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Friday, January 4, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Stuff, Example

4 January 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Stuff, 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.  Description is not just about places, time, and people.  There is also their stuff.  Stuff (things) are necessary for setting a scene.  Many times a scene turns in tension and release just about the things in the setting--or a thing in the setting.  This is true of the following scene.  Also, many authors either leave their scenes too bare (they don't describe them enough--this is the usual problem) or they populate them too much (the describe them too much).  The question is what is too much description in a scene and what is too little.  I'd rather see you doing too much description, but the answer is really simple.  You describe a scene sufficiently to set it and to turn the tension and release.  There can be more based on the plot or the theme, but this is the basic.  The problem, as I mentioned, is that many authors don't set the scene well enough to set it or to turn the tension and release.
Aksinya lit the gas lamp over her bed.  Her mother’s jewelry box was a piece of art itself.  It was handmade by a craftsman from the late fifteenth century.  The box was decorated on the sides with the four seasons of their estate in Russia.  The top showed the house of the Counts of Golitsyna.  The façade of the house was almost unchanged from that time to this.  The box had been a wedding present from her father to her mother.  It was locked, and the heart-shaped key was in the lock where her mother always left it.  Aksinya remembered the first time she saw the jewelry box when she was a child.  She had stared at it for a long time—until her mother finally opened it. 
With shaking fingers, Aksinya unlocked and opened the jewelry box.  Inside were all her mother’s beautiful things.  They were literally a princess’ dowry of gold, silver, and jewels.  On top lay a fabulous jewel encrusted crucifix and rosary.  It was her mother’s favorite piece.  Aksinya always remembered her mother wore it on Sunday, every Sunday.  It was too large and fine a piece to wear everyday. 
Beside it lay a smaller crucifix and rosary made of intertwined white and yellow gold.  On it, the body of Christ was yellow gold and the cross white gold.  The tiny adornments, the loincloth, the crown of thorns were white gold.  The prayers and decades were white and yellow gold.  It was the most beautiful rosary Aksinya had ever seen.  Her mother let her wear it on Sunday, but had put it away during the week.  She told Aksinya it was her wedding present when the proper time came.  Aksinya lifted it in her hands.  It was warm to her touch.  She bit her lip and quickly put it over her head.  It fell around her neck and immediately the crucifix became hot.  She felt the heat against her breasts.  The heat rose through the prayers and decades and irritated her neck.  She felt slightly nauseous.  Still, she promised herself she would not take it off.  If she lost to this, she felt she would lose to everything.  The demon might make her do the most horrible things in the world, but in this very little part she could fight back.  She knew at least one of his weaknesses now.  He could not move an evident cross.  Unless the demon was playing a game with her, he had not taken her sister’s jewelry box, it was decorated with crosses.  He had not taken her cross decorated bookstand.  He had been able to move her mother’s jewelry box even though it was filled with crosses and crucifixes.
Aksinya didn’t let herself feel encouraged by this little piece of knowledge.  It was much too early for that.  She simply filed the information in the back of her mind—it was a little more information about the demon and his weaknesses.  She would use it, if she could, against him.
She pawed through the rest of the jewelry and removed a couple of more pieces.  Each piece brought back some memory of her mother.  She couldn’t stop her thoughts.  Aksinya’s stomach ached the whole time, and the rosary burned against her skin, but she would endure it, she would.  Sleep began to overtake her, and she eventually closed and locked the box.  She wanted to go to sleep.  When she tried to lift the jewelry box from her bed, she found it was much too heavy for her to lift.  She couldn’t budge it.  If she tried to push it off the bed, it might fall and break.  The noise would surely wake Frau Drescher, whose own rooms were just below hers.
Since she couldn’t move the box, Aksinya finally curled up in the remaining space on the bed that was left to her—it wasn’t much.  She was cramped.  She couldn’t move.  Her stomach ached.  The crucifix burned her skin.  She wasn’t certain she slept at all, but she did wake when Natalya shook her in the morning.

The stuff (thing) that drives this scene is the jewlry box.  There is additionally a set up for the next scene with the crucifix.  Notice that the tension and release is driven by the box.  In this case, Aksinya demanded the demon place the box on her bed and the irony is that she can't move it and the box takes up all her space on the bed.  The demon knew this and let her own foolishness cause her this problem.  This is the use of a think in tension and release and the use of a thing in scene setting.

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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