1. Fanfic Competition -- Topic -- HOGWARTS DAYS

    Word count? 500-17500 words!

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Entry #1

Discussion in 'Q3 2019' started by Xiph0, Sep 10, 2019.

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  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

    Dec 7, 2005
    West Bank
    Secrets to be Kept.

    "What is ritual magic, class? Dark? Dangerous? Great and powerful?" As he spoke, Harry stepped around to the front of his desk, taking stock of their reactions.

    Far too many students were nodding along. Though they knew better, many heard what they were expecting to hear on the subject and were not in the mood to question him.

    He sat against the edge of his desk and smiled, placing his hands into the pockets of his heavy cloak.

    Suddenly those who had been nodding along were glancing at each other.

    This soon into the lesson? What now? He could practically hear them thinking. His smiles usually meant they had just been had, and such was the case again as he continued, "I wouldn't be so quick to label an entire category of magic, especially one which we use every single day."

    Now that got some interest burning behind their doubtful stares, a few murmured questions, though it was only Samantha Nott who ventured aloud, "What do you mean, sir?"

    "I'm glad that you asked!" He drew one hand from his pocket and pointed behind himself at the blackboard. He concentrated and snapped his fingers, muttering under his breath, and suddenly the chalk lifted and started to scribble behind his back, and for anyone paying close enough attention, they would have seen how it seemed to mirror the movements of his twitching index finger and the ring there.

    Large diagrams appeared next to smaller imagery, some just crude sketches of figures repeating motions. After nearly a minute the chalk was exhausted and he lowered his arm to his side.

    "To explain that, Miss Nott, we have to start from the bigger picture. It is true that elaborate rituals exist, and it is these which all of you would have heard of before today. Many of them have been known under the Dark Arts, and I have excluded them for practical reasons." He smiled again, but there was a strain around the edges, as if he was remembering worse times instead of teasing the class.

    He shook his head and continued, "But there is a very powerful, and very old, ritual magic more commonly referred to by its final step, an act which is in and of itself neither dark or light, though its usage can be viewed as either depending upon the circumstances. Can any of you name this ancient magic?"

    They glanced amongst each other again, but no one volunteered to speak now.

    "Guesses are perfectly fine," he added. "I believe a few of you have attended Professor Flitwick's class recently."

    "The Fidelius Charm?" uttered Rose Weasley after another few moments.

    He clapped.

    “Correct, Miss Weasley. One point to Gryffindor. Perhaps because the exact process is so hard to perform, many have come to view the Fidelius Ritual as indeed only a powerful charm. It remains one of the few to be both well known and not strictly dark by definition, and I intend for us to practice with it with the assistance of the Ministry of Magic in the coming weeks.”

    He stood up and walked around to the blackboard, ignoring the uncertain murmurs. It had been two months since he invited an assistant and official guest to oversee their lessons. He liked to think that he was getting better at this kind of magic, but he still knew his limitations.

    “Take a look at this and tell me what you see, class,” he said as he tapped the smaller chalk figures.

    “Er, is that someone casting a spell?”

    “Correct, Mister Fudge. Go on.”

    He glanced back to see Robbie Fudge squinting in concentration. “Well, ah, I’m not rightly sure, but is that supposed to be someone bowing?”

    “Correct again.”

    Robbie frowned. “But, er, Professor, how can bowing be connected to a ritual?”

    “The same way that any act, when attended to in the same way or close enough, over a long enough period of time, becomes a ritual.” Harry turned back around. “Ritual magic is not reserved solely for acts which defy life and death and protect our most dire of secrets. Ritual magic defines anything which we come to perform regularly, and which in turn offers just the slightest inherent edge as the magic is grown from the act itself. These simpler, smaller rituals don’t even have to be thought of in that light for the effects to take place. Van--ah, Muggles would call this experience, for even they recognize that with continual practice at the matter, there is a gain for the time and effort invested. Wizards are fortunate to gain additional return.”

    “C’mon, are you trying to tell us that we’re performing a ritual when we lay down to sleep? When we play Quidditch and show improvement?”

