For those who haven’t been following this blog, let me introduce it a little. I am currently blogging my 21st novel that has the working title Daemon. The novel is about Aksinya, a sorceress, who, to save her family from the Bolsheviks, called and contracted the demon, Asmodeus. Her family was murdered anyway, and she fled with the demon from Russia to Austria.
Aksinya, Natalya, and the Bockmanns are at Steiholtz, the estate of Ernst's Father. Ernst proposed to Aksinya, but she could not make a decision. Still, he kissed her and that excited her mind and body. She wakes on the first day of 1919...
When Aksinya awoke in the late morning, her first thought was the kiss that still excited her imagination and seemed to tingle on her lips. It tempted her and excited her. In spite of a headache, her body was much more responsive now, and she felt less frustrated afterward. She slowly fell back to sleep. Natalya finally woke her near noon.
Natalya had her hands full dressing and preparing the sleepy Aksinya for their departure. The two maids from the evening helped, and together, they assisted the Countess down to the dining room for breakfast. Everyone else had already eaten breakfast and luncheon, and Aksinya took her time. She insisted Natalya eat with her. Ernst was conspicuously absent.
When Aksinya finished her third cup of tea, Natalya was able to bundle her off to the front of the house where the Bockmanns and their coupe awaited them. All their small trunks had been loaded on the coupe and the driver stood ready to assist them into the cab.
Aksinya met the Bockmanns in the great foyer. Freiherr Bockmann bowed to Aksinya, and Freifrau Bockmann curtsied. She took Aksinya’s hand, “Good morning, Countess.”
Aksinya gave a slight nod. That made her head ache.
Just as they were about to pass through the main doors, the Graf von Taaffe came out of a side opening. He was followed closely by Ernst. The Graf tilted his head toward Aksinya, “Good morning, Countess. I pray you slept well.”
Aksinya cleared her throat, “As well as I could after drinking so much.”
The Graf smiled, “Do you have an answer for me and Ernst this morning?”
“I have not had the opportunity to put my mind fully to the question, yet. I will to give an answer in one week, on the Monday following this next.”
The Graf rubbed his chin, “Very good and very well said. I do like the way you plan, Countess. I still wish you would accept the ring.”
“Ring!” squawked Freifrau Bockmann.”
Aksinya raised her eyes to her aunt’s, “Ernst von Taaffe has made me an offer of matrimony. I am contemplating his proposal.”
Ernst stepped forward, “I have met my father’s requirements, and I hope I meet yours as well, Aksinya.”
Aksinya gave him a look that could melt any man’s heart.
Ernst continued, “I’ll pick you up at our regular time for dinner on Wednesday evening.”
Aksinya asked, “What shall we see?”
“The opera is Tristan und Isolde by Wagner. It is a tragedy.”
Graf von Taaffe laughed, “You may kiss Ernst good bye if you wish.”
Aunt Brunhilda put up her hand, “She shall not. A handshake at this juncture is more than appropriate.”
Aksinya pursed her lips. Natalya smiled.
Ernst took Aksinya’s hand and bowed over it.
Aunt Brunhilda commented, “Yes, very nice, Herr von Taaffe.”
When she passed her aunt, Aksinya snarled, “I would have rather had a kiss.”
They stepped into the coupe and the driver started out toward Wien and Grossbock.
Setting the scene is the most important part of the beginning of any chapter. Just as important is setting the chapter. This is the beginning of chapter 14. I use some advanced writing techniques to set the scene for you. The first one, is that I use a direct comparison to place you back in the place we were at the end of chapter 13. At the end of that chapter, Aksinya was in bed trying to pleasure herself. At the beginning of this chapter she is in bed under the same circumstances. This immediately draws the reader back to the place with the new time marker--it is morning.
That's all I really need to set the place, time, and person--the where, when, and who. This single paragraph also sets the chapter. That is its ultimate purpose. You know from this paragraph that this chapter will deal with Aksinya' s passions and desires. There is more, of course, but the point is to give the reader a foreshadowing and foretaste of the chapter.
The next paragraph that describes taking care of Aksinya just reinforces both the scene and chapter setting. Aksinya is at her morning worse. This is a continual motif. Aksinya is acting like a brat, but it isn't just her bad habits--it is her position in life.
The next short transition uses description to show you that everything is ready for departure. While Aksinya slept, everyone else was preparing to leave. The Bockmanns still are courteous to Aksinya--she is a Countess. When Aksinya nods, that makes her head ache--this lets me show you that she has a hangover.
As Aksinya, Natalya, and the Bockmanns are about to depart, the Graf and Ernst make their appearance. The Graf is polite, but his second question is what he really wants to know: “Do you have an answer for me and Ernst this morning?” Aksinya has obviously thought much about this. She doesn't hesitate and tells the Graf that she will give her answer in one week.
The Graf's response to Aksinya alerts the Freifrau. She understands very well what a ring means. Aksinya fills them all in. I also remind you of Aksinya's diminutive size here also. Ernst can't help but remind Aksinya of what he has gone through to be able to ask her to marry him. Aksinya doesn't note any irony in Ernst's words, she accepts them as forthright--therefore the look she gives him. I can't let you forget that Natalya is not happy with any Ernst arrangement.
Ernst is still courting. He loves Aksinya. He will pick her up at their regular time on Wednesday. Aksinya asks what they will see. This is a set up for you. The opera is Tristan and Isolde. It is not only a tragedy, it is about a love triangle that was a precursor to King Aurther. Every opera and ballet they have seen that I mentioned were direct parallels to Aksinya's life. What shall this one be?
The Graf remembers from the night before that Aksinya wished to kiss Ernst longer, thus his words that Aksinya may kiss Ernst. This is too froward and Aunt Brunhilda reminds them. That makes Aksinya uphappy and Natalya happy. Did you get that?
Ernst acts the gentleman and that pleases Aunt Brunhilda. It doesn't please Aksinya. She wanted a kiss. The party heads back to Wien. Tomorrow, the arrival at Wien.