Thank you so much for the thank you! I'm so glad you found the last reviews helpful. Hope I can do the same again here.
No surprise, I thought this was another great chapter. Your writing is very easy to read. Not that it's overly simplistic. It just has a good rhythm to it. It lends itself well to just sitting back and enjoying the story. Great plots and characters can too easily get lost when you have to go back and re-read every other paragraph because the author isn't constructing their sentences well.
The plot/substance of the story is starting to shine through now as well. I love the idea of the growing incursion of dark creatures. It was a subtle introduction but the possibilities for how it will tie into the story later are endless. It's such a unique twist on a new threat to the wizarding community and gives the story even more weight. It also, in it's own way, adds a lot of dimension to Rose's character, making what she does even more important, lending her a heavy dose of credibility. I love how in just a few sentences, we've had our knowledge of daily life both in her workplace and the world at large expanded. And, of course, the continuing saga of meeting Scorpius' grandparents. Now Rose has hurdles in both her personal and professional life. It really doesn't matter what type of story someone is writing. It needs layers, and this chapter has definitely started packing them in.
On to the mechanics. I'll say up front that I absolutely noticed an improvement in the dialogue. It was subtle, since it was already good, but I definitely noticed a change in the construction that I thought was super effective. I pulled out a few of my favorite bits:
-Victoire snorted. Unlike Dedworth, she actually appeared to be working; her long red hair was tied back from her face, and she was scrutinising a small stack of reports. "Rosie, never ask Van how he knows something about Lavender..."
-This time, it was Dedworth who gave the snort of laughter. "As soon as we find something worth checking out. Don't worry. Something will come up soon." He tossed the stuffed manticore onto his desk, swiveled around so his feet were back on the floor, and grabbed a few reports off it that from a distance looked quite similar to the ones Victoire was pouring over. "Something..."
I liked these for a few reasons. First, no identification of the speaker. When the dialogue is grouped with action, we assume the person moving is also the speaker. No need to add a tag unless that isn't the case. Second, when you did interrupt the dialogue, it was with more than a physical body "tick." Dedworth is doing something worth taking the time to note. There were still a few cases where you didn't *have* to add what you did to the dialogue:
-"They don't exist here." Her voice wavered slightly with uncertainty as she looked up at him. "Do they?" (her question 'do they' is more than sufficient to highlight her uncertainty)
-James gave a snort of laughter as he finished his drink. "Keep dreaming." (He doesn't have to snort here for us to know he's saying this with a bit of an attitude. The phrase 'keep dreaming' almost always means 'yeah, right, like that is ever going to happen')
I pulled these out to highlight that oftentimes the tags are redundant, but these really are NOT bad and I wouldn't even go so far as to say you should remove them. Just providing them as food for thought since I saw in your review response that you are/were worried about huge blocks of dialogue. And you're right. It's very easy to develop talking head syndrome. But I wouldn't be super concerned with it. If you look at a lot of published fiction, there are often many, many lines of back and forth dialogue without any interruptions at all.
I can feel my word count ticking down so I'll move on to description. In a way, I think your changes to the dialogue actually helped improve the description too. There was action mixed in, and comments on the setting, that went beyond the way a character was moving as he spoke. Again, it was subtle, but I thought it was very effective. The image of the stuffed manticore being tossed up into the air really caught my eye. I'd still look out for opportunities to include more description when changing location. Not going so far as to write 5 paragraphs describing each new place your characters enter, but I think it might help serve two purposes. First, it helps transition from scene to scene, especially in a chapter like this where there are no scene breaks. Take the paragraph that starts "Twenty minutes later..." It's a transition paragraph and a really great chance to switch gears, re-set the scene – give the chance for the readers to catch up on the time that's passed. Same with the paragraph "By the time she got home..." Another time for a little catch-up; a natural space to tuck in a little description and action.
Aside from smoothing out the transitions between scenes, description can also serves to break up the dialogue. If it's been 2 or 3 paragraphs since the last conversation and you've set the scene up a bit, you might not feel as bad about including longer swatches of dialogue. And I really am not at all suggesting you need these huge, weighty paragraphs of description, describing everything from the weather outside to the type of carpet Rose has in her flat. But a few well-placed lines can go a long way. Just as a quick example. What about if instead of "...she was ready to collapse. The day had been more than a little draining..." in that second transition paragraph, you had Rose kicking of her shoes, looking over at the stack of dishes in the sink and thinking those would have to wait until tomorrow and then being just about to collapse on the couch when Lucy appears at the door. Same message (Rose is super tired) but shown more as opposed to told... Over my word count! This is becoming a habit. Hope this is helpful. Feel free to re-request!!
Author's Response: I'm really, really sorry for how long this response has taken - I actually thought I had responded awhile ago, but I have a little bit of a backlog and I didn't realise that it had spilled onto a second page (because I am horribly unobservant sometimes). :(
I'm really, really glad that you noticed an improvement in the dialogue, and I've been keeping in mind the other things you pointed out about the dialogue. It's been really helpful, and I definitely think it's improved my writing overall. I also see what you mean about description and showing/telling - I'll definitely try that for the future.
Thank you so, so much, and I'm sorry it's taken me way too long to respond. ♥