Okay seeing I love your writing style and your plots I decided to read another thing of you ( and thankfully you have so much so much to read that it would keep me content for awhile but it does make me wonder how do you do that). You wrote quite a confused character and I donít mean this in a bad way because her being so fascinated me as most people donít write such characters. She was in my opinion quite likeable and I found her really realistic. I was happy this hadnít a happy after, okay that sounds horrible but I donít mean it that way, you see most people give their characters a happy after but in life that mostly doesnít happen. Though I liked them together a lot. The both of them (together) had such a noble feeling, itís hard to explain, but thatís what I thought.Author's Response: Thank you for coming back to read more of my work! It's fantastic that you've done so, and I really appreciate it. Haha, there is a lot that I've written - I don't know where it's come from, but I try to write in whatever spare time I have, so I guess it adds up over time. :D
Dorcas is very confused. She was already an imaginative person, but when her family was killed, her mind couldn't handle it - she's not damaged in the same way as the Longbottoms, but she isn't far from it. Writing this kind of character was almost frightening because she's so depressed and no longer able to find anything to live for. I'm really glad to hear that she was realistic, and that her story was too. There can't be happily ever afters for everyone, especially when they're in a war.
She and Sirius made a great pair, in the end. I hadn't expected them to compliment each other that way, nor did I think he would feel so much sympathy and affection for her. He was only too late in realizing how much he did care for her. I agree that it's hard to explain, but that's the kind of relationship I like to write most - it's more complicated and has more of an emotional effect because it can't be properly described. It's a very strange thing. Report Review
Hello -- here with your requested review!
Well, as soon as I saw that you'd posted to claim a spot, I got really excited. I keep meaning to head your way, to read a bit more of your work, because the few things of yours I've read have been splendid. And now you've given me the perfect excuse! I so thoroughly enjoyed this story -- your writing, as with everything else I've seen, was lush and poetic, and I felt like I could just wrap myself in it. I love stories like that.
I really felt for Dorcas and Sirius in the course of this, almost being able to achieve their happily-ever-after; and yet, they weren't. Dorcas was tainted by Death, exactly as you said, and I felt a sort of nobility from both of your characters that prevented frankness. Reading this was almost like reading a bit of the authors that Dorcas seems to adore so much, which was incredible, and really made me feel a bit more connected to the story.
I think the flow is lovely. It's jarring, but not in a way that I think needs fixing; if you altered this, I think the story would lose something. I love the abrupt point-of-view transitions, the flipping back and forth of places in time, and I don't think I was every really lost throughout. I would love to see this as an original piece; it would work beautifully for that. Maybe it's just because I was concentrated on it, judging by what you marked out as areas of concern, but I read this through with no troubles!
Only two things I saw:
They are the words of her life, and as he stands on the bridge over the Thames in the same place where he saw her again that short time ago that felt like an age. -- You use 'as he stands' here with nothing to really follow it up, which was a bit confusing. You might add something, or possibly delete the 'as.'
You know, the ones where I would include all of their secrets with special attention paid to the many boys that I should be in love with -- In talking about the diaries, I know Dorcas is referencing those of other girls, but she uses 'I' and 'my' at all places except when saying 'their secrets.' I think it might work a bit better to say 'my secrets,' although I could be reading it wrong.
Thank you for requesting this! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and really, Susan, you are just a tremendous writer. :)Author's Response: I'm so sorry for having put off responding for this long. This won't sound true, but I had forgotten that I'd gotten you to review this story. *hides* I do, however, really appreciate that you have and that you've not only enjoyed it, but found a few things to fix up. Those constantly elude me, and it makes a big difference to get someone to mention them. I have a horrible way of preferring critique and suggestions to compliments - it's a lot easier to make a correction than it is to accept a compliment. But I'm crazy, and never satisfied with my work, so. yes.
Anyway, on to my proper response, which will hopefully sound somewhat more intelligent than I currently feel. It's fantastic to hear that the story doesn't sound like a mess (which it is in my head, even if I'm emotionally attached to it) - I've been worrying whether it contains too much, whether it be description, narration, or literary references. I felt too much while writing, and often powerful emotions can make the words run wild. It's a great relief to hear the opposite - words like "lush" and "poetic" are music to my ears. That's the kind of feel I wished to achieve, and I'm very glad to have done it.
