A Sampling of RobSt Part Two: Hypothermia

Welcome one and all to part two of me torturing myself for your entertainment. As a quick recap for those of you who skipped part one, after reading the first chapter of all of RobSt’s works, I decided to eliminate Knowledge is Power, as he had expressed in an Author’s Note that he wasn’t very happy with how it turned out, and that Proud Parents was basically a reimagining of what that fic should have been. If you want to check part one out, it will be linked at the end of this article. So without further ado, let’s get into it with chapter to of A Kiss Can Save The World!

Part One: A Kiss Can Save The World (2008)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4357909/2/A-Kiss-Can-Save-The-World
Summary: “COMPLETE – What would change if Harry asked Hermione to the Yule Ball? H/Hr My first fanfic”

Well, the novelty wore off. I kind of enjoyed the first chapter of this fic, just because of how hilariously bad it was, but…..all of that shine’s gone with chapter two. This chapter deploys a lot of tropes, rapid-fire style, held together by bad characters, worse prose, and enough POV changes to raise even TheSinisterMan’s eyebrows.

This chapter starts by revealing to the reader that Harry and Hermione are soul-bonded, emancipated, and married, then has both Dobby and Winky bond with them while also revealing that Harry and Hermione are the Lord and Lady Gryffindor, then introduces Gryffindor’s Portrait (while also revealing the specialest most powerful and in-love power couple’s fancy exclusive living space), and does a Dumbledore villain reveal, and this was the moment when I noticed that I wasn’t even half way through the fucking chapter!

From there, we get an introduction to friendly goblins as well as the Goblin Nation, we get a wonderful scene of Hermione’s parents being totally chill with her being married out of the fucking blue because Harry seems kinda nice, or whatever, and we get the stereotypical reading of the Potters’ Will, where it turns out that they specifically requested that Harry never be placed with the Dursleys under any circumstances, but Dumbledore, being the manipulative bastard that he is, did it anyway. Then, to really add insult to injury, we get treated to the big reveal that he’d been paying both Vernon and the Weasleys out of Harry’s vault, and that he’d set up a marriage contract between Harry and Ginny to kick into effect at Harry’s 16th birthday.

Now, I do just want to point out once again that this is RobSt’s first ever story, so being too much of a dick about it being total irredeemable shit feels kinda like kicking a puppy while it’s down — if that puppy is a really shitty story written by a 60 year old man. I also do feel the need to point out that even RobSt’s fans don’t seem to like this fic much. I was looking through its reviews, and I saw this one right on the first page:

“I have read most of your stories and loved every one. This one unfortunately bombed for me. I made it up to the Freddie Mercury chapter and just lost interest sorry. It just doesn’t have the zing that the others have. And I’ve read In This World at least 7-8 times. Oh well, thank you for all your other amazing works xx”

So with all of that in mind, A Kiss Can Save The World is an early contender for being dropped this round. Although I will admit, a part of me is morbidly curious about what “the Freddie Mercury chapter” is, and I might end up dropping one of the eight different template Harmony GoF AU stories instead, because while I was no longer laughing my fucking ass off, I won’t lie to you, this story is still so bad that I kind of enjoyed it. So yeah, another chapter in the Not Good Tier. NEXT!

Part Two: More Important Things (2009)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5043968/2/More-Important-Things
Summary: COMPLETE – My attempt at the Dumbledore Answers Harry challenge set by witowsmp, where Harry discovers his destiny at the end of first year. H/Hr

So……remember how A Kiss Can Save The World was dogshit but in a funny way? Well this is about the same level of quality, but I just hate it. Probably this chapter’s lowest moment is the “Hermione has a possessive and angry father” trope, which….damn that hurt to read. Fucking hell, he made his twelve year old daughter repeatedly break down crying in a single conversation. What a fucking dick. And it’s played completely straight as well.

There was also some Weasley bashing which….ya know, yay. It was your typical bashing experience, with Molly Weasley being the caricature of evil, and Dumbledore presumably paying her money out of Harry’s vaults.

