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Reading Reviews for Strength of a Boar
  
4 Reviews Found

Review #1, by casual_chaos Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

24th November 2014:
Hello! I'm terribly sorry this review is so late! :/

Concerning your story. I enjoyed the introduction, it really helped setting the mood of the story and it introduced Ernie as a character really well. Also, it was a nice way to portray the dynamics within the Macmillan family and to establish the relationship Ernie has with his father early on.
I also liked the description of the clock and how you made it a recurring image throughout the story. Details like that help in establishing a sense of familiarity, almost like a rhythm to follow the pace of the narration - so I really liked that part.

Now that I mentioned the pace, you asked about it in your request. The pace was rather quick but it was consistent throughout the story and since it seems like you like strong, to the point sentences, I think you were succesful with that aspect. There were some lines that were especially effective and had done a great job in making us feel what Ernie was feeling.

Ernie's characterisation was great! It was very easy to sympathize with him and to understand his struggles, especially because he is just a normal teenage boy who will get frightened and panicked like any normal boy would. He was brave in his own way and it was nice to see that sort of character to go through the events we had only seen through Harry's eyes (or, in some cases, we hadn't seen at all because Harry was off in the woods doing his own business). I really liked the friendship between Hannah and Ernie, it was very gentle and honest. And Padma was very sweet and compassionate and I felt so sorry for her when Parvati had died.

As for the grief part; I think you were decent in the potrayal of death and the feeling it evokes in the ones who watch their loved ones dying. You were especially succeful with Padma and before that, with Parvati. The only obstacle might've been the style you used - because everything was happening so quickly, there were constantly new people dying and therefore they all became some sort of collateral damage, instead of individuals who had just lost their lives. But that is often the case in any description of a battle - people die before others can even process it. So I think you did a good job in this aspect.

I do have a bit of CC. At some points, I couldn't picture the setting quite clearly and I felt like a bit more description of the surroundings would be welcome. For instance, the scene in the Room of Requirement - I couldn't really picture all those people talking; were they sitting, standing, where were they in relation to one another, what did the room look like etc. You get my point. :D It's not a huge error and it certainly doesn't take away from the plot but just for future reference: it's imortant for your readers to be able to envision every scene. Just by adding a few details you can make your prose lively and more real in the eyes of the reader.

And another bit that surprised me - a very quick acceptance of the Malfoys at the end. I think I know what it was meant to depict - that Ernie is a forgiving person who will not hold grudges against those who had made mistakes in the past. However, as far as Ernie could know, the Malfoys are still on Voldemort's side (he didn't know that Narcissa had lied about Harry being dead) and so it felt strange to see him so kind to them.

But these details aside, I think you've done a good job with portraying the battle of Hogwarts through the eyes of a minor character who is very unlike Harry in many ways. And congratulations on winning the challenge! :)

Once again, I'm sorry for taking ages to review this story!

Andy

Author's Response: And I'm horribly sorry for taking so long to respond! :(

So hello and thank you for the review! :)

I'm glad you enjoyed it and the introduction I really love, because of Ernie's parents. I thought it was really important to show how Ernie grew up opposed to how Harry grew up, because he comes off to Harry in the books as snobbish. I really wanted to show people that he wasn't intentionally doing it, Ernie just led a sheltered life as opposed to Harry.
Yay! The pocket watch was one of my favorite things about this story and it really became as much of a character as Ernie!

Thank youuu!

Thank you so much, omg. I'm so proud of Ernie as a character, because he was just one of those characters with who it was natural to write. He just flowed from my thoughts to the page and he was so real and tangible. I love Harry don't get me wrong, but I always felt like Harry was up here and I was down here, you know? And with Ernie, it felt equal like I could see myself in his place doing as he did. So he's one of my babies, one of my favorite characters to write, and I honestly hated to end the one-shot where I did!

