My Favorites

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Chapter Beginning Scene

16 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Chapter Beginning Scene

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.  This example is from the beginning of the next chapter.  You can see the time "Wednesday eventing."  We know from the previous chapter that Aksinya and Natalya are sneaking to Aksinya's house every evening.  The where is the alleyway behind the dormitory.  We also know about this from the previous chapter.  This is the way the demon brought Aksinya and Natalya to the house.  The characters are Aksinya and Natalya and then the Sister.  The action begins with Aksinya's spell.  The point of this example is to show the setting and to demonstrate the use of tension at the very beginning.

On Wednesday evening, Aksinya and Natalya made their way out of the alleyway behind the dormitory and began to creep across the street.  The spell Aksinya made was always intentionally short lived.  She usually felt it disappear after they crossed the street and entered the house.  This evening, it failed before they crossed the road, and Aksinya didn’t take the time to speak the Latin words again.  They crouched in the shadows at the edge of the alley and street.
The noise of the rowdies in the tavern, the gasthaus, down the way was very loud that evening.  Aksinya took hold of Natalya’s hand and pulled her away from the gas lamp near them.  She marked the pools of darkness they could slip to from one side of the street to the other.
Aksinya held her new brown book in one hand.  It was very helpful.  She had almost completely memorized it.  The spells were indelibly cast in her mind.  They were very different from the ones she was used to.  They dwelt with water, illusions, and the minds and thoughts of people.  She wondered many times why the demon had given her just that book.  She should be finished with it tonight and finally able to leave it in her library in the cellar.  She wanted to try a couple of spells tonight also.
Aksinya took a quick breath.  The street was filled with the scent of wood smoke and horse manure.  She could smell the tavern in the air with its wood fire, fermentation, and hops not a half a block away to the left.  That, with the noise of its drunken patrons told her exactly where it was.  Without another thought, Aksinya took a step into the street.  There hadn’t been any fresh snowfall for a while, but the temperature hadn’t been cold enough to melt it all.  Piles of icy frozen gray slush filled the nooks and corners everywhere outside.
When they were halfway across the street, a voice called out from the archway through the school’s dormitory, “Countess, Lady Natalya, stop.”
Natalya whispered, “Countess, it’s Sister Margarethe.”
Aksinya snarled, “I can tell who it is.”
They heard the hard soles of the nun’s shoes on the frozen cobblestones.  Their own soft slippers were cold, but quiet.
The nun ran toward them and crossed through a circle of gas lamp light very close behind them.
Aksinya hissed, “She can’t find out about the house.  Nata, run.  Run down the street and try to hide.”  Aksinya pulled then pushed Natalya down the street toward the tavern.  Natalya ran.  Then Aksinya followed at a run herself.  Aksinya called again at Natalya’s back, “Stay in the shadows and duck down an alley when you can.  I’ll try to hide us.”  Aksinya began to chant a Latin verse under her breath.  Before she could finish it, a clawed hand grabbed her heavy cloak and dragged her into an alley.  The strong smell of sulfur came to her.  Sister Margarethe crossed right in front of her without noticing her at all.
An important point to see in this example is the use of all the senses in the descriptions of the scene.  So Aksinya, smells and hears as well as sees and touches.  The use of all the senses is an important point in settings and desdcriptions.  Many authors forget that places smell and that characters taste and touch.  We are used to seeing and many times we miss the more important clues.  For an author, these other clues are also means to send signals to our readers--just like the descriptions of what can be seen.  Don't forget about all the senses.

My notes: once you have a theme, you need to begin to visualize your plot, focus your theme, and define your characters. More tomorrowmove 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment