Just some random thoughts on Resolving a Misunderstanding, the RaM-verse stories, and writing . . .
I started writing HP fanfic with Resolving a Misunderstanding because I didn’t think there was enough good ADMM fanfic out there, particularly long fics. Up until writing RaM, I read primarily SSHG fics, and there are a lot of good ones out there, ones with involved, complex plots, and so forth. I liked the Albus/Minerva pairing a lot and tried to imagine how, especially given the generational difference between them, they could become a couple. I had various random thoughts for scenes, events, and conflicts, and sometime at the end of 2006, almost the entire plot to RaM sort of burst into my mind. Over the next few months, more and more details came into my head, until finally in February 2007, I started writing it just to get it out.
Within a couple weeks of writing the first chapter of RaM, I had the entire story outlined. I continued to flesh out the outline and my notes as I wrote so that I wouldn’t forget things when I got to them. I found I had to do a timeline and character sketches in order to keep things straight, and sometimes I wrote entire scenes and partial chapters even when I knew that it would be a long time before I used them, simply because they were there ready to be written. Then when I reached the right point in the story, I would revise the chapters that I’d written earlier. For example, the chapters that ended up being 101-103 (Dumbledore’s youth and his later defeat of Grindelwald) were originally a single chapter told in the third person. When it came time for Dumbledore’s story to be put into the story, I revised it so it was in the first person, as told by Dumbledore, and added his perspective on the events. Parts of the sequence of chapters that took place at the Gamp party were also written quite a while before the chapters themselves (Valerianna bits, mostly, and some Gertrude bits), and I had extensive notes on “The Silent Knight” practically from the beginning — certainly by March 2007 — which later became the chapter, “The Silent Knight’s Story,” 137.
The mated wands themselves had a few pages of notes devoted to them before I’d even begun the “Minerva’s Mission” chapters. I wrote the information on the mated wands at about the same time that I wrote the chapters between “A Smooth Apparater” and “An Unexpected Arrival,” wanting to prepare the way for the resonant magic and mated wands theory and have that in mind as I wrote about young Minerva’s training and her magical accident, which occurred in chapter 12, “An Unexpected Arrival.” I also made additional notes with information about her magical accident that didn’t appear until much later in the story — chapter 27, “Pleasurable Anticipation,” 37, “A Morning Constitutional,” 77, “Impulse,” and chapters 86 & 87, “A Mother’s Trust” and “Of Altruism and Magical Accidents.” The importance of the wands and the magical resonance between Albus and Minerva was the primary reason I did not try to incorporate any of DH!canon into RaM after it came out, though there were many others, as well.
Because the RaM-universe is pre-DH and in no way DH-compliant, none of the stories based in the RaM-verse are DH-compliant, either. That really freed me up when I decided to write a sequel to An Act of Love. Since RaM completely ignored DH, including Albus’s backstory, I could write the sequel as also non-DH compliant, and since An Act of Love took place in September 1996, the beginning of HP Year 6, I could have my story diverge from canon at the point at which Severus was struck by the spell in An Act of Love and create entirely new futures for all of the primary characters. Thus, Death’s Dominion was born on 20 August 2007. I wrote a good deal of the sequel over the next few months, but then put it aside until around March 2008, when Resolving a Misunderstanding was drawing to a close. I finished and posted the epilogue to An Act of Love, then began posting Death’s Dominion a few days later. Although I had written a good deal of it, I found that I was revising, expanding, and moving chapters around a lot. Even though it is deliberately nonlinear in structure, it would have been even more nonlinear if it had remained in its original form. I also found that as I moved chapters and revised them, I was adding increasingly more to one particular part of the story line, and bits of the plot that were originally going to be six or eight thousand words were now twenty-thousand or more, and had to be broken into more than one chapter. I am currently in a portion of Death’s Dominion where I only have notes written and no full chapters, so it is slower going.
Ironically, I wrote An Act of Love in response to a challenge prompt, and I set it in the RaM-verse simply because at the time, that was the only way I could manage to keep writing both stories and keep my fictional universe coherent. I did think I would probably make it an “AU-RaM-verse” and not a real part of the RaM timeline, leaving myself free to write a different RaM-verse story set in that period if I later wanted to. I also didn’t really like the premise very much, to be honest, and didn’t like the idea of subjecting RaM!Albus and RaM!Minerva to the circumstances I set up in AAoL. I grew to like it more, and once I had the idea for the sequel (I had thoughts about a sequel before DH came out, but after it did, they kind of exploded on me and multiplied), I liked using AAoL as a jumping-off point for a DH-twister, and that’s how Death’s Dominion was born.
One of the satisfying aspects of writing Death’s Dominion has been the ability to explore Severus’s character and to show his many and occasionally confused motivations for turning against Voldemort and for remaining at Hogwarts and with the Order. I always imagined him as being a more complex character than the one that I saw in DH (YMMV!), and even though he may have had something of a case of arrested development, I never believed that he was as thoroughly bound to one particular point in his late adolescence/early adulthood as he was in DH. I never believed him to be a completely “good” character — I’m always puzzled when people equate being anti-Voldemort with being “good” or being a strategist and working covertly as being “bad” — but I did want to believe that his psychology was complex and that he was struggling to redeem himself, for want of a better term. I also thought that a lot of people who like Snape tend to forget what he must have done as a Death Eater (not all, of course). It seemed to me shallow and . . . peculiar to base his betrayal of Voldemort solely on the business with Lily Potter. That was, I had assumed, a turning point for him, or the straw that broke the camel’s back, or the final thing that gave him the courage to do what he had wanted to do but feared doing. And in Death’s Dominion, I still have Snape’s desire for revenge for Lily’s death and his desire to make some kind of repayment for his inadvertant role in her death as two of the factors that motivate him, but I also try to present a man who finds his past disgusting and despicable and who wavers between doubt and hope that he can somehow overcome it or atone for it. He also struggles with maladaptive habits of a lifetime, not knowing how to do it and not being very good at it, but still trying, and all the while having to deal with the fact that he still has to do terrible things as a spy.
I am enjoying writing Death’s Dominion, although I admit that occasionally I have to put it aside and write something lighter because of the emotional aspects of some of the chapters — and this, knowing how it ends! (And as everyone knows, I do love happy endings. Not necessarily endings dripping in sugary syrup, but happy or hopeful endings. Someday I might write a tragedy, or one of those thoroughly depressing “angst” fics or a darkfic, but I don’t see that day coming any time soon. Drama and stories depicting and evoking wide ranges of emotion are great, but I just can’t get into pure angst, myself.) One of the things I’ve been working on is a draft of a sequel to Death’s Dominion. I may actually write a couple of sequels, parallel stories that take place over the same period of time. It depends on whether I am feeling like it at the end of Death’s Dominion. I may take a break from chaptered fics and just do short pieces comprising no more than three of four chapters. I probably will revise the draft of the sequel and post that when Death’s Dominion is finished, though, and as it already is up to 338 pages, that will definitely be a chaptered fic!
Don’t know if any of these ramblings interest anyone, but I do occasionally get questions about how I wrote something or how a story developed, so it may interest someone!
There are now seven stories set in the Resolving a Misunderstanding universe, not including a couple that are set in RaM-like universes (“Falling for Pomona” and “Impressing Filius”):
“The Unsentimental Arithmancer”: 1917
Resolving a Misunderstanding: July – September 1957; 1849 – 1957
A Holiday with the Headmaster: August 1957
“Obliging Minerva”: October 1957
“Now is Perfect”: Autumn 1959 – December 1960
An Act of Love: September 1996
Death’s Dominion: October 1996 – July 1998
All of these are on TPP.