One interesting thing about writing the pairing was how many times they almost could have gotten together, but each time, something came in the way, often themselves. I've seen it before, and while it's sad, often tragic, it also makes for a better story. That bittersweet flavour of "almost" sticks with the reader longer than the honey-like taste of happily ever after.
I think at the time of writing this, I was re-reading "The Waste Land", had not long before done some work on "Finnegans Wake", and was reading through Virginia Woolf's novels - and you can see the result of all that reading. It's like Frankenstein's monster running rampant in your head, and that feeling entered Dorcas's story. She lets herself live through their words because the world outside is so horrific that her poetic sensibility can't deal with it. Reading "Finnegans Wake" over and over again is her way of working through the trauma of the war (haha, guess who was doing trauma studies that year, too? :P I'm terrible when it comes to letting my university work leak into my stories). But I never expected those authors to come through the story so sharply. To a degree, I tried to mimic the style rather than use lots of quotes because of the three-line rule - so it was a way of letting the authors inspire the story without actually needing to quote them. I'm really pleased to hear that they brought you closer to the story - I really thought they would alienate readers instead, so seeing the opposite is nothing short of awesome. :D
Okay, that's good to hear about the flow. :) I won't change it when I go back to edit this story into an original (at some future point. one day) - I'll just stick to the canon details. My idea is to make it a WWII story about one of the European resistance movements. The similarities between these movements and the Order of the Phoenix is too perfect to miss out on. Thank you for your other suggestions, though - I've worked through those sentences to clarify and complete them a little better.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing this story! It's one I've got a soft spot for, and I really hope that I can do something more with it one day. ^_^ Report Review
Ah, there are so, so many things I could talk about here. I read it this morning, let it sink in, then came back and reread it just to see where things stood. Things stand very well. ;)
I suppose the biggest piece of the story, for me, was the emotion it evoked. Sitting here, all I feel is a deep, deep wistfulness for Dorcas and Sirius. You introduced them gently, and through her words and his thoughts I became attached to them with ease. I know, it was clear that it wasn't going to be a happy story with peaches and cream and singing fairies, I could see what path it would take, but I was still disappointed by Dorcas's death. She was such a likable person (and I see your literature knowledge reflected in her).
There were so many human bits to this: the part I'm thinking about is when Sirius reads that she would have kissed him, that time, and he wished he'd known. Except then he admitted to himself that he really had known, had just hesitated, and I was crushed for him. That's pretty darn relatable.
Then there's the fact that you continue to be a freaking amazing writer. ;) Couldn't forget to mention that. Sirius and Dorcas's stories melded perfectly together, to the point where some of their stories flowed into each other as if they were almost finishing each other's sentences (not an accident, I think). There was that section where you wrote what Dorcas did, then spliced in with parentheses what she could have been doing, and it was just lovely. That passage could easily be turned into a choppy run-on sentences that got on one's nerves, but you handled it perfectly.
Any other praise I should lay on you, while I'm at it? I'm sure I could think of something. Or I could just chat for a bit. ;) You know, there's this relatively unknown author whose books I reread a couple times a year, and she tells her stories with the most breathtaking language. I can tell when I'm reading too much of her because I begin to subconsciously mimic her style as I write. But there are some authors here who elicit the same reaction in my writing, and I swear you're becoming one of them. Which is just fabulous for your ego and terrible for my writing, because there's really no sense in trying to write as other people when you can just write as yourself.
