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Friday, February 22, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Revelations

22 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Revelations

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.

This is a transitional scene with scene setting throughout.  The set up is for the conversation between Aksinya and Natalya.  This is a very important scene and one where we finally learns something about Natalya.  If you paid close attention to Natalya and her words, this won't be too surprising, however, one of the ways an author both builds anticipation and tension in a novel is to present a character in such a way that the truth about them is constantly rejected by the readers.  The reader knows Natalya was abused, but most would prefer not to fully comprehend what that possibly entails.  Further, the fact that Natalya would sell her body for the hope of rescue is both abhorrent yet easily understood.  Within the Victorian context of the times, this is more than abhorrent, it is a social death sentence.  It is a secret that would never be shared... except.

As Aksinya and Ernst started toward the stone stairs that climbed to the third floor, Natalya joined them.  She scowled a little at Ernst.  Ernst signaled and two women servants took their places.  One led them at the front and the other followed.  They went up the stairs and entered a long hallway.  At the first room on the right, the leading servant opened the door.  The two maids went inside and lit the gas lamps and the candles.  They checked and refreshed the coal fires.  Aksinya held to Ernst at the door until they were finished.  When everything in the room was ready, they both curtsied to Aksinya, Ernst, and Natalya.

Ernst gave Aksinya’s hand to Natalya, “Lady Natalya, I give the charge of the Countess to you.”

“She has always been my charge, Herr von Taaffe.”

Ernst ignored her, “Good evening and sleep well, Aksinya.  I will speak to you in the morning that is before you depart with your uncle and aunt.”

Aksinya smiled at Ernst.  As Natalya dragged her through the door, Aksinya replied, “I shall sleep late and awake with a terrible headache, but I will speak to you by and by.”

Natalya shut the door.

The two maids came to them and immediately began to remove Aksinya’s clothing.  Aksinya required the help of all three.  They put her into a hot bath.  Natalya stood half undressed in the center of the sitting room and directed them.  The maids readied the nightclothes Natalya instructed them to get out of the small trunk they had brought on the coupe.  The footmen had delivered it to the room earlier.  While Aksinya bathed—with the door open, so Natalya could keep an eye on her, Natalya had the maids set out Aksinya’s and her clothing for the morrow.  The maids pressed their gowns and hung them.  By then, it was time to wrestle Aksinya out of the bath and put her nightgown on her.  While Aksinya lay on her bed, the maids helped Natalya out of her clothing and into her nightgown.  They had already warmed the beds and checked the coals again.

At the end, Natalya had them lay Aksinya under the covers, but they propped her up on the pillows so Natalya could brush her hair.  Natalya finally closed the door on the two of them.  Natalya took her brush and sat on the side of the bed.  She began to brush Aksinya’s hair.  Aksinya’s eyes were closed, but Natalya knew she wasn’t sleeping.  Aksinya didn’t open her eyes, she stretched her hands out in front of her.  Her voice was only slurred a little, but her accent wasn’t evident because she spoke Russian, “Nata, no man has ever told me that he loves me.”

Natalya gave a fierce tug on Aksinya’s hair.

“What was that for?  Be more gentle, Nata.”

“You have a lot to learn mistress.”

“Aksinya.  I am Aksinya.”

“Yes, Aksinya.  You still have a lot to learn.”

“About what?”

“About men.  The first thing they tell is that they love you before…before…”

Aksinya’s head lolled, “Before what?”

“Before they take you to bed—then all their love is forgotten.”

“How do you know?”

“The number of times…”

“Number of times.  You haven’t?”

Natalya tugged a little harder against Aksinya’s hair.

“Nata, please be more gentle.  I’m listening to you.  You are only fifteen.”

Natalya’s voice was very hard, “I hate them.  They promised to take me away.  They promised to rescue me.  All they wanted was my body.”

“And you gave it to them?”

Natalya took a deep breath, “To be free from the beatings and hatred, I would give away anything.”  She began to brush Aksinya’s hair again, this time much more gently, “You were the only one who would rescue me, Cou…Aksinya.  You gave me new life.  You don’t know how important that was to me.  I would have done anything to be free from what that household did to me.  But only you really did anything.  The others took me and gave me nothing back.”

“Ernst isn’t like that…”

“They all are like that.  He will tire of you, just as they tired of me.”

“They?  I am so sorry, Natalya.”

“I am not sorry.  I am only sorry that you did not come sooner.  I would die for you.  I will protect you from this man.”

“But, I’m not sure I want to be protected.  I think I might like him.  I am tempted by his love.”  Aksinya giggled, “And I left the party before midnight.”  Her voice trailed off, “Will the new year even come if I’m not there...?”

The power of tension and release in writing scenes is the tension and release isn't just about the current scene, but about every scene before.  In this scene, many of the tensions developed through the novel are released--at the same time, new tensions are introduced.  You can view these tensions as storylines with the realization that the storylines are tension developers with intended release.

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., and the individual novel websites:,,,, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.

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