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Entry #6

Discussion in 'Q2 2019' started by Rahkesh Asmodaeus, Jun 14, 2019.

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  1. Rahkesh Asmodaeus

    Rahkesh Asmodaeus THUNDAH Bawd Admin DLP Supporter

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    Noir-like, in part. Until it's not. Maybe.

    “It doesn't have to end this way, you know. A few words, and I can make all of these problems go away, Greengrass.” He smiled, but the warmth of it never reached his eyes. They were cold mirrors of emerald, honed and gleaming, and the tip of his wand began to smoulder there in his grip.

    “Go to hell, Potter. You know I’m innocent!”

    She always did have a rebellious streak, didn't she?

    Can't say he didn't offer her a fair chance. More than fair, really, with this much evidence stacked against her. All of that blood, the other woman still almost a girl. Spell residue showing just how close Greengrass had gotten before delivering the killing stroke. Tsk, tsk.

    Of course, he may have had a hand in fabricating a little of this, a little of that. Setting up the scene of the ‘crime’ in just the way that he wanted. Just doing what any reputable Auror was expected to do in these dangerous times.

    “Not according to that Dark Mark you don’t bother to hide any longer. That’s all the justification I need to bring you in. The rest, well, that’s just to please the Wizengamot. They do love to watch people like you squirm--”

    She was fast.

    Almost good enough to catch him unawares, if he hadn't been readying for this conclusion from the moment she apparated in like an unwitting moth to the flame.

    And Transfiguration wasn’t the only field he was a deft hand at. He’d earned his place on Defense alone in the early days of this career.

    His magic flew even as he was still speaking, just as hers started to spark as her wand slid down her sleeve. The giveaway had been too obvious, shifting her weight to favor her wand-dominant arm.

    The ropes wrapped around her delicate little wrists and twirled around tight, crisscrossing over that hourglass waist, one part rising up past a modest bust to encircle those slender shoulders left bare to the cool autumn night, the other continuing down and straying a moment too long on hips that had left lesser men agog in the nightclub at her back, spiraling further down to well-toned legs and finally terminating above pointed heels made for trampling over the same misguided fools under the pale spotlight.

    Her wand hit the alley floor moments before she did, and rolled neatly toward his other hand as he bent to catch it. She didn't even grunt as she hit the pavement, though she had no way to soften the landing.

    Always such a class act, these proud pure-blood women.

    “You know, it's almost a shame to put you away in Azkaban after all of this time. You're the kind of woman who deserves the high life. You were born and bred for it. You expected that kind of luxury even after the war was over, but you couldn't pay the price to keep living that way without accruing a few too many debts along the way. Happens to the best of us. And the worst.”

    She spat the blood welling across her teeth from a busted upper lip at him, not unlike the serpent-and-skull tattooed over her right forearm. Might have hit him square in the face, too, if he hadn't stood up in time. Instead the glob splashed across his undershirt and dripped down his waist. She made a disgusted noise. "There. Something to remember me by, you bloody bastard!"

    He slid her wand into his pocket and ran his hand through the mess, looking over toward her. “I suppose it is.” Maybe his stunner was a touch more forceful than it needed to be. Maybe he wanted her expression to stick, showing the real woman she was deep down inside to the outer world.

    He shook his head. “Should have taken my deal, Greengrass. I could have spared you a lot of suffering in the years ahead.”

    He raised his wand to the gloomy night and blasted the green sparks over the rooftops to signal his cleanup crew. They couldn’t have been more than a block away with how quickly they rushed in, but there was one more man than expected who brought up the rear, his senior on the force, John Dawlish.

    Dawlish surveyed the setup with even colder eyes than Harry had worn minutes prior. “Sufficient work, Potter.”

    “You’ll make me blush, John,” he said dryly. “I trust you’ll hand in your report directly to Scrimgeour an hour after this.”

    “Yes.”

    “Then I’ll write mine up tomorrow. No need to bog the Minister down all at once.” He started toward the alley. The blue-suits appeared to have finished documenting the ‘crime’ quicker than he would have expected, and rather than move toward scrubbing away the wholly magic scene and setting out with Greengrass, they were milling about with a restless anxiety. Dawlish always did have that effect on underlings.

    “Just a minute, Potter.”

    He turned back. “What, sir?”

    “Good job. The old men will be pleased with this one.”

    Since when did John Dawlish sound this sincere? It was almost unnerving. Well passed time to head home and put this evening out of his mind with a bottle of Ambrosia.

    “Thanks,” he said. He spared Greengrass one last look and shook his head again. A real shame.

    ------------------------

    Fallen heiress brought lower still - murdered in the streets!
    Scorned Auror-lover - caught red-handed!

    By Rita Skeeter.

    The late Daphne Greengrass has ever been an attractive woman, and so it should be no surprise that when she began to ply her beauty for the lonely, the starved and depraved even amongst our supposedly proudest and ardent defenders, her life was endangered.

    Early last night, infamous Knockturn Alley resident, Lector Lamour, discovered the victim on his back doorstep, restrained and, frankly speaking, butchered. ‘It was horrible, I tell you. Miss Greengrass never missed a show in the three years I’ve employed her. I knew something was wrong when she was late, but I couldn’t have imagined I would find her like this.’

