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Entry #1

Discussion in 'Q4 2020' started by Xiph0, Dec 16, 2020.

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  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

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    Rolf Scamander and the Skrewts of Hogwarts
    Rolf balanced his omnioculars on the branch, then grabbed his pen from his teeth. With a steady hand he finished the last five ridges down the Norwegian Ridgebacks tail, then shaded them in to account for the angle. He blew across the paper, looking it over with a critical eye, and grinned.

    "Four down, none to go!" Rolf shifted in his delight and the omnioculars edged towards the side of the branch. He grabbed for them, knocking his notebook to the side, and next thing he knew he was plunging fifty feet towards the ground. A spike of fear lanced through him as his stomach fell and he twisted midair in a panic.

    He landed softly in an awkward position. In someone's arms.

    "Careful now," Hagrid said, setting him down. "Finally got all four of them, didya?"

    Rolf slowed his breathing and picked up his omnioculars with shaking hands. Not damaged, good. "Um, yes. You knew I was here?"

    Hagrid chuckled and set off towards the school once Rolf had picked up the rest of his things. "Yer not the only student wanting ta have a look at the dragons," he said. "Only one keeps coming back, though. Good to see a youngin appreciate the beasties."

    "You were standing under my tree."

    "Aye," Hagrid said. "They're getting ready to prep the task, don't want students out here for that in case it gets back to the champions."

    "Aren't the dragons supposed to be secret?" Rolf asked, trotting along to keep up with Hagrid's long strides. He'd hoped to have a growth spurt by twelve, but so far he hadn't broken five feet.

    Hagrid coughed and changed the subject. "Would yeh like to come look at the skrewts again? Getting bigger they are, and they won't be around when yeh take Care of Magical Creatures next year."

    Having zero interest in experimental breeding, which his grandfather opposed and had gotten banned by law, Rolf struggled for an excuse. "Have they, um, developed any new traits?" Hybrids rarely exhibited additional traits as they grew. Rolf would just tell Hagrid he'd come by when they did.

    "Jemma's pregnant!"

    Rolf tripped over a root and banged his knee onto the ground. "What?!"

    Hagrid lifted Rolf off the ground by the back of his robes, humming to himself. "Aye, and Amarylls had two babes just yesterday."

    "Live births? No, nevermind that--" Rolf scrambled to catch back up to Hagrid, rubbing his knee as Hagrid waxed poetic about the infant skrewts. They'd be out of the forest soon. "Hagrid," Rolf interrupted. "They're fertile hybrids? You're sure?"

    "Well, yeh," he said. "Given that Amarylls gave birth. They seem healthy enough. Cute as a button too, why jus' this morning they--"

    Rolf cut him off again. "Fertile hybrids are incredibly rare!" He could see the edge of the forest ahead and started scanning for the Wiggentree where he'd left Humbert. "Do you realize how rare that is? There's only a handful of fertile muggle hybrids, and only the Clymene dolphin is confirmed to have undergone speciation! Fertile magical hybrids are even more rare, and none have been confirmed to undergo full speciation, what if--"

    Hagrid cut him off this time, steering him towards the Wiggentree he'd been looking for. "Aye lad, but we'll nae get a chance tae find out." Hagrid wiped a tear from his eye. "Not many will survive the tournament, and those that do won't get a chance to breed in the wild."

    Rolf scrabbled over the roots and knocked twice on the trunk, catching Humbert as he fell out. The pink puffskein chortled at him and stuck its tongue up his nose before settling onto Rolf's shoulder. "They shouldn't be killed," Rolf said. "Not without giving them a chance, not now that they already exist. Especially not if they could be the first example of a fertile magical hybrid to undergo speciation." Hagrid tried to interrupt, but Rolf kept going. "I'll write grandfather, but he's out of the country so I don't know if he'll be able to help."

    Hagrid looked ready to say something else, but Rolf turned and headed towards the castle now that they were free of the forest.

    Hagrid grabbed the back of his robes. "Whatever yeh do, just be careful, lad. Lots in the Ministry won't like it, and I'm on thin ice after that mess with the hippogriff last year." Then Hagrid patted him on the head, knocking him down again, and set off towards his cabin.

    "Well," Rolf said to Humbert, "operation save the skrewts it is then."

    Humbert chortled and stuck his tongue in Rolf's ear.

    ***​

    "Alright Humbert," Rolf said, "there's the letter off. Think it will get to grandfather in time?"

    Humbert emitted a sad-sounding hum.

    "Me neither. Just means we've got to save them ourselves 'til he does." Rolf skipped down from the owlery, taking the steps two at a time, and laughing at Humbert's excited chortling.

    "Hey Scammy!"

    Rolf slammed into the wall, Humbert tumbling off his shoulder onto the floor. Laughter followed as Rolf stood and brushed himself off.

    "Dropped something," Patrick Fincher said. Rolf jerked his hands into a ready position as Fincher hauled off and kicked Humbert back at him. Rolf caught him and ran his fingers over his body, sighing in relief at finding no damage. Puffskeins were tough, and had been known to survive being hit with Quidditch bats, but they weren't indestructable.

