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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, the Morning After

12 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, the Morning After

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.

Here I use scene setting as part of the humor and the tension and release in the scene.  In descriptive narration, I move the scene from the morning and Aksinya's bedroom to the school and her classes.  The reader is already familiar with Aksinya and Natalya's day, so moving through it is accomplished via highlights and unusual events.  This is where the humor comes in.  Then comes dinner. 

In the morning, Sister Margarethe and Natalya would not allow Aksinya to sleep late.  They woke her and poured strong coffee down her and dressed her.  With one on the left and the other on her right, they half carried her to chapel where she lost the coffee and breakfast they had fed her.  They both took her to the dining room and served her tea and a half a roll.  Aksinya slept through her classes.  She and Natalya finally arrived at dinner.  Aksinya did not look very well.  She ate listlessly.

Fraulein Trauen couldn’t remain quiet, “Well Countess, how was your evening?  Did you drink too much again?”

Aksinya played with her soup, “I was provoked.”


Natalya didn’t look up from her bowl, “Herr von Taaffe declared his undying love to her and announced his challenge against any other suitor.”

The women around the table stared at her.  Fraulein Trauen swallowed.

Fraulein Pfaff sighed, “Right in the middle of the opera?  How romantic.”

Natalya nodded, “At intermission.”

Fraulein Pfaff stretched her arms toward Natalya, “How did she accept it…?”  She immediately thought better of her address.  She turned toward Aksinya, “Did you accept his love, Countess?”

Aksinya rolled her eyes and gave Fraulein Pfaff a disdainful scowl.  No one spoke.  Finally, Aksinya stated in unequivocal terms, “I took Ernst’s confession under advisement.  For now, I will allow him to continue to court me.”

Fraulein Pfaff’s mouth hung open, “Do you love him?”

Aksinya ran her fingers through her short hair, “Love him?  I’m not certain I desire him.”

Fraulein Trauen cried out, “What a shameful thing to say.  To desire him?  What are you thinking?”

Aksinya pushed her soup out of the way and lay her head at her place.  She plucked at the tablecloth, “What would I want with a man.  I have everything I need right now.  The only reason I would want one is to satisfy my desires.”

Fraulein Trauen’s ears reddened.  Her mouth opened and closed a couple of times finally, she choked out, “There is certainly much more to a man than to satisfy your desires.  No proper woman should have any desires at all.”  Fraulein Trauen glanced around, “At least that’s what my mother says.”

Aksinya glanced up at her, “Your mother is a fool and so are you.  The purpose of men is to fulfill a woman’s desires.  That is the only reason I would have one, and Ernst von Taaffe must prove his willingness to meet my needs before I will consider anything else.”

Fraulein Pfaff asked, “Is that what love means to you?”

Aksinya smiled.  She sat up so the fish course could be placed in front of her.  When they were served, Aksinya picked at the small piece of salmon on her plate and answered, “Yes, truthfully, that is love to me.  A man should meet my needs and desires—to me that is love.  What else could love be?”

Fraulein Pfaff surveyed the table.  Fraulein Trauen wouldn’t meet her eyes.  Fraulein Vogt stared at her plate.  Natalya’s gaze was steady, but she remained silent.  Only Aksinya would look directly at Fraulein Pfaff, and Aksinya’s opinion was the last one she wanted to hear.  Finally Fraulein Pfaff asked, “How would you love a man then?”

Aksinya smiled a very broad smile, “I would meet his every need and desire myself.”

Fraulein Trauen’s hands moved up to her mouth, “You don’t mean every desire, even those…”

Aksinya grinned, “Even those.  That’s what I’d expect from him.”

The nun at the table finally took notice of the women in her charge.  She raised her head in time to catch Aksinya with a very smug look on her face, Natalya with a bored look, and the others with their hands over their mouths.

Aksinya’s appetite improved considerably, but the conversation at the table didn’t continue at all that evening.
This is a pivotal scene.  In it, Aksinya gets to state what she believe love to be.  Aksinya has a lot to learn about love--but so do the young ladies at the table.  You can also see the truth of Aksinya's personality.  She doesn't mean to harm, but she does harm by her views and she is smug about it.  Aksinya acts here like a temptress.  I won't go back over this point because I covered it in the original text with the novel.  Here the scene is one of tension and release caused by an intelectual discussion.  The discussion is intellectual, but it is filled with all kinds of tempting thoughts and ideas.  The release is Aksinya's final statements and the response of the ladies.  The nun's actions at the table bring about the release.  The end is very indicative of the personalities of the people around the table.  Use intellectual tension and release as much as action oriented tension and release.
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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