    And who should be the one responsible? None other than the very man who a fellow employee wishing to remain anonymous described as stalking her throughout the week. Dark, messy hair. Darker, cold eyes of intimidating green. Red robes. And the famous lightning-bolt scar for which he is known even now, several long years since the war he helped to end.

    Senior Auror John Dawlish, our source within the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, confirms that when they acted on this information, they found Harry James Potter in his London apartment with the victim’s blood on his clothing and his right hand, as well as the victim’s wand in his possession.

    Obviously he has been arrested and is awaiting trial now, though I expect before the evening follow-up is printed that we shall have the clear and conclusive conviction.

    ------------------------

    “Why did you do it?”

    He looked up with eyes still shadowed by a lack of good sleep and the bruises from his former partners' cruelty during the apprehension. It was hard to make out anything beyond the general shape of the woman on the other side of the barrier, but for an uncomfortable moment, he thought that he was staring at Greengrass’s ghost made corporeal.

    “Daphne?”

    “Why did you kill my sister?”

    He blinked, and then winced at the pain. Since when did Daphne Greengrass have a sister?

    Squinting, he pushed off of his cold slab of bed and walked right up to the hazy figure. Scant inches separated them, and he could finally make out the shorter, younger blonde. She looked rightly miserable. Puffy blue eyes, red cheeks, messy hair, but there were no tears left and no tremble in her voice, only a haunted pain.

    “I didn’t kill her,” he said. “I’m innocent.” The irony of that statement was not missed on him, despite the pain in his head. She’d said the same thing, hadn’t she? “It’s mostly a blur from the alcohol and the beating I took this morning, but I know that I left her alive after we spoke last night.”

    “I don’t believe you.” She turned to go.

    He watched her walk away and sighed. “Whether you believe me or not, I’m sorry. She should have been on her way to Azkaban, not a grave.”

    The sister was nearly at the door when she stopped. She turned to look at him again, not unlike he had looked at Greengrass the last time that he had seen her alive, and her hand slid out of her purse. Deciding something. She made up her mind. Walked a few steps closer.

    “What do you mean by that?”

    “She was a marked Death Eater. Not everyone has been happy that so many got away after the war. If I was sent to bring her in, it wouldn’t have been a murder, it would have been an act of so-called justice for her crimes, both real and imagined.”

    “You would have taken my last family away because that’s what society wants? You’re no better than those who killed her!”

    “I suppose so.” He turned around and sat back on the bed, laying against the cold wall with closed eyes. “I wouldn’t have just arrested her, you know. I used to pine after Daphne when we were in school our last year together, and I suppose that never really faded. It was a gut-punch when I saw her wearing his mark, but I finally came to terms with it. I would have tried to cut her a deal to get out of all of this when we finally met last night. Who was going to stop me?”

    I guess John finally put together the clues. Or maybe this goes above his pay grade. Scrimgeour’s never liked my contributions since I joined. Has he really thought I’d run for his spot in the limelight? As if I didn’t have enough trouble in my life.

    It hardly mattered. She was dead, just like every other woman he had looked at before, during, and now, after the war. He wasn’t likely to last very long surrounded by Dementors.

    “Get up.”

    He blinked again, winced again, cursed his recent tic, and shoved to his feet. “What?”

    “If you want to do right by my sister, you’re going to help me find her murderer, not just bow your head and accept the blame.”

    “And how do you expect me to do that from inside of this cell? I don’t have a wand, they’ve surely taken me off of any authority checks, and now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t even know why they allowed you in here to speak with me.”

    “They didn’t.” She drew her own wand, and a handful of delicate silver instruments out of her purse, looking more like miniaturized Muggle tuning forks than anything else. “I came here to kill you if I decided you were guilty.”

    He couldn’t keep the condescension off his face. If Daphne had been a perfect figure, her sister was a tiny waif. Could she really cast Avada Kedavra with enough hatred to mean it? Doubtful, but then, he’d never been able to, no matter how many loved ones he had lost. Perhaps she could have.

    “Don’t patronize me,” she said with heat returning to her tone. “I’m the one you should have come after instead of Daphne.” She placed the instruments against the barrier, and they clung in place. “She took the Dark Mark so that I wouldn’t have to, but I’m the one you would have wanted locked away for good, Harry Potter. I never could get the final blow against you when we crossed wands in the war. Now I know that the prophecy dictated why.”

    Suddenly he opened his eyes wider, grimacing at the pain, and took another, longer look at her.

    Clarity dawned on him. “You’re that damned Imp of his.”

    “We all had a role to play. I embraced what my sister avoided. Now cover your ears and look away.”

    He did as instructed, and so missed the motions of her wand tapping each instrument quickly in a sequence. They began to vibrate, and each resonance traveled into the barrier, making all hum low and deep. In seconds the barrier’s frequency ruptured and the whole thing shattered. She caught the tuning forks before they could hit the ground.

    “I’ve never seen a ward broken like this,” he said when he looked back around. “I never would have considered it.”

    “I know. Now come on, before they come for you.” She started toward the door with her wand still drawn.