    "Hey, Scammy, we're talking to you." Loretta Cornhill said. Rolf ignored them. The entire class of third year Ravenclaws were gigantic dickheads as far as he could tell, though Fincher and Cornill were the ringleaders. Luckily as a second year Hufflepuff they didn't have as much access to him as they did to the blonde girl in their own year, though he wished the teachers would do something about them.

    Rolf tucked Humbert into his robes and creeped past them. His hand twitched, wanting to go for his wand, but defense wasn't his strong suit and it was five versus one.

    "We know you're not mute, Scammy scam," Fincher said. "You talk to that piece of shit puffskein all the time. What is it, your baby blanket? Might be time to outgrow it."

    Rolf angled his body and scooted past them, noting that no one had drawn their wand.

    "He'd probably thank us if we got rid of it for him," Cornhill said. "Babies have to grow up sometime."

    "Yeah," Cornhill said. "You hear that, Scammy? We covered Puffskeins in Care, you know, loads of things eat them. We've been studying what the skrewts eat, actually. Maybe next time we'll--"

    But Rolf didn't hear what they'd do next time. He was out the door and on his way to the library.

    He needed to make a list of what skrewts might eat. They were a hybrid fire crabs and chimeara hybrid, which had a lot of interesting implications. Hypercarnivorous maybe? Or omnivorous, but limited to things that themselves ate protein?

    He'd make a list and let the Ravenclaws steal it to test in Hagrid's class.

    ***​

    "What do you think, Humbert?"

    Humbert chortled and rolled around in the dirt, working it deep into his pink fur.

    Rolf smiled and wiped his brow, staring at the hole in front of him. He'd spent months working on a place to keep the skrewts safe from the ministry, and he'd finally managed to put the finishing touches on his makeshift cage. He hadn't wanted to venture too deep into the forest without Hagrid, so he'd spent his free periods scouring the areas of the forest near the castle.

    He'd eventually found a pipe, of all things. It was large, six feet in circumference, and at some point had been magically sealed. He'd gone into it with his wand high, a shield charm on his lips, and a broom in his hand, but all he found inside was a family of flobberworms and some rat droppings.

    It was perfect. The skrewts could burn just about anything, but the pipe was metal. They could smash through iron with how strong their shells had gotten, but this pipe was reinforced. He'd had trouble learning the spells to reinforce the gate, he wanted to add - they were well above his skill level as a second year - but weeks of practice meant he'd managed. Ditto for the concealing charms.

    He'd 'accidentally' left a portion of the reinforced, dried tentacula in a skrewt crate and had seen it undamaged the next day. As an added bonus the skrewt it shared a cage with had seemed lethargic, which Rolf reasoned might be because of the leftover venom in the dessicated plant matter.

    Humbert hopped over to Rolf and jumped onto his head, running his tongue up Rolf's nose to check for bogies. Rolf patted him absentmindedly as he thought through his plan.

    More specifically, his lack of a plan.

    Rolf sighed and sat down, leaning his back against his makeshift gate. "I don't know what to do, Humbert," he said. "I can keep them here til grandfather gets back, but there's only a few days left til the third task!" Rolf kicked the gate, wincing as it didn't give against his foot. "Hagrid still hasn't figured out what they eat. I have the spell to enhance the smell of something they'd follow, and I can make a trail to lead them here, but how the hell am I supposed to trot them off from under everyones nose after the third task!?"

    Humbert purred right against Rolf's neck and some of his anxiety drained away. Rolf petted him.

    "Thanks buddy," Rolf said. "Alright. Papers are due tomorrow for most classes, so I can ask Hagrid if anyone had a new idea on food." Rolf ticked things off on his fingers. "Then I just need to research a way to tear a hole in the hedges of the maze and figure out how to make a distraction while I sneak them out after the task."

    ***​

    "Hagrid, have you figured out what the skrewts eat yet?"

    The half-giant looked sheepish as he invited Rolf inside. "Got a lot of ideas, but tis mostly been mah students looking into it and doing the testing. Haven't had time to read their reports yet, but something's been working. They're not dead yet, or most of 'em aren't."

    Rolf bit his lip. "Can I read the reports then? It's um, I just thought it might be nice to know now. What they eat, I mean. As opposed to later."

    Hagrid stared at Rolf and winked.

    Rolf blinked, confused. Had he just seen that?

    "No, sorry, Rolf," Hagrid said loudly. "I can't let you read papers from my students, especially not the ones sitting on my table next to you. That'd be a breach of ethics as a professor, it would."

    Rolf stared at him. What?

    Hagrid stood. "Oh, I almost forgot, I need to go the castle."

    What? "What?" said Rolf.

    "Bathroom, you know. Urgent like."

    Rolf's eyes tracked to the door that led to Hagrid's own bathroom, but said nothing as Hagrid left.

    A minute later he sat cross-legged on the table, skimming through the various submitted theories on what skrewts might gain sustenance from. He didn't know how long Hagrid would be gone, and didn't want to get caught, so he sorted as fast as he could without stopping to read in depth.

    He ended up with a handful of papers from Hagrid's third through fifth years. One was his own work, submitted by Fincher, which had held up to scrutiny. Two were from fifth years, who had done less research than he had but had seen good results with carnivorous plants. But the best paper belonged to a fourth year Gryffindor girl, who had written a full three feet on the topic. She'd covered everything he had and then some, and she confirmed the results the fifth years had.

