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[Complete] Lesser Evils by ScottPress - M

Discussion in 'The Alternates' started by ScottPress, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Title: Lesser Evils
    Author: ScottPress
    Genre: Crime/Drama
    Library category: Alternates
    Words: 257k
    Chapters: 31
    Started: 13/10/14
    Completed: 08/03/17
    Status: Complete

    Rating: M
    Pairing: Harry/Ginny
    Links: WBA FFN AO3

    Summary: Harry barely escaped the graveyard with his life. Changed by the experience, he faces new challenges and learns that power requires sacrifices. Revenge, doubly so. OotP AU, Crouch Sr. lives.

    This fic has now reached a point where I think it can be put up for review based on wordcount, plot content and my confidence that I'll finish it.

    A few points to summarize what you can expect:

    > Crouch Sr survives year 4 (his presence has consequences, though he's not a major character)
    > horcruxes are not exactly the canon version, which is a key factor in why the plot happens the way it does
    > the pairing is a background element
    > I'm not gonna lie, the summer is long, but stuff happens. Harry learns magic, but I've tried to steer away from the indy summer training genre
    > there are quite a few POVs, so the fic is not strictly Harry-centric, but he is the most prominent character

    If you decide to read in WBA, relevant posts are bookmarked.

    * Checked by Palindrome 08/03/17
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2017
  2. Miner

    Miner Groundskeeper

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    I read the prologue, and it just didn't draw me in. Harry's transition from relatively subordinate and reasonable to raging lunatic just didn't appeal to me. If the entire premise is Harry suffering a near-death experience causes him to get angry and begin to take control of his life, then I don't think it was sold well. Harry's suffered multiple near-death experiences by this point, if canon is true up til this point. If you were to completely change his character to the point that Harry becomes more independent and finally strikes back at the Dursleys and figures his shit out, you'd need a vastly different background and mentality than canon Harry. Reading the prologue just made me kind of shake my head a little bit and think, 'Well, this was a bit of an overreaction for canon Harry.'

    The writing itself is technically good, but that's all I can really say about that. I won't rate it since I couldn't really get past the prologue.
     
  3. Armani

    Armani First Year

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    The prologue did draw me in, though just not in the way I exactly wanted. You are a good writer, and I can actually see Harry doing that. The whole of Harry's fourth year, I was just waiting for him to break like that, but he didn't, which actually didn't seem realistic at all. The only time that it was remotely like what you wrote, was when he blew up Aunt Marge. This is actually a really realistic story, al, you need to do, is make the transition from Harry to this lunatic Harry more smooth.

    How? What happens if you had a near death experience, it changes you. It makes you see the world in a whole different scope. I can relate to this because I have had a near death experience(drowning), but that is not essentially the same as someone actually wanting murder you and then murdering your companion first. I became a bit paranoid after my experience. So, for me, I can actually see Harry doing this.
    Now! Back to the story. Good writing, just make the transition smoother, and you should be good to go!
    I would give this a 4.5/5
     
  4. Miner

    Miner Groundskeeper

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    It changes your perspective, and the way you behave, to a certain extent, but i got a "major overhaul" kind of vibe from the prologue that i didnt think was realistic.

    Granted, my opinion could be totally wrong. Ive certainly never had anyone try to murder me, but i just cringed a little bit with Harry's actions in the prologue.

    Maybe the story isnt to my taste. I certainly liked Phantasmagoria more.
     
  5. PWIZDUO

    PWIZDUO Second Year

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    Just read this, writing is lacking quality. Lots of inconsistencies in harry abilities. Over the top violent angry harry in the beginning. Trys to kill dumbledore. Quality and story improves towards the latest chapters but this isn't really library material. Almost Recommended to be sure.

    rounding up to 3/5
     
  6. Myrrdin Emrys

    Myrrdin Emrys Disappeared

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    Good story, Scott. Just flicked through it, and despite what most others say, amazing job. The one thing bugging me is the fact that Harry in the first 2 chapters is... volatile. I get it that the guy had to go through a near-death experience, but the fact still stands that he overreacted. Would like if you toned that down.

    I especially like the way Voldemort thinks and plans and how Rufus is portrayed, so points for that as well.

