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April 24, 2012
Posted at 4:37 pm
 

Change in focus in the story

OK, now that Chapter 24 has been posted, I can address the issues brought up in the chapter. While the chapter is a nice diversion--since it's a return to the always popular 'medical subplot' and veers away from the day-to-day interactions--a big part of it was on some more minor issues.

First of all, Alex doesn't really accomplish much here. That was meant to show that the types of problems the military is wrestling with aren't easily solved. They're dealing with messy situations as best they can, and it's difficult for someone like Alex to just swoop in and rescue anyone. Instead, everyone focus was on what Alex was doing could tell them about their own approaches (not always an easy message to sell).

Secondly, this is addressing an increasing drift in the story, that concerning both Alex's and various reader's fear that the governments' 'black hats' may drop from their super secret black helicopters at any moment. I hope this puts much of that to bed. Alex will still be cautious, after all, he rightly decided not to reveal his name to Jeff (Caity's companion in Chapter 23) because he didn't trust him, but the idea that the government is a super efficient agency constantly monitoring anything that anyone says is, while largely true, largely a misnomer. They may collect a shitload of data on people (potentially less than Google does, by the way), but the people in the military are hardly a homogenous group, and treating them as if they are each spies with the ready access of 'super secret' agencies in the Pentagon stretches the imagination a bit much.

But mostly, this was a planned reshifting of the story's focus. The story had been drifting towards a big confrontation. I'd brought the issue up a little while ago, asking which way people saw the story going. It was pointed out to me that having Alex play a martyr's role wasn't really in keeping with the rest of the story, so I decided to distance myself from that one plot element. This allows Alex to sideline many of those fears, just as Gail got him to sideline his 'I'm not an angel' speech, and Cate got him to reconsider his 'I'm no one special' stance.

Hopefully that will allow me to stop continuing to talk about those issues, and to get on to some new and more interesting things.

P.S. If anyone didn't notice, I tried to shift the focus in the last two chapters. Whereas the story bogged down in Dallas, that was intentional, as I wanted to show how Alex was overwhelmed and how each person having to hear the exact same thing was getting to him, especially since he couldn't keep up anymore.

However, now that I've gotten past that, I can now just summarize his meeting dozens of new followers every night, and skip over a lot of what he tells new people, which helps move the story along. (Though all bets are off next chapter (#25), when Alex has to try to explain to a bunch of church ladies what he's trying to accomplish--that should be interesting, since he can't say much of his traditional spiel).