    Most importantly she had evidence backed conclusions. It had taken him a while to sort through her paragraph about feeding muggle pet dogs pumpkin and rice with chicken. She was quite wordy in his opinion and used a dozen words where two would do, but she'd extrapolated from that. Skrewts would eat almost anything, even if they didn't gain sustenance from it, but they thrived on a mixture of pumpkin, pepper, and the coagulated blood of a hypercarnivorous magical mammal.

    He grinned and left the papers as he'd found them except for putting hers on top.

    ***​

    Rolf groggily woke up, his back screaming at him after falling asleep in an awkward position. A piece of paper peeled off his cheek as he lifted his head. "Wazzat?" he said, rubbing his eyes.

    He'd heard something, but he put it out of his mind. The third task was in a few hours, and he couldn't afford to sleep. He'd spent the last few days struggling with self-hatred at his inability to learn a spell to cut through the hedges, but he'd finally found one. He just had to learn it.

    He also had to hope that the Weasley twins took him up on his anonymous offer. He didn't like to deal with the older boys, given that they seemed mean-spirited to him sometimes, but he'd left 20 galleons with a note in the abandoned classroom everyone knew they used asking them to create a distraction.

    Given that he wanted to sneak a dozen gigantic monsters out of the hedge maze the entire audience would be watching, he worried it wouldn't be enough.

    But none of it mattered if he didn't finish learning to cast bombarda. He'd tried potions first, but even the industrial strength weed killer he'd ordered from Jiggers hadn't eaten through the hedge, only kept it from regrowing. He still had a vial in his pocket though, just in case.

    His stomach rumbled. "What do you think Humbert, should we grab a bite to eat?"

    Rolf waited for the chortling answer he always got, followed by a tongue up his nose to look for bogies, but nothing came. A chill wormed its way into Rolf's limbs, settling in his stomach and leaving his limbs dead weight on the text he'd been reading.

    "Humbert?"

    Snickering came from behind the shelves next to his table, and it struck Rolf that the same sound had woken him up.

    "Accio Humbert!" he yelled, leaping to his feet with his wand slicing through the air. The snickering exploded into laughter.

    "Aww, the baby Scammy wants his blankie," Cornhill said, coming around the end of the aisle. Fincher and their gang followed her. "Should have heard yourself, Scammy, talking to it in your sleep."

    "Gotta save them," Fincher said in a sing-song voice, mocking him and interspersing the words with snores. "Gotta save who, Scammy, your mom?"

    "Probably hates how disgusting you are, Scammy," Cornhill added.

    "Where's Humbert," Rolf asked. His knuckles had gone white gripping his wand.

    "He lets it eat his bogies," Fincher said. "I mean, I've heard they do that when you sleep but a good beating stops it."

    Rolf's hand tightened further on his wand. "I don't care what you think of me and I haven't got time for this. Where. Is. Humbert."

    Cornhill and Fincher scowled at the same time and drew their wands, pissed he wasn't rising to the bait. Rolf glanced around, looking for their cronies, and took a breath to cast the shield charm when a loud bang and a burst of air threw them all to the floor.

    "Out!" Madame Pince yelled, waving her wand and causing all three of them to be lifted by the neck of their robes. "No fighting in the library, out!" Rolf's foot bashed into the corner of a bookshelf as they were unceremoniously pulled through the aisles and tossed out of the library.

    They rolled to a stop on the floor in the hallway and Rolf jumped to his feet, scrabbling for his wand, but a petrificous totalis hit him and he tipped over, falling on his face.

    "Skrewts will eat anything, you know," Fincher said.

    "Wingaridium Leviosa!" Cornhill said. Rolf floated in front of them, unable to move or speak.

    "Anything at all," Fincher said, and grinned. "Time to grow up, Scammy."

    Cornhill levitated him behind a statue and they trotted off, laughing.

    ***​

    By the time someone noticed him and cast the counterspell, the third task about to start. Students and faculty alike strode toward the stands ready for the big event, but Rolf sprinted across the grounds to Hagrid's hut.

    Images of Humbert's burned and mutilated body flooded his mind. He couldn't turn it off. He saw the blood matting the fluffy pink fur, the long tongue burned to a crisp, and he heard Humbert's pained whimpering in his ears as he fled towards the skrewt cages.

    It had been hours. He would be too late. And, he thought with a rare flash of rage in his heart, they had robbed him of the chance to finish learning bombarda.

    He'd failed the skrewts, just like he'd failed Humbert.

    Rolf vaulted over the railing outside Hagrid's hut and into the pens where the cages were, frantically glancing around for a flash of pink fur.

    His heart skipped a beat when he heard a familiar chortling behind him. Next thing he knew the puffskein's fur was soaked with tears - tears, not blood! - and the adrenaline had worn off, leaving Rolf a shivering mess. Humbert licked his face, running his tongue into every orifice it could find.

    For a full minute he stood there, clutching his best friend and letting the relief flow through him.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, in five minutes' time, I will be asking you to make your way down to the Quidditch field for the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament. Will the champions please follow Mr. Bagman down to the stadium now."

    Rolf looked up at hearing Headmaster Dumbledore's announcement echoing from the Quidditch pitch. He narrowed his eyes, wiped his face with his sleeve, and shifted Humbert up to his shoulder.

