6 November 2012, Scenes - Scene Setting, 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 http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
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.
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.
The question, then, is how do you set a scene? This isn't as obvious as you might imagine. It really isn't sufficient to just describe the place where the scene takes place. The obvious questions are how much should you describe, and what should you include? If you really wanted to, you could write an entire book describing a single room. You don't want to include too much, but you don't want your descriptions to be too sparse.
Let's start with the easiest and yet the most forgotten setting piece--when. In my novels, I make a point of setting the when with great accuracy. Time is always an important point in my novels. For one series (Ancient Light), I put the date and place at the top of every chapter, my publisher suggested I do this for all the novels. I liked this idea so much, I've used it in other novels.
The when is a critical piece of information for most readers and barely marked sign posts won't fill the bill. I suggest a straight forward statement. If you place the date and place at the top of the chapter, you should still set the when in the scene, but there is less urgency. In fact, there is little urgency at the very beginning. That is, if your first scene is exciting and entertaining, your readers just might hang on long enough for you to get around to setting the time---on the other hand.
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 creation....ie, 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: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor, http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.