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Friday, February 8, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Letters and Dinner

8 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Letters and Dinner

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.

In this scene setting, we have the place and time setting in a letter.  This is a great way to set both.  I use letters, notes, telegrams etc. as often as I can to set this and to communicate important information to my readers.  Letters are a great means of expressing ideas and information in a novel.

Indeed, a letter came to Aksinya’s house the next day.

Ernst Franz von Taaffe

Stal Straße

Wien, Austria


19 December 1918


Dearest Lady Golitsyna


Thank you for attending the ballet and dinner with me last evening.  Your presence was dazzling.  You lit up my evening the same way the Palais Coburg Hotel Residenz lights up the night sky.  You made me so happy, dear Countess, I would like to see you again this weekend, and I wish to invite you next week to dinner and the grand Christmas performance of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.  We shall work out the details when I see you at Grossbock on Saturday.  Until then, 



                                                                                                                  Ernst Franz von Taaffe, heir to Graf von Taaffe”

On Friday evening, Aunt Brunhilda greeted Aksinya and Natalya when they arrived at Grossbock.  She curtsied and took Aksinya’s hands.  Her first breathless words were, “Dear Countess, Ernst von Taaffe has asked to dine with us on Saturday night…”

Aksinya frowned, just a little, “Did you accept?”

Aunt Brunhilda stared as though Aksinya had lost her mind, “Of course we accepted.”  She smiled and shook Aksinya’s hands, “He is the perfect match for you.”

Aksinya rolled her eyes, “I’m cold.  Could we retire to the family parlor?”

“Even better, we can have aperitifs in my sitting room until dinner.”


Throughout dinner and Saturday, Aunt Brunhilda wouldn’t stop talking about Herr von Taaffe.  Aksinya wondered if she would be able to put up with her Aunt for the rest of the weekend.  Ominously, Asmodeus did not make an appearance Friday evening.  Aksinya had not seen him for a long time.  She had not attempted to contact him, and she had not called him.  She had a very bad feeling about his lack of appearance and speculated that the demon was either preparing something very unpleasant for her or that she was accomplishing everything he desired her to do.  The later worried her the most.

When Saturday evening came around, Aksinya did not greet Herr von Taaffe at the door.  She read a book in the family parlor, and Natalya sat with her.  Freiherr Bockmann wanted to use the formal greeting parlor, but Aksinya liked the large fireplace in the family parlor with its very warm wood and coal fire.  She remained facing the fireplace when Herr von Taaffe entered. 

Ernst came around to the blazing fireplace and stood in front of Aksinya, “Countess Golitsyna, good evening.”

Aksinya made a wry face, but didn’t look up from her book, “Good evening, Herr von Taaffe.”

“Sweet Lady, I told you, you may call me, Ernst.”

“Very well, Ernst.”  She glanced up from her book.  “Do not neglect my lady-in-waiting.  She is not your servant, and you have been introduced.”

“I’m sorry, Lady Obolenska.  Good evening.”

Natalya nodded.

Freiherr Bockmann pulled a chair over for Ernst.  He put it close to the left side of Aksinya’s seat.  Ernst sat down.  Aksinya opened her book again, and Ernst pulled it out of her hands.  He laughed, “You didn’t intend to neglect me, did you?”

“No, I did accept your invitation to dine and to the opera next week.”

“I received your post.”

“Then, you see I have no intention of neglecting you.  In fact, I shall give you all my attention on Wednesday evening.”

“What about tonight?”

Aksinya scowled at him, “You did not ask my permission about tonight.  You came to entertain my aunt and uncle.  I certainly don’t want to get in your way.”

Ernst laughed again, “I warned you I was coming.  I invited myself to your aunt and uncle’s for the purpose of seeing you again.  Will you let me entertain you?”

“What?  Entertain me in my own relation’s home?  That is certainly pretentious.”

“With your and their permission, I will attempt to engage you in a pleasant evening’s conversation.”

“I intended to read this evening.”

“Then I shall read to you.”

Aksinya’s eyebrow rose, “You would?”

Ernst nodded.

Aksinya took the book from him and stuck it between her hip and the chair, “Perhaps after dinner.”  She stood, “Ernst, you may escort me to table.  Uncle, I am ready for dinner.”

They went together into the family dining room.

Aksinya was pleasant to Ernst during dinner and the rest of the evening.  He left before the Freiherr and Freifrau retired for the evening.  Ernst did not read to Aksinya that evening, they were all too busily engaged in polite conversation.


Aksinya felt a little better at the Ecclesia on Sunday.  The younger priest, Father Dobrushin’s piercing glance seemed to linger too much on her face, but Aksinya wasn’t certain if that was just her imagination.  She didn’t speak to either of the priests that morning.  Asmodeus did not make an appearance the entire weekend.
You can see the build up in this conglomeration of scenes.  It is all concerned with Ernst.  Note that Aksinya relents somewhat.  The point is to show the reader that Aksinya's opinion of Ernst is slowly changing.  She should be more cautious.
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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