    There was a pile of pumpkin and blood cubes in a basket bundled up by Hagrid's door. A large vial of peppercorns sat beside it. Rolf waved his wand to levitate the bundle and sat out at a jog towards the forest.

    He wasn't ready, but that didn't mean he couldn't try.

    ***​

    Twenty minutes later Rolf crouched on the South side of the hedge maze under a notice-me-not charm, trying to cast bombarda with not an ounce of luck.

    "Bombarda!" he hissed under his breath for the nineteenth time, watching the spell fizzle as it knocked against the hedge. He blinked back tears, reminding himself he'd done enough crying for the day, damnit. He was twelve, not two! Rolf also swallowed his rage, telling himself that revenge against those fucking Ravenclaw third years wouldn't solve anything, and went back through the spell theory again, trying to see what he was doing wrong.

    He ignored the shaking of his wand hand just like he ignored the raging emotions causing it. Humbert hummed next to him, but for once it did nothing to calm him. Helpless. He hated feeling helpless!

    A portion of the hedge opened silently a dozen feet in front of him.

    Rolf blinked and shook his head, but the scene didn't change as Professor Moody stepped out of the hedge and glanced around before speeding in the other direction. Rolf burst into action the second Moody turned the corner, fumbling for the vial of weed killer in his pocket.

    "Volero," Rolf cast, using the spell to spread the weed killer around the edges as it tried to repair itself. Belatedly he realized that something else might come out of the maze and attack him, but it was a bit late to worry about that.

    He placed a tiny portion of the food mixture at the edge of the opening and cast the spells to link it back to the larger pile in his forest cage trap. Where was his distraction? The task had to be done soon, the champions had been in there for ages. There'd been a commotion a bit ago, sure, but there'd be announcement once a winner took the cup. If he tried this now there was no way the audience would miss the skrewts streaming out of the maze into the forest! He'd gotten lucky with Professor Moody coming out when he did, but--

    'Harry! Harry!" Professor Dumbledore's voice broke through Rolf's musings. Had Potter won then?

    "He's back," Potter said. The sound carried out to Rolf due to the sonorous charm, but it sounded like Potter was whispering. "He's back. Voldemort."

    Rolf froze, his wand hovering over the pile of blood and pumpkin bits as he listened to the new voices talking over each other.

    "What's going on? What's happened?"

    "My God - Diggory! Dumbledore - he's dead!"

    That shook Rolf out of his stupor. The terror and adrenaline were back, and he pushed it all down and away from him. He'd think about - that - later. Rolf dragged his mind back on task, refusing to allow any thoughts not related to his current goal to gain traction. He'd wanted a distraction hadn't he?

    "Nidore!" he said, and suddenly the smell of blood, pumpkin, and pepper was overwhelming. He shuffled backwards, crouching, and watched as every living skrewt in the world tumbled out of the maze and followed his trail towards the forest, farting fire as they went.

    He hadn't moved two hours later when his grandfather's owl found him.

    Rolf,

    Thank you for letting me know about this fascinating fertile hybrid! I could wax for ages upon the rarity of such a thing, experimental breeding or otherwise, but I suspect the poor owl might not wish to deliver such a letter.

    Though I will warn you not to get your hopes up that they could survive in the wild and find a niche for themselves, they are certainly worth study. I wish you the best saving them from slaughter after this tournament, and regret to inform you I will only be back in the country two days after this final task.

    I'll come by Hogwarts personally and we'll go for a butterbeer. I'd love to hear about your adventures.

    Love,

    Grandfather

    Rolf cuddled Humbert and looked up at the sky. He shuddered to think what the next two days would entail if Potter had been right, but then his grandfather would be here. For now he wouldn't think about the fact that Cedric, a prefect in his own house who often helped Rolf with his homework, might be dead.

    He turned his thoughts towards the skrewts instead and hopped up, once more headed to the forest with Humbert chortling on his shoulder. Let tomorrow come, and the day after, and the day after that. He’d deal with things as they came. Preferably with his grandfather’s help.
     
  2. bking4

    bking4 Second Year ⭐⭐

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    I quite liked this! The premise was engaging, and it was fun to go along for the ride.

    You did a great job setting up the bullies as cruel without being over the top or absurd, in my opinion. They felt like just the right amount of malicious.

    Hagrid's voice felt a bit off to me at times. The accent went full Scottish it seemed (in my limited knowledge of accents) , which I don't generally associate with Hagrid. The amount of insight he showed when Rolf wanted to read the papers also seemed out of character and a bit forced.

    The sub plot with Humbert was well set up. I thought it was executed well, right up until the end. The turn around from 'I've lost my best friend' to 'my best friend is alive' was very quick and gave me a bit of whip lash. I didn't have time to fully process the emotional turmoil Ralph was experiencing. Difficult to do with such a short word limit, but I think by moving the 'reveal' to later in the story, that would have made a difference.

    Overall, an solid story that I enjoyed reading! No real technical issues I noticed, strong characterizations, and minor pacing concerns for the sub plot. 4/5
     
  3. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    This is pretty good, but let down by its lack of a real ending. Rolf is bullied, obviously, so the natural expectation as a reader is that he'll use the magical beasts to slap their shit silly or something. Or show that he's above them, thereby achieving catharsis. But that scene was missing. He gets picked on, they apparently try to murder his pet, he moves on.