    “Wait,” he said. “I don’t even know your real name, and I’m not going to call you by Voldemort’s pet name.”

    “Astoria,” she said.

    “Astoria.” Hadn’t he heard that name before? “Why did you tell me about your identity during the war?”

    She turned to him after a long moment, and there were fresh tears glistening in her eyes.

    Because it should have been me!

    He had nothing he could say to comfort her.

    Instead he said, “We can’t change the past, Astoria. The only culprits who could have pulled this off are Dawlish and the Minister. Dawlish… I’m fairly certain he was there. And he wouldn’t have been if not for Scrimgeour’s orders. Get us out of here, get me a wand, and I can at least get you to Dawlish, whether I’m still authorized to access his office or not. And he can get us in to see the Minister.”

    ------------------------

    Years of enduring Dawlish’s scrutiny, and now here he was, working side by side with a woman who they had both tried to defeat on numerous occasions during the war. She certainly had more tricks up her sleeve than ward breaking resonance forks. His respect for the small blonde grew by the time they were creeping through the Auror Office. She had tamped down on her emotions again.

    The DMLE was a de-fanged threat, however. Most of his previous allies were too busy in the field, leaving the second floor of the Ministry largely deserted as they crept along. Neither his wand or Daphne’s had been in holding outside of the cells, but Proudfoot still kept his trophy collection in his desk, and the closest thing to holly in that selection had been hawthorn.

    Two for two requests down. Time for him to pull through on his side of their bargain.

    The Head Auror’s quarters waited at the very back of the office. By the noise inside, Dawlish hadn’t broken from his usual schedule just because a woman had been murdered and one of his own arrested for it.

    On either side of the open doorway waited the gargoyles taken from Hogwarts in years past. Eyes of dark ruby glittered as they approached. He raised his wand and hunkered down, concentrating. When was the last time he had to apply himself with Charms?

    They waited for several minutes as he worked through every counter-identification charm he remembered Robards placing on them. At last, those gleaming eyes dimmed.

    Astoria did not need his nudge to dart forward. Moments passed, and then Dawlish’s voice rose in pain. It was almost satisfying. In such cramped quarters, he would have little room to evade her, and though the same was true for her, she had brought the element of surprise.

    “Did you kill Daphne Greengrass?” her voice carried out to Harry soon after.

    “Why would I?” Dawlish asked.

    “Why would Harry Potter?” she countered.

    “Potter,” he said. “Potter was infatuated, just like the rest. Read the Prophet lately?”

    C’mon, Astoria. I cannot hold this obfuscation process forever.

    “He didn’t kill her! It was one of you!”

    “You sound quite convinced. Rather personal. You must be the one she was pleading about. What was the name?” Dawlish paused, as if he was thinking. “Ah. Astoria. Sweet little Astoria.”

    Her wordless shriek was not the only sound just then. Harry might have been able to get Astoria inside of John’s office, but he could not have known for sure the alterations that Dawlish had made to the defenses since taking over for Robards. Stone creaked and groaned as each gargoyle stood up, one marching inside, the other toward Harry.

    It really had been going too well.

    He rose to his feet and brandished the replacement wand, but what would have come easily to him with natural holly was a struggle now. Flakes of cracked skin crumbled away, but he could not work the transfiguration quickly like this. Instead of wasting further precious time, Harry doubled back toward Proudfoot’s desk and yanked the drawer open, grabbing every wand he could.

    One of them had to be well suited to this branch of magic. Cherry, walnut, cypress, willow. The statue gripped a desk behind him in one rugged fist and threw it as easily as a boy would a pebble.

    Harry was quick, but he was not that quick. The impact caught him on his turn, midway toward the floor, drove him through a cubicle, and ended with a jarring crunch against the floor.

    The pain verged on overwhelming. How many years since the last time he suffered broken ribs? A broken arm? The weight continued to press down as he wheezed. Each reverberating thud of the gargoyle rattled his injuries.

    There was only one wand left in his hand, and his arm lay pinned at his side. He flicked his wrist anyway.

    And by some miracle, he was rewarded with the wet slosh of stone melting into liquid cement. Feeble, mushy claws raked at the soles of his shoes before the whole thing was spread too thin to harm him.

    Great. That left the two hundred pound behemoth resting on his chest.

    He broke it down in piecemeal sections. Slower, steadier work. The wrong move and he’d bleed out from a shard of bone wedged into his heart.

    It was in that way that Astoria found him some time later. He looked up through half-lidded eyes that couldn’t focus for very long. She looked worse.

    “I could use a little help,” he uttered.

    “So could I,” she whispered back, and collapsed beside him. Her breath came in quick gasps. “He did it. He murdered her. To get at you. Scrimgeour’s orders.”

    “I’m sorry.” There was little else he could offer her, not like this. “What happened to Dawlish?”

    “Dead.” She brought the fingers of his previously broken arm over to her waist, and the fresh blood seeping through her robes felt hotter than it had any right to be. “We’re going to die, too.”

    “Not bloody likely.” Somewhere around here was a wand suited to healing work. Hawthorn, hadn’t it been? So hard to concentrate. Self-Transfiguration was frowned upon for many reasons. He needed a healer’s touch. So did she. He made another half-hearted attempt to summon the surrounding wands.

