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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Character Truth

24 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Character Truth

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.

Now... we have the full scene setting.  Aksinya is fully awake and can note the environment.  The reader shares this with her. 

Aksinya finally woke again in the early afternoon.  Frau Becker and Frau Mauer both stayed with her and kept a close eye on her.  The moment Aksinya woke, she tried to get up, but she didn’t have the strength.  The room was bright and warm.  A coal fire burned in the fireplace.  The bed was large and beautiful.  Aksinya couldn’t see much more of the room than that at first.  Frau Becker had food and tea for her.  The two women helped Aksinya sit with some pillows behind her.  Then Aksinya could see the rest of the place.  It looked like a guest room in a fine house. 

The women fed her and gave her tea.  Aksinya tolled her rosary and then recited part of Matthew in Greek.  Frau Becker and Frau Mauer didn’t know what to make of that.  By the late afternoon, Frau Becker thought about calling for supper for them all when a knock came at the room’s door.

Frau Becker, at Aksinya’s side nodded toward Frau Mauer.  Frau Mauer went to the door, “This is a private room under guard.  Who is at the door?”

“This is the Inquisitor Esposito.  I’m here to speak to the prisoner about her defense.”

Frau Becker nodded, and Frau Mauer opened the door.

The stocky priest inquisitor entered the room.  He wore his usual priestly robes.  Frau Becker stood.  The priest walked up to the bed and cocked his head and observed Aksinya for a long moment.

Aksinya turned her face away, “Please, Inquisitor Esposito, I feel very uncomfortable under your scrutiny.”

He smiled and sat in the chair Frau Becker had left.  “Sorry,” he didn’t sound sorry, “I just wanted to take a careful look at you.”


“I’ve never seen a sorceress like you.”

Frau Becker snorted, “Have you ever seen a sorceress at all?”

      He glanced annoyed at Frau Becker, “Actually, no. Might I have a private discussion with the Fraulein?”

      Frau Becker brought a chair from the small table and put it on the other side of the bed, “Actually, no.  Frau Mauer and I will chaperone the Fraulein while you are here.”

      Aksinya smiled, “Thank you very much, Frau Becker.”

      The expression of the priest’s face didn’t change, “Very well, but if she must confess, you will have to move far enough away not to hear.”

      Inquisitor Esposito took out his briefcase and pulled out some papers and a fountain pen, “Now Fraulein Golitsyna, you must realize the charges of the Church against you are very serious.”

      “That I am guilty of sorcery, I confess.”

“You confess it?”

“Yes, I freely confess this.  I already confessed sorcery along with all my acts against God to my Orthodox priest, Father Dobrushin.”  Aksinya rushed ahead, “I would like to speak to Father Dobrushin.”

“That is not possible.”

“Why not?”

“He is Orthodox and not permitted at your trial.”

“I am Orthodox—does the same rule apply to me?”

The inquisitor ignored her, “There are other charges.”

“These are?”

“The first is that you impersonated a member of the nobility.  Do you have any proof that you are noble?”

“My passport.”

“Do you know where it is?”


Inquisitor Esposito cleared his throat, “Can anyone vouch for you?”

“My aunt and uncle, the Freifrau and Freiherr Bockmann.  The Freiherr is my mother’s brother.  I am related to the Herzog Bockmann of Germany.”

The priest’s expression turned bleak, “They have both declined to testify either for or against you at trial.  They are in the process of legally disowning you because of this incident.”

Aksinya lowered her head.  Her voice was soft, “I understand.”  She spoke more loudly, “What of the other charges?”

“There is a charge that you kidnapped and kept an apprentice to your sorcery, the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.”

“That is true.  I did.  I am confessed.  I harmed her soul and mind.”

Frau Becker and Frau Mauer gasped.

Father Esposito cleared his throat again, “Yes.”  He turned away his head, “There is another charge that you seduced the mind and soul of a Herr Ernst von Taaffe, a member of the Austrian nobility.”

“I did that also.  I am clearly at fault.”

The Frauen couldn’t hold back their gasp again.

In inquisitor continued, “The other charges relate to your use of sorcery.  They are that you used sorcery to murder your family, steal the goods from the estate of Count Golitsyna, to cheat merchants in Wien, and to escape Russian justice.”

Aksinya’s eyes widened, “I did not murder my family, the Bolsheviks did that.  I did not steal the things that belonged to me already, although I did use sorcery to bring them here to Austria.  You can lay the charge of cheating on me.  I did not know that was the case at the time.  I am still culpable.  Of Russian justice, I cannot speak.  I’m not certain who rules Russia, the Bolsheviks, the nobility, or the Parliament.”