    Same for his efforts to save the Skrewts. The deadline is artificial - I dunno that most creatures used in the maze will be killed, either post facto or during the task - but there's an opportunity for a good, clean resolution there and you miss it. In the end grandpa goes "well, ok, if you say so I'll save the buggers" and while that's huge for the Skrewts in terms of story resolution it's someone else coming in and solving the problem.

    Also Humbert puts his tongue into people's orifices and that's just fucking weird.

    So yeah. Technically competent, but lack of catharsis lets it down. 3/5.
     
  4. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    I read a decent chunk of this expecting some big explanation as to why they seemed to be repeating history with the next generation and their tournament, until I remembered that Rolf is Luna's husband, not her son...

    I rather liked this. I don't have an awful lot to say about it, unfortunately, at least of any major depth; it's decently written, with a nice premise, and feels in character despite Rolf never actually appearing in anything canonical, although he maybe reads a little older than the 12 year old he actually is. I liked that you remember that it's not just Slytherins who can be little shits, and the glimpses of the canon world near and far. Beyond that though, it's...unremarkable, I suppose. Which isn't a bad thing, necessarily, but in the context of a competition might be a drawback. Solid entry though.
     
  5. soczab

    soczab Professor

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    So wait. This is harry's fourth year? I actually thought it was a generation later repeating the entire thing until the very end. That may be on me...but I might ground that a bit better. Maybe? Dunno.

    Few general constructive bits before I hit on what I like:

    Humbert: Introduce him better. I actually backtracked when reading the story trying to figure out who he was exactly since its not clear what/who he is until well *after* Rolf finds him. So it just threw me. I think even a line of like "his pet" "the puffskin" etc when he is first found might help that.

    The other general advice is. Mmm. So what is the thrust of the story? By that I mean it feels like there's two stories merged together here, and they dont go together. One is the adventures of Rolf. His bonding with Hagrid, focus on the Skrewts and his pet puffskin. This incidentally is the arc that worked better.

    Then there's the tri wizard tournament bit and harry winning. And that just seemed tacked on and not connected to the rest? If you wanted my advice, id put mentions of harry/dumbledore at the *start* of the story (so the reader is anchored chronologically) and *end* not with Harry suddenly returning and stealing the show with the big diggory reveal, but with the Skrewt/Puffskin resolution. and I think if you did that, you could flesh those storylines out a bit too (they each need just a TAD more written so it doesnt feel abrupt.

    What I really liked in this story was Rolf. That;s your strength. You have a well rounded 3-d character whom I identify with and care about.

    You did a good job with the skrewts and hagrid and humpret (haha even if i dont know how Rolf could be so dense with the h.w thing).

    Maybe because of the word limit... but I think a few htings need to be fleshed out and youve got an AMAZING story. Let the ending no feel so rushed or get distracted with Harrys return. Explore the whole skrewts/puffskin lines a bit more instead and i think you have a 4/5 or 5/5 story here. As is I think you have a great 3/4 of a story and a bit of chaos at the end. But a little editing/tweaking and it would be awesome
     
  6. Niez

    Niez Competition Winner CHAMPION ⭐⭐

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    I liked the premise, all the pieces were there, and though it felt a bit rushed (perhaps due to the word limit) overall it's a fine first draft, if indeed it requires some polish.

    Two problems though:

    Hagrid. Did not really enjoy Hagrid’s voice unfortunately. His accent felt somewhat fake and quite inconsistent, and that hurt the rest of his characterisation. Fortunately for you there’s a DLP thread that might help you fix the form, if not the substance; Writing Hagrid's dialogue. In all honesty though, there’s always the choice to ditch the accent altogether, which is not ideal, but would work better than what you have.

    Humbert. Now I was ready for the resolution to that subplot to be a choice between the Puffskein and the Skrewts. Or maybe Humbert got eaten after all and then Rolf would have had to choose between helping them out or take his revenge. Or even have him save the puffskein at the last moment by killing the skrewt. Or something. But nothing, is in fact, what we had. So what was that all about, really. It’s like you want us to feel the relief of Humbert being fine but you have forgotten that you put him in peril in the first place, and that this peril deserves some sort of resolution. Like what actually happened to it? Did it escape, was it never in any danger (and the bullies were just teasing?) Was it saved by Hagrid? I would have liked to know.

    I also noticed several references to various Canon happenings/characters (four if I’m correct; Luna, the Chamber, Hermione, and, obviously, the events of the fourth task), but save for the tunnel, all of them felt rather ham-fisted. It seems you really want us to notice that you’re making a reference to these things which ironically detracts from them, because I already know I’m reading a Harry Potter story thank you very much. I would even make the argument that not having Rolf overhear Harry’s return from the graveyard would work much better for your story. Not only does Rolf’s narrative not have anything to do with Harry’s (and its resolution is markedly different - and comes with his grandfather’s letter), it would be quite dramatically ironic for Rolf to think that the commotion that allows the skrewts to get away comes from the twins - and thus be grateful for it - instead from Cedric being found dead.

    Anyway these are just my thoughts. I got a few more below, if you want to read them.

