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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Scenes - Scene Setting, more Tension and Place

25 November 2012, Scenes - Scene Setting, more Tension and Place

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.

We moved from the outside to the inside.  We moved from a gentle tension scene to a slightly more intense tension scene.  In the final sequence of the scene, we move into the office of the headmistress.  This place must be set.  Additionally, we move to the main tension and relief sequence of the overall scene.  This also happens to be the dénouement of the novel.
After a few minutes, Stacy exited the office.  She held her features set in a look of contrition.  The moment the door closed, she gave a very American, thumbs up to Aksinya, and mouthed, “It worked.”  Then louder she said, “I hope you do teach here.”  She skipped back down the hall to her class.

The door opened a crack, “Mrs. Aksinya Andreiovna Lopuhin, please enter.” 

Aksinya stood and entered the office.  The headmistress had her back to Aksinya and walked back to her desk.  The woman seemed young.  Very young for a headmistress.  One shoulder drooped a little lower than the other, but her back was ramrod straight and her clothing was very fine, much finer than Aksinya’s. 

The desk was large and filled one end of the room.  The office was rather deep and had a fireplace on the left wall.  Some padded chairs and a simple tea table were arranged before the fireplace.  An unpadded chair sat before the desk.  Without turning, the headmistress pointed to that chair.  Aksinya stood beside it and waited for the headmistress to sit. 

The moment the headmistress turned, Aksinya dropped her briefcase.  Her mouth fell open.  She couldn’t speak.

The woman before her gave a cry, “Princess Aksinya.”  She rushed around the desk and embraced her. 

Aksinya couldn’t get her breath she couldn’t speak.  Finally, she threw her arms around the headmistress and exclaimed, “Lady Natalya.”

Natalya buried her face in Aksinya’s thick braided hair and blubbered.  They stood together for a long time without saying anything.  Finally, Natalya spoke, “I thought I would never see you again, Princess.”

Aksinya kissed her cheeks, “Dear Lady Natalya, I would never have guessed I would find you here.  Is Herr von Taaffe with you?”

Natalya gave a laugh, “I am Mrs. Natalya Alexandrovna von Taaffe, though not called a Lady anymore.  And you?”

“Father Dobrushin married me although he is not a priest anymore, and I am no longer a Princess.”

Natalya’s moist eyes held Aksinya’s, “You will always be a Princess.  My lady’s maid told me you were looking for a job.”

“Please, Lady Natalya, I’m certain you would not wish to have me around you all the time.  I know I will bring back terrible memories to you.”

“You don’t understand at all Princess.  You are the reason I am here today.  Wait with me for a while.  Let me hear all that has happened to you since we parted, then we will have luncheon with Sister Margarethe, and we will discuss your teaching work in my school.”

“Sister Margarethe is also here?”

“Herr von Taaffe retained her as our housekeeper.  She converted to Russian Orthodox and entered an order in the United States.  Our school is loosely affiliated with Saint John’s.”  Natalya held Aksinya at arms length and looked her over, “Dear friend, we have so much to talk about and so much to share.  I do love you, Princess.  I want you to remain with us forever.”

“In spite of everything that happened?”
“Because of everything that happened before.  That time marked the end of a horrible and wonderful period, yet redemption came to you, to me.”  She held Aksinya close, “I could not bear to lose you again, Aksinya.  You redeemed me, the first of many.  You shall redeem many more.  God exceeded our expectations in spite of what we had done.”

As we move into the headmistress' office, this is the logical time to use description in the narrative to set the place.  The place is the headmistress' office.  The office looks like the office of a headmistress.  The woman is also described, but I'll get to that in a later post. 

The place is set and the tension and release is the recognition of Natalya and Aksinya.  This resolution is also the dénouement of the novel.  The point is to get in and out and tie all the important pieces together.  This gives the final wrap up of the novel.  The recognition and the conflict between Natalya and Aksinya provides the tension, the release is the words from Natalya that puts everything from the novel, Aksinya, in perspective.  Next, we'll move to the who, what, and how. 

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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