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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Dinner Setting and Conversation

9 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Dinner Setting and 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.

This scene setting is direct and simple.  Note the time Tuesday and during dinner.  This is also the place--the school.  That is assumed from the previous scenes etc.  The characters are also immediately set, but we are introduced by tags and specific address in the conversation.  Note also, the conversation moves everything in the scene.

On Tuesday during dinner, Fraulein Pfaff again engaged Aksinya in conversation, “Well Countess, did you hear again from Herr von Taaffe?”

Aksinya grinned, “He came to dinner on Saturday.”

Fraulein Trauen dropped her fork, “At Grossbock?”

“Yes, at Grossbock.”

Fraulein Vogt asked, “Did you invite him?”

Aksinya sat up straight, “No, he invited himself through the Freiherr and Freifrau, but he informed me first of his intentions.”

Fraulein Pfaff clapped her hands together, “That is soooo suave.  He is obviously a well bred gentleman.”

The elder sister at the table snapped her fingers at Fraulein Pfaff’s clap and loud response.

Fraulein Pfaff put her hands at her side and lowered her voice, “Sorry sister.”

Fraulein Vogt spoke excitedly, “Still that is very polished of him.  I am more and more impressed by this gentleman.  Has he asked you to accompany him again, Countess?”

“He has invited me to the opera and dinner on Wednesday.”

Natalya nodded.

Fraulein Trauen grinned over her glass, “That’s Christmas Eve.  I hope you don’t intend to drink as much that other evening.”

Aksinya’s lips turned up in a grin, “I intend to drink and eat as much as I like.  I shall not drink so much I will miss any of Ernst’s advances.”

“Ernst?” Fraulein Trauen dropped her knife.

“Yes, he asked me to call him by his given name.”

Fraulein Trauen’s eyes widened, “And you do?”

“Of course I do.  Why should I not?”

Fraulein Trauen was breathless, “What does he call you?”

Aksinya put her chin on the back of her hand and batted her eyes at Fraulein Trauen, “He calls me, Countess, of course.”
The tension and release in this scene revolves around two ideas that are outdated for today.  I think the scene conveys them well enough for the modern reader to get them. The first is a gentleman visiting a woman at her home.  This denotes a very close relationship and especially the interest of the man in the woman.  An honorable woman never would visit a man in his home--at least without his family present and her chaperon.  The other is the use of the personal (first) name.  This is also an idea that is not present in the modern Western world much.  The idea that only those who are very close (or servants) can address another by their first names.  Aksinya tells the girls that she addresses Ernst by his first name.  This shows that he has entrusted her as a close friend. Aksinya's response indicates that she still views him as a servant and potential suitor and no closer.

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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