    “Yes,” Harry said, and he was certainly grinning now. “It doesn’t make much sense, but it is there. Not even very perceptible. The difference in the mundane acts hardly amounts to the difference between doing something the same way and doing it otherwise. But think back. Haven’t you noticed that difference?”

    Only a couple of students muttered yes.

    “For your assignment, I want you all to think about the things that you do on a daily basis and change the sequence for the next six days. Do or don’t do certain acts at the same time, other than sleeping and waking up as you have been. At the end of the week, return to the order you are used to and write at least one sheet on what the differences are. We’ll begin practicing with the Fidelius after that. Any questions?”

    “Just one, Professor Dresden.” Scorpius Malfoy stared at him in disdain. “How in Merlin’s name did you pass the board’s requirements with this sort of nonsense?”

    Harry shrugged. “I spent a long summer making preparations.” And settling in for the long haul after the Way spat me out here on the tail of that Black Council bastard, he silently added. I may as well take advantage of a backwards Hogwarts education while I’m figuring out how to track them down again, and I’m getting a decent hang of balancing the magic around here with my own. “And one point from Slytherin for the sass. Go on then, class dismissed.”

    Among their usual murmurs as they stood up and made their way toward the door, he caught the mention about how short the Defence lesson was.

    To be fair, they did have plenty of time before they were due for their next class, but he couldn’t help it if this week was short.

    The subject required investment to establish a solid foundation to build upon, and he was going to need some secrets to be kept if he wanted to ensure he had allies in this world when the Council decided to act in the open again.

    To be continued.

    Please place all reviews in spoiler tags ~Sorrows
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2019
  2. thoriyan

    thoriyan Seventh Year

    Mar 20, 2010
    Canada, eh?
    I was pleasantly surprised by the twist that this is Dresden and not HP - and it sets up as a nice introduction to a crossover/AU. It's competent writing, but hard to evaluate this segment for much more than that.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2019
  3. Sorrows

    Sorrows Queen of the Flamingos Moderator

    Jun 17, 2008
    I love the concept. Making Dresden the Harry we are seeing is a great little twist to the end and rather neatly means you can lift the concept of ritual magic straight from another source. Very clever.

    I do feel like you could have done far more with this idea however. Simply having a class where Harry explains the concept of ritual magic seems a terrible waste when you could have spun it into something far more dynamic or interesting, even in such a limited number of words. Still it does deliver the pay out you were going for, and cannot be faulted on that account.

    On a technical level, your writing is pretty good. It flows decently well and there are no major errors. However
    • There are rather hefty chunks of exposition for a piece of writing this size. These could have been delivered in more interesting ways, it better yet, shown to us, rather than just told to us/the class.
    • You lean more towards telling, rather than showing overall. For example: "He smiled again, but there was a strain around the edges, as if he was remembering worse times instead of teasing the class." This second part is pure tell, you should be able to demonstrate this without spelling it out to the audience.
    • When you do tell you don't take the time to explain, Harry thinks the HP magic schooling system is inept/terrible, but we don't get to explore why he thinks this, even a little.
    I do like how you sprinkle little clues through the early parts, such as the ring on Harry's hand, and references to different types of magic. It's intriguing the first read through and cool the second time.

    Over all a good go. You have a solid foundation here, and judging from this, I think refinement of technique will come easy to you. Looking forward to what you write next.
  4. DR

    DR Secret Squirrel –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

    Mar 13, 2006
    Inside the Beltway
    High Score:
    I enjoyed the twist and subverted expectations, and the writing was pretty good. The confined setting of a classroom lesson was a nice touch, imo, because it allowed you to be equally simple in the plot.

    I think it was an interesting play to incorporate both the most basic example of the ritual concept (routine) and also what we would probably consider amongst the most complex (Fidelius). The contrast between the two, while still uniting them in concept, was nice.

    On that point, I'm not entirely on board with Fidelius as school instruction, however, but I'd read more. At least from the books, that seems to be far beyond the abilities of a normal witch or wizard, otherwise the use would be far more widespread. But, seeing as how you're inserting Dresden, if that were able to make the complex simple, that would be another intriguing outcome.

