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.
Remember in a scene you build the tension and then release. The building of tension is everything up to the point where Aksinya beats Natalya. This is the release. The scene starts to build the tension again with Aksinya's wild escape. She runs to the Ekklesia and there the tension continues to build. The building is through Aksinya's desire and demand to be confessed. Father Dobrushin believes her, but Makar does not. Ekaterina believes and wants to help. The tension comes from the fact that the reader, with Aksinya believes that confession could help her. The demon told Aksinya not to confess, but that is the only hope she has. The only one who discourages her is Father Makar. Makar doesn't believe--his concern is that Aksinya is insane. And note, she would seem insane in the real world. In the world of the novel--not so much.
Aksinya ran into the foyer and to the outer door. She tugged at the handle. It wouldn’t open at first. She screamed and ripped it open. She ran out into the freezing night. Behind her, she heard nothing but sobs. She knew nothing but cries, but these were no longer hers. They were the cries of the nuns who knelt beside the broken and bleeding Lady Natalya.
In the street, the cheerful sounds of the Golden Adler Gasthaus came to Aksinya and mocked her. She ran in the opposite direction. She ran, and she ran as though the devils of hell pursued her. She had every reason to believe they did.
After a while, Aksinya slowed and stumbled on the cobblestones. A carriage rushed by and almost struck her. She fell to the side and cowered against the wall of a building. She pressed her burning body against the cold stone, and crept along beside it. After a few steps, Aksinya began to run again and fell. The cobbles bruised her hands. When she raised them in the circle of gaslight near her, they were covered with blood, but she couldn’t tell if the blood was hers or Natalya’s. Aksinya let out another anguished cry and pressed against the wall. She stood and ran again. She ran until her breath was gone. She ran until she could not run any further. Her throat was hoarse. Her body ached. She couldn’t think at all. She had just seen everything in her life, every thing that loved her and that she might have loved melt away to nothingness. She had discarded Ernst. She had killed Natalya. She had threatened and cursed Sister Margarethe. She had thrown away God. There was nothing for her now. She had nothing at all now.
The darkness enveloped her and she fell again. The cold ground was hard against her burning cheeks. She lay there panting for a long time. Then before her, a door creaked open. Light streamed through the opening. Aksinya raised her face from the cobbles. A voice called out in the darkness, “Who’s there? Who is it?”
Aksinya thought she recognized the voice. She couldn’t immediately place where she had heard it. She squinted into the light, but she couldn’t make out anything except a dark silhouette. Without much thought, without much more than a whisper, Aksinya cried out, “Save me. Please save me. I’ve nothing left. I’m dead to everything.”
A step came next to her ear. Someone knelt beside her. The voice came to her again, “Who is it?”
“Aksinya. It is Aksinya.”
A hand grasped her arms and lifted her up, “Are you alright, Countess?”
Aksinya didn’t answer.
Another voice came from the doorway, “Father Dobrushin, what is it?”
“I think it is the Countess Golitsyna.”
“Here? At this time of night? Do you need help?”
“No, Father Makar, she isn’t heavy.”
Aksinya felt herself lifted from the ground. Father Dobrushin held her close and carried her through the open doorway. Aksinya heard the door shut behind them.
Someone touched her face and felt her forehead. The hand was soft and gentle, it brushed the hair away from her face. A woman’s voice this time, “Is she ill? I don’t think she has a fever.”
Aksinya couldn’t speak properly. Her voice was rough and torn, “Father, father, please confess me. I must confess, for I am guilty of much evil.”
The woman’s voice chuckled, “Confess you, Countess. Let us take you back to your house.”
“I have murdered. I can’t go back there. They will be coming for me soon, and I must confess now before it is too late.”
Aksinya’s eyes flashed open. The light was too bright and she closed them again. She panted still in a hoarse whisper, “I am a murderer. I must confess.” She held out her hands.
“They are covered with blood…”
The Father Makar’s voice spoke too gently, “Just a few scrapes—a little blood.” The tone of the voice lowered and changed slightly, “Father Dobrushin? Will you confess her?”
Aksinya cried out, “You must all listen. You must know what I am.”
“That isn’t the way it is usually done, child.”
“For me, you must listen to my confession. Then you must give me over to them. My life is forfeit and my soul is forfeit, but I will die knowing I am confessed.”
The woman’s voice, “She sounds serious.”
Father Makar replied, “Ekaterina, she’s delirious, unbalanced. Such a confession is irregular, and a confession from an unbalanced mind…”
Father Dobrushin clasped Aksinya a little more tightly, “I will hear your confession, Countess.”
“Don’t call me that. I am nothing now. I am nothing.”
“Take her into the Ecclesia.”
Ekaterina spoke, “I’ll light the candles.”
Father Makar’s voice was tired, “I’ll get the sacrament.”
Father Dobrushin carried Aksinya a little farther. Aksinya felt the crucifix between her breasts begin to heat. They passed through a doorway, and the heat increased suddenly and nausea overwhelmed her. She gagged and bile filled her mouth. She breathed in and vomit burned her nose and throat. Father Dobrushin made a sound, “Are you all right?” He placed Aksinya on the floor and lifted her head.