    “Can’t die now. Not yet.” Her breathing was growing more ragged, and she crawled closer. “Avenge her, Potter. And me.”

    “Don’t move so bloody much then,” he tried to argue. She made it to his chest, and finally collapsed atop his battered arm within reach of his grizzled cheek. Her shaking hand dragged his head and forced it down, their lips meeting. He was in too much pain to do anything else.

    Until the pain grew numb. And then not merely numb, but softened, warm, pleasant. Her tiny chest rocked with her final hammering heartbeats, and when she drew her last, their lips parted with one final gasp. Wisps of pale magic fell from her cold figure.

    He exhaled hard and sat up. There were still several twinges here and there.

    But whatever sacrificial magic she had invoked at the end, trading what life was left in her to restore his body, he would not let it go to waste. He scooped up her diminutive figure and carried her toward another desk, and then he collected the wands he would need to exact vengeance on Rufus Scrimgeour.

    ------------------------

    Heart-break and horror - a generation of lies exposed!
    The hideous truth behind Rufus Scrimgeour’s extended term in office.

    By Gideon Gibson.

    As our morning reporter, Miss Rita Skeeter so obtusely wrote, the late Miss Daphne Greengrass was murdered in the night. We are both proud and sickened to bring to light that it was not Mister Harry Potter who is to blame, but the late John Dawlish, acting on behalf of none other than our own former Minister of Magic, in a ring of scandal and corruption running so deep that the International Confederation of Wizards has seen fit to step in until all guilty parties can be sorted out and duly put on trial.

    Mister Potter lead a daring escape attempt and raid this afternoon to salvage his name and unearth who was truly responsible, at the cost of several lives, most tragically the formerly only surviving relative of Miss Greengrass, her younger sister, Astoria. For a full count of the death toll, see page 2, section c. For a full account of the raid, see page 3.

    While certain matters have been redacted due to matters of national security and privacy, Mister Potter convinced the Minister to confess, as well as all those involved within the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including Mister Potter himself, who admitted to his own part in past incidents.

    As of this writing, Mister Potter remains in critical condition under the care of Saint Mungos, and, should he pull through, a contingent of MACUSA-based Aurors on loan through the ICW will once again escort him to the Ministry to stand trial.

    ------------------------

    “Do you have any last words to plead, Mister Potter?”

    “Only that I wish I would have stood up sooner. A good woman died, as did her sister, before I finally found a reason to.”

    “Very well. Your part can not be overlooked in the last seven years of blatant corruption, and we cannot grant you leniency for a change of heart at the end. It is the ruling of this court that you inherit the same sentence which you willfully assisted in passing to others, life imprisonment in Azkaban.”

    So I expected. It won’t be a very long sentence. But he had to know, before they drew him away, the outcome of the only other trial that mattered. “And Scrimgeour?” he asked.

    The standing Supreme Mugwump spared him a long look before sighing. “I suppose that you deserve that much. Rufus Scrimgeour has already been given the Kiss for orchestrating this entire affair.”

    He had to laugh. Maybe there was some justice to be found. “I guess I got off lucky in the end, after all.”
     
  2. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    It kind of feels like you used the newspaper articles for parts of the story that you would've been better off just telling? Maybe it was a stopgap measure as the deadline approached, I don't know. I really would've liked to see Harry actually tackle the Ministry and try to find his wand, use what he's learned during his years of working for the Ministry to its disadvantage and deal with the corruption, personified by Scrimgeour. That would've been pretty satisfying, but it's just not there.

    Another problem: Daphne dies and Astoria comes for revenge. It gives her a strong hook to be involved in the plot. Meanwhile, Harry is mostly just reacting and never acting in the parts of the story we see. I don't get the sense that he really wants revenge on Scrimgeour for setting him up or for killing Daphne (random schoolyard crush aside); he just goes with the flow. Astoria lays down her life for him but there's barely any emotional reaction from him to that fact.

    The ending line is also a bit odd; Harry miscarried justice, yes, but him ruminating on what's justice and what isn't didn't play much of a part in the story itself. You could've used Daphne's framing as a way to expound on what Harry considers justice and his role in it.

    As is, though, I'm rating based on what there is, not what there isn't, so I'm giving this a 2.5/5.
     
  3. Microwave

    Microwave Professor

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    It sort of reminded me of Sesc's noir Daphne story, which was pretty charming. I think it captures the same kind of charm well enough, with the looming dread that seems to prevail throughout the story. The Ministry is pretty well established as a complete bureaucratic mess, which allows for the setting of the story to contribute to the passing events. Though it's a bit too short for that sense of dread to actually manifest properly and have much of an effect.

    It also feels like the characters don't really behave in a sense that actually fits into what is established about them, instead they assimilate into the plot, staying as just gears in a box rather than actually standing out on their own. I think it could have done much better if the characters became more independent, and more established as their own persons to give the story an extra dimension, rather than depending it entirely on the plot.

