'Watari Pt 1: L's Heirs' is my favourite of all of the stories. I started writing it the same day as I stopped writing 'Poisoned Rationality'. There is only a time leap between the end of 'Poisoned Rationality' and the beginning of 'Watari' because I didn't want to write about Mello having skin grafts. The reason being that Mello drives a lot of the action in these stories, therefore the idea of writing one, where he's immobile for weeks on end, just didn't sound very interesting. 'Watari' was never meant to be two separate stories and so, in my head, parts one and two are all the same, very long story.
Like 'Poisoned Rationality', 'Watari' was written behind closed doors with only Spoiled-kitten and Awhaaaa reading it as it happened. Their feedback was invaluable, because this story had a murder-mystery as its major arc. As I posted daily chapters, I could tell from their reactions whether I was giving away too much or not enough information. They are both also very good at saying, 'Matti, Mello wouldn't do that', so I could rewrite things before the whole world saw it. I was actually quite content with this situation, as I've never needed a huge audience. I was writing because I was enjoying it and two people were having fun reading it. Life was good.
The main theme in my head was to explore where Mello and Matt had come from. I wanted to investigate what infrastructure grew up around them. I'd read 'Another Note' and so had more hints about what Wammy's House was like. In that story, Mello seems wholly unsurprised that civil wars can happen there. We know about L, Beyond Birthday, A, Near, Mello, Matt and Linda, all of whom seem quite startling, in their own ways. We know that the latter four were part of the fourth generation of children; but, as L was the first generation and he was still in his 20s, then that was a very short period of time to squeeze in another three generations. We also have the fact that all of these children were trained to be a successor to L, but very few of them turn up in the hunt for Kira. I found that quite fascinating.
That then was what was occupying my mind when I started 'Watari'. The earliest chapters see the reader exploring the external infrastructure via Mello. I wrote it on the basis that he'd just stormed off when he was fourteen and therefore didn't have the debriefing that I imagine happening when the children are free to leave at eighteen. I'm probably wrong in this assumption, as, in the manga, Near states that there is a way in which he could contact Mello but he doubts that Mello would respond to him. Based on the live action films and hints throughout the manga, I'm assuming that this is the sort of communication network which is explored in 'Watari'. Basically Near could have clicked 'M' on his computer and Mello would have been called. It was also around this time that I realised the flaw in 'All The Way Here', when Matt hunts for his Wammy's House peers. He could have just called Linda via the Watari Network.
Once I'd got the technology down, I wanted to look at the other children. I've read a lot of really good fan-fiction set during this time. Other authors have written anything from only seeming to have Near, Mello, Matt and Linda in the house to having 100s of children there. I personally think that one of the best depictions (much better than mine) are those written by Mikanis, particularly in Welcome to Wammy. I figured that if I could write a Wammy's House even half as believable as Mikani did, then I'd be fine. Before I could start though, I had to decide how many children were in the fourth generation. I took my cue from a picture in the one-shot. The children had been given the opportunity to speak with L and, given the importance of L in that institution, I figured that they would all have turned up.
At the time, I counted fifteen of them. It's only recently that I've revisited the picture and realised that I'd counted as one the little group seen just above Near's head. There were seventeen in all. Oops. Incidentally, I only counted them. I didn't try to match my original characters to those seen here.
Once I had my numbers, I then had great fun slowly introducing the people themselves. I knew that it would have been too overwhelming to have all of them appear at the same time. The storyline therefore was deliberately set up to bring them in as small groups or one at a time. That way both I, as the writer, and the readers get to know each one before we are confronted with another one. The gateway to them is via Linda, as she is sort of known from 'Death Note'. Once the first small group was known, I could use their questions to establish a history of Wammy's House. This was largely pieced together from the one-shot and from 'Another Note'. If all of the disparate facts are brought together, then how Mello explains it was the best I could devise to fit it all together. It also presented me with a delicious pool of disgruntled people. If the generations had happened so fast, then that implies a lot of pressure on these children. My civil war could begin.
I've had a lot of people ask me how I put together the civil war. After all, it had to be a plot which wouldn't be untangled too quickly by fifteen geniuses, all of whom had the potential to be L. Therefore, it had to be messy. I started off then without planning the ending. I did this deliberately, because then I wouldn't write in things that were too loaded. I didn't want to give away too much, so I didn't want to know in order to give it away. I just wrote it until I really needed to make some decisions, then I paused. That occurred at the end of chapter 14. At that point, I worked out, in my head, the ending. I mentally listed all the things that they would have to discover in order to arrive at that ending. It was only a bullet point list of eight things, because I didn't want to make the story stilted by over-planning it.
With all of this in place in my head, I then resumed writing from chapter 15. At each point in the story, I did step back and took a few minutes to work out how I'd solve this part. If it was too easy, I would throw in whatever it took to thwart me. That way there were red herrings to thwart them too. I had to do this, because they are all geniuses. The case couldn't be simple or else any one of them would have it solved in an hour.
I paused again before chapter 20, because this was the chapter were the real deductions were going to start. This is where my eight points were going to start being ticked off, therefore I had to ensure that there was enough evidence to support them all. I didn't want anything to appear like a clairvoyant illumination, despite the fact that canon!Near appears to do that in the Kira case. I wanted each of the alumni to play their part and to do it as geniuses deducing things. I also wanted them to do it as human beings, so their methodologies and conclusions can be influenced by personal experience, emotions, likes and dislikes. Beneath the spoiler are my original eight points, along with the important dialogue.
Once the case was solved, I sat back all smug and immediately hit a dilemma. 'Watari' was supposed to have completed the arc started by 'It Matters'. The whole point of these stories was outlined in the prologue there. What would have happened if Matt had applied myself? I had the Mario Clause sitting as a timebomb in the background. However, I was suddenly 27 chapters in and I had three major things that I wanted to happen before the story ended. Spoiled-kitten counselled that people would be put off reading a story that was too long, but I didn't think that I had enough to create a whole new story out of.
Miyamashi and I wrote chapter 28 together. That required an initial role-play, followed by transcribing it (a job which I found tedious, as I hate going back over things), then a lot of passing back and forth the transcription to turn it into a coherent chapter. Spoiled-kitten and Awhaaaa therefore waited at the end of chapter 27 for weeks. Meanwhile, in the background, I was privately writing more chapters just to see how quickly I could wrap this up. Those chapters became the original five chapters of 'Watari Pt 2', but first I got diverted into 'My Own Way'.