided to stop by. I've found myself another story to add to my favorites (and an author to add to my favorites list!).
ShelbyAuthor's Response: So. I'm going to do my best to restrain myself and /not/ come off as a complete idiot A;OIUGHJASN;JDJ
HAI SHELBY ♥ I'm teh ^.^ I didn't know my name was popping up that often! But I'm a newer HPFF member, having joined the site last October. That's when I began writing fanfic seriously, I suppose.
And GAH this fabulous review. OK, where to begin. Aaaahhh I kinda secretly love it when someone compliments me on my description, because that does take some time to write and to think through. I understand what you mean when you said you don't like reading something about an "excess of nature and feelings and actions". It can quickly become purple prose and a little bit tedious if not done well. So I do try to make the descriptive bits in my stories as precise and as detailed as possible, and more importantly, relevant to the characterisation. But all that being said, this little fic of mine is not particularly well known for its descriptiveness, so I am a little surprised but grateful that you liked the descriptions!
Ooh, about mentioning Doris as a "Muggle" - you're quite right in thinking that the boys wouldn't be familiar with the word during that time. However, the entire story, is being narrated by Dennis, who's actually in a post-Hogwarts moment. So he's sort of looking back at the past and narrating bit by bit from the present. Which is why he tells some things but doesn't explain the rest. There actually is a sort of time frame in this piece :D Umm, apologies if that sounded a bit convoluted; it certainly is a lot easier writing it than explaining :P
Gaaah, I just loved how you described this story as "loving". My ego is honestly a hot air balloon right now and somebody needs to put a pin through me and bring me back to earth. But yes, Dennis ♥ The Creevey brothers are not characters I particularly cared about during the books, but they are the sort of people I like to write - a bit odd, a bit embarrassing and a bit silly at times. But I really did feel for Dennis when I began writing this. His voice was very clear in my head, and out of all the fics on my author page, this was one of the easiest to write; I didn't even plan it much.
Ahahaha, I'm not the first person to use this technique of speaking to the audience, and in fact, this story was greatly influenced by an OF short story I read a few years ago, as mentioned in the disclaimer :) That being said, I hope that I did put a bit of my own spin to it :D
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS FAWESOME FEXCELLENT SHMAZING REVIEW. And for favouriting alkjhp;fiaush. ♥ ♥
-teh Report Review
Hi darling! It's been ages since I've read and I figured I would pop and give a quick review. I'm afraid that my review isn't going to do your wonderful story justice.
I am LOVING the insights from the Death Eaters and that front in the war. It's wonderful. It definitely amplified the dark undertones that pervade the story. Your characterizations of Voldemort, Lucius, and Bellatrix (especially, Bella) were outstanding. We see quite a bit of them in the series and thus keeping to canon is so difficult, but you mastered it with ease. I'd have to say that this chapter is my absolute favorite thus far. I know it's only chapter five, but there's so much going on! So many secrets! I'm just going to end up fangirling over the entire novel and never giving any decent comments or advice!
Now, those last two sections! I want to know that secret that Lily and Sirius are keeping! It might actually be killing me, the not-knowing! Jami, with each chapter I see your weakness strengthen and your strengths hit their pinnacle. The characterizations are top-notch; the mixture of description and dialogue has settled into this lovely, natural flow. It's just an all-around winning story. Winning.
And the part with Minerva and Albus? To. Die. For. I adore the two of them and you did them perfectly. Their dialogue was probably some of the best I've read in fanfiction. So stately. I love that Albus appreciates the Marauders' name for the future Death Eaters. You almost foreshadow (even though we already know) his propensity to delight in learning, growth, and ingenuity in young adults.
I just love it, darling. I wish I had a better review for you! (I'm sorry it is so short, but I must get back to planning my lessons for this week!)Author's Response: You have no idea how excited I was to see your name here!
The Death Eaters sections are some of my favorite!! They come in about every four chapters or so, mainly whenever what they're doing relates to my characters/Hogwarts.
I'm so happy you liked Bellatrix. I've actually really fallen in love with writing her through this, and will hopefully do at least a one shot eventually.
This chapter is where I think the story starts picking up. It felt like, after this, I started getting more into my 'niche' so I hope you'll kind of feel like they get smoother and more polished from here on out.
Ablus is terrifying. Minerva and I are starting to bond, but that old man and his twinkly eyes... plus I'm also trying to make him slightly different than the one we know. I really believe that he treated Harry with kid gloves for so long, because he didn't do that with his parents. James and Lily entered into a war too early, and it killed them. Dumbledore had to have cared quite a lot about them, so I think that he sort of regretted treating them like such adults, and went to opposite way with Harry.
Of course that's all just head canon :P
A better review?! Yeah right, this was amazing, Shelby. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop back by here ♥ it made my week ♥ Report Review
Jami! Darling, this was wonderful! After the horrors of this week, this chapter was exactly what I needed.
Okay, so jumping right in. I love the descriptions at the beginning of Lily's schoolwork. You executed that section perfectly - a lot of authors, unfortunately, forget that these characters are receiving an education when they're at Hogwarts and that involves work. With the first section, I definitely think that you brought readers back to the reality of their situation - the characters are dealing with death, evil, and schoolwork (great combo, eh?) J.K. Rowling continually reminded us of this fact and I love that you model her approach, but make it your own.
The dialogue throughout the entire piece was practically flawless. It was just so natural and easy - it's definitely one of your many strong points! But you know, Jami, I could just go on and on like this all afternoon (or at least until I hit the maximum word count). I honestly think that everything about this piece was perfect. I did see a dangling modifier, but now I can't find it - it's not a big deal at all, just a minor error.
Oh. My. Goodness. That part between Remus and Lily was so beautiful. Your prose compliments it so well - it was so elegant. It really highlights the special bond between Lily and Remus that we know from the series. Your spin on it is just so emotional - my sappy, romantic self can't handle it. It's just too adorable!
How in the world do you expect me to leave you a review when just everything is so brilliant? You're such a great writer. There's just something about your writing and plot that glue me to the screen. With every chapter, the intensity heightens and oh my goodness, the end. That "transfer" student seems like a sketchy bloke. Maybe I'm reading into things way too much, but I feel like Lily should definitely stay away from him. And James being jealous = hot. Jealousy can ruin things when it gets to be too much, but I'm telling you, it is such a turn-on (I'll just pretend James is real ;D).
