Celandine Brandybuck (celandineb) wrote in hpwriterschoice,
Celandine Brandybuck

Better Than Revenge

Title: Better Than Revenge
Responding to Theme: Favorite Fics (2006)
Pairing: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Length: novel length, WiP (c. 138,000 words as of this post)
Rating: adult (NC17)
Warnings: Some explicit sexual encounters in later chapters, including rimming. The characters are 17, so underage by some standards if not those of the Wizarding world.
Very Brief Summary: Immediately post-HBP, Harry's plans are disrupted when Draco seeks his help.

After quite a lot of wibbling because I don't quite like choosing a work in progress as my favorite, I gave in anyway because I like both how I've developed the two main characters, and what I've been able to do with minor characters. I've especially liked Hermione, the house-elves Dobby and Kreacher, and Mrs. Black's portrait. It's hard to pick out a favorite line in a work this long, but I'm quite fond of the bit at the end of chapter 9 when Draco says, "Harry, whatever happens between us, I don't think 'straight' is how we've ever played."

"Better Than Revenge" is the Story That Growed, Like Topsy. The original was a shorter version of what is now chapter one, intended as a one-shot for a challenge at The Hex Files archive. I got curious as to what Draco's perspective on the events in that chapter was, and started writing the next from his point of view... and then kept going.

There are several things about this story that are different from my usual. First, although I often have shifted points of view between sections or chapters in various fics, this time I deliberately have chosen to overlap the time frames of those chapters. Essentially I am writing a double novel, once from Harry's perspective and once from Draco's. That approach has had both praise and dislike; it is certainly inherently repetitive, but I like the way that it allows me to show very clearly how a single action or statement can be interpreted in quite different ways.

Another difference is in the way I have composed it. Although normally I compose in a word processor, for some reason I have written virtually this entire fic (approximately 140K words to date) longhand, on white ruled notepads. I revise and edit as I compose, with scratchouts, notes to check on various facts, and so forth scattered across most of the pages. As I type it in, I edit further, and then print the draft for going-over with a red pen. And yes, I actually do use a red pen. Then I put in those corrections and changes and sometimes do another round, either on the screen or by printing again. I've done a lot of research here and there, not all of which shows but which was very satisfying for me as a writer.

This is going to be my longest work to date; it's nearly there already. Obviously given its origins I did not plot the thing out from the beginning, but there have been several interconnected subplots that have developed along the way, and once those are all wrapped up the story will end. First, and nearly resolved, is the Harry/Draco romance; in this fic Draco is pretty exclusively gay, but Harry is still in love with Ginny to begin with, and it takes quite a while for him to realize that he is bisexual and where his emotions are strongest. The two other major subplots are more plotty than romantic. Draco comes to Harry for help because Voldemort is angry at Draco for having failed to kill Dumbledore, and Snape has told Draco that the Mark might be useable as a tracking method. So figuring out whether that is the case, and how the Mark might possibly be removed, is another subplot. Finally, Harry is of course searching for Horcruxes, and Draco's unexpected presence puts a crimp in those plans because Harry doesn't trust Draco's motives to begin with. When one is discovered, Harry has to figure out how to destroy it without the negative consequences that happened to Dumbledore.

The response has been generally good; because it is a WiP and I have posted chapters as they get written, it's probably had more reviews than it might have otherwise. I've had a lot of positive comments on the characterization and on the plot, and am particularly happy about the latter as I feel plot is usually my weak point compared to dialogue and characterization. The negative comments have mostly been unhappiness at the repetition inherent in the way I've structured the novel. My speed of writing has been slower in the second half of the story, and I've also had many requests to know when the next part will be up, which can be construed as either compliment or complaint; I do feel badly that it's been slow, with up to four weeks between chapters, but that's the best I've been able to do.
Tags: celandineb, favoritefic06, rated:nc-17, slash: harry/draco
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I have written virtually this entire fic (approximately 140K words to date) longhand, on white ruled notepads.

Well, no wonder it takes you so long between chapters. (*ribs you gently*) But seriously, you're not the first person I've heard who has found longhand to be connected to a certain story or project. Some of the "writer inspiration" books even insist that the purest best ideas flow into longhand and not into typing (I think that's bunk--your brain has to go through such a process to turn your language into individual letters, it doesn't matter what your hands do to make them appear... but if it works for some people, I don't deny their muse)

One of the things I've loved about the story is the way you've handled Harry's bisexuality. All too many fics just flip him to 100% gay without any thought for canon or for the fact that there is a middle ground.

I admit, I have sometimes skimmed a repeating section, but not too much, as their perceptions and even the dialogue they think they hear can be so different.

I'm looking forward to reading more as it comes!
The longhand thing was just how it happened to start when it was supposed to be a one-shot, and, well, it's simply worked to keep on that way. I compose in short snatches before bed and at other spare moments, so it's much more convenient to do that on a pad of paper than to have to be at the computer (or even haul the laptop around, it's a heavy one).

Harry's bisexuality is a big issue for me. Being one myself I really hate the way that one is assumed to be either gay or straight; just because I've chosen a life partner who happens to be of the opposite sex, and am monogamous in that relationship, doesn't make me any less queer, and I feel slightly ashamed because I "pass" unless I specifically tell someone I'm not straight. So I see Harry as genuinely bisexual, finding that Draco is a better partner for him than Ginny, but that neither means that Ginny is unattractive to Harry nor that he couldn't be attracted to other women potentially too. Draco is closer to completely gay (although in the history-in-my-head of their later relationship, he will actually get married to Daphne Greengrass and father a son, under parental pressure).

Glad you've enjoyed it and there WILL be more eventually, I promise! *g*
I too am bi but partnered long term to someone of the opposite sex (he's bi, too) so yes, that's one of the reasons it's a topic near to my heart!
I've often wondered if there is actually a higher percentage of people with queer sexuality in fanficdom or if we are simply more open about it. *g*
I've seen a couple of polls go by, but LJ polls I don't think are really that scientific. I'd say that the same openmindedness that draws us to the literature of the fantastic might lead to a higher percentage, though!