    With regard to technical quality, I think it was overall well executed. As has been said, I think you were on the telling side of the showing vs telling spectrum, but given the fact that the setting is a class lesson, I think that can be forgiven. The dialogue was well done, and I thought the various linguistic flavors you gave to each character did a good job of giving them personality.

    Score: 3/5
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  5. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

    Aug 31, 2011
    Cyber City Oedo
    High Score:
    I read the other reviews before posting, and like them I was surprised that it was, in fact, Harry Dresden and not Harry Potter. There's enough ambiguous hints worked into the text, I suppose; the mention of a great and powerful ritual, for example. I also like the idea that "rituals" can be just simple things, repeated time and again.

    But I don't think it really fits as a competition entry. It's not really a story as such, it's just basically a single scene of a crossover. I feel like it shouldn't be the first scene because we cut to Dresden already being somewhat established in the Wizarding World and having already faced some significant difficulties, but on the other hand you can't do the reveal like you did now, so this whole thing is just kind of dangling there, not a good start and not a good non-start either.

    Anyway, you've got no real story arc that results in some change to any of the people featured in it. A lesson happens and that's more or less it.

    Also, the dialogue reads somewhat oddly. "I can't rightly say" - I was under the impression that using "rightly" like that had been fading out of British English for a while. Maybe that's just my own sensitivity to Britishisms talking, though.

    Score: 2/5.
  6. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

    Nov 16, 2009
    High Score:
    The best thing about this is the rug pull at the end, which is genuinely well done. What I thought was a fairly engaging, kind of AU Harry is in fact a very in character Dresden - you should be very pleased with this, and I'm very interested in seeing where you might take this in the future. I hope you carry it on.

    The ritual concept is interesting, although it maybe treads a line, in context, of the crossover character ridiculing/improving the world they've crossed into, which is rarely done well. If you do continue this, that's perhaps something to keep an eye on. Otherwise, technically speaking, it's good, although the brief length admittedly doesn't leave much room for close analysis on this point. I suppose it does lean a little more into telling over showing, but that's not always a bad thing if done carefully, and it is a classroom setting, so I don't really mind it in this instance.

    That said, while this is a good hook for an ongoing story, as a competition entry it's lacking. Between the length and the fact that it's really just Dresden lecturing, there isn't really anything to make it stand out beyond the twist. 3/5
  7. Zombie

    Zombie Black Philip Moderator DLP Supporter

    Apr 28, 2007
    There isn't much here to base judgement on. I feel like this should have been longer and there should have been more details. The setup for the crossover is setup by one paragraph in which their name is dropped and then we get a bit of internal dialogue about how they ended up there.

    Based on the other character names, next gen characters are being utilized, but not in a way that makes sense. If you wanted to use them to set the crossover up, I feel like that bit should have been introduced first. Maybe a scene where Dresden is fretting over the fact that he's about to teach his first class on ritualized magic that he has no idea about and no basis in his own magical career in which to teach it.

    Overall, there is technical skill here, the ideas and the intent is largely legible. I can't say that I'm interested in seeing this continued simply because the introduction was lacklustre. It reads like it was written in the last minutes of the submission period and that you didn't have much time to story board it -- and that maybe you had more to write for it, but you didn't have the time to include it.

    Short story formats are brutal. They require you to have the ability to craft a story and be able to tell the beginning, middle, and end. You lack an end, your beginning is weak and your middle has no substance.

    Plot & Pacing: 2/5

    Pacing wasn't there, this is an incomplete story. Plot is there, but is only one line. Harry Dresden is teaching a class at Hogwarts about Rituals. There isn't much depth.

    Characters: 1/5
    I rated harder here because I feel like the use of characters should have been pivotal to setting up the scene. The contrast of Harry Dresden, Hogwarts Professor with a bunch of Next Gen kids with parents who have big names. Instead we get Scorpius acting like a Malfoy, and a Weasley acting like a Weasley.

    Prompt Use: 3/5
    You used the fact that rituals should be part of the prompt. I guess points for that. But you used it in a manner that was so bland that I almost forgot what the prompt was about. There was a bit of evolution that could have taken place here in terms of what the prompt stood for and how you used it that didn't happen.