    I'm also not really sure about the mystery part of the story, if it was even intended. The plot sort of just unfolds on its own without any real internalised conflict in the characters, leaving them behind to fulfil the ultimate resolution of the story, and that's a bit disappointing.

    2/5, because it could have been much more.
     
  4. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    This just ended kind of abruptly. I would have much preferred to have been shown how Harry tackled the Ministry, what his plan was, how he used his insider information to expose the corrupt bureaucracy, confront Scrimgeour, etc. But there's nothing there, you just end it, things are resolved, everything is tied up nicely.

    Here's the thing - none of it feels earned.

    I liked the jaded atmosphere you have going on here and the noir, magic-punk(?) feel of the story, but it needed more time to really seep in. I think the news articles really hurt your story. It would've worked better if we follow Harry going home, his thoughts, what he's up to and suddenly BAM he's being attacked, he has to defend himself, wait- these are Aurors! What's going on? Let's us see his train of thought and his growing dread as Dawlish announces his crimes.

    Astoria's introduction feels wasted. She dies too early, not really in service of a goal. There's no emotional impact on Harry, and then things ended. It feels wasted and mostly I can't help but feel it's because you didn't build it up well.

    There should also have been more internal thoughts on Harry, what his thoughts on justice are, how he justifies his own actions, and why he does what he does. His characterization here is murky, and made murkier still given this isn't really canon Harry we're seeing, but some twisted version of him. Why did he end up that way? How has he changed? And finally we need to see that reversal, a return to idealism and doing the right there (if forced into it by the circumstances). Throughout it all he seems to just go along with the flow without a real stake in any of it.

    2/5
     
  5. Majube

    Majube Order Member

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    First of all, I didn't like the prose at the start, I'm not sure why but it was off putting to me. Secondly, I feel like you could've paced this a lot better by adding scenes showing what had happened in the most thrilling parts instead of copping out and putting them in Newspaper articles.

    Though I did like the twist that Daphne died, I didn't like the fact that Harry didn't remember Astoria. If he really was infatuated with Daphne at Hogwarts he should've remembered at least that she had sister, if not the name.
    I would say that's one of the things this entry lacked the most, world-building and the scenes. You could've talked a lot more about why Harry had changed so much that he would go along with corruption, explained that the war went on longer and more brutally. What he's like as an auror, more about his past lovers and etc.

    I think this fic could have been a lot better even if it was the same length if you'd just have replaced the newspaper articles with scenes of Harry actually going through the action, like how he was at the pub thinking maliciously about how he would get Daphne to concede to his deal then fighting an getting arrested by trickery, him mourning daphne, him hating Imp/Astoria then at least regretting her death, an finally him killing scrimgeour, and going through trial.

    As it is, I would give this a 2/5.
     
  6. enembee

    enembee The Nicromancer DLP Supporter

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    Summary

    This competition is an absolute rollercoaster. The last story was interminably long, and this story is much too short. As such, I'm probably going to end up giving you the exact opposite advice that I gave the last author. Find a middle ground between the two sets of advice.

    That said, this is fine. It's not a particularly bad story, but the fact that it's so bare bones means that it all rings hollow. We're encouraged to empathise with Harry merely because he's Harry, even though the little we see of his character is basically repugnant, and we're supposed to feel something(? presumably?) when Astoria dies, despite having known her for about thirty seconds.

    The piece entirely lacks stakes: for the characters, for the society, but way, way worse, for the reader. I feel like maybe for you as an author there was some emotion underpinning this, but it doesn't carry through into the text.

    Development

    The Daily Prophet articles are, without a shadow of a doubt, the laziest possible way that you could advance the plot of the story and drop some exposition. Honestly, I'm not sure that the story isn't inferable from the scenes that would remain if you just cut them entirely. It might genuinely be an improvement if you did.

    As I mentioned before, I don't know that we see enough of any character to get any indication of what they're like, or what motivates them. I think if I were going to start building this I'd probably try to give this all some emotional context that isn't just an info dump. Give Harry some context for the heinous way he acts at the beginning of the story. Give Astoria a reason to believe he's telling the truth when he says it wasn't him. Characterise their thirst for vengeance in a way that isn't just 'well they fucked us over so we'll get them'. Give Astoria something, anything, to make her a rounded character whose loss we'll feel as a reader. Give Harry something to tack some sort of personal redemption or, really, any growth or change.

    As it is, right now there's nothing. There's just a drab series of events with no significant weight to them. No particular sense of struggle, or characterisation, or well, anything. Things happen because they need to happen to further the plot and then it ends without having really said anything at all.

    I'm going to briefly digress, but please bear with me. Back in the '90s, there was a sudden surge of very talented comic authors (Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, et al.) creating super dark, gritty and sophisticated comics. They were great pieces of art, and super lucrative, and they spawned dozens of incredibly pale imitations. Overnight the industry became flooded with a bunch of comics that had all of the obvious trappings (they were dark, gritty, and realistic) but that all missed the inherent sophistication that made them work.

    The reason I bring this up is that it's how I feel about this story. It has all of the trappings of a noir story, without any of the content. There's no spark of creativity here, just a bunch of dull cliches half-digested and regurgitated into a barely coherent plot.

