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Fanfic Book Club: What You Leave Behind by Newcomb

Discussion in 'DLP & Chill' started by BTT, Aug 20, 2018.

  1. Newcomb

    Newcomb Minister of Magic

    Sep 28, 2013
    The Evergreen State
    This, 100%.

    "Show don't tell" isn't supposed to be a way of life, it's supposed to be a way to steer people towards the underlying principle that it's more satisfying / meaningful for a reader when words evoke something, let something bloom in their mind, as opposed to words describing something as if it were being told secondhand.

    But it's a broad-strokes thing, not something you apply on a micro level. It's like dialogue adverb tags - they can sometimes do great work and really add something to a line, but since the overwhelming majority of people have a tendency to overuse them, you tell everyone to cut down on them in general. The actual good rule of thumb for dialogue adverb tags is something like, "salt is a great addition to almost every meal, but if your guests taste salt, you fucked up." But that's not going to be useful advice for the majority of people.

    Striking a good balance between showing and telling comes down to what you want to emphasize, what the focal point of any given scene is, where you want the narrative beats to fall, and that's not really something you can figure out with broad-strokes rules, it's something you just kind of have to develop a feel for.
  2. Sataniel

    Sataniel High Inquisitor

    Jan 24, 2016
    High Score:
    I've finished my reread, so it's time to comment on this. BTT helpfully outlined some points of discussion, so let's start with them. Actually, let's start with the last of them.

    While after the first read I would have to think about whether to rate it 7 or 8 out of ten, now I see it fitting in the lower 7s. It's good, but it has some real problems.

    While the divergence has a lot of potential I don't think it was used well. Firstly we are shown Abeforth who had actually proven himself. He always seemed to have a big potential in canon which he wasted because of what happened, what with him being able to even duel Grindelwald and Albus. Here he could get to shine, but he is basically a non-entity, the mindraping of Harry basically being the only scene when he is given any focus. The same situation is with more utilitarian Dumbledore, we learn how he acted during the war, we hear Sirius assessing that he is still like that, but we completely don't see that in his present-day actions. This could've just as well been the canon Dumbledore.

    They are definitely different than the original trio, but... While their interactions as a trio work pretty well there is one big problem. Cedric is a character on his own. He has the whole being disgusted by his parent's way of thinking, but still unconsciously tending to think in the same categories, he has his friends that he brings to the table with Twins and all. Basically, he is an actual character. But Cho isn't. She is only here to liven up the interactions and be Cedric's love interest. She is a genki quidditch girl, and nothing more. Hermione has more personality here than she has.

    I think that many people read the fic for two connected reasons. Harry rising to greatness without falling into the usual tropes of super!Harry and interesting take on canon-like magic. At least I'm one of those people. And it's understandable, there is a lot of good ideas here, like doublethink, matryoshkas, etc. But, there is a "but". Here shows, what previous problems sort of signalled - that is the fic's seeming lack of planning.

    Cedric being in the second year can already cast conjurations, at the same time in the second year something that would seem to be a one of most basic thing is introduced - that is the Hierarchy of Connections. If we assume that curriculum is similar to canon one, then Cedric is here four years ahead of the program. And casting that spell effortlessly while flying. That sure makes Harry's block that made everybody panic very unimpressive. There are more weird things, where there seems that no thought was put into it. Untransfiguring with Finite is often visible in fics where transfiguration isn't a real transformation, but here it doesn't make a lot of sense.

    Harry's progress also shows a sign of this. It's more of a combination of the moments than well, actual progress. Arresto momentum aside, most of Harry's revelations, new skills and all, exist in the void. It reads like Newcomb just smashing together what he thinks will work as it goes.

    Actually, the whole fic feels like that. It's good because a lot of the scenes and ideas is good but at the same time, it suffers heavily for that, especially in terms of juggling plotlines. Doge's mysterious invulnerability to the Defence curse is introduced, characters are briefly shocked by it, but then the initial idea seems to be wrong and they are all like "whatever" and forgot about that. There is a big deal made from the need of additional people for Hufflepuff's room and how it blocks them, but while there are different rooms existing Harry and co do nothing to pursue them. Actually, any look into other mysterious parts of Hogwarts basically ends at the beginning and is forgotten about.

    Another good example is Daphne's plotline, which is a complete mess. He doesn't really trust her, then he tells her literally everything, then he learns something about her. It's very unnatural. Actually the whole "I'll tell you everything" thing was very strained and Hermione and Harry recapping things we already knew (actually, I don't know why @Anarchy thinks that there were new and important things there, three-way battles that ended in Aurors' deaths were mentioned earlier) didn't help the scene at all.

    Another related problems were already mentioned and elaborated upon, like non-mystery of memory manipulation, a caricatural overreaction of the Ministry, so I will skip them as I'm getting sleepy. Anarchy also wrote a lot about the "foreknowledge" aspect that sometimes reached ridiculous heights (homunculus mention being a good example). There is only one thing I still need to say, using "Dark Lord" as a general term always triggers me.
  3. James

    James Auror

    Jan 22, 2015
    So, I reread this today (or, more like inhaled in one sitting), so I feel I may add my two knuts.

    Absolutely not, so far; exception could be made about Doge approaching Harry about the Founders' rooms, but Harry's upbringing is more based on another non-canon event — the aurors finding the diary of Alice Longbottom detailing some of the Orders' work, and I don't see how it ties back to Ariana. As things stand so far (and hopefully it's still not abandonded ;) ), Ariana could be completely cut out, and chips would fall the same way, in the end. The Doge subplot has potential of needing Ariana, but that's it.

