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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Morning and Conversation

7 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Morning 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.

The scene setting here is subtle but with obvious scene setting.  The entire scene transitions with appropriate scene setting. Note that all that is necessary in setting a transition within a scene is to state "at dinner."  If you already set the scene, this sets the time, place, and characters.  We see this in the example.

Aksinya was impossible the next morning.  Natalya had to shake her for ten minutes to wake her.  She had Sister Margarethe bring coffee instead of tea and made Aksinya drink a whole cup while she bathed and dressed her.

Aksinya protested the entire time.  Natalya had to request help from Sister Margarethe.  Together, they finally dressed, bathed, and fed Aksinya.  Then they walked across the street to Sacré Coeur.  Chapel was a chore.  Aksinya fell ill from the very beginning and had to leave before the blessing of the elements.  She was sick, but afterwards, Natalya found her a cup of tea.  Sister Margarethe joined them until it was time for class.

When they entered the classroom together with Sister Margarethe, Aksinya stepped directly to her seat by the window and fell into it.  She lay her head down on her arms and closed her eyes.  The rest of her classes didn’t go much better for Aksinya.  She was behind in everything and didn’t seem to care.  Natalya kept better than an average pace.

At dinner, Aksinya was listless and ate little.

Anna Pfaff started the conversation at their table, “So, Countess, did Ernst von Taaffe escort you to the ballet?”  She would not look Aksinya in the eyes.  They darted all around the table.

Natalya sat a little straighter, “Yes, he did escort her.  He was a very pleasant gentleman.”

Frieda Trauen glanced over her glass, “I understand our sweet countess was a little under the weather today.”

Aksinya didn’t move much, “I had too much to drink, but the evening and the gentleman were pleasant.”

Fraulein Trauen smirked, “I hope for your sake, he wasn’t too familiar during your drunken state.”

Natalya glared at her, “My mistress was in no way imprudent during the evening.”

“She was drunk.”

Aksinya snarled, “I just drank a little too much.  By the way, Herr von Taaffe did not ogle the ballerinas.”

Fraulein Trauen cocked her head, “Oh really, then were did he keep his eyes?”

Aksinya stared at her, “He kept them on me the entire evening.  I’m not certain he looked at anyone on the stage.  He took me to the Palais Coburg Hotel Residenz for dinner in the red room and to the ballet.  We had caviar and Champaign at intermission.”

Diedre Vogt sucked in her breath, “The red room—ooh.”

Fraulein Pfaff shook her head, “You have totally ensorcelled Herr von Taaffe.”  She bent her neck toward Aksinya and blinked her eyes, “You should strike while the iron is hot.”

Fraulein Trauen was shocked, “Whatever do you mean?  She should strike while the iron is hot?”

Fraulein Pfaff scowled, “You can’t be so naïve, Fraulein Trauen.  The Countess should use her every womanly wile to entice Herr von Taaffe.”

Fraulein Trauen rose in her seat a little, “What do you mean Fraulein Pfaff?  Are you suggesting the Countess act in some imprudent way?”

Aksinya’s laugh startled them all.  She didn’t sit up, “It is only the first evening, but Herr Taaffe pleases me very much.  I shall see what will come of it.  Perhaps he will ask me out again.”

Natalya touched her lips with her napkin, “He will certainly ask you out again.”

Aksinya laughed again, “Do you really think so, Lady Natalya?”

Natalya smiled.  Her brow rose, “It is certain.”

Aksinya smiled, “Then, Lady Natalya, you must ensure I don’t drink so much I miss Herr Taaffe’s untoward advances.  I would surely not wish to miss something like that.”  She glared at Fraulein Trauen who didn’t dare squeak out a reply.
This is a fun scene.  We see the answer to Fraulein Trauen's question.  We know Aksinya watched Ernst to see if he ogled the ballerinas.  He didn't.  This simple point puts Trauen in her place.  This is also the release in the scene.  What is good to see is the simplicity of tension and release and the way an author builds the tension and release.  This tension and release was built over time and scenes.

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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