Perhaps I've gone on long enough here. You're well aware of my thoughts on your stories by now, I think. I'll keep coming back until I've finished the reviews I promised for my challenge, plus I need to catch up on Out of Time, and so on... You'll keep hearing from me. Thanks for such an enjoyable task; I love getting sucked into your stories.Author's Response: You're not the first person to say that they need to read some of my stories twice before they can review, that they need to let the story sink in first. I'm never sure whether I'm making my stories too complicated and layered, or whether I'm doing something right and the stories are somehow thought-provoking. It makes me wonder whether that's why I have trouble getting reviews unless I ask - maybe readers just aren't able to come back that second time. It's something for me to puzzle over, at the very least. ;)
It's wonderful to hear that Dorcas was likeable. I wasn't really sure about it because she gave up in the end so easily - I thought that would be a mark against her, making her weak. It's not even a sacrifice for her, but rather a letting go of a world she just can't exist within. That giving up aligns her closely with the authors she most loves, particularly Woolf (though that whole era of literature generally failed when it came to WWII). I think that I had more of a problem with Dorcas's actions in the end - I knew that she had to die, but I hated how she let it happen without fighting, and I still haven't gotten over that. *hides*
My favourite part about writing this story, apart from sneaking in as many literary references as I could, was the fact that it came in fragments, the little scenes that brought Sirius and Dorcas together. It made them feel more real to me - those moments are just normal to everyone else, but to Sirius and Dorcas, they hold more meaning.
Being able to write both sides of the story - Dorcas's experiences and Sirius's act of reading/re-experiencing them - filled each scene with more emotion than if I'd only told it from Dorcas's point of view. Sirius is the literal reader, guiding us through the story like someone telling a bedtime story - skipping over some parts he can't handle while pouring more closely over those he desperately wishes he could change. At the same time, Dorcas herself is a reader, going over the same book again and again, telling only the parts she loves most. She is also a writer, but her reading so influences her that her writing really comes as a result of reading - it does the same thing that Sirius does as he reads fragments of her diary - writing becomes an act of interpretation rather than of creation. So it's all a story about reading and what it means to read, the power of reading to evaluate and to heal. Oh my god, I never thought of it this way, but it's so perfect. What kind of monster have I created here?
*blushes* I don't know how to better thank you to thank yell it from the tops of the trees and towers of the world. That compliment... it's more than I know how to handle. There's still so much that I have to learn about writing that I never know how to take these amazingly complimentary reviews - I don't think I deserve them at all. When I re-read this story, all I see are the things that need to be fixed - it's frustrating that my eyes do that, rather than let me see what readers like you do.
Thank you so much for all of your reviews! I've loved reading them, and I look forward to more. They do boost my confidence a lot, which is something I'm ever thankful for. ^_^ Report Review
I am SO sorry I didn't review this sooner, as I promised, and I feel like I'm a few (read: five or six) months too late, but Susan, let me just tell you right now that that was absolutely breathtaking.
And not really in the obvious way, either. The feeling sort of creeps up on you, when you're reading through the text, and suddenly there's this overwhelming aura of... "This is gorgeous. This is really, really gorgeous." And then you finish and look at the screen, and blink a few times, and still continue to say, "that was gorgeous."
I did, at least. If you replace the "you" in the above paragraph with "Rin," it may make more sense. :P
I love your diction. Well, I loved everything about this, but mostly the diction. Diction and syntax. I'm kind of a sucker for writers with strong holds on style, and my gosh, Susan, you absolutely do. The story will ebb and flow flawlessly, and you'll throw in little interrupters that make the reader pause for the briefest of seconds (in a wonderful sort of way).
Gorgeous. Can I just say that again? Gorgeous.
x RinAuthor's Response: It means a lot that you are able to read and review this story! Don't apologize because things do come up, and I've been guilty of not getting to reviewing the stories for challenges I've made, so it'd be awful of me to bother anyone else about it. I enjoyed being able to write a story like this, and your prompt was the bump in the right direction that I needed. For that I'm most thankful. ^_^
*blushes* Wow, I don't know how to reply to your comments - they're just so... squee-ful. I'm super happy to hear that the story read like that and affected you in such a powerful way - there's really nothing else I could have asked for. It was a moving story to write, and while, when re-reading it, I do see a few nit-picky edits I ought to make, the fact that you see it as "gorgeous" is just. really. really. amazing. Thank you! *big huggleglomp* Report Review
Susan, I found this fascinating and heartbreaking to read, even if it was a little confusing in certain passages. I was not so much confused by the story as put into a state of dreamlike uncertainty. The central thread of the story sometimes gets lost in the lyrical passages and POV changes: not that I'm complaining, I enjoyed it just the way it is.