Your characterizations are also really coming into their own. The further I get into the story, the more the characters fit their characterizations so fabulously. Oh! So, I might like One Direction (the band) - well, I was listening to "Little Things" while I was reading and I kind of, no - definitely - think that it's the theme song for Lily and James. Anyway, random aside, but there you have it!
I'm so glad that I get to take this journey. Reading this story is going to be an adventure and I can't wait to read the next chapter!
Author's Response: Shelby! ♥ I'm visiting family in Idaho and so busy and ughhh I miss you! ♥
Your reviews always make me so happy. I wish I could do justice in their response, but i just want to melt into a big melted puddle.
I always wondered if the dialogue sounds smooth, in my head it does but I mean it's my head. So knowing that it felt right to you makes me so happy!
I feel like I spend too much detail on school work, but it's just such a fascinating part of Hogwarts! I mean.. they're learning to do magic! I'm so happy you liked that part and didn't think it was boring ♥
I love Remus and Lily's friendship. They're just such caring people and I feel like he would have been the one she would have talked to when James made her mad, haha. And he would have eventually met the perfect girl for him and those two would have fallen in love and Lily would be very skeptical at first because she didn't know if anyone could really be good enough for Remus but then she loved the woman and those two got married and Sirius and Belle would get married and it would be like all these not real but real enough sister in laws for Lily and gah. Okay. It makes me too sad that none of this could ever happen because, because ;(. Ugh.
Okay, I'm going to stop now and email you because I MISS YOU.
Jami! Good gracious alive, woman, I just don't know about you sometimes! One minute I'm thinking "Yeah, the style of Before They Fall is totally where's she meant to be" and then you pull something like this. I really like that you're climbing out of your safe little box and exploring. But honestly, this is so you, honey. This angsty, dramatic, beautiful mess (as in angsty, not that it doesn't flow! :P) is so suited to your writing style.
I'd first like to say that your manipulation of second person is to die for. I'm picky. Very freaking picky when it comes to second person. It has to be written just so for me to really become engaged. You literally had me after the first paragraph. I was set - I was so amped and nervous for what was going to happen. One thing I particularly enjoy about second person is its ability, in the hands of the right author, to attach itself to the reader. The reader and the story become so inexplicably intertwined. I couldn't help but be totally and completely invested in EVERY SINGLE WORD. There was /something/ that I can't put my finger on about this story. Perhaps it's the second person and your style combined that honestly had me in tears. I was this ridiculous, weepy mess. I believe that, as readers, we project some (or most or even all) of ourselves into the story - that's why we're all so in love with the Harry Potter series. I have to admit that I projected myself into the story. I felt that it was me. I know so intimately those emotions. Good gracious and holy Harry Potter, Jami.
Your second paragraph was absolutely phenomenal. Goodness, isn't it the truth? Like, when you've got someone that you love, you honestly look past those things that everyone else notices. It connected with me on this deep, personal level. The things that are abnormal and strange are what pull you toward someone. I couldn't help but thinking about a certain person. Look what you do to me! Only a fabulous writer can do that to me, I promise you that!
And holy fangirl squee, your use of "Come here, sugar" was the best thing I've ever read in my life. (You didn't have to credit me, by the way, but thank you!). That piece of dialogue put the icing on the cake in that particular scene - it characterized Greyback so well! Ah, I can't even.
So. Many. Emotions.
"And now, for the first time all night, you let yourself feel." - So simple, yet so profound. It just encompasses the love, passion, fear, angst, and strength of Fleur in twelve wonderfully crafted words. You craft your sentences so beautifully and with such a seeming ease. It seems to come naturally. There is no need for large, arrogant words - you say it all in this quiet, yet blunt way.
Jami, honestly you've broken my heart and healed me at the same time. It offers so much hope both in the story itself and in real life. That's skill, darling. Skill. I'm an emotional person, but I've been reading books for so long, I can sort of detach myself - so to reach through my English major/reader extraordinaire barrier, goodness, that takes talent. And talent you have.
I'm sorry this is all fangirlish and about me and how I love this. I was going to try to be objective and look at the story for the aspects of its style, characterizations, plot, descriptions - but no, I just couldn't - you hit me on an emotional level.
I /love/ this.
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Eek! You're going to make me all mushy/gooey/feelsy!
I was so surprised at how much fun I had writing this. I tried it in both third and first person, and neither of them did it for me. Then I started trying to do something a bit more poetic, and BAM! Fleur really just behaved better when it was like I was a spectator, telling her as she goes. The whole time in my head I had a ghost like image of her, egging the other one on, telling the other one what was happening. I know, that sounds crazy. But it made sense at the time, haha.
Okay so this is going to sound super weird, BUT! in Come, Sugar.. the man that did that to Rose. He was also Greybackish in my mind. The way he talked, the way he stalked her.. and the same monster from your amazing story just kind of rubbed off on me and the entire time I was writing Greyback, it was just the same terrible one. So when I typed Come here, sugar, I was like OH!THIS IS WHY GREYBACK IS SO EASY! Shelby already wrote him in a different creepy monster form! Haha. Did any of that make sense? NO?? Well, it is 8:30 in the morning...
I am so happy you liked this, Shelby ♥ you were the first person I thought about after finishing it, and how bad I wanted to know your opinion on it. It was a lot of fun to step out of my comfort zone a little, and do something new.
Your review has just made me want to sit here with little hearts and birds singing around my head all day. I can't even tell you how awesome your support is to have ♥ Report Review
Hi darling! I read your message and had to come right over to read and review!
To be perfectly honest, I was crying by the end. Just squalling my eyes out. Then I read your author's note and cried some more! I'm so astounded that "There Will Come Soft Rains" inspired you to write Eileen/Tobias! That makes me so happy! I love, love them to death, as you know, and I think it's fabulous that you decided to give them a try! And may I say, you did a spectacular job!
Right off the bat, I love your summary. I'm one for short, snappy summaries and I love how absolutely alluring it is! That sense of allurement you get from the summary parallels with the allure of Eileen. It's a wonderful connection and pulls the whole story together nicely.
Holy Harry Potter, your prose Amanda! I don't even know where to begin! I always compare you to Faulkner because of your manipulation of time, but I tell you, I can't do that here because I think you've transcended his legacy. Honestly, the reality of the piece is so murky and has this hazy, clandestine quality to it that Faulkner could never come close to - your skilled hand has crafted this to near-perfection, if not perfection. I love your diction - your vocabulary is unrivaled, especially coupled with your style - oh, just utterly divine.
