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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Foreshadowing

26 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Foreshadowing

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.

Foreshadowing is one of the most important tools an author has.  Through foreshadowing, an author can build anticipation in the mind of the reader and the characters.  Many times, the anticipation of the reader is more powerful than that of the characters.  In this scene, we have one of the important anticipatory points of the novel.  The readers should get it more than Aksinya.  Aksinya is patently ignoring all the signs she should note, but the reader can't help but see them.  The changes in Natalya that the reader can't help ignore, Aksinya disregards.  The foreshadowing is very strong in this scene.  See if you can catch all of them.

On Wednesday, Ernst escorted Aksinya to dinner and the opera.  He greeted Aksinya at her house with a bouquet of roses.  He explained the extravagance, “Because I am working for him, my father increased my remittance.”  At each place they visited, Aksinya thought she spotted Asmodeus.  She caught a glimpse of him in the mirror at the Palais Coburg Hotel Residenz, and in the grand foyer of the Wien State Opera.  A strong whiff of sulfur came to her in both places.  When the Champagne and caviar came at the intermission for Tristan und Isolde, Aksinya thought she saw Asmodeus sneaking in the corridor just outside their box seats.  Warned by his potential presence, she intended to drink less because of it, but ended up drinking more than she planned.

Before the beginning of the second act, Natalya prepared a blemis with caviar and handed it to Aksinya.  Aksinya took the flat piece of bread, “Thank you, Lady Natalya.”

Natalya smiled oddly at her, “Would you care for another glass of Champagne?”

Aksinya cocked her head and grinned back, “Please, as long as you are pouring, Lady Natalya, I won’t fear for my virtue.”

Natalya filled Aksinya’s flute and continued to hand her another blemis with caviar.  Natalya wasn’t certain how many times Natalya refilled her glass that evening, but by the end of the opera, she couldn’t stand on her own.  Natalya and Ernst had to both help her to Ernst’s landau and then back into her house.   

Ernst didn’t kiss Aksinya that evening, at least she had no recollection that he kissed her.  She wished he had.  She didn’t remember much at all.  In the morning, she woke with a splitting headache.  A strange whiff of incense and sulfur touched her nose.  Someone was opening the shutters of her windows.  Aksinya didn’t open her eyes, “Don’t let the sun in Nata.  I’ve told you so many times.”

“I’m not the Lady Natalya,” came Sister Margarethe’s voice.

Aksinya jerked to a sitting position and was overcome with dizziness.  Her head ached.  She held her head in her hands and fought down the nausea that enveloped her.  Finally, between clenched teeth, she forced, “Where’s Nata?  Where is she?”

Sister Margarethe sat on the side of the bed, “I have no idea.  I assumed you sent her on an errand last night.  She asked me to take care of you last evening, and she said I was to wake you in the morning.”

“You’ve seen her this morning?”

“No.  She last spoke to me when Herr von Taaffe brought you home drunk again.”

Aksinya’s eyes widened, “Where is she?  We must find her.”

“I’m certain she is fine.  She seemed to be off on something important.”

“She can’t be fine.  She can’t be.  Why are you speaking so nonchalantly about this?”

“Let me help you with your bath.  I’ve already drawn it for you.”

Aksinya was suddenly listless.  She allowed Sister Margarethe to pull her out of bed and remove her nightgown.  The nun helped her into the bath, “I’ll bring your morning tea and breakfast in a moment.”

Aksinya sat in the warm tub with her hands clasped together.  She heard her sitting room door open and close.  She couldn’t remember a waking moment when Nata was not at her side.  This seemed too strange to her.  Aksinya stared at her hands.  Her eyes opened wide, the faint line of new scar crossed the many others on her left hand.  She couldn’t imagine how it could have happened.  She hadn’t done that kind of magic in a while.  Finally, the sitting room door opened again.  She heard Sister Margarethe as she directed the novices.  The door shut again, and Sister Margarethe stepped into the bathroom, “Are you ready to get out, Countess?”

Aksinya nodded.

Sister Margarethe helped her out of the tub and dried her.  She put a dressing gown around Aksinya’s shoulders, and led her into the sitting room.  Sister Margarethe poured the tea and served Aksinya breakfast.  That’s when Aksinya finally caught a whiff of it.  Aksinya lifted her head and enunciated a couple of Latin words.  She hadn’t practiced any sorcery in a while.  The crucifix between her breasts heated immediately, but Aksinya knew it then.  Sister Margarethe had been touched with sorcery.  Her room had a definite scent of incense and under that, the sink of sulfur.  Aksinya understood there could only be one source for it—it had to be that cursed demon, Asmodeus.

She didn’t know what to do.  She had no idea where Natalya had gone.  She wasn’t certain she could get anyone to help her.  Sister Margarethe was convinced that Natalya had just gone out on an errand.  Aksinya couldn’t appeal to her or to anyone in this world except…  She began to pray.  She wasn’t certain it would do any good, but she reasoned prayer couldn’t hurt.  If Natalya didn’t return soon, Aksinya would call the demon that evening and demand that he come to her—explain everything to her.

After breakfast, Sister Margarethe dressed Aksinya and brushed her hair.  She didn’t notice the strange expression on Aksinya’s face.  She didn’t see how pale she was or how wide and frightened her eyes were.  Or, if she did, perhaps she attributed it to the alcohol and lack of sleep.

Aksinya was ill during chapel and vomited before Sister Margarethe could rush her into the hallway outside.  Sister Margarethe tried to comfort her and brought her tea before class, but the tea was not made to Aksinya’s taste, and Aksinya was in no mood to be comforted.  By the time, she arrived at her first class, her hair was loose around her face and her clothing had spots from her accident and from the tea she spilled.  She put her head down on her desk and tried to sleep.  She couldn’t do anything else, Sister Margarethe had forgotten Aksinya’s bag.  It was the bag Nata always carried for her.  The bag had all her school books and papers inside.

Finally, in the late morning, Natalya opened the classroom door.  Someone touched Aksinya’s arm, and she raised her head.  Aksinya’s eyes widened.  She stood at her desk and nearly fell.  She started toward Natalya and did fall.  She tripped on the desk and dropped to one knee.  Natalya was instantly beside her.  She took Aksinya’s arms and lifted her up.  Aksinya put her arms around Natalya and held her close.  Her eyes widened again—there was that smell plus another.  There was the scent of sorcery and a strange musky smell Aksinya couldn’t place.  Aksinya pulled back slightly from Natalya and stared at her.  Natalya lowered her eyes.  She led Aksinya back to their desks.  Natalya straightened Aksinya’s hair and brushed off her clothing.
Natalya didn’t say anything to her, and Aksinya was afraid to ask anything.

Natalya gets Aksinya drunk.  This is obviously purposeful.  That, in itself, is not foreshadowing, but the actions and appearance of Natalya are.  Likewise, where ever they go, the demon is present.  Aksinya note him when they are out that night.  In the morning, she notes incense and sulphur in her room.  She notes a new scar on her hand.  She notes the sorcery on Sister Margarethe.  Each of these and the disappearance of Natalya foreshadow what will happen next in the novel.  I use foreshadowing all the time.  It doesn't have to be that obvious.  It can be as subtle as a new scar from an incantation.  It can be as simple as a smell.  Note the smell on Natalya when she returns.  She won't look Aksinya in the eyes.
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., and the individual novel websites:,,,, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.

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