    Absolutely. Cedric is very three-dimensional. Cho is less so, that is true, but maybe not every character must have fully fleshed out character. More on characters:
    • I'd hope for more of Katie Bell. Her realistic "good-natured anger" would be such a nice change of pace from misuse of this specific trope in many stories (girls hitting boys to 'show them the right way', etc.). It would be nice to have one that is real character, and not every boy/girl interaction based on "yes dear" sort of relationships.
    • Hermione: seems a little too outgoing, a little too assertive compared to what I would expect, imagining original universe Hermione without Harry. Her inclusion is also a little forced—her dry wit, self-assuredness and Harry letting her berate him for 17 minutes is something that has a feeling of being plot-induced, rather than natural
    • Daphne: her inclusion is also too forced; Looking at how Harry acts and selects friends, I would actually bet for someone older than him, rather than younger.
    • Dumbledore is awesome, Remus is okay, and Sirius is just right — the one touching moment with Harry at the start of the year is exactly what I imagine their relationship being like.
    • I liked the Flamels, being sort of "above" humanity, and no matter that Solfege hates it, I got quite a chuckle out of Nicholas' "I was extremely vague. I even muttered about how the darkness was rising. You would have been proud, Albus."
    I am also not a fan of the "intervention" and Harry's troubled thoughts about him writing off the Gryffindor (which happens during his second year) — we see nothing even suggesting anyone makes any sort of contact, except being dicks to him (McLaggen). It would be better if this little drama had few scenes of Harry brushing off people, or not there at all.

    Yes, absolutely. Newcomb's magic is… well, magical. It's the right mix of mystical, personal and systematic, and has the canonish feeling of duality - magic being sort of both objective and subjective, or focused and not focused, etc. Sometimes I'm little lost in all the metaphores Newcomb uses to describe Harry thinking about this stuff, but other than that… For instance, Dumbledore's

    I agree with many of the aforementioned mistakes people found, but the mix plot, characters, magic and humour still makes this one of my absolutely most favourite stories in fandom. I would still not change my rating.
  4. Newcomb

    Newcomb Minister of Magic

    Sep 28, 2013
    The Evergreen State
  5. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Mar 5, 2006
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    Lol @Newcomb this person is a serial reviewer who always leaves troll reviews of the same type:

    1. Exaggerated tumblr-style feminism where they grasp at straws to interpret your fic as sexist.

    2. Exaggerated politics where they grasp at straws to interpret a troll political message into the fic.

    3. If they know you're from DLP, they will reference DLP.

    4. If they know your real name, they will dox you.

    While amusing, I generally delete them due to point (4).
  6. Zombie

    Zombie Black Philip Moderator DLP Supporter

    Apr 28, 2007
    Ariana not dying was a bit of a blip on an otherwise crowded radar. I was more into the fact that Dumbledore wasn't reviled as he was in canon, so it set up an interesting counter point. I think the idea had some merit but was lost to other things.

    I don't really think that aging or deaging really makes much of a difference, sure, in later parts of the story he has different friends, but as Anarchy said, he's acquired Hermione as a friend -- that doesn't make this much different than any other story. The idea itself has been recycled plenty of times, so its not really that bad, or that good.

    I'd like more focus on the apprenticeship between Harry and Dumbledore. There are very few (see: BTDL) that really focus on Harry as an apprentice to Dumbledore and all the baggage that entails. I like to see that dynamic explored more and not a counter point to all the other background characters getting to interact with Harry, but over all I think that Harry is an accomplished wizard. Without any on screen time of what he's learned, seeing what he's able to do does differentiate him from the rest of the people his age and a lot of the adults. So there's that. Compared to canon, he's worlds apart. He's the same character voice in my mind, which is great, but in terms of usage of power, it feels more developed here.

    I'd not change my rating. I think back in the day I gave this a solid four. I stand by that. There are a lot of things in this story even after all these years that still warrant that rating. Despite a lot of negative reviews in terms of execution, this is still a pretty well established story and there are only 11 chapters or more. Which takes skill.

    I've double that number in chapters from stories that haven't been able to establish the same character voice, the same skill level, and the same interest in tertiary characters that Newcomb has managed here. Short of a few minor grammar mistakes and typos which I think are negligible, this story is great.

    Like @Halt said @Newcomb manages to write engaging characters while immersing everyone in a world of his creation. This is an AU story that has canon elements rearranged and theyr'e done so in a tasteful manner. The magic is magic. I feel like so many stories lack this. They rely too heavily on spell names and other things to make their magic have impact versus Harry just doing the magic here. Which is how it should be. In canon Dumbledore doesn't ever say a spell when he conjures a silly looking chair, no he waves his wand and shit happens.

    I like how Harry interacts with the different characters. I feel like his own voice is more established her with each person he talks to than it is anywhere else. The failing I see in a lot of stories when they introduce a lot of characters is that they forget about them. They've not been forgotten here and their on screen time is usually well spent. I could do with a lot fewer characters over all, but that's just me.

    I like this story as much as I did when it was first written. I hope that Newcomb feels inspired by our comments here to 1) improve, and 2) continue to update a good story. There are so few that are remarkable in the fandom anymore.