    According to my calculations, someone free falling from a tree fifteen meters high starting at zero velocity would take exactly 1.749 seconds to hit the ground. Hardly enough time to react, much less twist mid-air in panic. More to the point, this reaction just feels underwhelming, I’ve read ‘spike of fear’ so many times in my life it just doesn’t transmit anything anymore.

    Don’t really dig this shift in perspective, but if you must, at least use cursive (‘Not damaged, good’), otherwise the reader is left wondering who exactly is passing judgement on the omnioculars not being damaged.

    Lol

    Why is this boy slamming into a wall, does he not its bad for one’s health. In any case, if he stumbled down the steps or something, and that’s the reason he’s hitting stationary objects I would suggest making it clear. It reads kinda weird otherwise.
    I require a comma before a speech tag, Niez said.

    Knobs, wankers, etc. Not entirely sure that ‘dickhead’ wouldn’t be thought of, but if you can add a briticism here or there whyever not.

    This reference to Luna is a tad ham-fisted.

    hybrid twice

    Huh?

    The Luna reference might have well been a tad ham-fisted but this one was very well done.

    ew

    Lol, the reference to Hermione is ok, but let's not over do it.

    Petrifying charm?

    Choose one emotion my dude, you can’t have both.

    Not once in her entire seven book series does Rowling use ‘fuck’, ‘fucked’, ‘fucking’ or any variation thereof. I would suggest you do the same.

    Who knows, though I have a handful of points and it would surprise me if I didn’t give some of those to you. Good job on the whole, despite my comments, and thanks for participating.
     
  7. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Sixth Year DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Joined:
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    Protagonist:
    The characterization of Rolf was easily my favorite part of this story. I loved how you showed us the kind of person he is — and having him interact primarily with Hagrid was a great choice. From the very start of the story, I instantly liked this sweet, smart, weird kid (he's very like his grandfather). Rolf really knew his stuff in a believable way. I'd love to read about more of his adventures and his friendship with Hagrid.

    Antagonist:
    I know there’s never any rhyme or reason for why bullies target the people they do, but in fiction, I still want a little insight into the antagonists’ motivations. At the very least, I feel like it might be best to first show the bullies witness Rolf at his weirdest — like when Rolf is completely unfazed with a Puffskein putting its tongue up his nose — then see them react to it with bullying. Then, maybe a professor could witness that bullying and take points away from Ravenclaw, and later the Ravenclaws respond with more ruthless (and more discreet) bullying against Rolf.

    The nickname the bullies use for him (“Scammy” and “Scammy scam”) sounds a little too childish for 13-year-olds. I feel like 13-year-old bullies would maybe gravitate to “Salamander,” and then just accuse him of being gay after that. “Oh look, it’s that poof from Hufflepuff” could work as both a standard "you're gay" insult as well as a reference to the pink Puffskein.

    Plot:
    Although you structured the story well and built it up well, I don't think the plot really works. It's a little too far-fetched. Rolf certainly puts in the work, but I feel like there are some issues with the plot:
    • "Not many will survive the tournament, and those that do won't get a chance to breed in the wild." Wait, but why not? They're literally already breeding. Hagrid doesn't seem to care what the Ministry thinks of illegal breeding at the beginning of the story, so why would he care by the end?
    • Half of Rolf's concern was that the Skrewts would be killed in the Tournament, but he doesn't set them free till after the tournament. So, any killings that would've occurred have already occurred. Wouldn't it make way more sense to try to set them free before the Third Task? Maybe that could be Rolf's initial plan that the bullies could later derail, leaving him with no choice but to try it during the Third Task?
    • Wouldn't Rolf's main concern be figuring out how to corral a bunch of deadly animals out of an extensive maze and into a literal pipe in the forest? I recognize that luring them with their favorite smells could work. But if you're trying to get, say, a group of hyenas from Point A to Point B, you're going to have to research more than just what they eat.
    Climax:
    The fact that the distraction Rolf needed turned out to be Cedric's death and Voldemort's return really throws off the tone of the story and makes it hard to celebrate Rolf's victory. I recognize that you have to work within the bounds of GoF, but man. This is a rough second-to-last paragraph to end on:

    Dialogue:
    Your Hagrid dialect is a little off (Hagrid doesn’t say “nae,” “tae,” “aye” or “lad”). FictionAlley took down their excellent "How to write Hagrid" dialect guide, but I think this is also pretty useful: https://manu86.livejournal.com/25048.html?page=2

    Other random notes:
    ^ I had some trouble picturing the movement here.
    ^ Lol, I recognize what you’re going for here, but it doesn’t work. Also I would cut these two lines (it’s a little too much):
    and instead move the wink farther down, when Hagrid makes up a sudden excuse to leave Rolf alone with the essays.

    General Opinion:
    My main advice is that I'd really prefer to read about an adventure of Rolf's that is completely separate from JKR's plots, because I think you struggled to fit him into the bounds of an existing plot. I hope that you continue working with this character, because I really liked this little nerd.
     
  8. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    3840 words
     
  9. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    So, this is fun. Good prompt use - definitely an adventure at Hogwarts that isn't Harry centric or - apart from a brief mention at the end - involving Harry at all.

