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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scenes - Scene Setting, Absolute and Relative Time

7 November 2012, Scenes - Scene Setting, Absolute and Relative Time

Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with

I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website and select "production schedule," you will be sent to

Here are my rules of writing:

1. Entertain your readers.
2. Don't confuse your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.

A scene outline is a means of writing a novel where each scene follows the other with a scene input from the previous scene and a scene output that leads to the next scene. The scenes don't necessarily have to follow directly in time and place, however they generally follow the storyline of the protagonist.

A storyline outline is a means of writing a novel where the author develops a scene outline for more than one character and bases the plot on one or more of these storyline scenes. This allows the scenes to focus on more than the protagonist. This is a very difficult means of writing. There is a strong chance of confusing your readers.

Whether you write with a scene outline or a storyline outline, you must properly develop your scenes. All novels are developed from scenes and each scene has a design similar to a novel. Every successful novel has the following basic parts:

1. The beginning
2. The rising action
3. The Climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement

Every scene has these parts:

1. The setting (where, what, who, when, how)
2. The connection (input)
3. The tension development
4. The release
5. The output

There are lots of approaches to scene setting. That means there are about a million plus ways you can set a scene. The main point is you have to clearly get across the where, when, who, what, and how.

I'm writing about setting time in a scene.  As we set any scene, we need to recognize there is absolute and relative time in a novel.  If you read any of my science fiction novels (The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox), you will see relative time used very specifically.  Since there is no real absolute time (years, months, days), unless you define them in your science fiction world, there is no reason to define scenes in absolute terms.  For historical novels, on the other hand, everything must be set to an absolute time scale.  I would also argue that for any contemporary or near contemporary novel, time should be based in an absolute scale. 

If you are working in a relative time scale, you must even work harder to set time in your scenes.  The reason is this, although in my historical novels, I must be very cautious with the time in each scene, since it is based in absolute terms and historical terms, the definitions and sequencing can be based in real historical time (they should be).  When you are writing in a relative time scale, you must specifically define everything for your readers.  That is, for a historical novel, it is sufficient to write: "On January 12, 1917, the Bridgestone Mansion was covered with a wet mantel of snow.  The rising sun cast deep blue shadows across the smooth landscape."  In these two sentences, the setting for this scene has been set, and the setting is very clear.

If we want to make a similar relative time setting for a novel, here's how that might be accomplished: "Falkeep's Ball always occurred during the cold season on the planet Falkeep.  Unfortunately, except for Nior and Grand Stern, most of the other planets of the Human Galactic Empire, never had as pronounced a cold season.  The visitors to the Ball routinely forgot this small, Falkeep kept fashionable cloaks and coats availible for all of his guests.  The cloudy skies and damp air promised to let loose a typical Falkeep rain storm--during the festivities.  The Rathenberg Emperor's fifth year on the Iron Throne meant that he, his Empress, and their children could finally attend Falkeep's Ball..." 

I hope you get the point.  Instead of a single statement, to set relative time in a novel, you must tie together other time based events such that your readers can fit the sequence and timing together.

So, how to set the time in the scene. I'll get to more of that tomorrow.

My Notes: once you have a theme, you need to begin to visualize your plot, focus your theme, and define your characters. More tomorrow.

I'll move on to basic writing exercises and creativity in the near future.

The following is a question asked by one of my readers. I'm going to address this over time: Please elaborate on scene, theme, plot, character development in a new novel, the framework, the development, order if operation, the level of detail, guidelines, rule of thumb, tricks, traps and techniques.

I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples:, and the individual novel websites:,,, http://www.thefoxshonor,

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