    Another reason I bring up comics is that there are obvious parallels between this story and Marv's from Sin City. I'm not saying there was any direct inspiration, the similarities are just the trappings of noir, but Marv's story is thick with dramatic irony, with characterisation, with a level of self-awareness, all things that would have been appreciated here.

    This was a pretty epic digression, and I've sort of lost track of what I'm trying to say. Maybe it was that you're not as good at telling stories as Frank Miller. Go figure.

    Stylistic

    There's just not very much to say stylistically about this piece. Your writing is fine, but unremarkable.

    The only thing I did note was that there was a little bit of cringe induced when you lasciviously and entirely unnecessarily, gave a groping description of Daphne's body. The story probably could have done without this.

    Conclusion

    This is probably a 3/5 purely on the basis of style rather than substance. I don't feel like this story particularly broached a topic or any particular themes, but the writing was adequate and you told a complete story, which puts you head and shoulders above much of the competition so far.

    With each story in this competition, I'm going to give two pieces of advice that an author can actualise upon, and immediately improve their story. So here are yours:

    1) Read the first piece of advice I gave Entry #5. It applies equally to you. I feel like your core idea needs some development.

    2) Do the opposite of what I told #5. Get other people to read it, get their opinions, find out if they were able to follow the plot, what they felt about the characters. Make sure that you're getting what you're thinking and feeling onto the page, rather than leaving it in your head.
     
  7. Raigan123

    Raigan123 Banned

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    A short and not so sweet story. It’s difficult to get my thoughts in order for this one. It just seems very jarring. The newspaper articles tell something I would have much rather read about from Harry’s perspective.

    Harry’s perspective: When does he have a change of heart? His thoughts while he was arrested and put in a cell and his realization that Scrimgeour finally betrayed him, I would have liked to read those. Instead all you show is he’s got a headache and he goes along with Astoria.

    Getting to Dawlish’s office and the fight against the gargoyles was good but then once again a key piece of the action gets told via news article and the reader is left a neat trial to conclude an unsatisfying story. The actions sequences are well executed.

    To summarize my rambling thoughts: This is too short in the wrong places.
     
  8. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    (other reviews - have I read them? Fie)

    General opinion:

    I think I can express this simply.

    You wrote this:

    I laughed out loud. Then I thought, hmmm. Then I thought, I'm not sure that was meant to be a humorous.

    The good:


    It was well written from a copy-edit view. I also enjoyed the use of articles - we don't see them much in the competition entries. Although newspaper excerpts are the most played out method, you could say, I think there's something added by using interspersion of 'non-fiction' into your narrative. Going to the effort of formatting could take advantage of xenforo to do things that you can't easily arrange on ffnet. You see it more on some good SB/SV fics - Tabloid being a great (worm fandom) example of this with lots of art and clever stylistic choices throughout.

    It was entertaining, and particularly the opening - it had a distinctly PI Harry feel throughout the first part of the opening.

    The bad:


    The opening would be one thing if Harry maintained that character throughout. The opening would be one thing if Harry maintained that character until the moment of climax at which point he made a rejection of his iniquity and undertook a new choice he could never have made earlier in the story. Instead, he maintains it until the end of the first scene, and changes to be a more reasonable man the moment he wakes - to a far more unreasonable Greengrass.

    The very opening paragraph also made me think he was propositioning her, offering her freedom for sexual exploitation until I reread it. Something about the wand and how you described it I think. Then the description of her appearance in the most supremely male gazey way as he beats her to the floor with a curse. Holy subtext Batman!

    The structure of the piece isn't strong. Let's use the most magically powerful number, all things considered, and discuss a nice simple seven point structure you can apply to even a short scene and have a logical progression.

    1. Character weakness/moral need
    2. Character desire
    3. Opponent
    4. Plan
    5. Battle
    6. Self-revelation.
    7. New equilibrium.

    I think you failed at 1, 6 and 7 and so you failed at telling a compelling story. Reading it, it just didn't read right at the most basic level. There was the imp suddenly, the character decisions all the way through. Because we can't even assume correctly about the characters - I have no grasp on which parts of canon you've accepted and what's different. It's basically all new characters, and we learn nothing about them.

    It was all events, no cohesion, no character. It was season 8 game of thrones.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  9. Sorrows

    Sorrows Queen of the Flamingos Moderator DLP Gold Supporter

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    This felt like more of an outline to a story than a full story to me. I think that the newspaper articles are fine as a time saver in a short story competition, they are an easy way to compress informtion and I don't begrudge you of that considering the format.

    Harry at the beginning was an interesting morally grey (at best) corrupt cop type. That charecterisation seems to get dropped pretty quickly and with not introspection which I find a shame some the muddled mostly canon charecter that replaces him is not nearly as engaging.

    The idea is interesting the set-up is good, I would be all for Harry and Astoria solving Daphne's murder. That is a nice way to use the prompt. However you skip over any semblance of mystery or adventure and with it basically any point to your story and get right to the reveal/ end. It might have been a time thing but it seems your story is completely missing the filling.

