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.
Here is another example of scene setting from the novel, Aksinya. This is the following portion of the scene in the dining room of the school. In this scene, we get an introduction of Aksinya and Natalya and of some of the girls around their table. The point of this example is to show how to accomplish character introductions and how to set characters in the middle of a scene.
Under the eyes of the whole room, the Reverend Mother made her way back to the head table. She stood in front of her chair and raised her arms, “Ladies, may I have your attention. Today, we accepted two new students to Sacré Coeur. They are very special students. May I introduce to you the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. She is the niece of the Freiherr and Freifrau Bockmann. Freifrau Bockmann is an alumna of Sacré Coeur. The Countess is sitting at the older scholar’s table. Please make her welcome when you have the opportunity. Accompanying the countess is her lady-in-waiting, the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska. The Lady Natalya is not used to our informality. She is very uncomfortable with our egalitarian ways. Please help her to become familiar with our community. She doesn’t speak German, so you must use your French to good effect.”Aksinya explained the Reverend Mother’s words to Natalya. Natalya colored and again hid her face.
The Reverend Mother said a prayer and everyone crossed themselves. Then she sat in her high backed chair and the novice sisters began to serve the meal.
Around Aksinya and Natalya’s table sat seven other young women who were from sixteen to twenty-one years old plus an elderly nun. The sister watched Aksinya and Natalya with as rapped an expression as the girls.
After the soup was served, one of the older girls asked in French, “Are you really a Countess?”
Natalya almost leaped out of her chair, “What do you mean asking such a question? My mistress is the Countess Golitsyna.”
Aksinya pulled Natalya back into her seat, “I am the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. You may call me Aksinya if you wish. This is the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska. I insist you address her as the Lady Natalya. She is my friend and confidant. She is also the daughter of a Prince.”
Natalya sucked her lip and stared back at Aksinya, “And the Countess is the daughter of a Princess and a Count. She…she…rescued me.”
“Hush, Lady Natalya.”
When the fish course arrived, Natalya served Aksinya then Aksinya served Natalya. Natalya tried to protest and attempted to stop Aksinya, but Aksinya would have none of it. Natalya covered her face with her hands. The rest of the girls gaped at them. Finally, the girl who spoke before asked, “Lady Natalya what’s wrong?”
Natalya spoke through her tears, “I serve her. That is my purpose. That’s what a lady-in-waiting is supposed to do.”
“Ha,” exclaimed Aksinya, “Now you serve me by eating with me. I do wish you would converse with us all. I’m certain your input would be very pleasant.”
Natalya glanced between her fingers, “Do you really think so?”
“Of course I do.”
Natalya took a deep breath. She slowly lowered her hands. She picked up her fish knife and the proper fork. She began to eat her meal.
The girls around the table smiled.
The sister smiled.
The older girl who spoke already to them introduced herself, “I am Anna Pfaff.” Anna had a round and gentle face. A sweet smile pleasantly filled her features. Her hair was blond. Fraulein Pfaff continued, “Since the Lady Natalya doesn’t speak German, what country is she from?”
Aksinya grinned, “Is my German that good. You didn’t ask what country I am from.”
One of the other girls rolled her eyes, “Anna, are you so slow? They are Russian. That’s obvious from their names. I’m Diedre Vogt. You are both Russian, aren’t you? You escaped from the civil war?” Diedre Vogt wore an immaculate uniform. Her short coat and blouse looked as if they had been pressed just moments before dinner. Her long dark brown hair was brushed to perfection, and her face was beautiful and slender.
Aksinya and Natalya nodded.
Diedre pressed her hands together, “That’s so romantic. Where is your family?”
Lady Natalya came out of her seat again. Aksinya didn’t stop her this time, “That is not a subject that may be discussed.”
Diedre almost fell out of her chair, “I’m sorry. I do apologize. I understand.”
Aksinya’s voice was a little tense, “There is no reason to apologize. My parents, brother, and sister were murdered on the front lawn of our estate. Only I escaped. That is why I am the Countess Golitsyna. The situation is equally difficult for the Lady Natalya. You would be the best of friends not to mention it a second time.”
The table immediately became quiet again.
This example shows that character setting is not just for the beginning of a scene, but you knew that. In every scene, the setting of the where, when, and who may change--the point is to make certain you don't neglect the description and introduction of any of these critical characteristics. In this scene, we have the introduction of some new characters and their descriptions. We also have the introduction of Aksinya and Natalya. Additionally, the readers learn some new information about Natalya through her actions. All of these are important to the character setting.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, www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor, http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.