The reason I asked about grief is because I'm not a very emotional person in general... Also when I was writing the deaths and reactions, my beta was like "slow it down, slow it down" and so that is the slow version! Ha ha! For the death part, I just really wanted to get across that they were fighting a war! I really wanted the reader in the trenches and you know casualties happen a lot in wars. So a lot of people had to die, as sad as they were! But thank you again for the your compliments!

Ugh! I'm the worst about not describing things enough... I do it all the time! I just get so caught up in the plot and the characters that I ignore the setting... But thank you for pointing it out! :)

Everyone always comments on this! Ha ha! This quick acceptance kind of came from a couple of places. One you pointed out that Ernie is a 'Puff for life and doesn't hold grudges or be spiteful, and the other is that Narcissa and Ernie's mother were close acquaintances. They knew each other decently well and I probably didn't make that clear enough! Ernie's mother was a Slytherin actually and knew Narcissa from school years, so that's a big reason why Ernie felt the need to include them.

*blushes* Thank you so much!

Oh you're totally fine, look at long responding took me... Ha ha!

Thanks again for the review!

Sincerely,
Ireland


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Review #2, by Hori Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

22nd November 2014:
Hey there! Review time!
I enjoyed this one-shot very much. It's always fun to imagine the events of the book series through the eyes of other supporting characters, and you were very generous with your connections and references to the source material. Many favorite characters made an appearance, and it really helped to solidify the story you were trying to tell.
Ernie was a very well developed character. With a story like this, there's always a risk of the character's point of view becoming little more than a spectator to events we are already familiar with, but you circumvented that by establishing Ernie's motives, emotions, and background very early, and maintained a consistency throughout. The theme of his family mantra was a very strong characterization tool for him, and it managed to be relevant to every situation he was placed in.
The battle scenes were very compelling, and you accomplished it in a unique way. Many writers (yours truly included) would labor intensively on the dynamics of battle, and that works fine, but you instead chose to focus on the psychological effect it had on Ernie and the characters around him. It brings a new level of emotions to an epic fight that we are familiar with. Well done.
The pocket watch was another clever writing device. It added a weight to Ernie's emotional attachments. It also served to add an urgency and claustrophobia to the fighting with the constant reminder of the passage of time via the 'tick tock'ing you sprinkled in.
Overall, this was a well-developed short story that had a clearly defined plot arc and a resolved beginning, middle, and end. Ernie changed as a young man noticeably as he was asked to fulfill challenging and heart-breaking roles as things moved forward. Again, a very enjoyable read.
You were correct in your assessment of your own work in the review you gave me. It does indeed read a bit like poetry, with many simple lines serving to fulfill very heavy concepts. It's a minimalistic style, and you handle it very well. Nicely done.
Grammatically, I have a couple of minor notes for you: When crafting dialogue, in the standard form of writing a line, then affixing the 'he said' or 'she said' tag to the end, the whole line should be taken as one sentence. It would be '"Blah blah," he said.' with a comma, not '"Blah blah." he said.' with two periods. The exception to this is when the dialogue line ends with a question mark or exclamation point. Does that make sense? It doesn't really affect a reader's rhythm, so it's a minor point, but it's just something I noticed.
Also, in segments in which you've established that two people are holding a conversation, it's perfectly okay to pepper in a few 'he' and 'she's instead of using both character's names for every piece of dialogue. In a few places you may have over-used proper names when it was established that only two characters are speaking, or continued to add ownership to lines when it was clear who was talking. The conversation toward the beginning between Ernie and Hannah in the common room would be an example of this. Again, it's relatively minor and doesn't negatively affect the reading of it, but I think it adds a subtle stiffness to the relationship of the characters, as though they don't know each other well.
Both of these points are really just a matter of repetition, trusting the reader, and finding a more casual rhythm for dialogue, so I wouldn't worry. You have a fine writing sense, and these small issues will probably phase themselves out of your work pretty quickly. :)
One last lesser note: You used 'his' when referring to Alecto Carrow, who is the sister. It's a small mistake, but I know how frustrated I get when I spot things like that long after a story has been posted, so I thought I would mention it. ;)

Author's Response: Hello! Thank you for your review!

