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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, An Outing

31 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, An Outing

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 a complete scene setting.  The time is "Thursday."  The place is the front door of Aksinya's house.  The characters are Ernst, Aksinya, Natalya, the driver, the Sister, and the novice sisters.  The purpose of the time and place is this is the date of Ernst's invitation.  One item of note is the carriage and the other is the bouquet.

On Thursday, a landau carriage drove up to the front door of Aksinya’s house.  The convertible roof was up and the side flaps were tied tightly shut against the cold.  The two dark horses blew out great puffs of frosty breath when the driver brought them to a halt.  The driver jumped to the street and opened the flap on the house side.  Ernst von Taaffe stepped out the landau and walked to the door.  He held a small bouquet of flowers in one hand.  He knocked on the carved cedar door himself. 
Sister Margarethe opened the door to him, “Good evening.”
Ernst pushed past her into the house.  He pulled off his top hat, “Good evening, Sister.”  He glanced at her for only a moment, “I’m here to pick up that wonderful Lady, the Countess of Golitsyna.”  He juggled the top hat and the small bouquet for a moment then handed her his card, “Will you please tell her that Ernst von Taaffe is here to attend her.”
Sister Margarethe took the card then her hand stole to her cheek, “You are here to pick up the Countess?”
“Yes, I am expected.  I have an appointment.”  He smiled.
Sister Margarethe backed toward the end of the room.  As an afterthought, she called back to Ernst, “Please make yourself… comfortable.  I shall return presently.”
Aksinya and Natalya almost ran into Sister Margarethe on the stairs.  Sister Margarethe pressed her lips together, “A man is here.”  She could barely get out the words.  Then her eyes finally focused on Aksinya and Sister Margarethe let out a tiny squeak, “You were expecting him?”
“Of course,” Aksinya pushed past the Sister. 
Natalya paused a moment beside Sister Margarethe.  She smiled and nodded then she continued after her mistress.
Aksinya stepped into the parlor, and Ernst dropped both his hat and the flowers.  Aksinya wore a dark blue dress made entirely of satin.  The fabric shown brilliantly.  Each twinkle of the gaslights reflected in it and blazed.  It was an older noble cut, but certainly not out of style for visiting a tsar.  The bodice was covered with brocade—a blue on blue whose design was so intricate, Ernst’s eyes could not discern its entirety in the dim light of the room.  Aksinya’s long gloves were white with accents of blue lace, and a mist of lace floated upward from the bodice to cover her shoulders.  That was also matched by the lace of the small veiled cap that covered her short hair.
Ernst could only beam when he saw her.  He recovered the flowers and dropped to his left knee, “Countess, you are ravishing.”  He held out the bouquet, “Please accept this small gift.”
Aksinya took the flowers.  She knew it was no small gift.  In the middle of winter such a bouquet of fresh flowers was very dear.  It was made of a single red rose surrounded by lilacs and edelweiss.  She brought them close to her nose.  They smelled very pleasant.  She smiled behind the bouquet, “Aren’t you being a little presumptive in presenting me with a red rose?”
“Not at all, you accepted it, didn’t you?”
“So I did, Herr von Taaffe.”
Ernst stood and put out his arm, “If you please, Countess.  My landau awaits you.”
Sister Margarethe loudly cleared her throat behind them. 
Aksinya half turned, “Ernst von Taaffe, I am pleased to introduce Sister Margarethe.  She looks after the Lady Natalya and me.”
Ernst turned his head only a fraction of an inch, “Will she accompany us?”
Aksinya shook her head, “Not on this occasion.  And I can’t forget my best friend and confidant, the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.  She will accompany me.  Aksinya didn’t turn this time, “Sister Margarethe, the Lady Natalya and I will be going out for the evening with Herr von Taaffe.  We will return after the ballet.  Please bring our cloaks.”
Sister Margarethe curtsied, “I am very pleased to meet you Herr Taaffe.  Do not keep my charges out too late.  They must both attend chapel and early classes.”  She exited the room for a moment and returned with the cloaks. 
When Sister Margarethe approached Aksinya, Natalya stopped her, “That is the wrong cloak for the Countess.  Please bring the mink one.”
Sister Margarethe pressed her lips together, but she went back for the heavy mink cloak.  When Sister Margarethe returned, Natalya took the cloak from her and placed it over Aksinya’s shoulders.  She took a deep breath, smiled, and tied the cloak at Aksinya’s neck. 
Sister Margarethe placed Natalya’s black woolen cloak over her shoulders.  Natalya stepped toward Aksinya before the nun could fasten the cloak.  She buried her face in the fabric and slowly tied it at her neck herself.
Aksinya eyed Ernst’s proffered arm dubiously.  Then she placed two gloved fingers on his forearm.  Ernst covered her fingers and forced her hand against his arm.  He smiled at her, “I wouldn’t want you to stumble.”  He led her to the door.  Sister Margarethe just had time to get to the portal and open it so he and Aksinya could exit into the freezing evening.  Natalya nodded as she passed the nun, but she didn’t say a word, and she turned her head away from the sister to hide her smile.

This is a scene about the unexpected.  Sister Margarethe didn't expect Ernst to come calling.  Aksinya didn't expect Ernst to be so debonaire.  Natalya didn't expect that she would act so well as the lady-in-waiting to a Countess.  Note how she treats the Sister.  This little scene introduces Ernst as a lover and gentleman.  It shows Natalya in her prime.  It shows Aksinya as a Countess.

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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