    Other: 3/5
    Overall, I'd say that technically sound writing in terms of grammar, formatting and all that. I commend you for your efforts in submitting something for us all to read. Thank you for your time.

  8. darklordmike

    darklordmike Headmaster

    Mar 14, 2009
    This isn't bad, but it doesn't really work as a competition entry. It's more like a drabble with a twist.

    An effective short story has to have a traditional plot structure, even if it lacks any exciting events. The rising action-climax-falling action sequence still has to be there. It can work a little differently when there's a twist, as there is here, but the twist sort of undermines itself. We get to see one of our assumptions called into question, which is a nice touch, but the only reveal is that the character is a different Harry. That doesn't exactly contradict anything else about the ritual discussion or shed any new light on it. We just have to imagine someone else speaking about rituals.

    Plus, if this is the introduction to a longer story, the twist won't work. The reader will presumably already know they're reading a Dresden x-over.

    That said, the writing is technically sound, and the characterization of Harry Dresden is strong. I can't say much about the characterization of the new generation kids, as I try to avoid those stories like the plague.

    On the whole, this is something that could be potentially interesting in a longer story, but it seems like it was written hurriedly for the deadline.

    2/5 if this were up for review.
  9. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

    Oct 16, 2010
    Spoiled as per Sorrows.
    My general opinion is that this is a scene not a story. It's shallow enough that while I think it was effective, it wasn't effective enough for me to swallow and come away full. It's an aperitif, not an appetiser, I can't count it as a course of itself.

    Plot & Pacing:
    The reason I can't call this is a story, rather than a scene, is because I can't describe it in a simple sentence with a complication, e.g. Harry Dresden teaches a class covering the true meaning of ritual magic and... is successful (I think this is a reasonable criticism, even though it says that it's to be continued, because as a competition entry it should be a complete story arc able to stand on its own two legs).

    Our understanding going into the scene is one thing and our understanding coming out has been changed significantly. That's fine for a scene in a story (hypothetically, though I think this scene isn't necessarily suitable because nothing changes for the character with the most pressing goal in this scene), for the scene to turn on something for the reader, however, even the most high-concept literary fiction has some level of conflict that results in a change for or in the character.

    That said, I did enjoy the point around which this turned, the revelation that this was not the Harry we expected, and in that regard, it is a success.

    It didn't particularly outstay its welcome. But pacing can't really be discussed on anything other than a sentence to sentence basis because it's just one scene. There was certainly a building toward the point of reveal, afterwards, it ramped down perhaps less quickly than it ought though, with some shoe-horned but necessary explanation for why Dresden was here in this world - it could've been better done. Also, I can't help but feel the comment of the students about how quick the lesson was over was a tongue-in-cheek comment to your readers about the story itself.

    The problem with a reveal based on one character actually being another character is that at the start you inevitably feel like they're off. I was ready to comment on his example of bowling, and some of his speech mannerisms but then, of course, it's all explained.

    I can't depend on my memory of Dresden, as it's been so long since I've read it, to say how well you nailed his voice. And, next-gen characters are next-gen. Still, they had a responsive lively sense to them, I could imagine the classroom well.

    Prompt Use:
    The topic is entirely regarding ritual magic. It's an exposition on ritual magic, that then is revealed to be a melding of the two magic systems in HP/HD, and so it would serve a good purpose in a larger story and be a good chance to explain how the two systems conflict and interact.

    Yeah, I'm hardly an expert here but nothing stood out to me in particular as an area in which there were consistent grammatical or punctuation errors. Purely from a word-choice perspective, I believe you use a bit too many adverbs, which lends itself to feeling a bit too expositional and tell-y.
    For this round of entries, I want to try and offer a piece of constructive criticism on one issue, rather than shallowly attempt to discuss everything I can think of and end up not doing anything in detail.

    I think particularly we've identified that this piece doesn't work too well as a story, so it might be appropriate to discuss different outlining methods, different types of story arcs and things like that maybe, to highlight some outlining stuff (which I know you're aware of anyway), and just see what commonalities they have and would work in a short story piece to hang some structure on.

