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 http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
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.
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.
Scene setting, in this case, is driven by the need to make the reader feel the experience of the main character. Aksinya wakes in an unknown environment. It is warm and comfortable. She feels like the times when she woke before with Natalya or Sister Margarethe beside her. She isn't confused, but she is both resolved and resigned. Such is Aksinya's new personality.
Aksinya awoke in a bed. It was warm and comfortable, but she felt light headed. Someone held her hand. She turned her head and expected to see the Lady Natalya or at least Sister Margarethe. She tried to focus on the face near hers.
A weary voice spoke before Aksinya could identify the person, “Why did you try to kill yourself?”
Aksinya still couldn’t focus, “I didn’t try to kill myself.”
“But your wrist…”
“I had to put crosses on my things so he couldn’t take them again.”
“So who couldn’t take them again?”
Frau Mauer’s voice came from the side, “You see, Frau Becker, I told you that’s what she said. She begged my thread and a needle to make crosses on her dress and the blankets.”
Frau Becker’s voice hardened, “And you wouldn’t lend them to her?”
Aksinya still could not focus her eyes well, “Frau Becker was the kind woman who gave me the blankets. I marked them well.”
“You almost bled to death.”
“Still, now the demon can’t take them from me.” Aksinya moved her free hand around under the covers. Frau Becker stroked her other hand. It felt numb and heavy. Aksinya gave a worried cry, “My dress and my blankets.”
Frau Becker’s voice was soothing beside her, “I dressed you in a nightgown.”
“Does it have crosses?”
“Yes,” Frau Becker lied.
“Are you warm enough now?”
“Yes, thank you.”
There was a slight choke in Frau Becker’s voice, “Before you return to the cell, you will have your blankets.”
“The ones with the crosses.”
“Yes, the ones with the crosses.”
“Thank you. I feel very sleepy. As long as there are crosses, I will be safe.”
“Yes, you will be safe. I’ll sit right here with you.”
“Thank you, Frau Becker. I am gratefu…” Aksinya’s eyes closed.
“Frau Mauer,” Frau Becker hissed softy, “Sew crosses on her nightgown.”
“No buts, do it. Do it now and don’t wake her.”
“But she’s crazy…”
“I don’t care how crazy she is. She is in the Archbishop’s charge. Sew the crosses on her nightgown.”“Yes, ma’am.” Frau Mauer gently pulled the edge of the nightgown from under the covers and carefully embroidered four crosses evenly spaced around the hem. Then she sewed them on the sleeves. By the time she was done, Aksinya was stirring and Frau Becker sent Frau Mauer down to the kitchen for food and tea.
This is wonderful irony. Does Frau Becker believe Aksinya? No, not at all. She simply responds to the powerful strength that is in Aksinya. Aksinya doesn't act like a crazy person. Her words are confusing and not believable to the practical, but still, she was worried enough about crosses on her dress to cut her wrist. Frau Becker understands this. Using this means, I draw the reader into a totally different world. The reader knows there is no such thing as demons, but I have made demons come true in the novel. The reader believes Aksinya--the novel has placed this belief before them.
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 audiences...ie, multi-layered story, for various audiences...like CS Lewis did. JustTake care, and keep up the writing; I am enjoying it, and learning a lot.