I have these stainless steel tongs that have tips about an inch wide. On the tip is a square inch big rubber material that firmly grabs the corner of a piece of paper, and holds even a sheet of 16x20 paper without any trouble at all. No kinks either.
Back to the OP. You've been advised many things in this thread. To summarize:
1. It doesn't really matter how long you develop your print for, as long as you find what gives the results you like best, and that it's repeatable.
2. Either use running water as stop bath, or better yet an acid stop bath. Agitate. This insures that the developer is neutralized before it goes into the fixer, which would cause problems.
3. Different papers react differently in the fixer, and I have noticed that warmtone papers react by darkening more than neutral tone or cold tone papers. They do in fact seem to darken, or I should say have a boost in contrast, as the unexposed and undeveloped silver is cleared by the fixer.
Good luck. I think you stand a very good chance of easily solving your problems. If you want your prints to last, it is important to neutralize the developer before it goes into the fix, and it's also important to make sure you get all of the fixer out of the print before it's dried. Usually something like a 30 minute was under running water is necessary. Some prefer to use hypo clearing agent to shorten the wash time. I have my washer going for an hour after I'm done with my printing session.