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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Place, Example

5 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Place, Example

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 scene setting is in the middle of a scene.  What is so interesting about it is that the setting is a new place.  The example is how to set a place scene in the middle of a scene.  There is also a tension and release caused by the place.  In addition, the house described is similar to Aksinya's original family's estate.  These are all good points to ponder in writing your own scenes.  I believe I achieved the amount of detail appropriate to the setting--not too much and not too little.  In spite of this, some readers will want more and some less.

Natalya held onto Aksinya’s mink cloak.  At the front door, the demon paused.  Aksinya put out her hand, “This is my house, give me the key.”
“I will always be able to open it for you, Countess.”
Aksinya didn’t look at the demon, “Give me the key.  It is my house, you told me.  And give a key to my lady-in-waiting.  Do it now, demon.”
The demon sheepishly pulled out two keys.  He handed them to Aksinya, “Give them to whomever you like.  They are yours.”
Aksinya grabbed them from the demon’s hand.  She put one in her coat and put the other into the lock.  It turned with oiled ease.
Asmodeus smiled, “I prepared the place for you.”
Aksinya pushed open the door.  She took a step inside.  The house had looked completely dark from the exterior.  Inside the gas lamps and lanterns were lit.  A large wood fire lay blazing on the main hearth.  Aksinya stopped and for a moment couldn’t move.  The foyer opened into a room so like the parlor of her family’s estate she sucked in her breath.  She walked deeper into the room.  Natalya still held onto her and came with her.  Aksinya stood in the center of the wonderful room and turned a slow circle.  Everything was just as she remembered it.  She could almost imagine her father’s voice calling to her.  Then she stopped.  It wasn’t the same.  There had been a cross and a crucifix in the room.  Another cross used to sit on the mantel, it was not there.  The room was almost correct, but not quite.  Still it was wonderful.  Aksinya could almost relive the memories of her childhood—not so long ago.  She recognized each thing.  She had to touch each thing and remember her family—her parents and brother and sister.  They had each been so dear to her—still she could not mourn them any more than she already had.
The demon waited for her then led them both through the rooms in the large house.  There were very many.  There were almost as many as the rooms in Aksinya’s estate in Russia.  The furniture from that place filled each of the rooms.  It was arranged cunningly to give the impression it was the same place.  After a while, the demon took them upstairs.  The rooms there were very much the same, but different.  In Aksinya’s house in Russia, a crucifix decorated one wall in every bedroom.  They were obviously missing here.  The bedrooms were slightly changed too.  They did not hold the personality of Aksinya’s mother or sister, brother or father anymore.  The demon had set the furniture in such a way that the resemblance was certain, but it was enough of a difference that it was obviously not their rooms.
The baths were very modern, like those in the school’s dormitory.  They each had a toilet, bidet, and a bathtub.  The entire time, Natalya held tightly to Aksinya.  The bedroom and sitting room that was filled with Aksinya’s furniture was the grandest in the house.  It was more finely decorated than any of the others.  Yet Aksinya wondered how it could hold her plainer furniture and still appear so much finer.  The fireplace in her sitting room held a wood fire.  The rest of the rooms including her bedroom had coal fires in their fireplaces.  It was warm and soothing.  Next to Aksinya’s bedroom was a room for a lady-in-waiting.  It was decorated in a style that made Natalya cry out.  She ran into the room and touched each thing.  She glanced at Aksinya, “Thank you, Countess.  I don’t know how you did it, but this is my room.  These are all my things. 
Aksinya thought immediately about the dresses, but she looked around.  In the usual German fashion, the wardrobes from Aksinya’s house covered one wall of each bedroom.  The dresses were closed up in these.  The demon didn’t have to remove them from their traveling locations.
Aksinya let out a small sigh of relief. 
Asmodeus stepped beside her, “Would you like to see your workroom, Countess?”
“Not particularly, but I suppose you will whine until I do.”
The demon bowed.  He led them back down the stairs and to the kitchen.  Aksinya had a moment to note, it was a very fine kitchen.  The door to the cellar was there.  The demon preceded them down.  There was a fire and lamps lit here too.  It wasn’t too dark nor too light.  The high windows were blocked with stone. 
Asmodeus made a large circle around the dank room and bowed, “Welcome, Countess and my mistress, my compatriot in evil.  Welcome to your own place.”
Aksinya’s books were set on a beautifully carved bookshelf at the side.  All her items were carefully arranged on tables and on shelves.  They were all laid out.  She didn’t have enough room for them all to be out at once in the guesthouse cellar.  The mahogany book stand the demon had stolen for her was in the center of the room on the floor.  Everything was in position ready to be used.  And Aksinya felt a strong desire to use them.
The demon sucked at his fangs, “Go ahead, Countess.  Everything is ready for your work and study.”
Aksinya laughed, “Not tonight.  It is enough to appreciate your work, demon.  You have done a fine job.”
Asmodeus lowered his head so his face was close to Aksinya’s.  She tried not to tremble.  The demon spoke kindly, “Since you did a bit of sorcery already tonight, I shall not insist, but you should plan what work you will do, Countess.  That is the point after all.”
Aksinya remembered her first halting and painful steps at sorcery.  The yearning to power.  She remembered and was drawn to it.  She desired it like she desired nothing else in the world.  Yet, she grasped her mother’s crucifix under her dress and pressed it’s burning metal against her breasts.  She would not work sorcery again tonight.  This she promised herself.

The place in this scene drives the scene and the tension and release in the scene.  The point is that it is a mirror (almost) of Aksinya's family's house in Russia.  The tension builder is that it is not exactly the same.  The driving tension builder in the scene is the demon is tempting Aksinya to do sorcery.  He already forced (tempted) Aksinya to sorcery at the beginning of the scene and won.  He is trying again.  The release is gentle and the reader is left with a sense of unease.  The place scene setting did its work in tension and release and the result is this unease as we enter the next chapter and scene.  This is also a good example of a gentle tension release.  Not every release should completely clear the issues or let the reader totally down (be at ease).  Remember the tension should grow with the novel to the climax.

More tomorrow.

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: Please elaborate on scene, theme, plot, character development in a new novel, the framework, the development, order if operation, the level of detail, guidelines, rule of thumb, tricks, traps and techniques.

I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples:, and the individual novel websites:,,,, http://www.thefoxshonor,

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