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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Transitions and Change

24 February 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Transitions and Change

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 short transitional scene.  It moves us from Ernst's father's estate back to Wien and then through time as well as space.  This example also shows how to change a location in a novel through conversation.

They stepped into the coupe and the driver started out toward Wien and Grossbock.

During the entire return trip, Aunt Brunhilda tried to get Aksinya to talk about Ernst and his proposal, but Aksinya would not say a word.  She slouched in the corner of the coupe and read her German novel.  As they neared the city, Aksinya sat up, “Aunt Brunhilda, Uncle, I would like to return to my house tonight.  Please, take us there.”

“Tonight,” Aunt Brunhilda complained, “But we have dinner waiting.”

“I’ve eaten and drunk too much as it is these last few days.  I would like to return to my house.  I shall take my dinner at Sacré Coeur, that is, if I feel dinner is necessary.”

“Really, Countess.”

“I would like time to privately contemplate Herr von Taaffe’s proposal.”

“Oh, I see,” Aunt Brunhilda raised her head and gave a thoughtful look.  “I certainly think that is a good idea.  Would you like you to discuss your decision with us…?”

Aksinya turned her head toward the door.  She would not respond to a single question her aunt asked after that.  Eventually, Aunt Brunhilda gave up.

The Freiherr and Freifrau let Aksinya and Natalya off in front of the house across from Sacré Coeur.  Sister Margarethe and the two novice sisters greeted them at the door.  Aksinya and Natalya ate a light supper in Aksinya’s sitting room and had a late tea.  They both studied until it was time for bed.

Saturday and Sunday went well.  Ernst came on Sunday to escort Aksinya and Natalya to the Orthodox Ecclesia that was close to Sacré Coeur.  The crucifix at Aksinya’s breast burned the entire time.  Father Dobrushin watched her with an odd look in his eyes.  Aksinya became ill at communion, but she didn’t lose her breakfast.  Natalya helped her back to her seat and wouldn’t let Ernst near her the entire time. 
A very important change is happening in Natalya.  The author's duty is to show this change throughout and slowly.  The reader should understand the character is changing, but the change should be gradual enough that there is no abruptness.  Or, if there is some great change, it is preceded by an important decision or conversation that makes the change obvious.  This is what is indicated by the end portion of this scene example.

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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