    Concluding with the fact that there are no real prose, grammar and/or spelling mistakes, I salute you and your story and happily give you a 4/5, one point taken out for the somewhat sudden change in Harry's personality.
     
  7. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    I just wanted to say thanks for reading and reviewing, guys. I admit that the beginning is kind of stumbling over itself, BUT... it's not random. I will not say anything because what moron spoils his own story. I'll just say that this is a very much long term project and some plot threads will not be tied up until the very end if, Merlin give me strength, I manage to take it all the way to the conclusion.
     
  8. DDragon

    DDragon Muggle

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    Loved the last couple of updates. My favourite part of this fic is the multiple points of views from different players in the game. Gives the reader a much bigger scale into the world.

    Definitely one of the best WIP currently out there.
     
  9. James

    James Groundskeeper

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    I give this 4/5, and I think it has solid place in DLP library and in the top (good?) 1% of fanfiction.

    The best thing about this are the characters - good interpretation of Dumbledore, great Sirius, good secondaries in form of Podmore and Mulciber, and even the occasional glimpse of Mal was great. The world building, the characterisation of shadier parts of HP world, I loved those as well.

    There are couple things that stop me from giving this top marks, and those are mostly subjective things that diminished my enjoyment of the read through a bit.

    At places, the prose is a touch too purple, going above the line from dramatic to melodramatic. Some of the plot threads should have been closed already, and one or two should not have been opened at all. Right now, I feel the first part of (hopefully) trilogy tried to do slightly too much, and while it mostly succeeded, cutting down some of the things would make the others stand out a bit more, I think.

    The killing of Ron and Ginny was a bit lost in the whole assault scene, the revelation of what Harry really did to Ginny was completely unnecessary.

    I am not sure how I feel about the spygirl plotline; It wasn't bad per se, but I feel there was a bit too much of it in the book 1, since there was no resolution yet (and probably won't be till the last book

    Altogether good read, thank you for writing this and congratulations for finishing a book, Scott.
     
  10. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box Prestige

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    Finally got round to reading this over the last few days, and I have mixed feelings about it.

    On the one hand, there's clearly a lot to like. Plenty (perhaps too many) kickass action scenes, some intriguing new characters - I really liked Mulciber and Sturgis, for example, and Mal was a fun little addition - and some good takes on old favourites; you write a very good Voldemort. On top of that, I liked some of the world building details, like the werewolf fight clubs and the hints of Grindelwald's influence.

    On the other hand, there were some fairly serious things that put me off. I didn't like Harry - well, I didn't much care for any of our apparent heroes by the end. I appreciate that this is a deliberate decision on your part, at least to an extent, and that there's going to be a reason for it at least with Harry and Sirius, but that brings me to something else.
    It's fairly obvious that Sirius is presumably being affected by the locket horcrux, which is fine...but that leaves a very real danger of this entire story seeming redundant when the 'twist' is revealed. Same for Harry - I'm assuming that some of his development is down to either leakage from Voldemort's memories, the horcrux inside him, or some combination of both (plus of course his own individual issues and experiences), but it concerns me that at some point in the sequel we're going to get a scene or two of them both going "Oh, woe is me/us, what have we done to ourselves and society?"
    I think basically my problem there is that it goes from 0 - 60 really fucking quickly, where a slightly slower approach might have made it seem more natural. In fact, I'd say that about a few things.
    Sirius goes from being public enemy number 1 to one of it not the most influential man in the country in less than a year. Draco goes from being a foul-mouthed bully to a full blown Death Eater in a couple of months. Ron goes from hot-tempered kid to "Fuck yeah, I'm assaulting an Auror" in a similar amount of time (and yes, Dark magic is corrupting, but still). The Order is regrouped and then splintered in the space of a few months.
    The relationship with Ginny added basically nothing except a slightly padded word count in a couple of chapters, and seemed like a classic example of someone writing something and then realising halfway through the story that they had no interest or plans for it. And hey, we've all been there. In addition, none of the big emotional moments really landed for me.
    The death of Hermione's parents came close, but while it was dramatic, it didn't really affect me. The death of Ron and Ginny though I might have missed entirely without the bit about the funeral.

