Reading Reviews for Liars
  
2 Reviews Found

Review #1, by academica Liars

5th November 2013:
Hello there, I'm here with your requested review!

Just a quick note--a "ship" is just fanfiction slang for a romantic pairing. For example, if you support the pairing of James and Lily, you could say that you "ship" them, or you could write a story with them as a pairing and say that your story contains that "ship." Hope that makes sense.

First off, I really like your characterization. I think you nailed the formal air that you would expect in the Black household and in conversation between members of the Black family. I also liked how you showed us Bellatrix's contrasting outer politeness and inner deviousness through Regulus's slightly more innocent eyes. I have found it interesting in the past to consider how their relationship might have been with both of them joining up as Death Eaters, and this was a neat little look into their interplay and the way they differed from other Black family members.

You expressed some concern about being too heavy-handed. I think in some places, it was appropriate to be very lavish with the description, like when you talked about the decorations in the house. In other places, however, I do think your use of unorthodox words may have obscured your meaning. For example: the "sadistic patter turned his stomach" and "Bellatrix's gaze colluded with his"--I found it hard to understand precisely what you meant to convey with the word choice in those sentences. It's tempting to use unusual words (trust me, I did the same thing when I started out), but sometimes a simpler term is really the best one.

I know you've already begun to address this based on prior reviews, but I did see a fair amount of punctuation mistakes and awkward phrasing here. A beta reader might be able to help you with this problem and the one described previously regarding readability. Quick Betas can be found in the Help Needed subforum and are very helpful for polishing up short stories like this one.

Since you mentioned dialogue, I'll discuss it specifically--I think you did a fine job. Like I said earlier, the formality seems fitting for your characters and the setting and tone here.

All in all, nice work. I hope this review helps!

-Amanda

Author's Response:

Thanks ever so much for all your kind comments and your explanation of 'ship'! I gathered that it was a shortened form of 'relationship' however I wasn't sure if it referred simply to a romantic pairing or had familial connotations. I am so pleased that you liked the descriptive element.

I find it interesting that you characterise my turn of phrase as unorthodox, as the examples you have chosen don't particularly stand out as being particularly unusual to me. I am guessing that the words you find problematic are 'patter' and 'colluded'. 'Patter' has been used to describe a style of speech in Britain since the 1500s; interestingly it is often associated with more subversive or controversial communications and characters (salesmen, comedians and criminals). It is this etymological distinctiveness in expression, that I find produces a richer textual sphere. That makes it particularly appropriate in the context of murderous Death Eaters. I find that in day-to-day life the most common context is advertising; 'sales patter' from someone who is trying to rip you off or make you purchase something you don't need. 'Colluded' on the other hand is simply the past participle (verb) of the word 'collude' a common synonym for 'conspire'.

I find your suggestion with regard to the simplification of language rather confusing. There is a 'mature' rating on the piece; I would expect a greater complexity of language (I assumed that the ratings are not simply based upon the number of swear words). I find that when one attempts to simplify the linguistic content within a sentence, there is the potential to fall into the trap of pleonasm; which is obviously counterintuitive. Likewise, I really don't want to fall into the other trap of using sesquipedalian prose as part of my non-academic writing either (nomenclature is really rife in my field of research; producing some dreadfully outrageous and often ridiculous concoctions of phrases and words).

Alas, I must agree that my grammar is a bit naff (those pesky commas!) I hate editing and I my writing here is purely for fun of it. For future reference, I will try to ensure that I read it over prior to posting... or perhaps persuade someone else to do it for me.

Thank you ever so much for your review - you have definitely given me a lot to think about!


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Review #2, by milominderbinder Liars

24th October 2013:
Hiya! Maia here from the Sylvia Plath challenge :)

This was a REALLY good story! Your writing is beautiful, especially your description. Some of my favourite lines were "His master was standing by the large sash window with its heavy velvet curtains, his youthful figure set against the hazy winter light that filtered through." "He had thought that it would change him, make him feel part of something - more of a man, but it hadn't. It hadn't really affirmed anything: his insecurities still riled through him and his comrades' sadistic patter still turned his stomach." and "She had knelt next to him last night; a solitary woman; the first woman to join the most trusted of ranks. She had been formidable as a girl and now... now she had grown into a fearsome figure; made of passion and deviousness."

Your description really is beautiful. I love the way it seems almost like a classical novel - the traditional language works perfectly to show the minds and voices of a traditional pure-blood family. It also really adds to the atmosphere of the writing; even though it's not explicitly stated what every single part of the room looks like, those beautiful, formal descriptive words have a way of conjuring up images of old wooden furniture and rich velvet, dark rooms with tapestries, all the things that are associated with old pureblood manors - it's all evoked by your language use, and it's really beautiful.

