When to cut chapters, Part 2

Instead of focusing on whole chapters, I want to narrow my focus to singular chapters with multiple scene shifts, which usually coincide with changes in perspectives, such as the case with Dark Orbit and its two main characters, Thora and Sara.

And since this is part 2, let’s focus on Chapter 2!

In Chapter 2, as I mentioned earlier, the reader opens to a scene with Thora’s audio diary, always recorded in italics (since this is the written record): “Iris, they have called it: the rainbow planet” (Gilman 23). As previously mentioned, this jump-starts the chapter with perspective orientation and scene setting. We now know that we will read from Thora’s perspective as she looks upon the distant planet from the space ship. (The space ship is a little bit of a stretch, but as you read further, you will get that from the beginning paragraph.)

This scene continues with Thora’s internal dialogue as she reflects how she hides who she really is, how she must always pretend to be normal. It’s not until the end of the chapter that we realize Thora’s want: to escape, stated as wanting to escape into the planet’s light, which she thinks is a shield to hide all of Iris’ secrets.

(This is a beautiful metaphor since light normally reveals, and instead, on the planet, conceals all of Iris’ secrets.)

So far what I can tell is that we’re still introducing Thora’s perspective and character, revealing her background and desires, which is where this perspective leaves us. It stops on a detail of Thora’s character, which is not really enough to drive us forward yet but it does help set up the story. 

The next perspective opens with Sara, how she was “practically the last one to arrive aboard the questship” (Gilman 25). Again, this sets the scene, and the perspective continues with Sara’s analysis of the crew members since this is her first time aboard the ship (still in introduction-mode with this chapter). Her perspective ends with an observation, of who is the last character she has to meet.

It seems like so far, perspective shifts are creative choices. Once the author has shown us what she has to say, then that perspective is thorough, although this next scene shift has some flow since both the end and start of the next orientation talks about observation and spies.

Thora begins with “I know the Magisterium must have sent someone here to spy on me” (Gilman 40). And this is true! Sara is meant to spy on Thora. This I consider one of the best scene breaks since Sara stops on this thought and Thora begins on the same one. This scene continues as her natural flow in thoughts, which reveal how untrusting she is. It then ends with a internal revelation, “But if I ever do [become trusting], then I will lose my power, and become like all the other content, unmindful people, ordinary and undriven” (Gilman 41).

So far I have to say that all of Thora’s scenes end with a detail about her character. In the first one, we get a desire, and in this one, we get another desire. Each of these facts are continuing to define her – the entire purpose of this chapter: To introduce all our characters. 

But this isn’t the end to her perspective, only to this specific scene. Her perspective continues with a vague sentence, “I need to record this now, while it is still fresh in my mind” (Gilman 41), evolving into a recollection of her dream and memories of how she found the first murder aboard the ship. Her scene ends with an observation – the final for the chapter – “He almost had the look of a min in love – and in a sense, so he was, for whoever had committed this brutal act was now his prey” (Gilman 44).

Even though this is her scene, the perspective is widening. She has only commented, or reflected, on how the security guard looks when he find out there there’s a murder, which feels like more of a fade out in a movie. We’ve ended the chapter with a complication, an increase in tension, and the perspective is beyond Thora now. The rest of this chapter already finished its purpose: to define our characters. 

In conclusion, in my opinion, each scene break coincides with a fact, particularly the most important ones of this chapter. Because this chapter’s purpose was to introduce characters, each fact we end on is related to the development of all the different characters, including minor ones aboard the ship and the other main protagonist. 

I think if I were to examine the other chapters, I would find the same results: End on a factual statement that can be collected and equated to the purpose of the chapter. 

Gilman, Caryoln Ives. Dark Orbit. New York, NY: Tor, 2015. Print.


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