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Friday, February 15, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Introductions

15 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Introductions

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.

The scene has been set, but here we have another transition with new characters introduced.  Note, especially, the description of Ernst's father and the introductions.  I use introducitons to reinforce the descriptions and tags I use with characters.  It is one thing to note them to your readers in a descirption--it is quite another thing to put them in the words of another character.

When their coupe arrived at front of the house, Ernst ran out and stopped at the carriage door before the vehicle came to a complete stop.  He was dressed formally in dark tails, but didn’t have on his top hat.  He yanked open the door before the doorman or the driver could.  Aunt Brunhilda grasped Aksinya’s arm and pulled her up.  She whispered with a smile, “Greet him first.  He’s looking for you.”

Aksinya came to the door, and Ernst put out his hand.  Aksinya allowed him to help her from the coupe.  She was dressed in a light blue gown that had silver highlights sewn into the fabric.  The gown flowed gently over her body.  The top was high with a straight collar that accentuated her very thin body and small bosom.  Her hat was a small square of blue lace with a very light veil that only reached as long as her bangs.  Like always, Natalya had chosen the clothing for her.  Aksinya had not closed her long mink cloak and that framed her body and the dress.  Ernst stared at her for a moment then he put his lips close to her gloved hand and bowed deeply over it.  His warm breath swirled with small clouds in the cold air, “Countess Golitsyna, welcome to Steinholtz.”  He raised his head and gazed in her eyes with such a strange and fervent expression, she blushed.

The doorman and driver helped the Freiherr and Freifrau from the coupe and then Natalya.  Finally, without moving his eyes from Aksinya, Ernst turned partially toward the Freiherr and Freifrau, “Good evening Freiherr and Freifrau Bockmann.”  After a moment, Ernst managed to drag his eyes from Aksinya and to the Freiherr.  He gave a slight bow to the nobleman, and then took Freifrau Bockmann’s hand and bowed over it.

A man who looked like an older copy of Ernst descended the marble steps from the house.  He was dressed in very conservative formal tails.  His top hat sat jauntily on his head.  A great smile filled his features.  He laughed, “Ernst, the Freiherr and the Freifrau I know.  Please introduce me to your friend.”

Ernst offered his arm to Aksinya and walked her to the gentleman, “Father, this is the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna.  Countess, this is my father, the Graf Franz von Taaffe.”

Aksinya proffered her gloved hand, and The Graf took it and bowed over it.  When he raised his head, his eyes twinkled, “Good evening, Countess and welcome to Steinholtz.  My son has truly chosen to court a treasure.”

Aksinya blushed at that too.

The Graf reluctantly, Aksinya thought, released her hand and turned toward her aunt and uncle.  The Freiherr gave slight bow and the Freifrau a curtsy.  Graf von Taaffe grasped the Freiherr’s hand and pumped it up and down.  He bowed over Freifrau Bockmann’s hand.

Aksinya reached behind her and pulled Natalya forward.  Lady Natalya made a low curtsy.  Aksinya put out her hand, “Graf von Taaffe, this is my lady-in-waiting, the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.”

Graf von Taaffe bowed over Natalya’s hand, “I have heard about your good friend also, Countess Golitsyna.  You are also welcome, Lady Obolenska.  That is a name of Russian nobility, is it not?”

Aksinya answered for Natalya, “The Lady Natalya is a member of the court.”

Graf von Taaffe turned his smile back to Aksinya, “Is that so?  Then we are all well met.”

Aksinya continued, “You may address her as the Lady Natalya.”

Graf von Taaffe grinned at Aksinya, “I do understand the formality of the Russian court, but you may address me as Franz if you wish, Countess.”

“I have not given Ernst the favor of that informality with me, yet, sir.  I am a little old fashioned in my thinking.  I hope you don’t mind.”

The Graf seemed even more pleased, “I understand completely, Countess.  Very well, it is cold outside, and I understand your delicate nature.  Please, let us retire to the ballroom.  There are refreshments, and I’m certain, my guests would like to make your acquaintance.”  The Graf extended his arm toward Aksinya.  She took it.  Ernst frowned and gave his arm to Natalya. They made their way into the house with the Graf von Taaffe and the Countess Golitsyna in the lead.

A very complex conversation is included in this scene.  It is completely timely to the era of the novel.  It is definitely foreign to the normal modern view of place and the way people are addressed.  These details are critical for any historical novel.

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, aseasonofhonor.

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