    It does feel like an early draft rather than a polished one, but that's the nature of these competitions in some cases. Not ideal, but it happens on a deadline. Little things like pens instead of quills, which I was assume was unintentional, slip through.

    I think this story would benefit from an extra thousand words or so to flesh it out - the jumping from scene to scene for a story that appears to cover most of a school year (from before the first task all the way until the third) can be jarring at parts. The story 'feels' like it takes place over a week or maybe a month, not several months, and left me wondering why Rolf didn't get further along in his plans if he had that much time, etc. Might help with build up and pacing and whatnot too.

    I like the juxtaposition of the third task drama with the cup being what gives Rolf the distraction he needs at the end, but could use a few tweaks to really get the reader invested. I didn't 'feel' it as much as I think I could.

    But yeah, I think this is a lot of fun. I like the character, I like the story idea, and it fits the prompt.

    I didn't say much about the story because I'm not sure what to say - it's an idea that easily slots into canon and that is reasonable for a kid Rolf's age to take upon himself.
     
  10. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    So I was liveblogging this, my computer restarted and I lost it all. Time makes fools of us all.

    It's fine.

    I think your opening line could be stronger and more engaging than it is. Didn't like the sentence where Rolf used the word speciation for the first time, or the time after. It feels too muggle a word.

    ["Hey, Scammy, we're talking to you." Loretta Cornhill said.] - should end in a comma here in the speech I think.

    [Maybe next time we'll--] you can insert special characters. I always think the double-hyphen for an en dash is horrid to look at, when you don't have to do that for anything that's not the most basic of text docs - and if that's where you write, fine, but fix it before you post.

    [chimeara] - misspelled.

    [ "Hagrid still hasn't figured out what they eat. I have the spell to enhance the smell of something they'd follow, and I can make a trail to lead them here, but how the hell am I supposed to trot them off from under everyones nose after the third task!?"

    Humbert purred right against Rolf's neck and some of his anxiety drained away. Rolf petted him.

    "Thanks buddy," Rolf said. "Alright]
    So I think this example of Dramatic Irony for your readership, is fine. It's a wink and a nod, but it's not exciting. We know the answer. And Dramatic Irony is best where we know the problem they'll face, the challenge they don't know they'll face yet. But we, here, can predict the solution. Es no so bueno. Let your readers anticipate difficulty.

    ["I can't let you read papers from my students, especially not the ones sitting on my table next to you. That'd be a breach of ethics as a professor, it would."

    Rolf stared at him. What?

    Hagrid stood. "Oh, I almost forgot, I need to go the castle."

    What? "What?" said Rolf.

    "Bathroom, you know. Urgent like."]
    This is from the Dumbledore playbook, not the Hagrid playbook. Hagrid idolises Dumbledore, and I guess I can see him consciously copying his particular methods - though as an adult would he be exposed to them in quite the same way? Hagrid is the man of the inadvertent slip. This may reasonable, but it struck me as less Hagrid-like as I read it, and I thought I ought to point it out.

    [Most importantly she had evidence backed conclusions] Eugh. Not a fan of this characterising Rolf as a Science-supreme sort inside a magical world. Could you not have made him feel like the scientists of a couple centuries ago - rather than using modern-style forms?

    [he wanted to add] - who's he talking to? Zip, zero, stingy with dinero. It slips your perspective here, look out for it.

    ["Where's Humbert," ] - ? not ,

    [ Rolf's foot bashed into the corner of a bookshelf as they were unceremoniously pulled through the aisles and tossed out of the library.] You had a much stronger image with Pince picking them all up by their collars, after a loud bang. Then you write this. Does it add anything? The injury to his foot best be incredibly important to his ability to move the skrewts. This best matter, otherwise why have you pointed out this particular detail of literally no importance, no atmosphere, and no impact?

    [ petrificous] - wrong, and not italicised as a non-english phrase. Also - this is your 'It goes wrong' moment, and the way you describe it as coldly and evenly as if you were discussing your latest variation on thin gruel just completely robs it of tension.

    [ Wingaridium ] - Incorrect, man. One of the top three most famous incantations in the series. What are you doing? Did you proof read this?

    [the third task about to start. ] *was. o_O

    [And, he thought with a rare flash of rage in his heart, they had robbed him of the chance to finish learning bombarda.] You can tell you're writing things as you think of them and then not looking to see if they undercut what you've already done. You lead with something much more horrifying to Rolf, and then you specify that the much more dispassionate insult that has been done to his learning is what gives him a 'rare flash of rage' itself an incredibly 'told' way of characterising him. This doesn't fill my tummy with fizz, if I'm honest with you.

    [Rolf vaulted over the railing outside Hagrid's hut and into the pens where the cages were, frantically glancing around for a flash of pink fur.

    His heart skipped a beat when he heard a familiar chortling behind him.
    ...
    For a full minute he stood there, clutching his best friend and letting the relief flow through him] - how rational of him. I often let relief flow through me after a hard day, but I try not to overindulge. On a day where I've a lot to do I genuinely tamp down on the relief flow, sometimes even close off the valve completely. Only temporarily, mind. Good stuff, fellow human.