I'm not sure how many witches/wizards would read Muggle literature and have such a depth of literary knowledge at hand as Sirius and Dorcas in this story, but it seems plausible to me that some wizards would be as well-read.
From a literary standpoint, I very much appreciated the references to Virginia Woolf, both her life and work. I'm not as familiar with the other works you referenced but this passage gave me chills.
The little book falls from his hands. It hits the water without a sound, the leather soaking, the pages clearing, the ink vanishing into the nothing she has become.
Beautiful job Susan, thank you for requesting the review (I'm really glad I read this!)Author's Response: Thank you very much for this review! It's great to hear that you enjoyed reading this, and I really appreciate your comments. :D
The confusion is something I have to work on, as I got lost in lyricism of certain parts instead of focusing on the characters and plot - when I edit this for OF, I'll definitely try to rework certain passages, yet without losing that "dreamlike uncertainty" that you mentioned. It's a wonderful way of putting it, by the way, as Dorcas is supposed to be a "lost soul" of sorts, having lost so much that she just doesn't care anymore, so her writing becomes increasingly existential and less rooted in reality.
lol, I don't know how much witches and wizards would know of Muggle literature, either, but I always hope for the best. :P Perhaps Shakespeare was really a wizard - that would explain a lot, wouldn't it? I'm glad it's plausible that some magical people would be well-read in that way, as I have trouble imagining the magical world as being entirely cut off from the Muggle world - there would have to be some cross-influences, at least it would seem logical that there would be. But I digress. *hides*
It's fantastic that you liked that line - the image of all her words fading away like that, literally drowning in the way that she kept imagining, is truly chilling. It's like Dorcas became her words, her body fading as the words grew stronger (rather like Ginny in CoS, actually... interesting... but I will stop now before I go off on another tangent :P).
Thank you again for reading and reviewing this! ^_^ Report Review
The story was a little confusin and hard to get into at first but after a little bit I started to get it. I read it a second time just to make sure. The detail and paragraph form u used for this story is phenomenal. It is way above average. The story itself is sad and that's the kind of stories I like best =] 9.5/10Author's Response: I'm very sorry that it was confusing. It wasn't at all intended, and I don't know how my original idea for this got so muddled up with references to poetry and all sorts of weird things. It wasn't even supposed to be this sad! But I'm glad that you enjoyed it in the end, and that you enjoy sadder stories as a whole. They have something different about them, something deeper, I guess, and it makes them more interesting for me as well. :)
Thank you very much for reading and reviewing! I appreciate hearing from you! Report Review
I knew I would love this.
If I were the type, I'd leave the review with just that, but we all know I'm not, so here goes some more rambling. I like rambling. Especially about something as tender and lovely and dreadful (full of dread, not awful) as this, and about someone as genius as you. Sooo.
There was one fic from a long time ago, I can't remember what it was called, but Dorcas was a Seer and she fell in love with Sirius and all of that, so subconsciously I've always had that image in my head. But this Dorcas - I don't know, there's something about her that seems... unbalanced. Maybe it's her fascination with words, with Woolf's death (I hate Woolf), and how the works she's read color her perceptions of life and death, but I don't understand her. She frightens me a little bit, because she seems very volatile. It's like she resigned herself to dying, to forsaking all she purports to value, and I don't understand it. 99% of this is probably me being dense, as I've read this twice and still can't sympathize with her.
On the first read, though, I liked her more, especially once she got out of Hogwarts. I thought her chemistry with Sirius was excellent, moving, and touching, but was still confused by how ready she was to forsake it. The second time around, even in those last scenes, I didn't like her as much. I understand partly why Sirius would love her, and she him, but not so much why she does what she does. Is it a fascination with an idealized divide between life and death - even though she admits she is not "the ideal"? I'm not sure. I'm not even sure why Voldemort would want this girl dead (happy that you didn't elaborate on that, by the way), but it seems... I don't know, it's like she's proud of that. If nothing else, she'll die in a way as striking as Woolf did, and that, not Sirius' love, is what matters to her when she thinks her life is destined to end. She struggled to see the sun and the stars, you say, but couldn't; judging by that observation from Sirius, and Dorcas' very exact narration, she knows what she's doing, but doesn't stop herself.