Some constructive critism, it's that I did notice a few grammatical errors in speech. It's easier to explain what I mean with examples, so:
"Oh, hello dear! Do come in." called his mother as he entered the room.
"Thank you Kreacher; I will go down at once." He replied.
"Yes Master; thank you Master Regulus." stated the elf, disapparating back to the kitchens.
"You know Bell... I know where you were" he stated in hushed tones.

So, basically, there's just one small thing here that you seem to be making a mistake on. Before you write he said/she said there should always be a comma. And by that I mean instead of a full stop, inside the speech marks. So, to change an example from above, this is CORRECT:

"Oh, hello dear! Do come in," called his mother as he entered the room.

See how that's different? It's weird, but it's just a rule of grammar, haha. The same goes for a few lines where you've said - "speechspeechspeech" said character - without putting any grammar before the speech marks at all. You should edit that to have a comma.

I don't know if that explanation makes any sense, so if I've confused you, sorry! Maybe you could google it, haha, I'm not a very good teacher :) But I hoped that helped a little. Tons of people make this mistake, don't worry :P And that was the only grammatical mistake I noticed at all, so well done!

I loved your characterisation of Regulus. I loved how you hinted about the fact that he's not happy in the death eaters; he doesn't feel the acceptance he craves, not like he thought he would after he joined. It's a great way to hint at the canon facts we know about him (betraying Voldemort etc) as well as adding depth to his character.

So, well done! This was a great read and I'm honoured to have it as an entry to my challenge :P

Good luck!

~Maia

Author's Response: Hi Maia,

Thank you ever so much for your review - I really enjoyed writing this for your challenge. I have corrected the grammar. The appropriate commas have been inserted. I think that shows how new I am to writing fiction! Hehe - I really didn't think about it! Anything in speech marks in my usual academic writing work requires referencing using the Harvard system and the grammar is therefore obviously rather different grammatically. You definitely seem to have the making of an English teacher!

Thank you for your kind comments about the tone and descriptive aspects of the story. I have been finding that writing the dialogue is far more difficult that setting the scene. I really hope that this gets easier with practice. I am also glad that the classic/historical style came across - It felt somehow appropriate to emphasise the historic nature of the ancient house of Black using the language in this way. I tried to compensate for the historical tone of the setting by using the dialogue between the younger characters to indicate that it is set more recently.

As the 'actual' date is somewhere in the late 1970s (depending on Regulus' birthday it is either 1977 or 1978), I attempted to contrast the tone inspired by the family heritage with Bellatrix's 1970s feminist attitudes. She is part of a generation in which even muggles experienced major changes in attitudes towards women, overt forms of feminism and sexual liberation. However, she is still bound by the strict traditions and attitudes of her pureblood family - she is fighting to be more than Narcissa, more than the sedentary woman for whom life is going to be about providing pureblood heirs. The idea that Bellatrix wants to be more than a wife and mother frames the reason for all her lies in the first place. Bellatrix is a woman struggling with her place in society, and while she has been indoctrinated into an understanding of her own superiority based upon her blood status, she is not happy to be constricted by the expectations that this attaches to her gender.

With regards to the dialogue, I think that Bellatrix is twisted enough to flirt with her younger first cousin. As all the purebood families seem to consistently intermarry they are pretty much all cousins anyway! This was also shaped by the use of the word 'love' as a term of endearment in the quote.

I tried to bring all these ideas together through the eyes of a relatively naive 17 year old boy who has simply followed the path set by his family ideals and ideology. Underneath it all, Regulus is embarrassed and ashamed by his actions and those of the company he keeps. I am not saying that he doesn't believe in the idea of his pureblood superiority - he is just not as hate-filled as others. However, he is unable to break away like his brother; feeling a stronger need for family and societal approval. I like how you picked up on the idea that Regulus' central motivation is about acceptance.

While Bellatrix is confidently fighting societal convention, Regulus is nervously striving for acceptance. I thought that their interaction would produce a rather powerful image (a bit like tectonic plates moving in different directions and rubbing against one another). Throughout the story, both characters are lying to themselves as well as lying to those around them. We obviously know from the books the different paths taken by these two characters (I also tried to give an indication of both the future for Narcissa's marriage and the path eventually chosen by Andromeda).

I think that I may have over thought this a little... but I am very glad that some of these ideas come through in the writing. I am looking forward to reading the other pieces that are entered for your challenge - can't wait to check out some of your writing as well!

Many thanks,

~Elfy


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