As for positives, there was a funny moment when it was revealed that Dan Granger the dentist used to be a rugby player and he kicks the shit out of Vernon, but other than that, this was drab, lifeless, and deeply, irredeemably bad. This was bad enough that I’ll need a bit of a break before I return to this project. At least Fate’s Gambit is next, and I vaguely remember thinking the first chapter was alright. NEXT!

Part Three: Fate’s Gambit (2009)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5210983/2/Fate-s-Gambit
Summary: “Fate looked on as the boy who’s destined to lead the fight against the darkness was slowly being broken down until she’s compelled to take action that will change his life forever. Pre-Hogwarts, friendship H/Hr/L rating is for Dursleys treatment of Harry”

Yeah……this one fell off. I can’t really say I’m surprised, but I do confess myself…..disappointed. This fic is just another incredibly bland slog. So first of all, everything that I liked about Luna’s characterization in part one just vanished into the abyss. She only gets one scene in this chapter, and it’s dull as fuck and completely forgettable. Also, on that note, Hermione got introduced in this chapter! This fic is apparently going to be some sort of romantic triad between Harry, Luna, and Hermione (which is really worrying considering they don’t go to Hogwarts until the sequel), so we finally got our first Harry-Hermione scene.

Harry’s riding a swing for the first time, since Dudley would never let him (which, I’ll admit, is a pretty cute concept for a scene), and he meets Hermione, who was also bullied as a child, and was never allowed on the swings either. So Harry goes and holds her hand and offers to be her friend, and it’s probably the strongest scene in the chapter. Unfortunately, you better believe that all that potential is squandered the second Hermione’s parents enter the picture.

Now, when I was discussing More Important Things, I mentioned that Dan Granger is apparently the kind of father to make his twelve year old daughter cry, and how I generally dislike the over-protective father trope, both because it’s problematic as fuck, but also because it doesn’t reflect reality in the slightest. However, I’m starting to think the issue is just that RobSt characterizes Hermione to be emotionally made of glass. Cause here, Dan Granger just makes a couple jokes, and she fucking bursts into tears and says that she wants to go live with her grandparents. Every scene with Hermione honestly has the vibe of a trashy soap opera because of this. All of her emotions feel really heightened and over-dramatic, which is a weird contrast to the understated way Harry and Luna are both written. It doesn’t work very well at all.

Finally, this fic has the worst handling of the Dursleys that I’ve seen yet in this project (although I’m sure I’ll see worse as I keep going). So apparently, Vernon Dursley is a sex offender in this one! Which….ya know, using workplace sexual assault to make a villain in your shitty fanfic seem more evil is totally a good look, and Dudley goes to an orphanage where he’s bullied and beaten up on a regular basis, and us as the reader are apparently supposed to go “yeah! I want this nine year old kid who didn’t really do anything wrong except have shitty parents to suffer!” But fuck that. Dudley doesn’t deserve this. Also, this fic uses the trope where the Dursley abuse is so over-the-top to be completely unbelievable, and thus ruins any emotional weight their actual canon abuse of Harry held.

Lastly, I noticed that Rita Skeeter was introduced here, which probably means that she’ll be involved in some sort of big Dumbledore!Bashing reveal shit later on down the line.

So overall, this was a disappointing chapter with weak prose, weaker characters, and a fucking incomprehensibly bad storyline. In other words, it’s another typical early RobSt fic. I hate it and I want to move on to…..oh great, the first cookie cutter GoF AU. NEXT!

Part Four: Can’t Have It Both Ways (2009-2010)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5402315/2/Can-t-Have-It-Both-Ways
Summary: “If you are forced to participate in a competition that’s reserved for adults only, doesn’t that mean you should be considered an adult? Harry gets some much needed help and advice before having some fun by allowing his marauder heritage out to play. H/Hr”

Honestly, considering I was expecting this to be another dull, lifeless cookie cutter fic, I was pleasantly surprised by parts of this chapter. For me, this chapter felt a lot more like A Kiss Can Save The World, in that while it was definitely bad, it was bad in a way that I found endlessly entertaining. However, before I get into why, allow me to list a couple things that I just outright hated.