Just about every single line is one of my favorites, but this one struck me the most: "Hadn't she slept her whole life away for this moment?" - This is the point where I started crying because I felt this really personal connection. The ability to connect with the story was already there, but this line just did it for me. I feel like it's allegorical and can represent so much more - reading between the lines is huge here for me. I think this line is your defining moment - it characterizes Eileen. Perhaps I love it so much because I think it characterizes me too - not in the sense that I'm a beauty, but I'm always imagining and dreaming for /that/ moment in my life. What happens when I reach it, you know?
I could go on and on, but I don't think I've got any way to describe to you what I feel about this piece. I think you did an absolutely INCREDIBLE job with the Eileen/Tobias pairing. It's very canon, but you've transcended the limiting boundaries of canon and accentuated both your prose and the pairing. It is honestly all completely genius. I love this. I LOVE THIS.
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hi Shelby! So glad to see you here!
D'aww, I'm sorry that I made you cry! You really do deserve a lot of credit for giving me that last push to actually give this ship a try. It means so much to me that you liked this story so much, too!
Oh, thanks! The summary for this story was actually pretty easy to write, much easier than some of my others. I'm also a fan of quick one-liners, and I'm happy that it worked here.
WOW. Pretty sure I don't deserve that kind of praise, but thank you!! I would like to think that I've begun to nail down my signature style with these abstract, feely one-shots, and that some of it bleeds into my plot-driven longer stories, too. I think I'll just cuddle this part of your review about my vocabulary and my prose forever, thanks :D
Oh, wow, how neat that you personally connected with this! I can kind of identify with Eileen there, too, and I would imagine that lots of people can. You always think about what is to come in your life, the things you've always dreamed of, and you don't even realize that life is happening right now, in this moment. Unfortunately for Eileen, she never quite grasped what she was looking for here.
I'm so happy that you felt like this was canon and still unique. Thanks so much for this fabulous review, and I hope to read more from you soon :)
Amanda Report Review
Hello, here to review for the review swap! :)
You know, I read this and left it for a few days because I wasn't sure how I wanted to respond. It's very postmodern, perhaps post-postmodern and maybe a bit Woolf - you say the plot will come eventually, but I don't care about the plot. I really don't - if you're trying to discuss the idea of inhabiting the body and being at odds with the skin, then the plot doesn't amount to a hill of beans. It's about the expression - that's what you're going for and I think you've accomplished it.
"He makes her recite all the things she wishes she was eating while serving her only greens. It is a strange sort of power play." - If I may be completely honest, there are times such as these in the story that are almost /too/ literary. It felt unnatural - forced - like you are trying to bring across this very artsy sort of expression through your descriptions and characterizations. It seems that way because you're giving too much. Let the readers figure that out - let us come to our own conclusions about these types of things. I'm an English major (surprise, surprise) and one of the smartest women I've ever known (she's a downright genius) - well, she told me that often times, we give our readers too much, we baby them. You've got to give your readers credit - they're smart. I only say this because I was impressed with the story and it saddened me when I got to this point - I like to figure things out on my own, I suppose.
Your characterizations are interesting - they're definitely not like anything I've read in fanfiction - they're strange. I like the artsy nature. It's different, that's for sure. You know, I should know what to say, but I really don't. It's just so...individualized - I enjoyed the fragmentation of the sections in the chapter. It was all just very unique.
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hm, I'm responding to this first of my other unanswered because it's one of the most interesting ones on the lineup. Firstly, thanks for the review! :)
And second--overly flattered/etc to be compared at all to Woolf as I worship her...and I'm glad you appreciate (at least intellectually, I gather) what I'm ~trying~ to do with mode of expression--but I'd argue that for this particular story, plot actually sort of does matter to what happens and why people are the way they are. I know what you mean, of course, that it's secondary to other things, but I wouldn't could it out entirely. So I'm "going for" a story that has a plot that plays a role but also one that's interesting and honest in expression...
I'm guessing for this quote you mean that because I say "It is a strange sort of power play" I've told people too much and made you sad? Or is this the part where I became too literary? My actual motivations for writing this story were to write a character as honestly as I can. That means writing what comes to mind as something this girl would say, because of who she is, and doing it in a way that I think is beautiful or effective. I--don't know if I've mentioned this, but I'm also an English/creative writing major???--so I feel that my opinion is also valid if for no other reason than I do think about what I do, and I'm not word-vomiting over the page. For this piece I feel particularly like I'm just inside a character's head, occasionally inhabiting her bones. There's a lot of me in this character, too. So if I'm telling you too much, I'm not too sorry, because that's just the way this particular story works. I do believe that your point is valid--readers are intelligent and don't need anyone to tell them what a story is about, I agree. But, perhaps a bit selfishly, I'm going to do what my story wants me to do as a writer. If at times others don't enjoy it or think it comes off as being too pretentious, I'm okay with that! Because I believe in the story for what it's trying to say. Perhaps I haven't done it in the most brilliant way, but I haven't done it for show, as much as it may seem like it to you. I don't go into things thinking about...making it art. I think about being honest to a story. If that isn't clear here, I'm a bit disappointed, but I think each story has a couple of faults in the eyes of each reader. There are also several typos in here and stuff, which bothers other people ;)
I still don't understand /quite/ what you think I'm spoon-feeding. But, alas, I will have to politely disagree with you that I'm babying readers. In my opinion this is one of the toughest stories to work out that I've written and not because I did it that way on purpose. Just because as this sort of "halo" of consciousness writing works out, it's not possible to entirely understand another person's mind.
Welp. Glad you liked the fragments! And yeah, a tiny bit of why I wrote this was to turn something I'd seen quite often on its head--that the romantic savior will hold someone together after tragedy, etc etc, and that Rose/Scorpius is a pairing that can occur without any political connotation. As I've noted the plot does come in later chapters :)
Thanks again for your review! Report Review
Hello! You were lovely to stop by and review something of mine and I've /finally/ had time to drop by a story of yours!
