This is a follow-up to the previous post, so if you haven't read it, you should check it out before reading this one.
OK, I got a lot of good Intel, and some useful suggestions. I would have responded sooner, but I wanted to see what I could do with it first. The chapter I'd described having trouble with (Chapter 32), I decided to scrap. Instead of telling it as a simple moment-by-moment detail of what occurred to Alex, I decided to focus on others instead of him. That way the focus is off of him, we get more detail on known characters, and we can learn what happened to him by a second hand summary recollection.
It was difficult to pull off, since I had several threads left to deal with in the chapter, which still needed handling. A few of them were more problematic, as they were more central to the plot than simply details, but I decided to move them to a separate chapter where I can focus on them more specifically, but still from someone else's perspective.
It's a new approach, and was the result of some very helpful suggestions that I got. Of course, like my recent changes, I won't know how successful they are until I see how they're received when they're finally posted in another 8 to 10 weeks. I like them myself, but then I really like Chapter 22 as well, so I'll reserve judgment until the final score is taken. In the meantime, I'll continue along this line.
Speaking of which, this was an opportune time for this. I was polishing off a few threads from earlier chapters, but it was before I got into any further plot threads, so I can now institute more widespread changes. After Oklahoma City, I'm simply going to skip ahead, bypassing all the day-to-day activities of the next four cities they visit. Instead it'll jump ahead to their weekend stop at Phoenix. At that point, I'll present Alex as having experiences and learned several things, which will only be revealed indirectly, so you - the reader- may have to piece the information on your own a bit. It's an odder storytelling mode, but it gets us almost a full week ahead. Phoenix isn't a major event, but it gives us a big concert before he moves on to Las Vegas, which is a major plot point.
Anyway, thanks for all the information and the suggestions. They came in handy, and once again I'm making changes to try to fine tune the story. Once again, you won't see them for a while. It could be I simply jumped the gun and that you'll find the following chapters fine. After all, I consider the San Antonio chapters some of my better ones, and I use several of the techniques you suggested there already.
But, as always, this is a learning experiment for me, and I keep fine tuning and adjusting my techniques. Unfortunately, every time I stop and start like this, it sets me back a bit. I've already lost a week (due to a mini-meltdown on the SOL forum). That's why the "Love and Family in the Time of the Great Death" won't be posting this week (I just don't have enough spare chapters that I can make up by skipping a week). As a result, I think I'm officially changing that story's posting schedule to bi-monthly. You'll see new epidisodes of it every two weeks. Which shouldn't be too bad, since each chapter tends to run longer than those of "The Catalyst" do.
Anyway, thanks for all of your help. And anytime you have suggestions, criticisms or comments, please feel free to tell me. After all, I'd rather hear it now, when I can do something about it, rather than hearing about it via low final scores after the final chapter is posted, when it won't do any of us any good. 'D