    However, rather than do that and try to put it onto your story, I recently came across this method for analysing a scene which is supposed to do a similar thing from the inside out. So let's try that:

    This is from Robert McKee's Story, for reference, but I'm just going to apply it pretty much verbatim, starting with his opener which says, 'To Analyze a scene you must slice into its pattern of behaviours at the levels of both text and subtext. Once properly examined, its flaws become vividly clear. Below is a five-step process designed to make a scene give up its secrets.' (let me know what you think after, as I've not used this myself yet, it just looks good to me.)

    Step one: Define conflict.

    Find the character with the principal goal, and define that goal as infinitive 'to do this...', 'to get that...'

    You can consider the students as the ones who most want something - maybe Scorpius has had a bad run in with Dresden earlier, maybe he will end up trying to get him fired - but realistically, from the scene as presented I don't think any of them suit.

    Harry has a goal, and it's 'to teach this class the basics of Dresden ritual magic and have them buy into it.' That's his explicit goal. There are also some other titbits that show another goal:

    (I've just realised, much later into this review, that I may have misunderstood this. Either it means that he has invited an assistant in for the last two months, which was what I took it to mean, or that he hasn't needed to for the past two months. I'm not sure, actually, now.)


    So, it appears that he has another goal which is 'to build a relationship with the magical establishment in this part of the way', and learn more about their way of magic, too, in service of the final Dresden canon ultimate goal which is the black council.

    But that's only half, because that's motivation not conflict. To make conflict with what we've got above, we need to rely on the students, or this faceless, voiceless assistant who may or may not be there.

    By thinking about his greater goal as you write the scene, the reason for his overt goal, you can have him acting in service of it which creates a satisfying subtext, and you can create conflict with the students beyond them not getting the lesson. Scorpius and Fudge or whomever are recast as disruptive influences, proper class clowns (I'd be really tempted to throw a young Granger/Weasley or a Potter) and have him trying to not diminish ties to the ministry or other Professors. What we want is to push the antagonism as far as is reasonably possible, and make it so they're hindering as many of his goals as possible.

    Step two:
    Identify the predominant value at the beginning of the scene. A scene, to work, must end with a difference in some state or value. Something must have happened. This value can be anything at all really, as long as it turns from positive to negative or negative to positive.

    In your scene, I don't think a value/circumstantial change is immediately apparent for the goal character - which is Harry.

    We'd have to invent one, and so we could think in this setting it's either internal for Harry, or societal for his relationship with the class. We could have him feeling like he's not getting through to them, then they finally seem interested in his topic and enthused (value would be Harry's optimism or achievement). Or, we could have him feeling like he's got a handle on teaching and he's making progress with the ministry and the professors, but then he loses the faith of the class and they storm out because of his 'poor' teaching skills (value would be respect or something like that).

    With that, change that might be enough to address the criticisms above.

    Step three: Break the scene into beats.

    So a beat is the action/reaction that defines a passage in your scene. X does Y, Z responds with A, I just say that to make sure we're on the same page. To make it simple we want to simplify it to a single sentence with a strong, instructive verb to describe the essential quality of the beat - so that we can get at the subtext, the why for Harry's choices, the book is keen to point out:

    'the phrases that express the action in the subtext do not describe activity in literal terms; they go deeper to establish the characters essential action in emotive terms'.

    This is the first beat, I think.
    A. Harry Dresden lures his students into the wrong answer.
    B. The students clam up, realising.

    There are a few points here why I might be tempted to say it was a different beat because the topic of explanation changes, but in fact it is all explanation. The book says 'As long as it continues, Character A is "Grovelling" but Character B is "ignoring" it's one beat. Even if the exchange repeats a number of times, it's still one and the same beat'.

    A. Harry is explaining ritual magic.
    B. The students are questioning ritual magic.

    This is the next one.
    A. Harry pleads if the students understand.
    B. The students mostly do not answer/ignore him.

    A. Harry orders the students to obey his method of rituals.
    B. The students question his legitimacy for this lesson/demand.

    A. Harry ignores them and keeps his plans/explanations/business to himself.
    B. The students leave displeased.

    Ok so five action beats all together, but mostly number three, in service of exposition about the magic.

