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Friday, February 1, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, A Carriage Ride

1 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, A Carriage Ride

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. 

In this scene, we have a transition from the sitting room/foyer to the carriage and then the carriage ride with a conversation.  The scene comes out of the previous scene.  The place is the exited house, the time comes from the previous scene.  Note the items: carriage and the bouquet.  These are items that draw together the parts of the scenes like sewing a stitch.  These elements along with the characters and the specific descriptions of them are like sign posts to the readers.

The horses and driver turned their heads toward Aksinya and Ernst as they exited the house.  Aksinya still held the wonderful bouquet in her free hand.

The driver immediately leapt down from the landau.  He uncovered his head, bowed, and presented his arm to Aksinya.  She placed her gloved fingers on his arm and stepped into the carriage.  Herr Taaffe aided from the other side.  Both of them handed Natalya into the carriage.

Inside, Aksinya sat facing forward and Natalya took the seat across from her.  Ernst entered and sat next to Aksinya.  When they were all settled, he tapped on the front of the carriage and the horses started slowly and gently increased their speed.

Almost immediately, Ernst slouched in his seat so he partially faced Aksinya.  He laughed, “You have made me a very happy man, dear lady.”

Aksinya frowned, “How have I made you so happy?”

“Why, you accepted my invitation and are now accompanying me.”

Aksinya turned toward him, “I want you to return my book.”

“You aren’t in any way pleased to be escorted by me?”

Aksinya returned her head to the front.  She didn’t say anything.

“Ha, I take that to mean, you are not completely displeased that I am your escort.”

“I am not entirely displeased, but I do wish my book returned.”

“If I return your book will you promise to go out with me again?”

“I will take your request under consideration.”

“Then I will take into consideration the return of your book.  I want to court you.  I am in love with you, and I wish to tempt you on every occasion to come with me to dinner and entertainment.”

Aksinya turned her head toward the outside of the landau.  There was no window, only an opening that was covered with a leather flap.  She scowled but didn’t look back at him, “I wish the return of my book.  What reason could you have to love me or even want my attention?”

“My father isn’t opposed.  I admit, I haven’t had much experience with women or love, but only a woman of equal rank would please him.  He desires to meet you, but I’m holding that off a bit.”

Aksinya’s voice had a tinge of sarcasm in it, “Why would you do that?”

“Because I don’t think you are too keen on the idea yet.”

“Still, your father’s approval shouldn’t be enough to excite your ardor.”

“Excite my ardor,” Ernst smiled, “You have no idea.  I find you dazzling…”

“Because of sorcery?”

He laughed, “Because I am ensorcelled or because you are a sorceress.  Does your lady-in –waiting know?”

“Of course she knows.  I wouldn’t have brought it up otherwise.”

“Have you ensorcelled me?”

Aksinya snorted, “Do I act as if I wished such a thing?”

“Honestly, no.”

“You are mistaken if you believe I have ensorcelled you.”  She turned toward him and her eyes widened.  She said a couple of Latin words and leaned back with a sigh.

“Am I ensorcelled?”


“I didn’t think so.”  He took a deep breath, “The scent of your enchantment is very strong.  You are absolutely magnificent.”

Aksinya scooted closer to the other corner of the landau.

“What is wrong, Countess?  Are you angry because I said you were magnificent or because I praised your sorcery?”

Aksinya made a noncommittal sound.

“What can I do to gain your affection or at least your attention?”

“First, say nothing about sorcery.  I do not wish to speak about it.  Such things do not please me.  If you cannot enjoy me without sorcery being a part of it, then you should return me to my house.”

Ernst bowed, “I shall say nothing else about it—unless you, dear lady bring up the subject.”

Aksinya felt her cheeks burning, “Very, well.”

“What is second?”

She looked back at the blank side and mumbled, “Second, you must accept me for who I am, and not for who you think I am.”

Ernst sat a little straighter, “I assure you, I am captivated by you and you alone.  It is every bit of you and not a singular piece.”

Natalya spoke up, “How do you know so much about my mistress?  How could you?”

Ernst’s smile came through his voice, “I discovered the Countess through her courtier, Herr Aznabaev, but I know Freiherr Bockmann very well.  He is a great friend of my father’s.  After Herr Aznabaev made me aware of the Countess, I approached Freiherr Bockmann and asked that he allow me to woo her.”

Aksinya turned toward him, “You didn’t?”

“I did.  Didn’t you find it odd that no one invited you to dance at your uncle’s Advent party?  Your uncle let the word get around that I had asked for an exclusive bid to woo.  He and your aunt even kept the interested at bay so I could have the chance to speak to you alone.”

“You waited until the Lady Natalya…”

He laughed, “I did.  Herr Aznabaev even advised me how to get by the Sister who watches over you.”

Aksinya mumbled, “Does he advise you about everything?”

The landau rolled to a slow stop. 
A carriage ride just like most transportation is a wonderful time to have a private tete-te-tete.  In this case, I get the opportunity to present a conversation between Ernst, Aksinya, and Natalya.  The purpose, for the author, in this conversation is to let the reader know how Ernst got so much information about Aksinya. I also got a chance to explain, through the conversation, why no one asked Aksinya to dance.  Everything in a novel must have purpose and support the plot and theme.  In this case, no one asked Aksinya to dance because her aunt and uncle prevented it.  Her aunt and uncle also gave Ernst the opportunity to approach Aksinya.  Each end every word and action has ramifications in this novel and each explains itself by future and previous actions.  Everything is a cohesive whole.  There is absolutely nothing that is extraneous or throw away.  If it was, I wouldn't have included it in the novel.

Something you can't miss in this carriage ride conversation is the interaction of the demon in everything.  He is tempting Aksinya through Ernst and she knows it.

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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