    Also, you do the first part of the quote a lot. You're A) falling for that amateur of trap of overly specifying movement from one spatial position to another, thinking we have to know how he's moved and his route to understand what's going on, and it's one of those fanfic things you see that you don't in real books, because it makes your MC feel like a puppet being pulled along on a string. And B) you keep putting 'told' reactions first and then putting the event after. Like a thesis statement. It again, makes each line weaker.
    ----> In the pen behind Hagrid's hut there was no sign of Humbert. No clues, no clumps of pink fur, no sounds of frenzied feasting.

    A familiar chortle came from right behind him, and then Humbert was on him, tongue tasting ugly tears, and Rolf's shoulders were shaking and his fingers were running over pink fur.

    The important thing is here, look, you don't have to use frantically glancing, when you can just describe what he sees (and we understand he's frantically glancing). Remember, as a writer, it's not your job in a limited 3rd person perspective to stand there with a pen and paper and record what your character does and then the results of his efforts like you're undertaking a confidential enquiry for the court. Try and get in their head and write from there. Don't say he looked. Say what he sees. And the way you described it is the adverb. Is the way that he's looking, and his frame of mind.

    [Rolf waved his wand to levitate the bundle and sat out at a jog towards the forest.] - Similarly, can you just say levitated here and drop the 'waved his wand'. Or can you say waved his wand at the bundle and drop the 'to levitate' Also, 'sat out at a jog'. If some peculiar wizarding yoga is an integral part of how Rolf is going to pull off his plan you should mention it before now. Or else, if that should be 'set out' then you should proofread your work.

    [Where was his distraction? The task had to be done soon, the champions had been in there for ages. There'd been a commotion a bit ago, sure, but there'd be announcement once a winner took the cup. If he tried this now there was no way the audience would miss the skrewts streaming out of the maze into the forest!]
    -- Feels like filler, rather than important and interesting and anxious thoughts that heighten a sense of danger. It doesn't, by virtue of its content, well convey the anxiety that you're trying for. Free indirect speech, I think, is suited more easily to interpersonal scenes, but it's not suitable here, in this case, for him breaking into a maze of monsters when our attention should be on the environment and you're yanking our attention internally, to Rolf.

    [and he pushed it all down and away from him. He'd think about - that - later. Rolf dragged his mind back on task, refusing to allow any thoughts not related to his current goal to gain traction.] - you're just not dealing with important emotion well in this story. I'm sorry to say it. He doesn't read like a real person. You're making him do what you want him to do, and it just doesn't fit. What are you saying here really, what's your authorial purpose, I imagine: Rolf understands and reacts normally for a wizard who understands the magnitude of this event, but he also needs to complete the plot and dealing with this news would interrupt the plot.

    [and watched as every living skrewt in the world tumbled out of the maze and followed his trail towards the forest, farting fire as they went.

    He hadn't moved two hours later when his grandfather's owl found him.]
    - What are you doing, are you tired? Is this a pity submission from that extension, completely composed in two days? If so well done, you've done amazingly, and I'm sorry that you decided you were done and needed to sleep here.
    - So he's spent two hours at the end of his trail, surrounded by skrewts, smelling of food? Tight.
    - So he's spent two hours at the end of the trial, post Voldemort return, powered down, like a robot? Tight.
    This is lazy. So, so, egregiously lazy.

    [For now he wouldn't think about the fact that Cedric, a prefect in his own house who often helped Rolf with his homework, might be dead.]
    I'm starting to feel 'fuck you, reader' vibes. Well done. I'm sorry it took me two tedious reads to get it.

    [hopped up] Hopped up where, man? Explain yourself. Explain every physical movement he has. Don't break the habit now.

    1) Character Arc - felt like it should be about Rolf relinquinshing childish things or a coming of age, where's he able to show what a conservationist has to overcome and how he'll rise to the challenge - based on the antagonism that the bullies revolved around. Except at the end, his final thoughts don't match up with his actions, where he's just sticking his head in the sand. So that doesn't work.

    2) Antagonists - you should put as much, or more, work into your antagonists. Here they're stereotypes without distinguishing feature. I, at this point, can no longer remember if you described their house, how they looked. Could've been nice symmetry if you'd contrasted his responses against what we know of Luna, who he ends up marrying (iirc), but you didn't. Draco and Snape were bullies, and they were extremely distinct. You didn't even get so far as picking 'posh' or 'tall' or 'rage' out of a hat for the individual bullies here. Give them something to be memorable. Also, there was no conclusion to the arc.

    3) Humbert - what was the point of that? What did he contribute. Don't waste your story elements. Don't make a cute pet, and have him do nothing but be a hindrance with no personality beyond a penchant for chortling.

    4) Your letter didn't work. At that point of the story, it doesn't add anything, doesn't help anything, doesn't really signal a shift in Rolf's thinking. I think it was supposed to, it was supposed to be the answer to point 1) in this review, wasn't it? He's grown up. But the letter doesn't signal that change in thinking, because he just goes 'ah sweet, an adult is coming'. So...
    Wasted paper. Unnecessary Cameo.

    There's more. I'm tired. Look up scene structure, make sure they all turn around something changing, that matters. Like, this story was fine. If this wasn't a competition, I'd have read it and forgotten it and never thought about it again in my life. So there's that, but that's probably not what you're aiming for.

    I'm not proof reading this reply. One kind turn deserves another.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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