    Step four:

    This is 'identify the closing value'. We didn't really identify one in step two, but if we had chosen respect we could say that had it at the start and, with Scorpius, has lost it at the end. In longer scenes, where it's less apparent or where the value has changed multiple times throughout but then ended up positive or negative again, this can be useful to compare the two.

    Step five:

    This step would, therefore, be rereading through the beats and identifying the beat on which the value changed. When identified you want to see where there is a difference between expectation and result, and widen it, and have it be a well-defined action. If there's no turning point at all then you need to insert one.

    The difference between expectation and result is the key to creating a turning point. Character A needs to perform an action knowing what will happen, but instead have something entirely unexpected happen. A character is having an excellent day, he makes every green light, his wife texts him she's preparing the bbq in the backyard and the doors open. He pulls up at home, goes to open the door and its locked, then he goes round the back and everythings undisturbed, lights off, no bbq, no wife. The turning point is that door, it's that gap between expectation and reality that then pulls him forward into the rest of the scene and around which the positive to negative value change occurs.
    The idea is that by knowing your turning point and your value change, you can build the scene around it with good understanding of when to make it intense, where to build up to and where to slow down and prolong suspense from, or vice versa. With a story like this, having a little working synopsis before you design or analyse your scenes of the events and motivations up to then in plain speak can also be helpful for making sure you're keeping the overarching narrative in mind, and subtextually impressing your authority on the reader that there's more behind the scenes.

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful, maybe it's not. But I hope it's food for thought to digest into your own method, voice and stories. Alternate perspectives can only ever help throw our own perspectives into good relief and help us understand our own process a little better, I hope.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  10. Eilyfe

    Eilyfe Supreme Mugwump

    May 27, 2014
    I like the idea of tying ritual to routine, of their being magic even in the mundane. The writing itself was solid; no glaring errors jumped out at me.

    I was momentarily confused by: "Perhaps because the exact process is so hard to perform, many have come to view the Fidelius Ritual as indeed only a powerful charm." Why would something that is difficult to perform be considered only a charm in the public view? That feels counter-intuitive since most people associate complexity with ritual.

    As for the twist, it was certainly surprising. I haven't read more than the first few books in the Dresden series and it's been a while, so I can't say if you nailed his voice.

    The snippet as such is tied to the prompt and lives by the twist I guess. There isn't much to evaluate though, to be honest. I would have liked the ritual idea to be explored more.
  11. Niez

    Niez Competition Winner CHAMPION ⭐⭐

    Jun 26, 2018
    Behind you
    I concur with most other reviewers (I know, I’m a naughty boy) in that this is more of a scene than anything else; a short excerpt of a larger tale. As such I won’t evaluate it as a story, instead I will try to share my thoughts on a few aspects of the writing. Hopefully it is still useful.

    I stumbled on that second line, never good at the beginning of your story. Possible reasons:

    1. ‘Far too many students’ is a subjective judgement. What is far too many? Three? Ten? Two thirds? It depends on Harry’s standards and since we don’t know what they are - this is, after all, the opening of your story - the number is quite ambiguous. Also, we know that the story is written in third person limited (from Harry’s perspective), but the opening fits with third person omniscient, so it takes a moment to establish that the narrative is indeed, from Harry’s POV - and that the ‘too many’ judgement is his, and not, say, the word of God.

    2. Remove the ‘though they knew better’ (though that line in itself is a bit unclear; who didn’t know better, the students in their entirety or the ‘far too many students’ that were nodding along? Logic dictates the latter, ease of reading would require the former) and you have:

    This is almost meaningless. ‘Many’ means more than a few but not all. So if ‘many’ of the ‘far too many’ (already a doozy) heard what were expecting to hear what did the others do? Hear what they were not expecting to hear and then mindlessly nod along anyways? Or perhaps the ‘many’ makes a reference to all the students. In this case we have three possibilities:​

    a) Many heard what they were expecting to hear on the subject and were not in the mood to question him. The rest heard what they were expecting to hear and were in the mood to question him, but some reason did not.

    b) Many heard what they were expecting to hear on the subject and were not in the mood to question him. The others were surprised at this new information but were not in the mood to question.

    c) Many heard what they were expecting to hear on the subject and were not in the mood to question him. The rest were surprised at this new information and were in the mood to question, but some reason did not.

