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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Place Description

14 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Place Description

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 transitional scene, there is extensive place and time setting.  The characters are moving from one place to another.  The key here is the description of the place.  This is what I want you to note.  See the number of words required to sufficiently describe the destination.  This is the place Ernst invited them and the place of a party.  You can see woven into the description, an explanation of Ernst's family and a comparison to Aksinya's.

Ernst invited Aksinya, Natalya, and the Bockmanns to the Graff von Taaffe’s New Years dance and party.  Because of the distance to the estate, they were invited to remain over until the next day and brought their small trunks and nightwear.  They rode in the Bockmann’s coupe for more than two hours into the country until they arrived at the Graff von Taaffe’s estate.  The way to the house from the main road was down a long tree-lined carriage path.  Aksinya would have continued to read her German novel except that Natalya pointed out their approach to the house.  They caught occasional glimpses from the enclosed cab of the great house as they cut back and forth in the gentle climb to the mansion.

The house was large and very old.  From a distance, it looked like a schloß, but had a little more modern appearance close up.  That is, on closer observation, it appeared to be from the eighteenth century, which it was, rather than from the fourteenth century, which it wasn’t.  The front was stone with a generous fresco of marble, and all three floors displayed a similar exterior.  The access to the heavy oaken front door was from a set of modern marble steps, but in contrast, the lower floor showed tiny windows and the top floor a crenulated roofline.  Aksinya could spot the iron roofing that poked above the tops of the decorative crenulations.  The second floor windows were larger and more numerous, but still gave an impression of medieval depth, and the top floor windows were the largest, but the thickness of the stone facade prevented any visibility into them.  Tall constructions at either end of the face of the mansion appeared like towers, but they were encompassed at the walls and not separate structures. 

The mansion reminded Aksinya a little of her house in Russia.  The outline and much of the ornamentation were similar.  In Russia, however, the purpose was protection and defense.  Her house had been defended many times in the past by the Counts Golitsyna.  She, on the other hand, had abandoned it instead of defending it with her life.  She shook her head.  She wondered why that thought had suddenly stolen into her mind.  The von Taaffe estate, on the other hand, gave no impression that it had ever been defended against any real foe.

Aksinya was not enraptured with the idea of visiting Ernst’s family or his father’s estate.  Still Ernst was pleasant.  She certainly didn’t want her aunt and uncle gumming up all her time with the young man.  She wondered mostly why he would invite her and her aunt and uncle to this affair tonight.

Aksinya is naive.  We can guess why Ernst brought her to his family's estate.  We can guess what is going on.  When this occurs to Aksinya...  There is much more to what is spoken and what is presented to the reader.  A reader should be able to figure out much of the under current in the plot.

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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