First of all Dan motherfucking Granger! I’ve officially decided that it’s RobSt’s fault that he has this characterization throughout the larger fandom, because this is now the third fic that I have come across by him written before the year 2010 that used it. The fact is, whether we like it or not, RobSt has had an enormous impact on this fandom besides just Harry Crow, and most of it has been negative. Also, obligatory Weasley!Bashing annoyed me.

However, I also do have to give some credit here, because there was one scene that I genuinely thought was decent, and that is Fred and George tearfully thanking Harry for saving Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets after seeing the Basilisk. That was a genuinely pretty well-done touch, and I liked it quite a bit. I also have to commend RobSt for…..his restraint, I guess? Because he didn’t bash Ginny in this chapter, and since this fic’s foreshadowing is about as subtle as a chainsaw to the face, I can easily predict that she will not be bashed at any point going forward.

So with that out of the way, let’s get into the laughably dumb shit. In this chapter, and I shit you not, the main plot is Harry taking all his classmates on a field trip into the Chamber of Secrets, except he has some kind of Goblin-made shield with him that only allows the “pure of heart” to enter, or some shit like that. Cause Ron is stopped, as are all the Slytherins but Daphne and Tracey, as are all the Ravenclaws except for Luna. The purpose of all of this is to allow some Goblins to harvest the Basilisk, and….make money off of it, I guess? I don’t know, this plot is basically incoherent.

Oh also, did I mention that Ron attacks Harry and Hermione because they’re holding hands, and some magic ring deus ex-machina bullshit causes his fucking hand to explode? And nobody even gives a shit! There’s a scene later where Dumbledore goes “oh yeah, by the way, we should probably deal with Ronald’s hand”, and like no shit, man! It just fucking blew up!

Anyway, until the very end when the Dan Granger shit happened, I had a blast with this chapter. It’s bad as fuck but was really entertaining to read, and I can’t wait to see if it stays this bizarre going forward. NEXT!

Part Five: In This World and Next (2009-2010)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5627314/2/In-this-World-and-the-Next
Summary: “Not for Weasley fans, dark beginning and rating is for safety. A Re-do with payback on the menu H/Hr Complete”

So….this fic is still violently shit, and I mean that in a very literal sense. This chapter features attempted neck throttling multiple attempts at assault, a poor, well-meaning mother being wrongfully arrested by the Muggle police, and also two eleven year olds having a serious discussion about whether or not they’re old enough to fuck each other. You know, classic fanfiction stuff.

We got soul-bonds, child marriages, shitty attempts at revenge, ridiculous bashing (of, like, ten and eleven year olds who do some bad things in the future in the first timeline), and of course, Harry and Hermione leaving Hogwarts in search of another school in a different country. It’s….it’s all so deeply bad. Like, it was funny at first, but now I’m just kind of sad, especially cause it’s probably shit like this that makes people so skeptical of fics set in other countries, thus depriving Alexandra Quick of the great fame and reader-base that it deserves.

This fic is so aggressively bad that even when I was new to the fandom and had no taste to speak of, I still couldn’t get into this shit. I probably won’t drop it this time because, at the very least, I don’t feel like I’m in a coma when I’m reading it, but to say I enjoyed it on any level — even in an ironic sense — would be a straight up falsehood.

Part Six: Souls Abound (2010-2011)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6035532/2/Souls-Abound
Summary: “This story came from an idea of there being more than one version of Voldemort running around, due to his horcruxes being activated. Story begins with the Tom – Harry confrontation in the Chamber of Secrets. H/Hr”

Well that was disappointing. Honestly, I actually had some hope for this fic. The first chapter was fairly solid and had some good ideas, but that potential is just absolutely squandered here. I will give some credit where it’s due, I still enjoy Ron and Ginny being actual characters, but even then, RobSt doesn’t really go for the characterizations I enjoy for these characters. My “enjoyment” is more just relief that it seems like he’s actually trying to do something different for once, which….ya know, yay. Good for him, he’s actually trying. A+ for effort, or something like that.

