Yep, the chapter title is a ref to the Babylon 5 episode. Why not?
Talking of references, the character name of ‘Obin’ is a minor nod towards The Banner Saga’s ‘Ubin’. No connection story or personality-wise, I just like the name.
Here we have Tranton, separated from everyone else, doing his own sight-seeing and making a point of talking to people who aren’t in the upper echelons of Aviar’s society.
Since leaving his homeland, Tranton has wandered from one odd, alienating culture to another. While the machine rooms and secret underbelly of Lagonia evidently didn’t fly with him, the overt classist structure of Aviar is equally unsettling. That everyone seems quite happy with it only makes it more disturbing, from Tranton’s point of view.
This is one of those challenging situations to write, whereby there’s an inherently political element to the story and we’ve got multiple characters all reacting to it in different ways. The real trick is for MY voice to disappear into the background. Sure, I have particular political thoughts, and preferences on how I’d like to see the real world operate, and those ideals are absolutely threaded through TMC. But at this juncture in the story it needs to be about what each character is thinking, not me.
Of course, there is a hint in here that Aviar perhaps isn’t quite as cosy with its situation as it first appears: Obin mentions jealousies, and the sudden injection of the out-of-town visitors is bound to imbalance the situation, just as Tranton’s arrival in Lagonia sent things sideways. This time round it’s Tarn who is derailing traditions.
Timing-wise, we have about 7 chapters left in arc 5. This puts it about the same length as Arcs 3 and 4. It also means that at the time of writing THIS chapter, I’m getting pretty deep into plotting out Arc 6. The way I write tends to be quite fluid and semi-chaotic, so while I’ve had a good idea of the overall plot points in Arc 6 for a very long time, the chapter-by-chapter beats only start to come into focus as I approach them. This is by design and deliberate, because my best ideas tend to emerge during the writing process. If I tried to precisely map out the entire plot in advance, and then stuck to it rigidly, it would result in a far less satisfying story.
Having an agile fluidity to the plot is also vital because it gives agency to the character and allows them to influence the pace and direction of events. If characters simply refuse to do what was in the early rough outline for an arc, that’s fine – I just pivot and carry on. It’s always best to have a story be driven by characters rather than plot, even while keeping the end point in mind.