...I got an actual bad review on ffnet with actual constructive criticism!! Not that I mind people saying that they like my story, mind you, but to actually get someone willing to say, "Hey, this part is wrong," or "This didn't work well" - now THAT is actually helpful! I am ridiculously happy to have received this review, and I replied to the reviewer to tell her how much I appreciated it (and that I wasn't being sarcastic).
The reviewer pointed out that I got the events of the books in the wrong order, that Severus' and Lily's falling out must have happened before my story, and therefore they shouldn't be friendly at all in my story. I know exactly how I'm going to re-write the story, and it might actually make it much more meaningful. Hopefully I'll get it written and updated in the next couple of days.
She did also criticize the timing of the first two parts, thinking that they were meant to be simultaneous (Severus in Potions class while Lily was in Charms class). I certainly didn't intend that, and canon-wise, it's not possible (the books make it pretty clear that there's only one Advanced Potions class and that Lily must have taken it along with Severus), but if it has to be made clear, then I'll add some time clues, like describing the first part as being in the morning and the second part being in the afternoon.
It does really bug me that so many reviews, especially on ffnet, are of the "That was awesome!" variety, without much thought beyond that. It's nice to get them (quite the ego-stroke), but even for good reviews, it would be nice to know what they liked. And I think I've only received one bad review (more on that in a moment), even though I can point to a number of my stories that are actually not very good. On one hand, I understand why, since I don't like leaving bad reviews either, but on the other hand, when I think I really need to leave a bad review, I PM the author privately, so that the review doesn't appear publicly, but I've never received a private bad review either.
About that bad review, I still don't know what to think about it. It was on The Actor, left just after the last chapter was posted. (Hmm. Major spoilers ahead if you haven't read it. Just sayin'.) The reviewer wrote, "I am just so freaking disappointed at how you ended this. The story was going great, and then you just stop it all going with some boring generic actually-a-time-lord plot twist. This had so much potential, and then you just threw it all down the trash can. Good job. *slow clap*" I wrote to her to ask her what she was hoping would happen, or how she would improve it, and she never replied. I think the thing that bugs me the most about this is that I don't feel that the ending was boring and generic. Yes, using the chameleon arch has been done before, but that wasn't the point of the story at all. The story was about why the Doctor used the arch and how it affected David.
I'm also at a loss to figure out what else I might have done with the story. It might have been about this regular human traveling with the Doctor, or settling down in a new life, or going back to his own universe - and those are all "boring generic" storylines; it's all been done before. (And honestly, if it had been about a simple human doing one of those things, there would have been no reason to involve David Tennant at all; the character could have been anybody.) Well, at least to me, writing isn't about coming up with new things that no one's ever done before. It's about creating meaningful stories and communicating them effectively. Ah well, I suppose I'll never know what she wanted.