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Friday, January 18, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, A Spell

18 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, A Spell

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 isn't fully about scene setting--this is about fun.  I just came to this scene and I thought you would enjoy it.  The amount of research on magic in this scene is enormous.  I am not an advocate of magic, but to write this novel, I studied the ideas on magic and how it is supposed to work.  The Golden Bough and the work of P.E.I. Bonewitz are the best sources.  In this scene we see Aksinya making healing magic.  She was injured by magic while saving her friends and she uses magic to heal herself.

Aksinya croaked out a weak cry, “My things.  The drawer.”
Natalya ripped open the drawer of the night table beside the bed.  She already knew where everything was.  She came in when she could and stared covetously at her mistress’s wonderful items.  She had never touched them before, but only looked at them.  She wondered every day when she might learn to use them.
“Get them all,” Aksinya hissed.
Natalya pulled out chalk and tallow candles.  She took out Aksinya’s dagger.  She took out a bag of herbs and another of wax.
Aksinya struggled to get off the bed.  Natalya eased her to the floor.  She knew what Aksinya wanted.  She threw back the wonderful oriental rug and cleared a space.  She dragged Aksinya into the center of that space.
Aksinya gasped, “Chalk.”
Natalya handed it to her.  She had to hold it in Aksinya’s hand.
Aksinya began to draw a circle on the floor.  It was impossible for her to move enough to do it.
Natalya took the chalk from her.  She had seen Aksinya do this often enough.  She drew as perfect a circle as she could around Aksinya. 
On her hands and knees, Aksinya examined the entire line of the circle.  She pointed to a couple of spots and Natalya retraced them.  Aksinya gasped through a bloody cough, “Penta…gram.”
Natalya nodded.  She drew a pentagram within the circle.  She knew it wasn’t as beautiful or perfect as those Aksinya drew so easily, but it came out correctly and looked almost symmetrical.  Aksinya examined the points.  They were all touching and not outside the circle.  The lines all came together properly.  Natalya drew Aksinya up so she could kneel in the center of the circle.
Aksinya pointed to three of the tallow candles and directed Natalya where to set them.  One at the top and two at the bottom at the points of the pentagram.  Aksinya wheezed, “Light… them.”
Natalya was ready.  She pulled a taper from the fireplace and lit each one.
Aksinya grabbed for the bag of wax and couldn’t reach it.  Natalya opened it and put the whole lump in Aksinya’s hands.  Aksinya fumbled for the bag of herbs.  Natalya opened that one for her too.  Aksinya held the wax in one hand and the herbs in the other. 
Aksinya motioned Natalya back with her chin.  Natalya ran to the other side of the room.  She wanted to watch.  She could not take her eyes off Aksinya.
Aksinya’s lips moved slowly at first, but then faster.  Her hands brought the wax and the dried leaves together.  Aksinya didn’t look at her hands, but in them formed a small figure made of wax.  Pieces of the herbs filled the lightly transparent material and stuck out in places.  Aksinya’s voice almost increased to the level that Natalya could hear her, but it rose and fell in volume and the words were strange.
Finally, Aksinya grasped all around her.  She nearly fell, but kept upright.  Natalya didn’t know what to do.  Aksinya’s hands moved slowly but frantically on the floor at every side.  Natalya knew what Aksinya wanted, it was the dagger.  She saw it just at her back.
Natalya called out, “There mistress.  Your dagger is on your right.”
Aksinya mouthed, don’t speak.
Natalya fell silent, but without crossing the circle, she pointed to the dagger.
Aksinya reached out and took the knife by the blade.  Natalya gasped, the razor sharp edge bit into Aksinya’s fingers.  Blood trickled from the fist that held the dagger.  Aksinya dropped it and seized the wax doll.  Blood covered it.
A low sound filled the room.  The wax melted and was gone.  The blood was suddenly gone.  The tallow candles were out, and a bright flash filled the magic circle.  For a moment, Natalya couldn’t see Aksinya.  She was about to cry out, but she bit her lip.  Natalya blinked her eyes, and Aksinya lay prostrate in the center of the magic circle.  Natalya ran to the edge and hopped from foot to foot.  She didn’t dare cross the circle.  She didn’t dare speak.  She didn’t dare do anything.  Finally, she couldn’t wait any longer, “Countess.”  She screamed, “Countess, are you all right?”
Aksinya raised her head and nodded, “Come, sweet Natalya.  All is well.  I just must sleep now.”  Her head fell back to the floor, and she didn’t move.
Natalya ran across the circle to Aksinya’s side.  She put her arms around her mistress and held her close.  She listened covetously to her breath and her heartbeat.  She kissed her cheeks.  Slowly, tenderly, she dragged Aksinya to the bed and lifted her onto it.  They were almost the same weight, but Natalya was determined.  Then she cleaned up the magic circle and put away all of Aksinya’s items.  She laid back the rug.  When everything was perfect, Natalya checked on Aksinya again.  She kissed her forehead and ran to get Sister Margarethe.

There is a lot of scene setting in this example.  I use many advanced techniques to show you what is happening rather than just telling you what is happening.  The trick in the development of the tension in the scene is the build up and the release in almost every sentence.  Note especially the whole episode with the dagger.  We know from before that words and crossing the magic circle can have very negative effects on sorcery.  Therefore Natalya must communicate with Aksinya the best she can.  At the same time, we realise what will happen--or we think we do, when Aksinya gets the dagger in her hand.  The final release where the magic works is also a tension builder since we are not certain that Aksinya is still alive.  The final release in the scene is Aksinya's reassuring words to Natalya, but that leads to the next tension, Natalya has to clean up her mistress' magic items and the magic circle.  She must also get Aksinya back in bed.  This is how tension and release works in a very important and strong scene like this.

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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