Anyway, this chapter squanders all the potential of the last chapter by lapsing into RobSt’s favorite tropes. All of the soul-pieces are weak as hell push-overs, Voldemort is stuck possessing a fucking pigeon, (which was a funny scene but was bad for the tone), and Dan Granger is apparently, once again, a child abuser as well as being a classist fucker. So….yay. Also, we lapse full on back into Dumbledore!Bashing here, and we get yet another indecisive fic where RobSt cannot decide whether or not he wants to bash McGonagall. All in all, even though I can appreciate that this fic’s trying, it’s still only mediocre at best, and I honestly just prefer it when the stories are bad in an over-the-top, funny way, or make me simmer with rage like A Different Halloween or In This World and Next. These fics just leave me feeling….I don’t know, empty. NEXT!

Part Seven: A Different Halloween (2010-2012)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6439871/2/A-Different-Halloween
Summary: “Could a chance meeting change history? What would a different Halloween in 1981 mean for wizarding Britain?”

So….this fic does some interesting things with the second chapter, but the majority is just boring nonsense. I’ll start with the positives: Lily going to Petunia and going “yo you fucking idiot, you’re in grave danger, if you don’t hide, let me give you these protections for your son” is a pretty neat idea, and Dudley being set up as the Boy-Who-Lived is genuinely pretty cool. That’s it, that’s all that’s good.

This fic has the standard shitty RobSt writing, it has all the horrible marauders tropes that you’ve come to hate (think jokey joke Sirius, them all obnoxiously referring to themselves by their cutesy animal names as grownass adults, Sirius being….fanon Sirius, etc.), and I just feel like this fic lacks a sense of conflict or forward momentum.

On the positive side, there was no gross toddler romance this chapter, so at least we have that. I’m no longer made furious by this fic, it just makes me kinda sad and annoyed. Oh also I’m glad there’s no abusive Dan Granger trope this time. NEXT!

Part Eight: No Hurry At All (2011)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6755363/2/No-Hurry-At-All
Summary: “Remus was so shocked at seeing Sirius fall through the veil that Harry had raced past him before the boy’s intentions even registered with the werewolf. Screaming “Sirius!” Harry followed his godfather into the veil before anyone could stop him. H/Hr”

No Hurry At All definitely isn’t good, but it’s definitely been the most consistently entertaining chapter two I’ve come across thus far. It just plays so many Indy!Harry tropes straight and makes Harry do absolutely ridiculous things in the name of being a cool badass to the point that I couldn’t help be entertained. It was just too silly.

For example, this chapter has Harry take a piss in Dumbledore’s pensieve after being sent back to his office at the end of the battle in the Department of Mysteries. My read of this scene is Harry being such a childish little shit that he’s throwing a temper tantrum, but the fic plays it off as something epic and cool! Then Harry storms through the hallways of Hogwarts, attacks Snape for questioning his epic badassery, and decides to leave the magical world.

I will say, the scene at the end with Harry and McGonagall was genuinely sweet, but it was poorly written enough that I didn’t really feel anything, it was more that could tell that the actual content of the scene was cute.

Overall, though, I got a real kick out of this chapter. It’s funny as hell, and I’m genuinely curious where it’ll go from here. Please stay on the level of Harry pissing in peoples’ pensieves, that was the funniest shit ever — not because of anything the fic did well or intended to do, but still funny. NEXT!

Part Nine: Banking on Her (2011-2012)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7392700/2/Banking-on-Her
Summary: “Harry reckons his future is bleak if he stays at Hogwarts. The Tri-Wizard tournament offers him a fail-safe way of escaping his perceived destiny, that is until Harry discovered the hidden costs. H/Hr”

Banking on Her chapter two is kind of funny, because even though it’s trying really hard to bash Dumbledore, I’m kind of in agreement with him here. A 14 year old’s love life is really not worth taking seriously, and compared to the fate of the entire world, seems pretty fucking trivial. I don’t know, I always find it amusing when a fic clearly wants you to think that a character’s actions are absolutely unforgivable, and then the actual actions are not all that bad. This is what this fic’s Dumbledore feels like. It’s like, am I really supposed to take this 14 year old’s first relationship seriously? I can’t even blame Dumbledore for not doing so either.

Other than that, it’s your standard poorly written 4th-year divergent Harmony shlock. Nothing that’s even worth discussing, honestly. Although I should mention that, by this point, there is a clear gap in prose quality between this and shit like Fate’s Gambit. Doesn’t make it good, but it no longer physically hurts me to read it, and that’s something right there, I suppose. NEXT!

