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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Another Carriage Conversation

10 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Another Carriage Conversation

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. I'm giving you examples from the book so you can see different ways of introducing and writing a scene. In each snippet, you get the scene setting, the tension and release, and the input and output. This isn't true of every example, but the pieces should be there, and I've been trying to identify for you when all the pieces aren't evident. You can use these ideas to guide your own writing. Make sure you set the scene properly, then make everything come to life through the narration and conversation.

Again, we have a very direct and simple scene setting.  Wednesday evening tells you the time.  Aksinya's front door tells you the place.  We add an item and the characters.  The characters get additional description to give you their clothing.  Clothing is an important descriptor for any character.  I go to great lengths to describe for you the appearance of my characters (when it is necessary for the plot and theme).

On Wednesday evening, Ernst’s landau drove up to Aksinya’s front door.  Ernst brought another bouquet.  It included a red rose in a nest of small blue flowers.  Aksinya wore her mink cloak when she stepped out of her house, but Natalya hadn’t tied the collar very tightly so Aksinya’s brilliant red silk and pink lace gown showed at the opening.  The dress fit her perfectly and showed off her status and limited figure to best effect. 

As Aksinya stepped out of her house, Natalya touched her arm and pointed at the windows of Sacré Coeur that overlooked the street.  The faces of their classmates were pressed against the tall windows.  Aksinya raised her bouquet and waved.  Fraulein Vogt and Fraulein Pfaff waved back.  Fraulein Trauen stepped quickly away from the window and out of sight.  A host of other younger girls waved back vigorously.

Ernst glanced up and laughed.  He didn’t wave—he placed his finger at the side of his nose and winked at the girls.  Ernst and his driver helped Aksinya and Natalya into the landau.  The driver snuggly tied down the leather sides.

After the landau began to move, Ernst laughed again, “Your cheering gallery was out in force tonight.  I didn’t notice them before.”

Aksinya kept her head forward, “They weren’t there before.”

Ernst stroked his chin, “Why not?”

“I told them the other time, but I don’t think they believed me.  Plus, the fact I had a house was somewhat a secret at the time.”

“It isn’t a secret now?”

“It is still a secret, but such things are nearly impossible to keep quiet in a school for girls.”

He laughed again.

Aksinya frowned, “Where is my book?”

“It is safe.  I promise you, Countess.”

“When will you return it to me?”

Ernst sat back and turned more toward her, “Perhaps, Countess when I have my way with you.”

Aksinya blushed but smiled behind her hand. 

Natalya also colored, “I warn you Herr von Taaffe, my understanding of German is improving and your comment was most unbecoming.”

“I apologize to both of you.  I did not intend my words to be taken as innuendo.  I simply don’t want to give up my surety until I am certain I have achieved my goals.”

Natalya squinted through the darkness in the landau at Ernst, “I would like to know just what your intentions are toward my mistress.”

“Shouldn’t her uncle ask me that?”

“I protect her, so you must answer to me.”

“Very well.  I am obviously wooing her with the intention of marriage.”

Natalya sat back, “I gathered as much, but I wanted to hear that from your lips.”  Natalya had a very thoughtful look on her face, but it was mostly covered by the deep shadows in the landau.
In the novel, this is a very interesting scene.  Natalya has been taking a larger and larger roll in Aksinya's life.  Aksinya was trying to give Natalya a larger role and now we see her taking on that role.  Natalya feels like she has a large responsibility to Aksinya--she takes on the role of her guardian.  Ernst is likely amused as is Aksinya.
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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