Can I just say that this is a breath of fresh air? I'll be honest with you and say that this is pretty close to perfect, if not completely so. I'll try not to ramble and be all fangirlish :P
First off, I'd like to applaud you on your characterization. It's so wonderfully in-line with canon, but you've made it your own - that make sense? Readers see the characteristics of James and Lily that JKR gives us in the series and you've honored them, yet expanded them into a full-fledged character. James is flawed, as we expect him to be, but he is maturing and growing as an individual - the chapter shows this so well through descriptions and dialogue. Lily - oh my holy Harry Potter - I LOVE your characterization of her. Many of the fanfictions I've read have made her out to be either extremely temperamental or sweet and perfect. You've created a character that is realistic and that's one of the greatest accomplishments as a writer. I honestly don't know what else to say to you or how to say it - I couldn't help but be completely entranced with your characters. I fell in love with them - their faults and anxieties and strengths and humanity.
Your dialogue is divine. DIVINE. It was like sinking your teeth into the most delicious piece of chocolate cake and then finding it had Oreos baked in. Seriously. It's absolutely commendable and makes me insanely jealous! The only thing I saw that was a bit wonky (to me, at least) was in the following sentence: "Madam Pomfrey is excellent at reversing the effects of any jinxes or hexes, so try and remember where it is unless you get hit by one." - Shouldn't that say "if" instead of "unless"? But other than that, it was pure genius. There are always those writers we love because of the descriptions or the dialogue, but I have to say, I think you're a writer of both - you've got both strengths going for you.
You know, there's about a hundred thousand other things I want to say to you, but this chapter has completely overwhelmed me. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's so refreshing and almost comforting to read a story that has honored JKR and the series, but composed something all their own, something that seems new. If we knew nothing about James & Lily, this would still hold its own and that's such an accomplishment. Overall, I enjoyed this immensely - it definitely takes a spot on my favorites list! :)
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hi Shelby! Thank you so much for coming by to leave me a review. It was really nice of you!
And, um, OMG, all of your compliments just kind of put me into deer-in-the-headlights shock, because you're such a talented writer. Hearing you say "this is pretty close to perfect" is just like...amazing and will likely cause ME to ramble.
I'm so, so happy you like my characterization, and think it's in line with canon. :D I really did try to sit down and pinpoint the different aspects of their personalities that we see in canon, but at the same time, I didn't want to allow those to overly colour my characterizations. Too often, I think people take James or Lily's personality in "Snape's Worst Memory" and use it to characterize their every action and thought. James--I'm particularly glad that you like him, because he did give me some trouble at the start! Characters are what really fascinate me in writing, so it's always a thrill to hear that someone thinks I've done a good job with it. :D
AND DIALOGUE. I love dialogue. Can I just say, first, that I nearly keeled over when you said I do descriptions well? I ALWAYS feel like I struggle with description, so it's just the nicest thing to hear that you think I did well with it on this chapter. Dialogue, on the other hand, always comes more naturally to me and is more fun to write--it's even better when I get good feedback on it. :D (And yes, you're absolutely right about that line. Thanks for the heads-up!)
I'm just so happy and flattered that you liked the chapter. :) It's a huge compliment to hear that you think I've created a good balance between canon and my own interpretations. I know exactly that feeling you're describing; I've experienced it before, and knowing you feel that about this chapter is one of the best compliments I could receive!
Thank you again for the wonderful review! Much appreciated. :) Report Review
Hi darling! I'm /finally/ here. I actually read it the other day, but wanted to let everything sink in before I reviewed.
"Maybe Dumbledore, like her, had seen more sides to James Potter than most?" - I want you to know that I love this line! It seems to me like Lily doesn't even recognize that she's said/thought it. I thought it was fabulous. She was fighting with all these different emotions in the first section and I honestly thought this line was the /perfect/ way to end it. It highlights the internal turmoil she's been struggling with - I also saw it as a parallel (rather subtle, but I'd say it's there) to the situation with her parents. James sees in her something that she can't see, but perhaps others do.
I know you're concerned with Lily's emotional outlook in this chapter. I think your concern is totally unnecessary. She's negotiating that line between grief and moving on with life - it's this really odd stage in grief, one I don't think many people understand or even acknowledge. Personally, I thought you did a fabulous job with it and most importantly, I can personally relate with it. It actually reminded me of what has recently happened in my life - you want to grieve, you have grieved, but you've got to move on. To be blunt, they're dead and gone, but you're still living; there is nothing you can do for them, so you take the experience of grief and turn it into something positive in your life - that is reflected in Lily's Head Girl position, I believe.
Now, to the lovely James. Jami, he is wonderfully characterized. From canon and from your story, we know that he's grown a tremendous deal between 6th year and 7th year. He's growing into a man - he's already there, I think. As much as he's matured, I think you've left him with that sense of childish play that we all like to envision the Marauders have - look at what he says to Lily. He's trying to be honest, but his mannerisms and word choices aren't the greatest. It leaves us with a sense of his struggle of self and I applaud you for that! I honestly don't have anything more to tell you on this because I think you've executed it splendidly!
As for any CC, I don't have any. Granted, I don't go searching, trying my best to find something (if it catches my eyes, I mention it). I'd say it was awesome - characterization, description, dialogue, emotions, the whole nine yards. There's so much I love about this story, Jami. I love action-centered fics. They give me time to breathe and just enjoy a story. I love it more and more with every chapter, I really do. I see growth in your writing abilities in every single chapter (not that you weren't already fabulous!).
I cannot wait to get in chapter 4! :)Author's Response: How am I supposed to reply to such an awesome review?
I'm absolutely ecstatic that you picked up on that 'I am devastated that my parents are dead but I just can't be devastated 24/7' .. because like you said, they're dead. She knows it, it still crushes her heart, but that doesn't mean life stops for her. Of course there will still be instances where she needs her friends to pull her away from the - it hurts too bad- feelings. Chapter 4 and 6 come to mind. But she's starting to try and deal with it. Yay for you being so amazingly perceptive and realizing that I'm not ignoring it or sweeping it under the rug, but trying to make it realistic!
I am so happy you like James. What stick out the most for me, is in about a years time these two will be married. In around two, they have a child. And, in about four years, they're dead. Yes, James was popular and had the arrogance that came with it, but my James was in no way a bad person. He mad immature choices. He also has parents that love him to no ends, and those kinds of parents typically raise someone who also knows how to love until no end. James is a caring, smart, patient (and impatient) man who knows what he wants and how to get it. In my mind he makes a perfect counterpart to Lily's type A organization, her needs for instructor, and helps her learn to just laugh at herself a little bit. Bah. Okay. As you can see I'm in love with these two, and it makes me ramble. I'm just extremely happy that you like James and saw the part of him growing up, as well as some of his immaturity still coming out.