Part Ten: Harry Crow (2012-2014)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8186071/2/Harry-Crow
Summary: “What will happen when a goblin-raised Harry arrives at Hogwarts. A Harry who has received training, already knows the prophecy and has no scar. With the backing of the goblin nation and Hogwarts herself. Complete.”

And here’s the Harry Crow I know. I was kind of shocked when I kind of vibed with the first chapter, so I’m glad to see it quickly becoming the weird shit-show that I remembered. This chapter opens by pissing on Jane Austen’s grave by asking the hard question: what would happen if someone read Pride and Prejudice, completely missed the point, and then said “I’ll write a fanfiction with quirky references to this book I don’t understand, so everyone will know that I don’t understand literature.”? However, while I find that funny, it’s pretty much everything that comes after that I care about, as this fic is responsible for popularizing so. fucking. many of them.

While friendly goblins have shown up in RobSt’s fics before, it’s never been done to this extent. While Dumbledore!Bashing has been done in his fics before, this one somehow feels far more important than the other ones usually are, and while he’s certainly never shied away from the H/Hr power couple tropes, this feels far worse than before. They’ve literally just met and they’re already confessing their darkest secrets to one another.

Not to mention, the prose is generic and kind of bad. For one of the most popular fanfics ever written, it sure is unreadable. Overall, this chapter was kind of unbearable, and if it wasn’t for me not feeling like I was in a coma while I was reading it, I’d probably be dropping it this round. Luckily for the fic (and unfortunately for me), there are several others that will probably get the axe instead. NEXT!

Part Eleven: Don’t Look Back in Anger (2014-2015)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10669760/2/Don-t-look-back-in-Anger
Summary: “Can some angry words change everything?”

This chapter was surprisingly full of ups and downs. For the first half, I was genuinely kind of digging what was going on. RobSt seemed to be taking a slightly more gritty approach to his writing, but not in an especially over-the-top way, and I genuinely felt some tension throughout his journey to Azkaban. Harry felt pretty in-character, and his back and forth with Umbridge worked decently well.

On top of that, it didn’t really feel like Dumbledore was being bashed. He was fairly in-character, and seemed as though he was going to be doing what’s right going forward, and I was kind of here for it.

Then, Harry started using thoughts of Hermione to ward off Dementors, and I was kind of annoyed, thinking to myself “okay, here’s the standard Harmony bullshit”, but then I was surprised to find that this wasn’t sustainable, and Harry’s thoughts were being twisted and turned super dark. So I kinda had the rug yanked out from under me here, and was impressed.

Then, shit got really weird, and it’s revealed that Harry can, like, astral project, I guess? So he leaves his body, and starts wandering around Hogwarts watching everyone talk about him. There’s this scene where he walks in on Ron and hears a snippet of conversation, and it seems like Ron’s being a bitch, and Harry’s like “Grrrr, I thought Ron had changed but I guess he still sucks” and moves on, but then the narrator lets us see the rest of the conversation and it turns out Ron’s actually super chill and Harry just heard him out of context. Is it handled well? No, but I still appreciated the subversion.

Then, Harry stumbles upon Luna Lovegood, who can also do this, and she finds out he’s never astral projected before, so she makes out with him, and then his spirit ends up inside her body (no not in that way, you fucking pervs). We then get an interaction between him, Luna, and Hermione, and the chapter ends.

I don’t even know what to think about this chapter. On the one hand, I kind of dug it. Is it especially well written? Not at all. But I liked the ideas it was using, and it felt like a fucking breath of fresh air compared to everything else. Well done RobSt, you have me tentatively interested in a story. NEXT!

Part Twelve: You’re My Density (2015-2016)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11033616/2/You-re-my-Density
Summary: “Just Suppose Harry hadn’t heeded his godfather’s advice, and actually lost his temper at his trial? Time travel fic and title is ‘Back to the Future’ joke.”

This fic is honestly so fucking shit. Like, there are things I appreciate — mainly Dumbledore actually kind of feeling like Dumbledore — but overall, this just feels like the result of “what if an AI was asked to write a generic RobSt fic?” You have eleven year old Harry acting like a fucking pro-boxer, you have weird jokes about eleven year olds being too young to fuck, you have Ron Bashing, it’s just….the whole collection.

