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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Letters and Temptation

30 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Letters and Temptation

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 simple scene setting.  Note the beginning: "in the morning."  They "walked to Sacré Coeur."  The characters are defined.  The items that are necessary are defined.  The focus of this scene is "the letter."  There are some very important points about this "letter."  Note that it was "delivered to the door." 
In the morning, Aksinya and Natalya walked to Sacré Coeur with Sister Margarethe in tow.  They attended chapel and classes.  When they returned that evening, one of the novice sisters brought Aksinya a sealed envelope.  She curtsied as she handed it to her, “Countess, this afternoon a letter was delivered to the door.”
Aksinya took the envelope and went up to her rooms.  Natalya and Sister Margarethe followed her.
Natalya blocked Sister Margarethe at the door, “Please prepare tea for us, Sister.”
Sister Margarethe didn’t move for a moment, she appeared as though she was not going to leave then she bobbed her head, “Yes, Lady Natalya.”
Aksinya stood under the gaslight near the fireplace with a preoccupied expression on her face.
Natalya shut the door, “I can’t read German well yet, but that seems to be from your young man.”
Aksinya didn’t turn toward her, “It is from Ernst von Taaffe and addressed to me.”
“Read it.”
Aksinya just stood with the envelope.  She turned it over in her hands.
Natalya grasped it from her, “Mistress, you must read it.”
Aksinya’s face was distraught, “If it from him, what will I do?”
Natalya squinted at the return address, “It is certainly from him.  You must see what his invitation is then you can decide.”
“I am afraid.”
“Afraid?  You have never shown fear of anything before.”
“I am afraid of this temptation.”
Natalya cleanly opened the seal and removed the letter inside.  She glanced at it, “It is in German.  I can’t read it to you, so you must.  Or would you rather have Sister Margarethe read Ernst von Taaffe’s letter for you.”
Aksinya sighed and took the proffered letter.  She shook it open it and read it out loud.  “It says:
Ernst Franz von Taaffe
Stal Straße
Wien, Austria

15 December 1918
Dearest Lady Golitsyna
You enchanted me from the first moment I heard your name spoken.  I was honored to come to your help when you were in need.  Thank you for hearing me out at your honorable uncle and aunt’s party.  As I discussed with you then, I would like to make your further acquaintance this week.  Would you please save time for me this Thursday evening?  I would be delighted to escort you to dinner and to the ballet.  I will come for you at six.  I can assure you, I will be a pleasant companion.  I would be pleased if you would not concern yourself about your possession.  I will keep it safe for you.  If it is the only reason you will take time for me, then that is reason enough.  I will send my servant tomorrow to receive your answer.
                                                                                Ernst Franz von Taaffe, heir to Graf von Taaffe

Aksinya sighed again, “What am I to answer?”
Natalya touched Aksinya’s hand, “You shall pen a response tonight.  In it you will tell Herr Taaffe that you will gladly receive him.  I shall chaperone you, of course.”
“But, I’m not sure I want to receive him.”
“What could it hurt you?  And, you will secure the return of your book.”
“What if I am tempted by this young man?”
Natalya laughed, “That is the point, Countess.  Just because you are tempted does not mean you will act on it.”
Aksinya trembled, “You don’t understand me at all, Nata.”
“Perhaps I do understand you better than you imagine.  I shall be there with you.  I will not let you be compromised—this I promise you.”  Natalya, took Aksinya by the shoulders and pushed her to the desk in her sitting room.  She pressed Aksinya into the chair and placed a quill pen into her hand, “Now, write a response to him in German and read it back to me.  If you try to get out of this, I shall tell Sister Margarethe.”
“You wouldn’t.”
Natalya’s resolve crumbled, “I will never betray your trust, Countess, but I insist you accept this nobleman’s attentions.  His approach is honorable and acceptable.”
“Honorable and acceptable,” Aksinya mumbled.  “But why me?  Why should he be infatuated with me?”
“Who understands the ways of love in a man’s heart?”
“If it is simply temptation?”
“I cannot tempt any man.  I am small and ugly.  My hair is short.  My bosom is like a girl’s.  What could he want from me—that is other than sorcery.”
“Isn’t that enough?”
Aksinya didn’t respond.  She began to pen a response.  It was pleasant, but not too pleasant.  She was happy that Natalya could not read German, and she certainly didn’t read it back verbatim to her lady-in-waiting.

Natalya doesn't realize it, but this scene is all about temptation.  The theme is temptation; the plot is about a letter, and Aksinya's response.  The readers may not fully realize the point of this scene.  It is an entertaining scene none-the-less.  It is based in tension and release.  The tension is what Aksinya will do about the letter.  The release is when she finally reads and pens a response.  There is humor and interesting interaction with Natalya in the scene.  Natalya is changing.  Those who have read the novel, know there is a lot of foreshadowing in the text.  We know Natalya does betray Aksinya (for her own good).  We know Ernst will tempt Aksinya.  He is a temptation sent by the demon.

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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