    All that said though, I'd be tempted to write those off not as actual problems with the story, but simply as a story which isn't really my cup of tea...but that brings me to my hypothetical third hand, which is that despite all the negatives I point out up there, I did read the entire thing in the space of two or three days. Not a terribly useful point, perhaps, but one worth making.

    All in all, I think I'd give Lesser Evils a 3/5, but with a caveat that a lot of the problems I have with it a) are probably more just a reflection of my personal tastes and b) might well turn out to be cunning foreshadowing for the sequels, in which case fair play.

    Oh, and then I take another ten off the score because you managed to finish a 260K fic in a little under two years, whereas I've been writing Hallowed since 2011 and haven't finished it or hit the 100K mark, so fuck you :p

    I am intrigued by the mysterious female Death Eater. The three suspects I had during reading were Daphne, either willingly or under mind control of some sort, or Ginny/Hermione under mind control. Ginny presumably can be ruled out, Daphne remains a possibility...but if it is Hermione, you'd better have a rock solid explanation if she's not being controlled somehow!
     
  11. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Thanks for the review, solid stuff. I made my peace a long time ago with the fact that I'm not Swimdraconian, able to take a morally grey at best protagonist and still make him sympathetic. Anymore than that would be a spoiler.

    As for things happening (too) quickly, well... This was the first novel I've ever written, so I can definitely improve (I hope). I decided that having exciting stuff happen was preferable to drawing things out to play to realism.

    I entirely concede your point with Ginny. I originally had a plan to write this disturbing romance of two disturbing teens, but other things demanded attention and I wanted the fic to conclude in a reasonable word count.

    As for Sirius, however, I stand my ground. He was only ever "hated" because he supposedly betrayed the Potters and this was publicly obliterated here. Add Dumbledore's support, who was also on the bounce after Azkaban and you have a strong popularity cocktail imo. Besides, it's fiction. I also wanted to play with setting up a leader who wasn't Harry of a faction that wasn't Death Eaters, Order of the Phoenix or the Ministry, hence the Order split and Sirius' rise to power. Ultimately, I wrote a story I'd like to read.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  12. Sataniel

    Sataniel Fourth Year

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    So I've sat down to actually read the last few chapters.

    I feel that from a later part of chapter eight the fic lost a lot of its steam. Which culminated in a completely disappointing ending. It should be interesting but simply isn't. Part of it is overuse of Mulciber. He fought with Sirius and Harry so much, that he lost his "specialness". It's "Oh, Mulciber again" now, when he should feel like a big thing.

    The other big problems I had with the ending are
    1. The method of breaking through fidelius. It felt really forced, I think that playing on the connection between Voldemort and Harry would be a better choice than super-legilimency.

    2. The deaths of Ron and Ginny which should be big, but they aren't. Part of it comes from them not being especially interesting characters in the fic. Other from it being done off-screen, with an unimpressive description of their bodies and lacklustre presentation of Harry's thoughts doing nothing to help.

    6.5/10 I think, but I may adjust the vote later.

    Also, I've looked through the fic with search and read a summary but why did Trace go from being pretty important to something nobody cares about? I may misremember, but this seemed to happen before Sirius had enough influence to just put stop to all the actions against Harry.
     
  13. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Yeah, I probably should have curbed Mulciber's presence in some chapters. When he first showed up people seemed to like him mostly because he was the unknown. I tried to peel back the layers on him, but for the amount of peeling I did, I probably could have done it with fewer, stronger scenes. Alas, I liked Mulciber so much that I stuck him everywhere I conceivably could.
    Originally he was never supposed to be meeting Nott in the Forbidden Forest in CH8, for example. I think his best scene is probably one of his earliest, when he takes out Harry's gang and Ollivander.

    The ending... It has been pointed out that the ending, regardless of its merits, was completely predictable. It couldn't have gone any other way if the story was to continue in sequels and that is a valid point, as is the
    lackluster impact of Ron and Ginny's deaths. Probably my biggest regret from LE. It was planned from the beginning, but in hindsight they didn't have enough screentime/characterization to deliver a sufficient punch.

    Regarding the Fidelius: Harry did use the connection to break through. Perhaps I didn't convey it well enough. He was only able to see the memory of Voldemort giving Death Eaters the Secret because the connection allowed it.