Add to that the poorly done amnesia gimmick, and it’s just a fucking slog to get through. Honestly, of all the fics I’ve come across in this mega-review, this might be my least favorite just in terms of the whole thing feeling like bland, boring mush. Like, I literally have nothing to say about it. NEXT!

Part Thirteen: Who Will Fill a Coward’s Grave? (2016-2018)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12117770/2/Who-Will-Fill-a-Coward-s-Grave
Summary: “A certain Miss Granger takes steps to ensure she can contact her best friend during the summer holidays. After the disaster of the Triwizard tournament, she believes Harry shouldn’t be left alone – no matter what Dumbledore says.”

Who Will Fill a Coward’s Grave continues to be largely uninteresting to me. This is where we start getting to a weird place, where RobSt is good enough at writing to be uninteresting and bland — rather than aggressively bad like he was in his earlier days — but not good enough to be entertaining and enjoyable. As a result, there were parts of this chapter that I thought were ok, such as Dan Granger’s characterization and the scene at the Burrow, but there were other parts that I just couldn’t get into, like the entire rest of the chapter.

I don’t know, I just can’t get into these mediocre mush ones. Don’t Look Back in Anger got my attention by subverting several common tropes I expect of RobSt and having enough tension to keep me engaged, but even though this is unquestionably better than shit like Fate’s Gambit, it’s the kind of not good that’s boring to talk about. NEXT!

Part Fourteen: Proud Parents (2018-??)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12879819/2/Proud-Parents
Summary: “Despite how impossible it seemed, Harry was sure his dad had saved the three of them from the dementors. After Hermione’s time turner took them both back three hours, he was desperate to discover if who he’d seen casting that patronus was truly his dad. Harry certainly wasn’t disappointed when his mum turned up instead, and changed the entire course of his life. Harry/Hermione”

I’ll start this one out by discussing an interesting disclaimer I saw at the start of this chapter: “Disclaimer – I am not JKR, nor a professional author. I write these stories purely for my own enjoyment, as a simple and inexpensive form of escapism from the pressures of everyday life. I then post these chapters here, so anyone and everyone can read my efforts for free. For those people who know exactly what constitutes the perfect Harry Potter story, and simply must vociferously point out the many reasons why mine isn’t, please redirect all that literacy talent into writing your masterpiece and posting it here. Like everyone else on this site, I’m always searching for good stories to read.”

Now look. I personally think that the notion of one having to create art themselves to be qualified to critique it is simply ridiculous, but I’m also not really here to debate that, because I am not here just to have fun punching down on RobSt. I want his stuff to be good. I want it so fucking badly, because liking things is inherently more fun than not. So with that in mind, on the off-chance that he’s reading this, let me address RobSt directly for a second.

Hi there RobSt, first of all, if you’re still reading, genuinely congratulations. I have been mocking your work for well over 20k words at this point, and the fact that you’re still here is genuinely incredible. Now look. I’m not especially a fan of your writing, as you might be able to tell, but I do genuinely think you have potential. I’ve seen flashes of it all throughout your work. So I’ll now provide to you a brief summary of a few things I think you should work on doing better going forward if you’re interested in really trying to improve.

First of all, work on balancing and adding nuance to your characterizations. You can do this by either giving some distinct flaws to your protagonists, or by giving some redeeming qualities to your villainous characters. This also means balancing their power levels so it feels as though there’s a bit more of an urgent sense of conflict driving everything forward. This will not only keep readers more engaged, but it will make them get more invested in the story. Hell, if you manage to have a few moments where your audience is seriously questioning whose side is right, and you’ve done this intentionally, then you’ll have really pulled off something special.

Secondly, work on consistency. When you sit down to write a story, I’d recommend having an idea as to what arcs you want each of your characters to go through, and it might even help to pinpoint some points throughout the story that’ll be turning points for your characters. This will help everyone to feel less like a caricature, and more like someone who’s properly fleshed out and interesting to follow. This doesn’t mean everyone has to be just like they are in canon; far from it, but when you change them, they need to be both consistently different, and interesting. These first two things are both important and things that wouldn’t take too much effort to improve on. If you worked at it for awhile, and found betas willing to give you honest, constructive feedback, you would probably see results. The third is….a fair amount more difficult.

