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Monday, January 28, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, more Conversation

28 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, more Conversation

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 is the continuation of the previous scene.  The place is already set in the dining room, but that is properly set again and the place they go--Aksinya's house.  The time is a simple continuation from the previous scene.  There is also a touch of time setting in the scene.  There is very strong place setting and character setting.  Note the descriptions of the people and the house.  The point is to create a feeling of homeyness.  In this environment, the author (and Aksinya) will approach a problem with Natalya.

Natalya and Aksinya returned to their house across the street.  When they left the dining room, Sister Margarethe joined them at the door.  Aksinya didn’t acknowledge the nun, but Natalya gave her a greeting in German. 
They went across the street and Natalya unlocked the door.  The house was warm—much warmer than the school or dormitory.  A coal fire burned in the fireplace.  Two novice nuns, dressed in black and white, came to the foyer to greet them.  They removed Aksinya, Natalya, and Sister Margarethe’s cloaks and saw them up to their rooms.  They made sure the coal fires and the gaslights were lit, then curtsied and returned to the lower floor.  At her door, Aksinya took Natalya’s arm, “Sister Margarethe, would you please bring us tea?”
“Yes, Countess.”
Aksinya glanced at the nun then pulled Natalya into her room and closed the door.  Aksinya placed Natalya in front of an overstuffed chair in the sitting room.  She moved hurriedly to the other chair before Natalya could move and pulled it close.  She sat quickly knowing Natalya would only sit after her.  Natalya sat almost as quickly and leaned expectantly toward Aksinya.  Aksinya sucked on her lower lip, “Nata, I do apologize that you were not the first to know about Ernst von Taaffe.”
Natalya smiled, “I realize you did not purposefully keep the information from me.”
Aksinya held the sides of her head, “I was in no condition last night to explain anything to anyone.”
“Tell me about him.”  Natalya reached out her hands. 
Aksinya grasped them, “He was an interesting man.”  Her brow creased, “And he has my book.”
Natalya’s eyes widened, “He has your book.”  Natalya sat up a little, “Does he…does he…?”
“Yes, he knows it all.  He was the one who tried to help at the Golden Adler.”
“Then he was the gentleman who carried you back to the house?”
“The same.”
“Did he see you…you know, did he see you…?”
“He saw me make the great enchantment.”
Natalya hung her head, “I didn’t get to see it—I wish I had.”
“Hush, don’t say such things.  It always embarrasses me.  It is not something I am proud of.”
“I am proud of you, Countess…Aksinya.”
Aksinya glanced down, “No one else would be.”
“What about this young man?”
Aksinya made a face, “He praised me for it.”
Natalya tried to hide her smile, “Then, like me, he would be proud of you too.”
“He did, but I don’t want that.  He wants to court me.  He said he was infatuated with me.”
“For a man to appreciate you for who and what you are seems a very great thing to me.  Will you allow him to court you?”
“He won’t give me back my book until I do.”
Natalya laughed, “Then you will only allow him to court you because he has your book?”
Aksinya glanced down, “He promised me another book too.”
Natalya was incredulous, “The only reason you will court him is for a couple of books?”
Aksinya turned her a foul look.
“Aksinya, what about the man.  He said he is infatuated with you.  He likes you for who you are.  What does a moldy book have to do with anything?”
“You are cruel, Nata.  Why would I want a man?  What would I do with him?  I can do something with a book.”
“A book of sorcery.  The thing you seem to hate the most.”
“I do hate it.”
“But you are so wonderful at it.”
“It is a wasted skill.”
“But you are so skilled at it.  In any case, this young man likes you.  He is the son of an aristocrat.  You need to determine if he will become the Graf.  If so he will be equal to you in rank and therefore a balanced union.”
“What if I don’t seek any union?”
Natalya’s mouth opened and closed, finally she squeaked out, “Of course you want a union.  You must find a man to marry—a man who is close to your rank.  That will bring honor to your family and to the nobility.”
Aksinya shook her head, “Nata, my family is dead.  In Russia, the nobility will soon be dead.  You heard Fraulein Vogt this evening, the Austrian Parliament intends to outlaw the aristocracy in Austria.  There is no purpose in making a good match anymore.”
“But, Aksinya, there is still a purpose in marrying a good man.”
Aksinya mumbled, “He isn’t a good man.  He is a man who desires sorcery.”
“Then he is just like you.  What is wrong with that?  I desire sorcery.  You…you…”
“Say it Nata.  Go ahead.  I know what you are going to say.”
“Very well, Aksinya.  Though I desire it, you will not properly teach me.”
A knock came from the door.  Aksinya jumped.  Natalya turned toward the sound, “You may enter, sister.”
Sister Margarethe opened the door and brought in the tea service.  Natalya pointed to the tea table.  Sister Margarethe placed it on the top.  Natalya pointed again, “Sister, you may pour.”
Sister Margarethe poured the tea.
Aksinya sat quietly in her chair.
Natalya picked up her cup, “Thank you, Sister Margarethe, we have everything we need.  I’ll put the Countess to bed.”
Sister Margarethe curtsied and stepped back to the door.
Natalya called at her back, “I’ll prepare the Countess for school tomorrow.  If you could please see to our breakfast?”
“Yes, Lady, I shall tell the novice sisters.”
“Thank you.”
Sister Margarethe closed the door.
This scene and setting is how an author sets up a scene to accommodate the conversation and topic of the scene itself.  When you plan out a scene, the purpose is to get across the plot, topic, and theme.  Therefore, in this scene, we set up domestic tranquility so Aksinya and Natalya can converse quietly and about very important subjects.  The subject is Aksinya's temptation--sorcery.  The point is made simply.  She wants the books, but she hates what they allow her to do--sorcery.  Natalya wants to learn sorcery.  Ernst wants sorcery too, but he also wants Aksinya.  The point of the conversation is to bring out these points.  The domestic tranquility of the scene is punctuated by Aksinya's degradation of the Sister.  Aksinya is very subtle about it, but you can't miss it even if you don't understand Victorian era mores. 

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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