Also Also! I have to say, you are going to *love* chapter 5. You'll see why ;). I am going to go play on your AP today whether you like it or not, mwahaha. Let me know if you want concerns for chapter 4 or not ♥ Thank you so much for this perfectly amazing review! Report Review
Hello darling! I'm here to review. Now, I do love any sort of pseudo-stream of consciousness or just SoC or any sort of manipulation of that particular technique, really, so this was right up my alley!
There are about a thousand and one things I want to say about this piece, so I'll just get to it! The first thing that really struck me was your allegorical usage of the word "Blackness" because it has so many connotations in this story - it symbolizes his ancestry and family name, but also the layers of 'blackness' in reference to darkness itself and to the ink from his Dark Mark, and it furthermore seems to give us this feeling of the 'blackness' of his soul and how it seems to have manifested. By capitalizing "Blackness," you also emphasize the allegory - it really sets up the mood for the rest of the piece. I thought that was a remarkable, yet minute part of your story.
I enjoyed how the fractured mindframe also elicited that feeling of a time warp in the story. Regulus is so completely wrapped up in his fantasies, that as the piece progresses, he is unable to distinguish between his own identity and the identities of others that he has almost internalized and tried/hoped to emulate. You've manipulated the stream of consciousness style very well to suit this particular piece. Through Regulus's thoughts, we see his greatest yearnings, his fears, his resolutions, but most importantly, his imagination. This was a big thing for me. Not only did it emphasize that Regulus is really just a boy who has matured before his time, it also showed that he retained some semblance of what he wants out of life, his hopes and dreams. You've given us the notion of imagination as a life-force and as a source of power for the greater good - despite the glory he seeks, he realizes, through his imagination, that glory comes from doing what is right. He does not fear death because he has lived a thousand, a hundred thousand adventures filled with epic heroes and gallant fights - and all through his imagination. Regulus has utilized one of the most important aspects of the human conscious/subconscious and used it to accept death.
I also really love the contrast between lightness and darkness, in both the literal and metaphorical sense - Regulus's imagination and being as a light, but also his involvement with the Death Eaters as a source of darkness - you've even contrasted Regulus and Sirius's "lights."
I do have one small critique for you. "No, no. Those questions, they did not matter." - These particular sentences toward the end actually jilted me out of your prose. I understand what you were going for in emphasizing that Regulus is beyond such notions and is focusing on his purpose, but it just seemed, wrong. Maybe if you reworded it somehow? Or deleted it altogether? That's just a suggestion, mind you - it was just something that I observed.
Also, I absolutely love your style in this piece and how it's a bit old school, per se. With lines like, "touch not the water for there the dead rest" you really elicit the feel of Regulus's imagination and how he intertwines himself with people and characters of old. I thought the effect was perfect. Now, you asked me if the style works and if it is plausible - I think it's kind of brilliant, honestly. There's something about the subtle metaphors and loose stream of consciousness, along with fractured mindframe/timeframe that really brought the piece onto an entirely new level. You said that this story doesn't feel finished - well, darling, I hate to break it to you, but I think you're crazy on that front. Haha! I really think you've got to give yourself some major credit with this story. I seldom tell someone that they're got a story that is worthy of publication, but this piece deserves a place in a literary magazine. Of course, it's fanfiction, but your natural prose coupled with this style just send it above most everything I've read on this site, even things in literature classes.
I don't have any CC for you, Susan. I really don't. You know that I will be nothing but honest with you - you need to have FAITH in this oneshot. I think it is fabulous. The Biblical allusions, the allegorical inflections, the metaphors, the descriptions, your characterization, it's all impeccable. It is, in all honesty, nothing less than extraordinary.
If you've got any more questions for me or want me to go back and look at specific things, feel free to PM me! I know there's more that I want to say, but it's so overwhelming beautiful, I'm just at a loss!
I /loved/ it.Author's Response: Thank you for this, Shelby! It's so easy as a writer/artist to fall into a self-hatred mode... though perhaps that's too strong a term - a crushing lack of self-confidence is more accurate. It's frustrating because of the way it holds me back from pushing further - I always worry that people won't like the results, but it means not thinking about what I want out of the story (or out of the writing process as a whole). Thanks for giving me a kick in the right direction, making me feel better about this story!
That term "Blackness" keeps catching readers' eyes! I'm glad that people are responding well to it because it could be problematic, but in the Potterverse, at least, it thankfully has a different connotation. Being a Black means many different things, and I think of all the families in the series, it's the one that is most obsessed with the power of the name, and the name alone. The Malfoy name stops with Lucius, and those of other families feel more... disconnected. But the history and heritage of the Blacks is incredibly detailed as well as complicated - it's the family that ties together so many of the main characters, it's really amazing. Yet for that generation of Sirius, Regulus, and Andromeda, it's a curse to be a Black. Blackness takes on its literal meaning for them, but Regulus isn't as decided as the other two - he wavers between pride of family and acknowledgement of its evil character. It becomes another reason why he becomes fractured, divided between two worlds.
I really like what you've said about the power of imagination. It's not something I consciously put into the story, but it is something I often think about, both as a teacher and student of literature - we always have to take into account the difference between "reality" and the fiction of a story. But Regulus, like so many others, then and now, refuses to face that they are different - his reality is too terrible, so he escapes into fiction, not only because it's a comfort, but also because it makes more sense. The Romanticized knights fought with honour - the Death Eaters don't. They're still the "nobility" of the magical world, but they are the villains. How can anything, much less Regulus, understand the whys and hows of this?
I've changed that sentence, as we discussed on the forums. Thanks for pointing out that break in the flow - it sounds much better now. :D
For some reason, I always imagine that Regulus and his parents would speak very formally. It's a pureblood headcanon of mine (which tends to annoy readers, oh well). It's wonderful to hear that you like it! It does suit Regulus's preferred reading material - a combination of Shakespeare, Spenser, Mallory, and probably also Tennyson - though I used it more to enhance the mood and rhythm of the story.
*blushes* Thank you very much for those fantastic compliments. They've got me gushing and sniffling, so I better close off this response with one last word of thanks. ^_^ Report Review
Hi darling! Here to review, of course! I wish I'd come sooner - your story is a fabulous distraction!