I have been told that prose is the hardest part of a story to get right. It is so much easier to tell rather than show, and coming up with a style that not only shows more than it tells but is also fun and interesting to read is a deeply challenging task, but it is one I would consider working at. It’ll probably take you many years to get something you’re really happy with, but any improvement is a good thing, right? It can’t hurt to try.

Look man, I know you only do this as a hobby, and I should probably clarify here that any jokes I occasionally might make about your character throughout this whole process are just that: jokes. You’re probably a perfectly great guy, and I hope that if you do read this behemoth of a thing that you’ll be able to take some advice from it along the way. You’ve improved a fair amount since you started writing over a decade ago, and you could probably get a hell of a lot better if you really set your mind to it. So with that in mind, let’s get into chapter two of Proud Parents, shall we?

This chapter absolutely reeks of untapped potential. Specifically in the concept of soul bonds. It almost went to a place that would have been really interesting: the psychological horror of being forced to relive your entire life — the good, bad, and the ugly — as someone else watches. Genuinely, the idea had merit, but of course he just plays it off like a super romantic thing, as is usual in the whole soul-bond trope.

Other than that, I thought the stuff with the Minister was quite interesting, and was ruined by the Dumbledore shite. It’s kind of a shame, because I’m actually ok with Dumbledore being evil when he’s an intimidating threat, and I felt like we almost got that here, before it was swiftly ruined.

That combined with the standard bullshit lordships tropes and I’ve quickly lost interest in what had the potential to be an interesting chapter. NEXT!

Part Fifteen: Playing by the Rules (2019)
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13360968/2/Playing-by-the-Rules
Summary: “Sometimes playing by the rules is not just your best option, it can be your only option.”

This chapter manages to both be whack as fuck and boring as hell. So much happens in it, yet I didn’t feel a single thing while reading it. Not a single one. This chapter sees Harry have his mind wiped, sees him tried for murder, and sees him being badass in the second task, all over the span of about four thousand words. It’s almost impressive how much RobSt crams in here.

In some ways, this fic is like anti-bloat. It jumps from idea to idea so quickly that none of them have any room to breathe, and I have no time to care. At the end of the day, this chapter is the definition of a yawn, and I can’t be fucked to even write more words about it, so….yeah. Not very good.

Final Thoughts: And here we are. The ending of part two. So overall, I think there’s one important thing to note, which is that after going through all of these chapters, I’m fairly confident that RobSt actually does understand canon, and is just choosing to depart from it when he does over-the-top bashing fics. And while this doesn’t stop his characterizations from being bad — they most definitely are — it does annoy me slightly less, if that makes sense. So with that out of the way, let’s get into this.

My favorite is easily Don’t Look Back in Anger. It had the best writing, the most interesting ideas, and kept me genuinely interesting in reading. I’d probably give it a 6/10 if I was feeling generous. A close second is probably No Hurry At All, just because of how fucking bonkers it is. Seriously, Harry pissing in the pensieve is really something special, and not in a good way. It’s a 4/10, but I mean that in the best way possible.

As for least favorites, many of the early ones come to mind. Fate’s Gambit had that absolutely god awful handling of the Dursleys that just made me want to throw myself off of a roof (seriously, sex offender Vernon is the worst idea I’ve ever seen), and More Important Things is also a contender for being dropped, as it just kinda sucks all around. You’re My Density continues to be fucking boring, and Playing by the Rules is just all kinds of bleh. However, at the end of the day, I can’t honestly say there was anything that annoyed me more than the sex offender Vernon in Fate’s Gambit, so that one’s getting the axe.

I hope you enjoyed my continued journey into RobSt! I’m not sure I did, but I definitely found it informative, I suppose? Either way, please let me know what you thought on my discord server (link on the archive’s home page), and I’ll hopefully be back soon for part three, in which the last remnants of my sanity will presumably crumble into ash.

Read Part One:

Read Part Three: (unreleased)

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