    But your writing does not make a reference to any of these explanations, so confusion follows.

    3. (Last one I promise)​

    ‘on the subject’ seems unnecessary. We know Harry is talking about ritual magic, it’s the fourth and fifth word of your story, and the title of the prompt. Trust your reader, even if sometimes they are insufferable twats like me.​

    If I were your editor:

    What is ritual magic, class? Dark? Dangerous? Great and powerful?" As he spoke, Harry stepped around to the front of his desk, taking stock of their reactions.

    Far too many students were nodding along for his liking. They really ought to know better but they were hearing what they were expecting to hear, and as a result were not in the mood to question him.

    If I were an asshole:

    What is ritual magic, class? Dark? Dangerous? Great and powerful?" As he spoke, Harry stepped around to the front of his desk, taking stock of their reactions.

    It did not surprise Harry to see most of them nodding along. With their magical education as it had been, it was almost a wonder than even a few resisted. Mr. Blake; Mrs. Weasley - as always; Mrs. Nott? Hmmm… interesting. Still, he expected better from his class.

    Alternative 1: Show not tell.

    He smiled teasingly at them, though there was a strange edge to it.

    Alternative 2: Tell don’t show.

    He tried to smile, but memories of worse times kept his lips from stretching.

    What I'm trying to say is that you can’t do both. That’s illegal.

    The ‘now’ at the end is also redundant, no? Unless you are playing with time in some unforeseen way. Also, I’m not sure mixing past verbs with a present adverb is right. Morally at least, if not grammatically.

    It better, if you want the other six circles. I started out with the gag and then realised I did not have all that much to say (it is rather short, after all, close to 800 words...).

    Anyway, that's all I got. Good luck and good night.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  12. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Sixth Year DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Dec 4, 2018
    I don’t think this can be a top contender because it’s really more of a “Chapter 1” of a much longer story, but I definitely hope you plan on continuing it.

    I liked the opening for this. Two paragraphs in, I’m already engaged and I know exactly what’s going on (or, at least, I thought I did).

    The tone was great. The author did a great job capturing realistic thoughts and movements of a well-liked teacher. I felt like I was in a favorite class. This was the only line that felt off: “C’mon, are you trying to tell us that we’re performing a ritual when we lay down to sleep? When we play Quidditch and show improvement?” It felt more like a line in a script, rather than the way a student would actually ask a question or be skeptical.

    For me, at least, it’s not made quite clear what the relationship is between mundane routines, such as sleep, and magic. At first, I thought the author was going to point out a spell that is used often in a ritual way that I hadn’t thought of before as ritual magic. But I realized a little too late that that wasn’t what the author was going for.

    The Dresden Files surprise worked well. I made notes while I was reading, and I wrote early on, “Harry feels like Harry.” Lol.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
  13. Barzûl

    Barzûl Seventh Year DLP Supporter

    Dec 31, 2011
    You hit the tone with the story quite well. It captured that 'Mundane magical' feel well.
    I don't mean mundane in a negative manner, it's more that you made it feel like everyday Hogwarts.
    As a former teacher these classroom situations really resonate with me :)

    Unfortunately, I have not read Dresden Files and the twist didn't register with me like the other readers.
    It also felt a lot more like a prologue or first chapter of a larger story, which drags down in my evaluation.
  14. Dirty Puzzle

    Dirty Puzzle Seventh Year DLP Supporter

    Dec 11, 2016
    Northern Hemisphere
    High Score:
    While the twist didn't particularly resonate with me, I also don't read The Dresden Files. At the same time, I really appreciated the touch of Fudge's kid? grandkid? and some of the other families mentioned like Nott and such. It added a nice classroom feel. There's not much character work to go on, but it's got nice flow to the dialogue. My biggest critique is simply it being very short and full of exposition for a piece so short. It feels like a snippet that is in the middle of a fic's first chapter, maybe. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a little odd.