    The Trace is a big mess in canon, but I didn't want to completely ignore it, so I had the scene with Scrimgeour and Kingsley's promotion to Head Auror (previously Scrimgeour's position) to imply that the Order could tamper with the Trace. But let's see:

    After Scrimgeour lets Harry and Remus go, there's the hunt for Pettigrew, where I implied that Anton Robards was duped by the imposter in St. Mungo's. Then in CH6 Harry and Sturgis use apparition, but that wouldn't trigger the Trace. Also in CH6 Fudge is blackmailed by the Order, at which point the conspiracy is in place, including Heads of DMLE, International Cooperation and DOM. At that point Harry's Trace is pretty much neutered. There's the battle in CH7, but again, the Order's conspiracy was in place. And in CH8 Sirius becomes Advisor, which allowed him to protect Harry from any consequences. I don't think I messed up anywhere, but I wasn't constantly rereading the entire text, so I could have missed something.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  14. Sataniel

    Sataniel Fourth Year

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    It definitely could be conveyed better. One sentence, either in dialogue or narration could do a lot to make it clearer.

    That's the thing I forgot (well not a thing itself, but when exactly it happened in regards to other stuff.
     
  15. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Sataniel

    I'll take another look at that chapter and see about making this clearer.
     
  16. BTT

    BTT Unspeakable

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    So I'm basically going to echo most of what Shinysavage said.

    What I liked most were probably the action scenes. You've clearly moved away from the boring point-and-shoot gunfight-like duels most fanfiction tends to go for, which is a definite plus. You do no canon character a disservice, and the characters you basically create wholesale (Mulciber, Sturgis) are interesting. Your prose is quite readable and clear.

    But, in general, I feel like it could really use some trimming down. I liked the action scenes, like I said, but around the fifth time Harry fights Mulciber and gets rekt it got a bit boring. You develop a relationship with Ginny just to murder her at the end, the thing with Greengrass doesn't require Harry's involvement at all, Voldemort gets the prophecy and doesn't really change his gameplan, the goblin rebellion gets resolved incredibly easily, the Mulciber Manor raid feels very similar to the Malfoy Manor raid, the basilisk does nothing until it dies, Snape fucks off to never reappear, people vie for control of the Wizengamot but it never actually does anything... Honestly, it seems to me you gave each moment with big impact little time to breathe and sink in before rushing onto the next.

    To sum it up, it's a fairly solid fic but it could use some polish. I'll give it a 3.5/5.
     
  17. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    I'm kinda apprehensive of looking back at the overall structure of the fic because when I do I fear I'll find another thing that could've been done better or cut out completely. You make good points. I tried dipping my toes in too many subplots and some of them were rushed, especially in the later chapters. At some point I knew I wanted to shoot straight for the end so I cut some corners,like you mentioned, with Greengrass and the goblins. I'm aiming to give those elements more attention in the sequel.
     
  18. Astaphta

    Astaphta First Year DLP Supporter

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    I usually am a bit of a lurker but I had to review this, if only to encourage you to keep going. I found this story remarkable and it's gratifying to see one really alive in 2017, if you keep up your promise of publishing a sequel.

    The strengths of this story are manifold, but let me start off with the characters. This fic features one of the more complex Harrys I've read, steadily maturing from an angry, hot-headed, angst-ridden teen wallowing in self-pity (sound familiar?) into the resilient, ruthless leader that we can see the seeds of. Harry's reaction to the Third Task ordeal was pronounced, to be sure, but it did not stretch belief by any means, though the first few chapters are admittedly the roughest. The darkness that grows in him concurrently with his probing of the connection to Voldemort is adequately portrayed, for all the questions it leaves unanswered. But the true wealth of this story lies not solely in this interesting Harry, rather in the galaxy of supporting characters you have so successfully beefed up out of their canon cutouts.