Before I start with what you wanted me to talk about, I want to let you know that I love your story. I really do. I love that it isn't bombarded with purple prose and descriptions out the wazoo. It's wonderful to be able to read something that seems real and natural. I also really enjoy that you've reminded us that Lily & James were never exactly best friends, but that she didn't truly hate him - there's that remainder of a sort of rivalry that isn't really one - but anyway, you've kept with that canon without going overboard into the realm of 'this is so cliche fanfiction.' So that's an aspect that I also really enjoy (among many other things!).
In response to those three sections at the beginning, I thought they were AMAZING! You really captured how utterly broken Lily feels and the almost physical pain that she is experiencing. I think that the choppiness really adds to the mood of those first couple of sections - it really touches on her humanity and makes her suffering very real for the reader. I was going to point out some lines I liked, but I liked them all, so how am I supposed to choose?!
As for the conversation between James and Olivia, I thought you did a great job with that - James still has a very boyish quality, but you can tell he's open with his mother. Olivia is very honest with her son and I enjoy that. I feel that so much in fanfiction and OF, writers don't give value to the fact that a lot of parents DON'T treat their children like, well, children. The relationship that you are describing and constructing between the two of them clearly shows in the conversation and descriptions. I really felt a connection to the two of them, like I was sitting there beside James - like Olivia was my mother.
I can definitely, definitely see Lily's progression and struggle in this chapter. I think her thoughts about her relationship with Petunia were what really solidified that notion for me. She's so completely overwhelmed, but she is trying to rationalize (sort of) and feel her way emotionally through the situation toward a better mental state. You did an absolutely wonderful job connecting the first three sections with the last section - it brought that idea of Lily trying to overcome this obstacle full-circle. It's an ingenious technique on your part because it keeps Lily (also the Lily & James situation) in the forefront of the readers mind - in this way, they are always confronted with what you're trying to get across.
I do have a small bit of CC for you. Okay, so when James comes in the end to comfort Lily, I believe it would help solidify Lily's struggle to help herself if she resisted James. I don't mean to say that she totally resists him and acts defiant in one of those cliche romance novel type ways, but in the sense that she's trying to do this on her own. Women are always like, "I'm fine." I think a statement sort of like that would fit well in the place where James is holding her. It would also signal to him that she's not completely okay. Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's great the way it is - it's just a suggestion! :)
There are such wonderful moments in this chapter! I want to reiterate that I absolutely love that you've just given us enough description to move us from scene to scene. It gets so wearying sometimes to be bombarded with so many minute details in a story that would be better served to be simpler - you've given me what I need to know about the story, what I want, and then you've moved the plot along - it's a fantastic way to write.
Darling, I loved this chapter! I can't wait to see what the next one has in store for me!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: I just realized I didn't respond to this!?
Ahh! So, the idea of Lily at first doing the whole girl I'm fine thing.. why didn't I think of that??? Genius!!! It's something that I can sneak in relatively easily, and I think it will definitely feel more realistic! Thank you!!
I'm so happy you liked the (slow) progression and the first three sections. I really worried about people finding that chopping, but it just felt right to me. Yes!! It's so important for me to show that just because Lily is crushed, the world *still* continues. She still had to think about things like what happens to the house.. until Petunia took over. Just like she'll have to get back to school and start trying to move on. I'm excited to see what you think of that in the next chapter.
I'm so happy the description felt like it was a good in between. There are some scenes I'm sure I get carried away (the first section of chapter 5 comes to mind) but I really want there to be a strong mental image then my characters to do the rest.
This review seriously made my week, you are so awesome ♥ I'm so happy you are liking this so far!!! and and and! Olivia and James! I really love the potters. I actually added that scene recently specifically because I wanted to show more of them. Olivia and William took in one of James's friends, why became like a son to them, and now they're helping this girl they barely know because their son cares about her. They just feel like such good people to me, which takes me full circle to James. James isn't a jerk playboy. Maybe a prankster, but I don't think he's a lot of what FF shows him as. Because he was raised by this strong, stable, loving family. They taught him *how* to be strong, stable, and loving and I really wanted to show that to make his easy way of caring for Lily mean more.
I'm rambling, aren't I? Thank you so much for your awesome review, Shelby ♥ ♥ Report Review
Hello! I'm here with a quick review since you responded to my status!
I like the idea that you're using Shakepeare's Hamlet as a frame for your story. I used to just abhor Shakespeare, but have found a hesitant love for him recently, so it was nice to see a bit of fanfiction concerning our good ol' bard. Your big paragraphs of description are also nice, I only wish you had kept them constant throughout the chapter!
One of the main things I would suggest is getting a beta - it would help with some of the typos/grammatical errors that I saw throughout the chapter. I know that grammar and the like aren't everyone's forte, so getting a beta would definitely clear things up. Also if you have questions about plot, characterization, description, dialogue, etc., a beta is a lovely resource for critiquing your work.
Overall, I think you've got a great idea here!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hey, I'm glad you liked it!
I'll request a beta on the forums, thanks for pointing that out.
Thanks for reviewing! :) Report Review
Hi dear! I'm here with your review since you responded to my status!
I'd like to start off my saying I just love, love, love your opening and closing paragraphs. I thought they were spectacular. There was just something about them that seemed really natural - your natural style and voice seemed to shine through.
On the note of style and voice, I do have a critique. Everything else seemed forced, darling, to be blunt. I don't know what you normally write, but those opening and closing paragraphs have a touch of romance and that seemed to be where you were most comfortable as a writer. Not to say that everything in-between was bad, but I felt like I was being robbed of what you had accomplished in the aforementioned paragraphs. I learned several months ago that short story authors often miss the mark (even more so in fanfiction) because they're not telling the meat, the /real/ story. I see this somewhat in your story because, it seems, that you're not giving me description. You're giving me emotional outpouring, which is fabulous, but I didn't feel connected to the scene - this is why I say it felt forced - lovers of Harry Potter know the story of Harry's last battle with Voldemort inside and out, but not from the perspective of Ginny. I was hoping that you would regale me with Ginny's version of the setting, the mood, her feelings (which you accomplished splendidly), with all those things we want to hear from a woman so deeply in love.
I hope I wasn't too harsh in my assessment, my dear. Your story has so much merit, so much potential - I see great potential in you as a writer. It's those two paragraphs, particularly the last one. You have me a bit of a setting description, but you gave me emotion, and let me tell you, that's what the reader wants. They want to feel so inexplicably connected with a story that they can't bear to tear themselves away. Overall, I did think it was good (and great song choice - it went very nicely with Ginny's emotions).
