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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Scenes - Scene Setting, Who, yet another Scene Example

23 December 2012, Scenes - Scene Setting, Who, yet another Scene Example

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.

Here is an example of scene setting from the novel, Aksinya.  This is following the train trip made by Aksinya, Natalya, and the demon from Minsk to Hungary.  They are entering Hungary from Russia.  The setting is the place and the time.  The time has been carried on from the previous chapter.  The place is real and I try to give you a flavor of it.  I also give you a flavor of the time (end of WWI and the effects of the war).  The "who" are the main characters--they are set previously and are reset here.  Additionally, you see the setting of some tertiary characters. Their setting is sufficient in general, because the point is to show, not the soldiers are characters, as much as soldiers as evidence of what has happened in the world.  In this sense, the characters indicate the world "place" around them and the "time" of the scene.  This is an example of the cohesive use of characters to set time and place.

Zάhony was a city being rebuilt.  Chop was not.  Both were war torn and weary.  The people of both cities looked at anyone who was different with suspicion.  Ragged Russian soldiers lounged everywhere on this side of the border.  Asmodeus, Aksinya, and Natalya exited at the station on the Ukrainian side.  Asmodeus led them back toward the Ukraine and behind some storage buildings.  There Aksinya said her Latin words and suddenly she and Natalya were again in their normal forms and their clothing.  The sorcery was very simple.  After the change, they were completely bedraggled, and they stunk.  Aksinya could smell herself.  She was very uncomfortable, and she wanted a bath.
Asmodeus led them back to the station.  The Russian guards stared at them, but here the revolution and civil war was still an event in Moscow and well away from this place.  Here some degree of the old order of White Russia still reigned.  Their officers were adequately dressed, but the soldiers appeared as bedraggled as Aksinya felt.  The Russian sergeant at the border bowed to Aksinya and Natalya.  He glanced at their papers in the hands of Asmodeus, and escorted them over the bridge across the river Tisza and to the Hungarian side.
At the sight of Aksinya and Natalya, the Hungarian border guards in their crisp uniforms immediately came to attention.  When the Hungarian officer reviewed their papers, he bowed to the ladies, and added an extra deep bow just for Aksinya’s sake.  She hoped he didn’t catch a good whiff of her.  Aksinya spoke French.  The soldiers nodded politely but did not respond to her.  Asmodeus spoke Hungarian and the officer pointed and gave him directions.  Asmodeus led them into and through the town to a very fine inn on the other side of the city. 

There is a lot in this scene.  The tension development is not great, but it exists.  There is much going on that I don't explain to the reader.  If a reader wants to delve deeply into the details of this scene, there are more than enough from a historical and a metaphorical sense.  There is also a lot going on within the operations of the scene.  I originally had it slightly shorter than it ended up--one of my readers suggested more historical information.  I added that in, but not everything.  As I write in my rules of writing: don't show (or tell) everything.  The point of writing isn't to fill the reader's mind with everything possible from a historical setting or time, but rather to focus on the theme and plot within the history of the novel.  To tell all would bore the reader and not add anything to the story.  I'm content to write icebergs.  Less than 10% of an iceberg is visible, the rest is hidden under water--this is the way of writing historical fiction.  You don't write about everything you know, you write only what is important for the theme and plot.  Show the tip of the iceberg--but make certain you know the other 90% yourself.  That is what historical study is all about in writing historical fiction.

More 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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