The inquisitor chuckled at the last.  Then his face turned serious again, “There is much to recommend these charges.”

“There are witnesses?”

“Yes, there are, but I am not privy to the case against you.  I act as the advocatus reorum in your trial.  I am to represent you and defend you from the charges of the inquisition.  Both the promotor fiscalis and the judge is the Archinquisitor Gallo.  He does not have to share this information with me, only the charges.”

Aksinya shrugged, “That doesn’t seem to make it a very fair trail.”

“Perhaps it is not.”

Frau Becker sneered, “It is not at all fair.  What might be the punishment for such charges?”

“Excommunication and death could be the punishment, but death cannot be levied by an ecclesiastical court—it can only be recommended to a secular trial.”

Frau Becker wrung her hands, “You would kill her for this?”

“If she is guilty.”

Aksinya cocked her head, “You have not touched the most egregious sin I committed through sorcery.”

Inquisitor Esposito sat back, “And what would that be.”

“I called a demon from the depths of hell to be my servant.”

Frau Becker involuntarily scooted her chair back a little.  Frau Mauer brought her hands up to her face.

The Inquisitor wrote on his pad, “Who was this demon?”

“It is the demon Asmodeus.”

“You have seen him?”

“He was the one who took my clothing from me in the cell.  He was the reason I had to mark my clothing and the blankets with the crosses.  He still torments me.”

“But he is your servant?”

“No one can control a demon.  I brought him out of hell to protect my family.  He ensured that they all died.  He tempted me to take the Lady Natalya and to seduce Herr von Taaffe.”

“You called this demon into the house of the Cardinal?”

“I did not call him here.  I can’t be rid of him.  He comes and goes as he wills, but I am guilty for bringing him back to the world where he can tempt and harm others.”

“You also tried to kill yourself.  That is a very grievous crime as well.”

“I did not try to kill myself.”  Aksinya’s voice was low, “I tried to protect myself from the demon.”

“Yes.  This will be very difficult to defend Fraulein.”  The Inquisitor placed his papers and pen back into his briefcase.

“I have no intention of defending myself at the trial.”

“Yes.  I see.  I am still called to defend you.”

“I will not hold it against you because you will fail.  I am guilty.”

“I see.”  The inquisitor stood.  He started for the door.  He stopped and called over his shoulder, “We expect the trial to begin tomorrow.  Do you have anyone who might speak in your favor?”

“My priest, Father Dobrushin, Father Makar, the Matushka Ekaterina.  They might speak in my favor.”

“They are Orthodox.  They will not be allowed to testify.”

“Then there is no one who will speak for me.  But it doesn’t matter because I am guilty.”

The Priest went to the door.  Frau Becker pursued him through the opening.  In the hall outside, she called to him, “Inquisitor Esposito.”

The priest turned, “Yes, Frau.”

“You know this girl is not fully sane.  No one can really do sorcery.  No one can do the things this child has been accused of.”

“She has confessed to them, and I don’t see much that I can defend.”

“Listen to me, Father.  For the love of God, you must not allow them to harm her.  Since she has been here, I have not seen anything in her but an honest and contrite woman.  I hear the papers are following everything.  I know there are reporters outside the gates every day.  This trial will ruin her and many others.  It will not help the Church.  It will not lead to anything good.”

“The Pope himself sent us to seek out a resolution to this matter.  It is not in our hands.  It is in the hands of God.  For better or worst, the result will be what it is.  Additionally, Archinquisitor Gallo is a driven man.  He will not let this go until it reaches the bitter end.  The scourging and discipline of the Church and its members is a critical function that we provide.”

“But this will not scourge and discipline.  It will lead to much harm.”

“So you say,” he frowned down on Frau Becker.

“Let me testify in her favor.  I am a member of the Church and can speak to her sanity and her goodness.”

“That will not be allowed.  You are not a witness to any of the charges to which she has been accused.”  The inquisitor turned on his heel and left Frau Becker standing with her mouth hanging open.

In this scene, we learn a lot about what is going on around Aksinya.  We see the basic charges against her and what the inquisitors think.  We also see what Frau Becker thinks. Frau Becker is the normal mind among everyone close to Aksinya at this point.  Frau Becker doesn't believe in the demon.  She doesn't mistrust Aksinya, but she doesn't believe her either.  She doesn't believe the inquisitors.  This is the same situation as the thinking reader.  They wonder what is the truth and they wonder what to believe.  Ironically, everyone seems to know that the deck is stacked against Aksinya.

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.
For more information, you can visit my author site at, and my individual novel websites:,,,, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.

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