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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Bad Example

27 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Bad 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 another example of scene setting from the novel, Aksinya.  Here is the beginning of the next chapter with the scene setting.  I should rewrite this beginning to make the scene setting more clear.  I'll offer it up as a lesser example and show you how I would improve it.

Aksinya woke with a terrible headache.  She had waited up late with the hope that Asmodeus would make an appearance.  She wanted to ask him many questions, but the demon didn’t interrupt her that evening.  That, in itself worried her more than anything.
She and Natalya attended a late Mass with the Freiherr and Freifrau Bockmann.  Aksinya was ill, but hid it well until the end.  Natalya rushed her out of the nave just in time.
Because of the work at Grossbock to clean up the house following the Advent party, Aksinya and Natalya returned to Sacré Coeur early before dinner.
As usual, during dinner, Aksinya sat next to Natalya.  Aksinya had barely spoken a word since the party.  One of the young women, Frieda Trauen, across the table, finally plucked up enough courage to ask, “How was your Aunt and Uncle’s party last night.  It is always the event of the season.”
Natalya smiled brightly.
Aksinya shrugged her shoulders and slouched a centimeter lower.
“Did you dance?” the girl continued.
Aksinya sighed, “There was dancing, but no one asked me.”
Fraulein Trauen face displayed amazement.  She turned toward Natalya, “Surely someone asked you to dance, Lady Natalya.”
Natalya smiled and raised her shoulders, “They were mostly older men and married.”
“The young ones come later in the evening.  I heard the toast of the town were there.  Don’t tell me that the Countess scared them off.”
Aksinya smiled a little smile, “They did seem afraid to approach me.  That is, except one.”
All the faces at the table turned toward her.  The question they didn’t speak was evident in their features.  Finally, Fraulein Trauen asked breathlessly for them all, “Who was it?”
“Ernst von Taaffe.  Do you know the name?”
“Who doesn’t in Wien?  His father is the Graf von Taaffe.  That would be a good match for you.”  She looked down, then back to Aksinya, “And he didn’t ask you to dance?”
“He said it was too late, and I had drunk too much wine anyway.  What do you know of him?”
All the young ladies sat up straight.  Fraulein Trauen sat the straightest, “Too much wine.  You should be more careful.  You don’t want to let the young men slip through your fingers and neither do you wish to get within their grasp.”
All the ladies nodded almost as one.
Aksinya’s voice dripped with sarcasm, “I quite understand your meaning.  So I ask you again, a little more clearly, what is the reputation of this Ernst von Taaffe.”
Diedre Vogt pressed her lips together, “I have not heard anything untoward about him, but he is considered a little mysterious.”
Fraulein Trauen pronounced, “He is studious and serious.”
Anna Pfaff cried out, “I’ve seen him many times at the ballet and the symphony.”
Fraulein Trauen sniffed, “The ballet does him no good, but the symphony means his intentions may be pure.”
Aksinya laughed, “Are any man’s intentions pure?”
Fraulein Trauen blushed, “Certainly there are men of honor and standing who would not compromise themselves or others.”
Aksinya sat back in her chair, “So you think he is an honorable man?”
Fraulein Pfaff giggled, “I haven’t heard anything untoward about him either.  He isn’t known to be a gambler or a womanizer.”
Aksinya laughed, “Then his only bad trait is he likes to attend the ballet.”
Fraulein Trauen rolled her eyes, “It isn’t that he likes to attend the ballet.  It is what he casts his gaze upon at the ballet.”
Aksinya smiled more broadly, “So if he asks me to the ballet, should I watch his eyes to see where they are gazing?”
Fraulein Trauen colored again, “I believe you are making fun of me.”
“I’m sorry.  I am not.  I simply want to gain the measure of the man.”
Fraulein Pfaff was breathless, “Do you think he will ask you to the ballet?”
“He said as much.”
Natalya bit her lip, “Mistress, this is the first time I have heard of this man.”
Aksinya put her hand on Natalya’s.  She looked straight into her eyes, “I’m sorry, Lady Natalya.  I didn’t mean to keep this a secret from you.  My meeting with Herr von Taaffe occurred so suddenly Saturday night, and I was in no shape to converse that evening.”
Fraulein Trauen lifted her chin, “Because you had drunk so much.”
Aksinya turned her head toward the lady, “Because I had too much wine to drink.”
Fraulein Trauen slitted her eyes, “A young woman should always be careful and decorous.”
Lady Natalya had been following the conversation in German fairly well, “My mistress was both careful and decorous.  I just had to help her up the stairs to bed.”
Fraulein Pfaff puffed out her cheeks, “You should be more careful than that.  It is as Fraulein Trauen says, Ernst von Taaffe would be a good match for you.”
Fraulein Vogt put up her chin, “Such connections are meaningless now.  My father told me, during the next session, the new Austrian Parliament intends to ban the aristocracy.”
The ladies across the table nodded sagely.  Aksinya sunk a little lower in her seat.  Natalya looked puzzled.
Fraulein Trauen smiled slyly, “Then there is no reason you should be careful or decorous, and then little reason for Ernst von Taaffe to not entertain us also.”
Aksinya scowled, “I understand your meaning there too.  You mean I would not be able to attract Ernst von Taaffe except that I am a countess.”
Fraulein Trauen bit her lip.  She looked down her nose at Aksinya, “It is usually not polite…”
“…to say what is unspoken, but true.”  Aksinya finished for her.
Fraulein Trauen rose up an inch from her seat.  She slowly sat back down and let out her breath.
Aksinya didn’t move an inch, “That serves you well, Fraulein Trauen.  Self control is a very important trait in a young woman.”
Fraulein Trauen sniffed.
Aksinya gave a small smile, “It is a trait that I do not possess in the least.”  She turned to Natalya, “Lady Natalya are you ready to retire for the evening?”
Fraulein Trauen’s lips were tight, “Retreat, you mean.”
“I concede the field to you, Fraulein Trauen.  I cannot hold it with my virtue or my beauty.”  She stood.
This scene continues from the last.  The problem is that since it is a new chapter, I should have set the place and the time better.  I assumed the reader would use the place and time from the previous scene and chapter as the starting point for this scene.  This is a bad assumption on my part.  When I make another edit of the novel, I shall make the place and the time clearer.  This will also help with the transition in the next scene. 

There is much in this little tete-tete.  The main point is that Aksinya is wonderfully fielding the artless questions of her table mates.  She really wants to know about the gentleman who was not all that gentlemanly toward her the previous evening.  This shows the power of conversation in showing.

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: I am awaiting for you to write a detailed installment on identifying, and targeting your audience, or, multi-layered story, for various CS Lewis did. JustTake care, and keep up the writing; I am enjoying it, and learning a lot.

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

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