I love taking minor characters and really putting the focus on them. I love motives and reason and placing them onto characters!

Ernie was never really an important character to me until I tried to write him. I really fell in love with him, well my version of him I suppose, once I started writing SoaB. One of the pieces of small information I found on him was that his Patronus was a boar. From that came the entire mantra, pocket-watch, everything. So thank youuu!

Eek! Thank you! The whole epic battle is something that I agonized over! I re-read those chapters in DH strenuously just to make sure that I did not contradict the canon source. I'm so happy that you thought it was good, because it was one of the hardest parts for me to write!

The pocket-watch is one of my favorite parts in the story, because not only does it add urgency, it adds almost like a heartbeat to the story. Like even though all these things are happening around him, Ernie's watch is still ticking, reminding him that he's alive and he's still in the fight. It's almost like a reminder to breathe. The watch has it's own kind of character arc, because it grows from just a symbol of safety and sanctuary to a symbol of survival and power for Ernie.

Thank you again! The one-shot is extraordinarily long so you can really watch Ernie grow throughout it and show his maturity toward the end.

Like I've told you before, I'm a sucker for hard-hitting one-liners and so I incorporate them a lot into my work. *blushes* Thank you so much for your compliment!

Thank you for this note really! I had no idea that was a rule and I will get on that! You learn something new everyday!

See about that, I have like a phobia of readers not knowing who's talking, because sometimes I do that when reading even published works! I have to go back and reread to clarify who's talking! So that's where that comes from, but I'll be sure to watch out for it!

Well thank ya! :)

*screams* I hate little things like that! Because then it has to get completely revalidated and everything! Ughhh! Haha! But thank you for telling me and I'll try to go back and fix everything! :)

Thank you loads for your review!!

Sincerely,
Ireland


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Review #3, by ines0803 Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

24th October 2014:
Hi!
I really love this one-shot! Thanks a lot for sharing it!
Greetings from Portugal,
Ines

Author's Response: Thank youuu! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it!

Sincerely,

Ireland


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Review #4, by mymischiefmanaged Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

23rd October 2014:
Hello! I'm reviewing this as I read so if any of my comments don't make sense given things that happen later, that's why :)

The opening is lovely. You characterise the younger Ernie brilliantly, and I'm glad you chose to show him as vulnerable. It makes sense that he'd still be scared of the basilisk - Justin was one of his closest friends and the year must have been really difficult for him. His parents are the right balance of sensible advice and understanding, and the pocket watch is a clever way to tie together the two time periods. So really well done for this whole section :)

I love Ernie and Hannah's friendship. There's something very real about the way you've written it, and you've done a great job of getting across the strength of their feelings for each other without suggesting their relationship is anything more than platonic.

And then Padma's all round lovely :)

Ernie taking the lead in Neville's absence in the room of requirement is an interesting insight into his character. He doesn't see himself as leader in any way, but they all listen to him when he tells them to be quiet. He obviously has authority and has the respect of his friends, but then you have him shrink back into the background as soon as Neville comes back. He's very Hufflepuff and I love that.

The battle moves very quickly but I think the style works. You get across the sheer magnitude of what they're all going through. And then his father's death is so so awful. I can't quite believe you let it happen. But it shows how strong Ernie is. He managed to keep fighting and save Harry from the dementors even through his suffering. I also really like how although Padma helps him, he isn't completely dependent on her. You've get them their own people and the story's better for it.

And Lavender!! Oh I'd hoped you'd let her live. But you wrote Parvati's devastation beautifully, and Padma's support of her sister is wonderful.

And then Zach! You're not treating this challenge lightly...it's almost more sad to see him die, I think because Harry wouldn't have even realised he'd be fighting. But that exchange about passing on the message to Ernie's father was just perfect, and I'm always a fan of seeing characters in a different way to the way Harry did.