Please feel free to PM me to rant about my being mean (I hope not!) or if you have questions or need help!
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hello! Don't worry about it being harsh, you were kind enough to take some time to leave me a review and that's what matters. ^^
I see what you mean with description...it's a weakness that I've been attempting to overcome for ages. I thought if I focused only on emotion, description wouldn't matter. But I see that was a mistake on my part.
I'm glad you thought this story had potential, though. :)
Again, thank you so much for the review and your time. :)
~Rosie Report Review
Hello love! I'm here to review! :)
Oh. My. Goodness. I love that you've jumped right into the story - in media res is one of my favorite techniques for an author to use in a story. It brings immediacy and intimacy to the situation because the reader isn't prefaced with a lot of wishwash. I want to see it, read it, /experience/ it as a reader, not hear some big load of mishmash about the beginnings and origins or whatever. This piece actually reminds me of Suzanne Collins's "The Hunger Games." Like you, she dives in headfirst. I really enjoyed that about your piece. I'm all for long-winded descriptions, but what you've told me about where you're taking this story (and from the summary), I believe you've set it up perfectly. What's the use of putting in a lot of filler? Make every word count, I always say!
I don't think you're being overprotective of your baby. One of the best ways to incorporate characterization is to utilize dialogue, which you've done. You've also used the thoughts of other characters to describe others, which I really like - it's better than having a character describe themselves (which is doesn't always really make a reader connect with the story). I have to say that I LOVED that little dialogue quirk you've got going on with Sirius: "and all". Good. Gracious. Alive. It's brilliant! A lot of amateur writers forget that we all have our little quirks and things we say and do - you've made Sirius /real/. You've made him accessible and realistic to the reader.
Although I understand that your style is to set up the scene and move on, giving us a more character-driven story, I think there are just a few places that could use a tad more scene description. I'd like to point those out, okay?
-"After a few moments of his questions going unanswered, Sirius began to fill in what part of the blanks he knew." - Maybe Sirius is fiddling with his hands or Olivia is playing with a fray on her shirt. Just a sentence or two more here to solidify the scene would work wonders!
-Also, in the last scene where James is remembering how he and Lily have had small bouts of friendship and all that, then he holds her, I think if you could give us a reason (maybe just a sentence or two) more about why he decides to do that (apart from the fact that he's mad for her) would really help to solidify his characterization, you know? I just wanted a little more there so that his characterization would be more set in stone, per se.
And yes, I do know what's going on. I really don't understand why some readers might be confused. Perhaps it's because the POV third person omniscient? I could see how that could be a bit confusing, but in your descriptions, it is obvious who is thinking/talking. I've read stories with third person omniscient POV before and they work just fine - and yours, as of the end of this chapter, is no different.
I think it is captivating and well-written! It's concise and realistic, but manages to set up the scene appropriately so that readers don't feel lost. For me, you've given me a story that doesn't require me to really wrack my brain and kill brain cells trying to sort through mounds and mounds of description - you've given me what I need and then let me read and interact with the characters. That's what a story like yours should be about - giving the reader a chance to really get to know the characters.
Overall, I think you're off to a great start! I can't wait to read more! :)
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Bahhh you've given me so much amazingness for one day, I don't even know how to thank you.
I'm so happy to know that I'm not being incredible over protective, I know that third person omniscient can be busy but I think I've really tried to keep it clear whose head you were in at the time. Haha.
Ahh, Sirius is one that I could write in my sleep. We connect really well. I had to learn and practice Lily more, because she was kind of a mystery to me, but we got there. Anyway, I'm happy you picked up on Sirius's little quirk ;).
I love the idea of adding in more detail to those sections, now that you've pointed them out they feel so very bare! And!! I have the day off tomorrow (well, I rescheduled a few meetings and am going to try and ignore my work email) so I am very anxious to get started on those edits in here as well as Eyes of a Survivor.
I think I'm half sleep typing right now, but I can't stand the idea of waiting any longer to reply to your wonderful reviews. I will put those edits through tomorrow and then reward myself with another (probably creepy) Shelby fic :)! Report Review
Hi darling! I'm here to review!
First, I'd like to say that this was utterly brilliant. It was wonderful! I wanted to go ahead and get that out of the way so that I can focus on analyzing/critiquing the piece - I really want to examine what you asked me to, so don't get discouraged okay? Because it is BRILLIANT in its own right.
Imagery and style, especially when writing about pain and darkness, is all about diction, diction, diction. Have you ever seen Dead Poet's Society with Robin Williams? Well, at one point he says, don't use 'very sad', use 'morose' because language was invented to woo women (haha). Although you aren't talking about happy and bubbly things, the same applies to this kind of story - you've got to be very specific with your word choices. Each word has to count, has to bring the reader closer to the emotions of the story.
For example, look at this particular sentence: "A ten-year-old angel, full of hope despite the darkness of her reality." - Look specifically at the word "darkness." Darkness can be allegorically significant and diverse based on the context of the story. Darkness isn't necessarily a bad word or not adequate enough, but utilize the /idea/ of darkness to highlight the turmoil she's experiencing. This may sound elementary, but use a thesaurus. You know what you want to say in this sentence, right? But to really convey the idea of darkness, metaphorically, emotionally, and literally, expand that sentence - make it two sentences or turn it into a compound-complex or just complex sentence. Use words like obscurity, murkiness, smokiness, tenebrous, sombre, lurid. Now, your style (and it's fantastic!) is different from mine, but as an example, here's what I would do: A ten year old angel, brimming with the luster of hope despite the murky corners, the creeping reality of a decrepit veil settling heavily upon me. Do you see how in my example I utilize the idea of darkness and how it reverberates throughout the entire sentence? That's just one way to bring imagery and style together to convey emotion.
I'm going to point out a few places where I think you should really give us more of your beautiful prose in a manner similar to the description above, okay?
-"The furious wind whistled louder until its rage..."
-"That night, Astoria's father shattered. All the good inside him disintegrated and died alongside his wife."
-"She tried because she wanted to drown the bad and force the good to surface."
-"But nothing could shelter her from the father who, despite all of his cruelties, part of her still loved."