I'm completely running in circles about this whole thing. I don't get why I'm doing this or what I've concluded or anything. Again, I'm 99% sure this is mostly me misinterpreting the text, specifically Dorcas' own words, and if it is, I'm truly sorry. But even though I don't understand or particularly like her as a person, as a character, she's pretty much perfect. Sirius, looking back on her life, mourns her, but he also seems as confused as I am; I like that you acknowledge she isn't an easy person to read (but then again, you say she was an open book or something similar, so maybe that's me imagining things). He mourns her life and the life that she could have led, even as Death dogged her steps (by the way, your wordplay is flawless and envy-inducing). That seems very Sirius to me, regretting that she gave up so much earlier than she could or should have.
Um, I'm not sure what else I can say because I'm pretty sure I've made a mess of this review and completely didn't understand anything. At all. That's a little worrying for me. I'm never like this, I swear, but the frustration I feel about this fic makes sense. It's coming from you, one of the most brilliant minds ever, and it's so beautifully, deftly written that I can't even be frustrated with it as much as with myself. Please tell me I haven't wasted your time with this review and please forgive me for being awful. I loved it, truly I did, but my inability to analyze your brilliance (what has winter break done to me?) may make it look otherwise, which I want to assure you is not the case. I really, really loved it. I did. It's the best sort of frustration and confusion, and I'm so glad you wrote this story with these characters in this way.Author's Response: You're amazing, Gubby. My brain is whizzing around all the things you mentioned in this review, and I'm seeing the story from wholly different eyes. The only sad thing is that I didn't realize I was writing such an insane and disturbing character at the time. XD But then, I suppose, she would have been made that way, and it would have made her less frightening. It's the unintentional ones that frighten the most (and I'll also admit to my recent binge of Hitchcock films, which must be going to my head if this is the sort of story I write).
No, Gubby, you're right about her and how she made you (and Sirius, assumedly most readers). She's very different in the Hogwarts scene than she is at the end, and it's not just the books she's been reading, either. One could say that, as soon as you see her allusion to Woolf's death, one can tell that she's over the edge, just like Woolf was. She's not thinking clearly, seeking a deluded form of escape, mostly to escape herself rather than the world around her. Like Woolf, she leaves behind a man who is devoted to her and loves her deeply, but that still doesn't keep her from marching into death. It is creepy, and I can't believe that I didn't notice that before. It's probably because I didn't write all of this in order, constantly going back to add more and more, not noticing the monster that Dorcas was becoming.
What I didn't explicitly mention in the story was that, in the fire of her home, her family was killed too, they're the last "my" that Sirius cuts off with. This is probably the moment when Dorcas "lost it". That all she has left is a charred copy of Finnegans Wake tells a lot - a book that doesn't make sense, that can be seen as mad (and is certainly maddening). She reads it over and over and it echoes her mind too well. The same goes for the use of her repeated imagery from "The Waste Land". They have taken over for everything she has lost, and it's meant to be painful (to readers and to Sirius) that Sirius's love for her can't replace that.
At first, I thought that Dorcas was a reflection of me, especially in the scene at the Order meeting when she meets Sirius - that actually happened, though with different dialogue. Yet something different has gone into Dorcas - I didn't see it until I read your review and thought over how Dorcas had come alive on the page. But she does have her excuses - the loss of her home and family, the loss of her freedom (I'm glad that you're glad that I didn't include the reason why - I couldn't think of anything that suited her because she's not heroic in any way), and it resulted in the loss of her mind. She was easier to write as a teenager, still not difficult at the Order meeting, but the other segments felt like they needed such crafting to get her syntax right and include all of the allusions.
Sirius is the real heart of the story, and the image of him on the bridge by the water is the one that most affects me. His portions of the story were so natural to write, and I could feel great sympathy for him. I think he was as confused by her as you were, which was why he was unable to come forward with his emotions. He was cowed by her intensity, if you can call it that. But I loved him while I wrote him, and could see him there, whereas I could never "see" Dorcas at all. I could only hear her.
I understand you completely, and I'm absolutely floored by your compliments. It's brilliant to have a review from you, especially one as long and amazing as this, and I really appreciate it. *hugs* Report Review
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