    On a technical level your story is fine, you write in a competant manner and your prose flows well, I am just not sure why you set up a mystery/adventure/noir and then didn't actually write it
    3/5
     
  10. Nevermind

    Nevermind Headmaster

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    Auror Harry is usually a favourite genre of mine, but unfortunately things didn’t really work out here. Many background facts are confusing, the threads unpleasantly difficult to follow. Harry Potter is part of a corrupt law enforcement force? Orchestrated by a (somehow alive) Scrimgeour? And Daphne Greengrass was a Knockturn Alley prostitute? All of that is thrown at the reader with little to no explanation.


    My biggest point of criticism is that the actual worldbuilding in the story is severely lacking. Instead the reader is simply bombarded with twist after twist after twist, with little time to dwell on any of them. The newspaper excerpts go out of their way to tell us things I’d have much rather read about myself, only working to confuse the reader even more with their sudden time jumps. And in the end we don’t even find out what happened with Scrimgeour to make him rule the Ministry like a dictator. It seems to me you had a certain set of OOC character developments in mind, but rather than tell the story of how those happened (with Daphne perhaps playing a part in Harry’s decline), you simply declared all of them real and put together a flimsy revenge story around them.


    I would also like to add that prompt use is somewhat dubious. Daphne only appears in the first scene and is otherwise reduced to the thinnest of plot devices, while Azkaban is never really in the picture, existing only as a concept of an all-too-short purgatory in Harry’s mind.


    I also found the singular fight scene quite hard to follow. It was somehow disjointed, despite very little actually happening beyond Harry getting crushed by a gargoyle. Did Dawlish wound Astoria, despite the remaining Greengrass sister having the element of surprise and her questioning Dawlish mere seconds after she entered the office? This is where the 3rd-person limited viewpoint shows its limitations most clearly.


    Lastly, a word on Harry as a character. He seems to think himself rather grandiose in the first scene, but then regresses to a mere tool of vengeance afterwards, passive and without any real agency of his own. His reaction to Astoria’a death – sacrifice – is strangely muted as well.


    All in all, this gets a 2/5 from me.
     
  11. BeastBoy

    BeastBoy Seventh Year

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    Very arresting opening paragraph. It’s a good example of something that just throws me into the action and makes me want to puzzle out how the characters got there.

    I don’t really like the newspaper articles. They feel like a means to advance the plot forward rapidly, but to be frank I’d rather read what they describe. I’d like to see Harry’s confusion as he’s found with Daphne’s blood and his anger or pain or whatever it is he’s feeling as the Aurors arrest him and send him to Azkaban. Instead we have Skeeter’s summary.

    This moment doesn’t land for me, at all. It is just very melodramatic. Harry and Astoria’s conversation up to that point felt more expository than human, so then when you try and hit me with this gut-punch I just don’t buy the emotion you’re selling.

    And then again we have the news article summarizing something that would be interesting to read. How did Harry convince the Minister to confess? I would’ve liked to read it.

    The ending just feels needlessly bleak. Why exactly did Harry get life in Azkaban? For exposing corruption? I’d like that to be justified a bit more if you truly intend to have this dark of an ending. As it is, it just feels perfunctory--This story is a noir, therefore it must be melodramatic and depressing.

    The ending, to me, feels needless in the same way that upping the Dursley’s abuse to torture or maiming of Harry feels needless. Edgy for edginess’ sake,

    I think 3/5 even though I’ve been mostly critical. The scenes that you’ve written are pretty good, and that’s why it’s annoying that we gloss over other interesting scenes with just newspaper articles. So I guess what most irks me is that it feels like you didn’t have enough time to do the whole thing, and that the dark ending doesn’t feel earned. It just pops out of nowhere.
     
  12. 9th Doctor

    9th Doctor Groundskeeper

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    This is interesting. It feels like the more noir-detective stories, and I appreciate that, but I'm not sure you could have pulled it off with the wordcount given you. I'd peg this at a 40-60 thousand word story, something that you could put thoughtful pieces in, showing the buildup through hindsight. Working it in, you could put clues through the story that would be much more easy to spot the second or third time through. You could easily make this a proper mystery novella.

    The newspaper articles have their place, but I'd rather you use them the way they're used in Sherlock Holmes- something to show motion taking place behind the scenes, not taking the experience of the main characters away from us.

    I'd have liked to see more with Astoria. She had interesting hints that you could do with revisiting, motivations that could come out in conversations, old flings that they fight, bribes they use, etc.
     
  13. Typhon

    Typhon Unspeakable

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    Since I'm a bit of a shit who has waited until the final moments of the review period to get around to, y'know, reviewing, this will be a somewhat abbreviated review. I've also not read much of the other feedback, and none of it in the last week. You have my apologies for both. To the former, if you want to discuss your story further after this is all said and done, respond and I'll look at it some more; to the latter, I guess you can take it as an extra voice to the chorus if I don't have anything unique to offer.

    I may or may not actually finish these by Ched's deadline, but vote or no vote on my part I will finish them. You guys wrote something, so you'll get something out of me.

    But y tho?

    I have a components of story thing that I've been copypasta-ing into each review. Let me toss it here, and then I'll give you points as I can. I'm not a noir guy at all though, so the applicability of my advice specific to this story might not be what either of us would hope for it to be.