-"It was storming again, a terrifying summer storm that broke the earth." (This paragraph in particular I really wanted you to elicit the /idea/ of it as her fault, you know?).
-"The wind and rain battered the house..."
Those are some of the major places I noticed would really benefit from some ministrations in your very capable hands!
I'd also like to give you another piece of writerly advice I've come across over the years. When you grow as a writer, you are going to find your niche. What works for me, JKR, or whoever, won't work for you are your stye. Write as much as possible. Natural, real, TRUE style only emerges when you've written so much that the words just sort of appear. Okay, now another piece of advice. I've found that when you want to convey a certain emotion or idea in writing and want that to show through very strongly (without being overpowering) in your imagery and style, you've got to consider the senses. They always tell you to write the five senses, but I've learned you've go to give it MORE. Write the five senses, but give us emotional detail, give us detail about nature. Intertwine nature (the outside, physical, tangible descriptions) with emotional outpouring. Here, I'll use an example: "Hope lingers in every other rain drop." Now, if you'd read the essay of mine that that line came from, you'd understand that hope is my emotion and in my interpretation, my mind, my reality, it mingles with the drops of rain. I know that you said I conveyed darkness in "Come, Sugar" without really maxing out on the descriptions - that's because every word is precious. Most people don't like purple prose (think Victorian era writings like Jane Eyre) and most writers don't compose like that anymore. Words are precious and should hold gravity over the reader. Every adjective, adverb, verb, noun, phrase, and clause should bring the reader, in this type of story, closer to the theme, the emotions, the essence of the story.
I suggest that when you edit, don't just look for grammar mistakes, look at re-VISION. Do you think that readers will be inexplicably drawn into the story? If not, how do you add characterization, plot, description, dialogue, emotion, narrative sequence, etc. to make it so? All those things that you did in this story, bring them to the next level. Now, don't get me wrong, I think your story is fabulous. It's got a dark sort of charisma about it - it actually made me cringe thinking about what Astoria was going through. You made it realistic and tangible and accessible for the reader. Good. Gracious. Alive. - it was wonderful. I definitely think that you've portrayed the abuse and Astoria's reaction with elegance.
If you need any clarification or more help, or you just want to yell at me for being mean (I hope I wasn't!), then PM me! I'm here to help you in any way that I can! It's so hard to help when I've only got 6000 characters to do so in a review! I want you to reach your full potential because, frankly, you've got a great style and I think you've got so much charisma and spunk as a writer.
I hope I helped, my dear! And remember, make every word count.
ShelbyAuthor's Response: I'm not ever sure how to start responding to this.
Except for THANK YOU! Your CC have been amazing, I am so excited to work on the parts you pointed out.
I really love the placed you pointed out to enhance and I already have little circling ideas!
I wish I could adequately respond to this, but I just don't know how. I'm so happy you still found this story alluring, I really wanted to put it in between understandable and eerie, and make sure that Astoria's sufferings weren't being minimized but that they were realistic to be coming from the mind of this monsters daughter.
Blah. Seriously. I just don't know how to thank you enough for all your amazing help ♥
Hello my dear! I really wanted to stop by and review something of yours since I haven't in ages (could that possibly be years?). Anyway, I saw this little beauty in the new story thread over at the forums and just had to have a peek!
I know you said that you wanted to hear reactions to this new stylistic device you've got going on - I love it. It's innovative and postmodern. It's a great way to get theme(s) across in such a short piece without loading readers down with purple prose and other nonsense. If someone reviews this and says those words and definitions are bad, ignore them. Seriously, unless JKR herself reviews this and says it's bad, keep it. Perhaps utilize it again in a different story. I say this because it's lovely - it gives gravity and meaning to your story - it's also a way for you to experiment with your writing.
I do have one small critique. Under the section titled 'pride,' I'd really have liked to have seen more scene description and emotional description. It's the pivotal point in the story. I felt that as I reached the middle and the end of that section, you were robbing me of your beautiful prose and descriptions. I wanted more. I wanted you to /really/ bring it to life - to make me feel as Severus felt.
Now, don't get me wrong, the rest of the story is fantastic. The descriptions are to die for, the characterization of Severus (Lily, too) is mind-blowingly perfect. "Maybe letters will fall from the sky" - I just melted like a bar of chocolate in the Georgia heat with that bit of writing. Good. Gracious. Alive. Absolutely and completely beautiful.
Overall, I thought this was wonderful, darling! :)
Shelby Report Review
Hello dear! I figured I'd pop in for a bit of Review Tag from the forums.
You know, I don't really know why I chose this story. I actually don't like Snape/Lily. Never have. Be that as it may, I think you've got a spectacular piece on your hands here. The emotions and the descriptions are to die for. Really, just lovely.
Maybe I've taken way too many English classes, but this story is very postmodern. It's not chronological, of course. I loved the stylistic choice of Lily as narrator, the first person perspective, the present tense - speaking of present tense, I see this as postmodern because of your manipulation of time, of the past, of the present. It's all very blurred and the past is in the present, it's intertwined - you've taken an idea that is very Faulkner (the past is always in the present) and used that metaphorically to also blur time in a literal sense. I think the story's fabulous because you've created this very literary sentiment in a piece of fanfiction. It says more than it actually says.
Your choices as an author of all those little details really makes this what it is. Although I still don't like Snape/Lily (haha, just an old prejudice, I suppose), I think you've got something gorgeous here.
ShelbyAuthor's Response: Hello Shelby! Nice to see you again :)
You're so kind! Thank you :) I feel like you used Faulkner to describe my work in another review you left for me at some point. It sounds familiar. It's definitely a compliment.
I think the emotion in this story worked well because I really poured it out of my heart. This challenge was wonderful, because I could tell with each entry that I read that there was real passion in the stories, in every word. I felt a bit drained, happily so, when I finished mine. It's lovely that the imagery worked, too. I've recently been trying to work on reducing my tendency toward 'purple prose.'
Using the non-chronological narrative was fun and something I'd like to experiment with again at some point. I also liked the first/second person POV that I used here. (Second person isn't as scary as everyone makes it out to be!) The choice of Lily as the narrator was somewhat deliberate, because I feel like often in Snily fics (and I've read many) that we get Severus's perspective on her, but we don't really hear her story, because she's dead or already with James. Lily wanted me to tell it, or so it felt to me.
Hey, I'm a fair shipper. We can agree to disagree :) Thanks for this lovely review!
-Amanda Report Review
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