I think you could maybe afford to slow down a little when you write Parvati's death. It's so unexpected and awful and although you wrote it wonderfully it felt a bit rushed. Maybe if you come back to edit that could be changed a bit? Just to explore Padma's reaction a bit further. (This isn't supposed to be a criticism, just a suggest). But poor Padma :(

And then you give this incredible contrast between the horror of Parvati's death and the joy of Voldemort's defeat. I love love love that you brought Justin out with the victory. It adds to that overwhelming feeling of victory and success, and it's nice for Ernie to have his moment of happiness before the appearance of his mother brings back his sadness.

His kindness towards the Malfoys is very sweet. I wonder whether you could explain why he chooses to be kind? He presumably doesn't know that Narcissa helped Harry out in the forest and it's not obvious why he would choose to include a family that has so openly supported the other side. I'd like to hear a bit more about what Ernie's thought process is here.

The sentence 'for once it was not getting darker, but lighter' is flawless.

Finishing with Ernie's goodbye to Padma is an interesting choice, and I like it. You've left his story feeling very incomplete. This is like a snapshot of the worst time of his life, and I think it's good that you haven't given it a clear resolution to finish it, because Ernie's going to keep on living and his story isn't supposed to be over yet. So yes, really interesting and successful choice of how to finish (although I can't help feeling a bit sad that he couldn't have an obviously happy ending).

I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you so much for entering the challenge. This is a very well deserved first place :)

Much love,

Emma xxx

Author's Response: *blushes insanely* Oh wow, thank you so much!

In the beginning, I really wanted to show people how innocent Ernie was and really how sheltered. In the book Harry sees him as a bit pompous and almost snobbish, so I wanted to show people a contrast of how different Ernie and Harry's lives were to lend a reason to why Ernie came off that way to Harry.

I love Ernie & Hannah, honestly, they are my perfect friendship. The way they lean on each other and protect each other is beautiful.

Padma was always a favorite of mine. :)

It was actually a bit hard for me to write Hufflepuff qualities while writing around JKR's original text, because I think Hufflepuffs were a bit cast off, because of Harry's "Gryffindor blinders." So I wasn't sure if Ernie came across as too Gryffindor, so I'm glad he didn't!

Ernie's father's death for me was a given. I really wanted to show the carnage that the battle left. I wanted to convey the fact that these people are dying, are losing everything for this cause. I feel like Harry really didn't get to see that firsthand. I mean the only major deaths in DH were Fred, Tonks, and Lupin (that I can remember off the top of my head). Given they were horrible deaths and Harry had already lost his parental figures (Lily, James, and Sirius), but still you really didn't feel the devastation that was happening. In this challenge, I really wanted people in Ernie's head on the front lines of the battle. And I didn't want people to get bored, so I tried to keep the pacing fast and rapid.

Lavender's death goes along with that really, but Parvati's reaction is probably the most heartbreaking for me. The part where Ernie says in his head that he thinks "Parvati's finally lost it" breaks my heart every time I read it.

I read somewhere that in the book Harry sees Zach fleeing the castle and that always bugged me. I know not all people are loyal, but if that was the case wouldn't he want to blend in and tried to be ignored. So that's really where Isabella came from and she was supposed to make an appearance at the end, but I ended up cutting it.

Parvati's death always felt rushed to me. It never really came out sounding like I wanted it to. Padma's reaction was always a bit awkward to me, like it didn't exactly fit her, you know? All in all I didn't really like this part, but I ended up leaving it, because Parvati was intended to die.

Justin is adorable! I just had to write Justin, because he was always so cute to me. Plus after all that sadness, Ernie really needed a moment of happiness.

I put this part in here, because Ernie is such a Hufflepuff. He would be the guy who befriended even the Malfoys. Ernie says that he and Draco were never enemies, and Ernie would have done that for anyone. Also his mother and Narcissa were acquaintances though not close friends.

Thank youuu!

I really struggled with the ending as well, because I wanted so bad to write a kind of epilogue and show the whole 19 years after thing. At the same time though, I didn't feel like Ernie's story was over. It felt like a new beginning instead of an ending.

*blushes repeatedly*

Thank you so much! It really means a lot, because I absolutely LOVE Complicated! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sincerely,

Ireland :)


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