    Sirius is a character I usually dislike, particularly in fanon, as he often serves no role in himself but to be Harry's buttress or his shoulder to cry on alternatively, or just the joking prankster trope which got tired before I was born. This is possibly because canon Sirius was not a particularly interesting figure, and many writers feel the urge to play around with him and make him into something else. Certainly this fic's Sirius is very different from canon Sirius as well, but also a fair bit more interesting. His relationship to Harry is close but also guarded, secrets abound, and his attitude oscillates between chummy and avuncular, much like canon Sirius' does, never crossing over to fatherly. Remus, another canon character I despise, a weak, passive figure who shirks responsibility and moans constantly about his affliction, you have also magnificently transformed, into a character still riddled with the same demons, and still prone to adolescent broodiness, much like in canon, but who has found ways to exorcise them: fighting and drugs, which allows you to develop the underground world and livelihood of werewolves quite atmospherically.
    Other characters, mere names in canon, become full-blown central characters here, and we are afforded glimpses into what makes them tick, not by lengthy exposition or psychological drones, but by the strength of the dialogue and the interaction in general. This is the case for Sturgis, Mulciber, Crouch, Croaker.

    A side-effect of this development of the secondary cast is that we get to see less of the primary cast, which can be seen as a blessing or a curse, depending. Here it feels just perfect, because you have made Ron and Ginny more interesting, making them mature a little faster in the midst of circumstances which could credibly wield that accelerating effect. However, they still do remain teenagers in a world of adults, so one doesn't feel short-changed when they get mentioned less.

    Structurally the fic is superb as well; I particularly like the triadic form of the chapters, which gives a wonderful ebb-and-flow rhythm to the story, alternating action and development in a meaningful and never dull way. I especially appreciate your emphasis on quality over quality. Many writers who like world-developing tend to go completely over the top, inventing so many new locales, species, countries, creatures, etc, that canon just feels dwarfed and insignificant (this can even be the case, for example, in The Song of the Trees), which I believe is always a bad thing. Here the world is developed not necessarily by much: two main locations, one in Knockturn Alley and one somewhere south, are presented and explored. We get a glimpse of the texture of the wizarding world as a whole with the ICW conference in Paris, and this again is masterfully done, faithfully continuing the canon idea that the magical world is large but relatively isolated, with most countries functioning in a rather closed-off manner.

    This brings me to one of the best elements of this story, which is the way it depicts politics. Rather than describe the factions as so many monoliths engaged in a plain-and-simple war, here you get tableaux of differing splinters and various interests in each group, and the interplay between personal ambition and collective consciousness is always subtly present. I do concur to an extent though with an earlier reviewer who complained about the way you depicted the Order. I don't believe that you prefer the DEs or any such rot, but the characterisation of the DEs' organisation is superior and more complex than the one done on the Order, and this despite Sirius' splinter group. The Ministry itself is admirably taken apart, with the role of the four leading Directors well shown and their conspiracies nicely set up. All this is really masterfully crafted, as is Voldemort himself, on the other side of the battle lines, who is one of the cleverest Voldemorts I've seen, and certainly one of the most frightening, precisely because canon's pointless foaming at the mouth and torturing have been replaced by the reptilian calm and brilliant planning of a master strategist. It's not quite Mizuni-sama, but it's not that far either (I think you must have been influenced by his V?). His DEs are equally personalised and even canon nonentities such as Macnair are given colour. The pitfall of focusing solely on the madwoman Bellatrix is neatly sidestepped, and several recurring DEs are exposed to the reader's interest: both Malfoys, Nott, Mulciber, Greyback.

    All this character development I am particularly in awe of, because when I write I have trouble not just giving all the information to the reader directly, by way of a flux of thoughts in POV paragraphs; whereas here the personae's personalities are never outright handed to the reader like a presentation leaflet, but rather the reader is given clues, strokes of colour, a few words here and there, and this all coalesces gradually, as if on its own, into, not necessarily an exhaustive diagram of the character's psyche, but, even better, an intuitive sense, a feeling of who the person is, which carries the story along much more immersively. This also leaves space open for mystery, of which there is an abundance here, as the reader is never completely sure that they understand entirely why a character is acting in the manner they do. One question though: why are there so few prominent female characters in this story? Having only men sitting around talking all the time can get a little monotonous after a while, not to mention unrealistic (a sexist magical world doesn't really make sense to me, never understood why it's such a popular trope in fanfiction) and unpleasant.

