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This chapter marks the real start of a globe-trotting series of chapters. ‘Neuron’ and ‘Imagination’ were more of a continuation on from the events in Hong Kong, while ‘Catalyst’ takes us to a new place, being the Locque equivalent to India.

The idea through the mid-section of Arc 4 is to demonstrate some of the complexity of the social situation on Locque, and to explore the stakeholders. We’ve been following Kay and her friends for so long, none of whom are entrenched in any particular political movement. Kay’s barely old enough to vote. This week, we get to see PAW close-up – a group that’s been mentioned briefly previously but not explored in any detail.

Much like the road trip aspects of Arc 3, knowing how long to spend on the journey is a tricky one. I genuinely could spend an entire arc doing nothing but travelling Locque and uncovering its cultures. Each one might make for a satisfying short story in its own right, but I doubt that would help the overall story of A Day of Faces.

I suppose that’s why I need to write an inevitable short story anthology at some point down the line.

This chapter is another example of how my planning has a tendency to go out the window – or, at least, get my word count estimates wrong. ‘Catalyst’ and the following chapter, ‘Limbic system’, were intended to be a single chapter. They became two when ‘Catalyst’ alone came in at 1,762 words. ‘Limbic system’ ended up being over 2K.

For online serialisation, it seems to be that between 1000 and 2000 words works pretty well. That’s enough to get your teeth into, while still being readable in a single session – on the train, or just before bed. Any shorter and it’s a bit flimsy; any longer and it starts competing with all the other media people consume these days.

The average ADoF chapter length has gradually increased as the series has gone on, with the first being a tiny 564. I know specifically aim for 1200 words per chapter, even setting myself a goal in Scrivener. It’s rare now that a chapter will come in under that, and I’m entirely comfortable with chapters being longer. But approaching 4K would have been too much.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. Next up: a big action sequence.

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