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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, a Party and Introductions

24 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, a Party and Introductions

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 a transition and introduction scene.  We begin at Aksinya's house and move to the Bockmann's estate.  The trick is to provide the place, time, and characters in such a way as to not lose your readers.  We can obviously use the setting from the previous scene, but the break makes it very important to set the scene distinctly.

Aksinya and Natalya took up residence at the house across the street.  Sister Margarethe lived there with them.  She waited on Aksinya and on the Lady Natalya.  Aksinya insisted.  Now, Aksinya and Natalya had tea together every afternoon.  Sister Margarethe brought the tea and Natalya poured.
They went to school, and although Aksinya didn’t progress well, Natalya began to speak reasonably fluent German.
When the coupe met them the next Friday, Freifrau Bockmann was in it.  Before they set off for Grossbock, she inspected the dresses and jewelry Natalya had chosen for the party and nodded her approval. 
When they arrived at the Freiherr’s estate, the decorations were already in place.  The front of the house, the foyer, and the ballroom were wonderfully adorned for the Advent Ball.  Seasonal decorations more akin to Christmas instead of Advent filled the hall.  A couple of large Christmas trees loaded with candles and decorations sat next to the great fireplaces.   Freifrau Bockmann led Aksinya and Natalya through the rooms and showed everything to them.  It took a while.  Aksinya was grateful to finally sit down to dinner.  Afterward, she and Natalya went to bed.
In the morning, everything in the house was about preparation for the event that evening.  By noon all the Freiherr’s servants were dressed in their archaic festal livery.  The maids and women servants were adorned in dresses and aprons from a style over a century old.  Everything seemed to match the overall festive décor.  In the afternoon, Natalya dressed Aksinya in a wonderful maroon dress with gold piping and lace.  The gold was real and the dress was ancient satin.  Natalya brushed it for hours to make it shine.  The bodice was tight and fit Aksinya well.  The dress was petticoated and whaleboned.  Still, it was from an age younger than the livery Freiherr Bockmann loved so much, but older than the current fashion of the time. 
Natalya wore a dress that had been Aksinya’s sister’s.  It was white and red with a little more modern flair, but still appeared as though it would be appropriate in the court of an emperor.
When Aksinya stepped down the stairs into the ballroom, everyone stopped to watch.  Freifrau Bockmann gave an audible gasp.  She and the Freiherr ran up the stairs to greet her.  The Freiherr went to one knee on the landing.  Freifrau Bockmann curtsied and took Aksinya’s hand, “Dear Countess, you are ravishing.”  She looked Aksinya up and down then took a surreptitious glance at Natalya that quickly returned to Aksinya, “You are so beautiful.”
Aksinya cocked her head, “Lady Natalya is very skilled.”  Her voice sunk to a whisper, “She even made my hair look pleasant.”
“Pleasant, it is wonderful.  She is incredibly artful.  You are so elegant and make our simple home seem like an aristocratic court.”
Aksinya smiled, but the corners of her lips didn’t follow.
Freiherr Bockmann took Aksinya by the arm and led her to one of the great fireplaces.  A wood fire roared within it.  He sat Aksinya in a chair that faced the ballroom.  Natalya stood at Aksinya’s side.  At first, the Freifrau and Freiherr sat and conversed with Aksinya about the people she would meet that evening and the weather.  When the guests began to arrive, they stood beside Aksinya and greeted each one.  The guests were announced by the house steward and directed to the Freifrau and Freiherr.  Freifrau Bockmann introduced each guest to Aksinya.  She did so formally and with gravity and used Aksinya’s full name, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna.  She then introduced the Lady Natalya.
Aksinya’s memory was excellent, but after the first fifty couples, she lost track entirely.  Then the young single men arrived followed by the Catholic churches’ leaders in the city.  Among this group, Aksinya remembered only the Cardinal of Wien and the Abbot of Sacré Coeur.  The Cardinal was a pinch faced older man with an Italian accent.  His secretary, Herr Schwab followed him everywhere.  The Abbot was jollier and a little younger with a great smile and a provincial tone to his German.  They both seemed pleasant men. 
Notice that the important question at the beginning is about place.  Natalya would be content to be a servant--Aksinya makes her an equal and friend.  The transition is from Akinya's house to the Advent party.  Aksinya isn't so happy with an Advent party, but there isn't so much reticence from the people of Wien.  The point of the transition is to reintroduce the characters of Aksinya and Natalya in their party finary.  Then we get to the introduction of the guests.  This is a simple method of running through a party introduction.  The point then is to brin in very special characters who will be inpurtant in the future in the novel.

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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