    I'm curious what the same scene would like from the students' perspectives. Dresden strikes me as someone who would absolutely try and, at least in the theoretical, teach school-age wizards the Fidelius Charm. Which I can't help but find somewhat hilarious.

    Otherwise, technically speaking it's solid.
  15. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

    May 27, 2010
    As a one-shot, this piece fails. It's not really a self-contained work so much as an introduction to a longer one, or rather a snippet in the day and life of Harry Dresden, Hogwarts Professor.

    Now, why it fails as a self-contained work is that it's not really a story. There's no conflict and resolution, no goal to be achieved. We're just watching a professor tell kids about rituals, and there's no real tension in it or "drive" to keep me reading. The fact that's it's short means I can still finish reading this, but as a longer piece you'd need to add some mystery or question to keep a reader invested.

    Negative comments aside, I do like the tone you struck here. Harry (Potter) read as out of character to me until I realized it was Dresden at the end. That was a smart twist, and given all the clues you showed, I should really have caught on sooner given we get one of these each year. The OC students felt like there was substance to them, from how they spoke. They weren't just faces in a crowd, but you managed to give each a different feel so kudos on that.
  16. Microwave

    Microwave Professor

    Oct 21, 2017
    I'm really not sure what to think about this one. On one hand, it's technically sound and pretty well put together, but it's so short that the only thing it really did was leave me confused. Maybe I'm just obtuse, but it really doesn't feel like there's any plot, just "things happening", which doesn't really mean anything in the end.

    Having never read Dresden Files, but the twist was a bit of a surprise for me. I don't know if you left any hints, as I haven't really caught onto any of them, but I'm assuming you did, so good job on that.

    That being said, the story is a bit hazy, there's no conflict and no conclusion, just a big surprise and it sort of fizzles out. There's no structure to the story besides the buildup to the twist, which doesn't really add much on its own.

    It's still nicely written anyway, despite everything. It feels like the first chapter of a much bigger story more than anything, and I'm assuming that you're going to continue this and add it to part of a much grander scale. What exists right now, however, doesn't feel like it really stands at all on its own, which is a bit of a shame.

  17. Majube

    Majube Order Member DLP Supporter

    Aug 2, 2016
    High Score:
    Kind of weird for Fidelius to be taught in the class, it kind of breaks the readers believability that that would happen in canon. I also didn’t feel like it was that on point with the prompt since no rituals didn't actually happen in it. Still the writing was pretty good and I liked Harry’s character a bit since it seemed to fit his personality.

    I did like the idea of rituals coming from routines and routines and rituals giving wizards additional power.

    I also liked how tight the plot was, in that it’s quite short but works for exactly what it is, a short lesson rituals and the fidelius in particular but we find out that no it’s not a Professor Potter story but Harry Dresden fic.

    There were a few turns in phrases that I also quite liked such as ‘
    I didn’t notice any obvious misspellings or grammar mistakes and I like what you did with the plot even if it wasn’t more -fantasy like in scope, it’s quite good and I’d rate it a 3/ 5 if this were a fic in the library.
  18. H_A_Greene

    H_A_Greene Auror –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

    Aug 30, 2009
    High Score:
    I just wanted to take a few minutes to say thank you to everyone who read and responded to this submission. I am ashamed to say that I wrote the initial draft in about four hours the evening of the deadline and spent the last hour peppering Xiph's inbox with last-minute adjustments to the final couple of paragraphs.

    As has become the standard with my involvement, I simply couldn't think of anything to do with the prompts until there was no time left to do it right. The day-of, I hit on the idea of teaching ritual magic in class. I settled on Dresden instead of Potter early on. I wanted to build the comparison between what we would expect as ritual magic and the simpler side of things that Dresden could introduce them to. His why for being in the class was tacked on after the fact, I just wanted to have him in the role and further having involvement with the next-generation, but as I was writing their voices, I kind of fizzled around the time Robbie Fudge countered Dresden's explanation. Scorpius was shuffled into the usual Malfoy role.

    No one really had the time to shine or stand fully upon their own. I intend to take the critique here and breath more life into this scene and a wider story in the weeks ahead. I appreciate everyone who gave their time and their thoughts. Thank you for reading.
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