    On that note, and now for my big problem with the story: Hermione. Hermione is a character I personally like very much, just like Dumbledore, though I have no objection to her being shunted out of the story or being left on the sidelines. But I am uncomfortable when I see her being portrayed in a manner which is OOC, and here… well, really, I'm not sure I understand where you're going with her, but I hope to God that she is not the mysterious Death Eater, although quite a few clues tend to point to her. This mystery in particular has been getting close to irritating, because you've been continuing it for a long time with no hope of resolution in the near future. Back to Hermione: changes in attitude and political position are one thing, but you better have a good reason why Hermione seems now to be Ron's inferior in more or less everything. That's a threat!
     
  19. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Holy review, Batman!

    Seriously though, I love reading posts like this and I love 'em even more when they're about my stuff. I enjoy getting praise, though I never shed the feeling that I'm being given more credit than I deserve.

    To answer several of the points you raised:

    The supporting cast grew quite a bit bigger than I had originally anticipated and it seemed only fair to give some of these characters more development once I already pushed them to prominence. I think I did the best with Sturgis, but Mulciber got overexposed in the end and Remus could've used some more screen time.

    Order and Death Eaters: honestly, the argument that I like DE more than the Order isn't without merit and I don't see why that has to be a bad thing. With their black cloaks and masks and hostile goals they immediately coalesce in my mind into something solid, whereas the Order is diluted, without substance. Look at the opening chapter of DH. I love it. People say DE are Nazis, but I always drew an analogy from Assassin's Creed games, where DE are Templars with all the cool shit and insignia and the Order are modern day Assassins: not even a unifying awesome uniform, more a bunch of hipsters. But that's probably too harsh. Fanon definitely influenced me here.

    No prominent females: I dunno, kind of came out that way. Let's see. Hermione still has a part to play. Ginny suffered the same fate as Ron and in general Harry's gang was, by necessity, less visible when Harry inserted himself into serious events outside Hogwarts. Amelia Bones got removed at the beginning as a minor plot point and also Crouch a d Scrimgeour are much more prominent characters in canon and that was my foundation. Voldemort and Dumbledore are dudes, Sirius and Remus are dudes. Tonks just isn't that interesting to me and besides, I needed a good base to create a couple Order badasses and Sirius and Remus were ready made templates. Sturgis was barely more than a name in canon and in LE he was an exercise in essentially creating an OC under a familiar name. Same case with Mulciber. I wanted to flesh out a DE that wasn't the standard fare Bellatrix and Mulciber had a cool name. Greyback got screen time because I could set him opposite Remus and Macnair got his screen time because he had a great big axe which appealed to my inner caveman. And then I invented Mallory. I instantly knew that character was gonna be a woman. Essentially Tonks' counterpart, but one I created myself, in an original location as well.

    All in all, this wasn't a deliberate attempt on my part to sideline women, just happened that way. Edit: The simple answer is, I'm a dude. I always play dudes in RPGs. Graviting towards the familiar, I guess.

    As for Hermione, I don't wanna spoil stuff. You'll have to read the sequel. I'm actually working on it, but progress has been slower than I'd like. I need to get into the rhythm.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  20. Astaphta

    Astaphta First Year DLP Supporter

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    The Continent
    No false modesty, please ;).

    That's an amusing way of putting it, probably due at least in part to Rowling's penchant for casting misfits and oddballs as heroes. Anyway, I get your point re: the un-theatricality of the Order. But I feel that as you've taken it upon yourself to tweak (to say the least) canon when you felt it was warranted, nothing stops you from militarising the Order a little (a touch more discipline, perhaps - having Mundungus as a full-blown member always seemed like bad writing to me). Also, now that Sirius & co. have splintered off, it might be nice to gain some insight into who the "original" Order is and how they work, if you want to make this into a legit four-sided conflict.

    I get what you're saying about women in your story, no need to explain your reasons. I was just making an observation about how it felt as a reader to have a 90 percent male cast; it's not a complaint, obviously you write your story as you want (non-constructive criticism, if you like). And it's not something that bothers me particularly; it just feels a bit weird sometimes. I certainly look forward to discovering what you have in store for Hermione, though. I have a feeling it's going to be something important.
     
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