    For me, there are three legs on which every story rests:
    1. The quality of the writing - this, for me, is primarily about style and clever word choice, but high quality writing is also, of course, minimally technically sound.
    2. The quality of the characters - obviously this is much to large a topic to summarize in a sentence, but some questions for guidance might go something like this: Does a given character feel like a real person? In other words, can the reader get in the character's head to see what drives them and why? Do they have depth, or do they serve only to make the plot work? On a different but no less important note, is the character interesting? Mileage will vary on that point, I'm sure, but if your characters are bland you had better be bringing some prose that'll make Rothfuss sit up and a plot that Palahnuk wants to crib from because otherwise people are going to dump you story half read out of sheer ennui.
    3. The quality of the plot - much like characters, plot is tricky to define. Some questions for plot might go something like this: Is this an interesting story; that is, do the readers care about what's happening? Is my plot very clever? Heartwarming? Poignant? Why am I writing this? This last question is a biggie, so I feel it bears repeating. Why are you writing this?
    Like a stool, a story stands the strongest with three sturdy legs. Also like anyone who has ever owned a stool can tell you, three strong legs can be hard to come by at times. That's fine. You're writing for a fanfiction short story competition, no one is here to rip you a new asshole for not being literally Hemingway (tm). You do need at least two reasonably sturdy legs, though, or else one hell of a leg and a keen sense of authorial poise.

    So, that said, let's get into this story.

    It's all a bit much straight off the line. Think about your favorite bits of fiction and powerful emotional moments in them. Think about works you enjoy that begin in media res. Do the powerful moments ever come in the opening? No, of course not (unless you open with the climax of the story then skip back in time and arrive naturally, but even that is crude at best). Why is that? Because if the "powerful" moments come too early, they become parodies of powerful moments. Instead of moving us to feel, they move us to make memes. Assuming this is a serious entry - which I have - you definitely want to keep your writing more grounded early, stay away from tropes where you can, and make sure that every moment you mean to be impactful is earned.

    BUT Y THO

    I don't know that any amount of build can save beats like this mate.

    I don't want to just take shots at this throughout so I won't, but I do think the components of storytelling above might be helpful. Especially remember the importance of constantly asking yourself why you're writing what you're writing and building characters that feel like people. I think doing those things will do a lot to ameliorate all of the issues I have with this.
     
  14. H_A_Greene

    H_A_Greene Professor –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    Congratulations, y'all.

    I already brought it up a day or so back in chat, but #6 and #2 are both mine. I agree with everyone on the flaws and failings, and I wanted to thank you all for taking the time to not only read this, but to review it thoroughly, and to apologize that I could not present a tighter story for either prompt.

    Inspiration for this struck the morning of the 13th.

    And all it gave me was a vague notion of noir, stemming entirely back to a Harry/Daphne conversation at a dining room I'd already thrown away three days earlier. I wrote the entire thing in about eight hours, on far too little sleep and closing on far too long awake by the end, since I expected the deadline was due the next day.

    The newspapers were there to fill the gap. I just couldn't think of how to write those scenes in the moment, and took an out to advance forward. Next to nothing was deliberately planned beyond Harry arresting Daphne on false charges, and him getting arrested in turn for her murder. Initially I had Dawlish straight up sucker punch Harry right then and there as the scene was wrapping up, and his last memory before blacking out was one of the cleaner's slitting her throat.

    I tried to be more subtle, for all the good it did me.

    Astoria popped up as I was staring at the screen with Harry waiting to go to Azkaban. I hadn't meant her to stay around beyond hearing Harry's perspective, that evolved on its own as I thought about how I could use her further.

    I tried reading a noir-style guide somewhere in the middle of that and kept referring back to a few things(like the empty Ministry, Astoria filling in for the femme fatale now that Daphne was dead, and that this couldn't have a happy ending so... off to Azkaban for sure for Harry since he had been setting up and acting on the false charges for so long).

    I had no idea why Scrimgeour was responsible for all of this. I was just borrowing him(and Dawlish, I suppose) from Emerald Mirror last year, and him being the generic corrupt authority figure I expected was needed for the setting. That's largely why I just skipped the confrontation and settled on another article. I almost ended it there, before I decided to tack on one last scene of Harry on trial, and as I was writing his final thoughts I was left, again, staring at the page wondering just what I was trying to do at this point. There was no proper ending planned, and I hate that, since I've let you guys down with endings before.

    Through advice from everyone, I've been trying to rewrite a better story the entire reviewing period. Breath more life into the characters, the backdrop, the plot, the reasoning. Flesh things out for how they got here, why they're being done the way that they are.

    But I'm still running into the problem that killed the stories I wasted this quarter with previously, I cannot settle on a serious opening and run with it far enough to grow legs of its own, even though I already have the basic skeleton here.

    I had to turn off my usual incessant editing just to advance with #2 far enough to reach the prison(that entry also being written in about 8 hours on the 12th), and it wasn't much better a day later when I started with this, though I feel the Noir/Daphne submission is the definitively stronger of the two.

    I really want to do this story justice. I just don't know when I'll actually manage to pull it together right, and again, I'm sorry.
     
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