Aksinya couldn’t stop retching. Her body writhed. The priest held her until she couldn’t retch anymore. The crucifix still burned against her skin.
Father Dobrushin gave a great sigh, “She is ill.”
Aksinya croaked out, “Not ill. It is the evil in me.” She opened her eyes and tugged at his cassock, “You must confess me.”
He sighed again, “I will confess you, but you must be able to speak. You must be in your right mind.”
“I beg you. Let me kneel at the altar. I will tell everything to you.”
“God will not listen to me anymore. I forsook Him. But you will do.”
Father Dobrushin made a sound that was a cross between a sob and a laugh.
“Don’t mock me. You can’t know.”
“I don’t know until you tell me. I will listen to you. Are you well enough that I can carry you again?”
Aksinya nodded, but the nausea still filled her body and the taste and smell of vomit in her mouth only made it worse.
Father Dobrushin lifted her again. Aksinya swallowed and fought down the desire to retch. The crucifix still burned against her skin. Father Dobrushin placed her on her knees and held her hands. She would have fallen on her face otherwise.
Aksinya pulled one hand from Father Dobrushin’s and made the sign of the cross. She gave a cry. Father Dobrushin grasped her hand again before she could topple over. Aksinya began: “I confess to God the Father Almighty,” She gagged slightly then rushed through the words, “and to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, in the presence of Virgin Mary and all angels, prophets, seventy-two emissaries, twelve apostles and four evangelists, and confess in the faith of the three holy synods of Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus, trusting in the honorable priestly authority conferred upon you, Father Dobrushin, by which you bind and retain sins.” Aksinya paused and took a shallow breath, “I have sinned in thought, word and deed. I repent my sins. You are the master, and I am the servant. Accept me as the prodigal son. I have sinned against heaven and against you. I believe that you have authority to bind and retain sins and that you are the mediator between God and me. And I pray that you deliver me from all my sins by your priestly authority that I may obtain forgiveness. I pray that you remember me before God, in your prayers and in the holy Qurbono. Amen.” Aksinya began to tremble and the crucifix over her heart felt as though it was on fire.
Father Dobrushin held her hands more tightly, “Go on...”
Aksinya continued, “Father, I am a sorceress.” Aksinya raised her face and cried out, “Let me confess. You can’t stop me. All the pain in the world will not stop me from confessing.”
Father Dobrushin stiffened, “Who is stopping you?”
“All the devils in hell are trying to stop me in this.”
Father Makar’s voice came from the side, “She can’t confess. She is not right in her mind.”
Father Dobrushin commanded, “Tell me, Aksinya, your sin. I will listen.”
“I brought a demon up from the pit. He was the Demon Asmodeus. You must know of him. He was the demon who tormented Raguel's daughter, Sarah. He killed her bridegrooms when they came to her. He was the one that Solomon wrote about in the Testament of Solomon. Tobias forced him into upper Egypt, but he came to me when I called him, and I bound him to myself in a contract. Asmodeus is the demon of luxuria and lust. I have worked much evil through him and he through me, but the worst is that I am truly a sorceress.”
“Can there be such a being? She is insane.” Father Makar’s exasperated voice came again.
Father Dobrushin turned his head a little, “She believes it with all her heart. Such a thing can be.” He faced Aksinya again, “Please, confess everything you wish, Aksinya.”
“I desired to seduce Herr von Taaffe, but my lady-in-waiting was encouraged by the demon to sleep with him for my sake. Because of that, I sent Herr von Taaffe away and I beat the Lady Natalya. I think I killed her.” Aksinya gave a cry. “I am guilty of so many sins, I can’t begin to tell them all to you. I used sorcery to kill. I used it to harm. I have done nothing but harm others for my entire life.”
Matushka Ekaterina stepped beside them, “Father Dobrushin, something is burning. I thought it was the tapers, but I can see smoke near you.”
Aksinya cried out again. She yanked her hand from the priest’s and placed it over her heart.
Ekaterina yelled, “She is burning.” The Matushka ripped the front of Aksinya’s dress open. The fabric was charred. The camisole beneath it was smoking. Ekaterina pulled the burning fabric away from Aksinya’s chest. Her bare skin was singed. The beautiful gold crucifix was almost glowing. A repeatedly blackened mark marred Aksinya’s small breasts. It was shaped like a cross. Ekaterina grasped the chain and pulled the crucifix away from Aksinya’s skin, “Let her continue. She must continue.”
Aksinya seemed oblivious to everything. She whispered, “If I were to confess everything I would be here on my knees for weeks, and I’m not certain I have the strength for another minute.”
Ekaterina called out, “Absolve her. Absolve the girl so I can do something to help her.”
Father Dobrushin placed his right hand on Aksinya’s head and loudly announced, “May God have mercy upon you, and may He guide you to everlasting life through the authority of priesthood which was entrusted by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples who, in turn, entrusted it to their successors until it was given me; I who am weak and sinful, absolve you, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna of all the sins that you have confessed and are repentant of them, as well as of all the transgressions which have escaped your memory in the Name of the Father, amen, and of the Son, amen and of the Holy Spirit for everlasting life. Amen.”Aksinya screamed and arched her back. Ekaterina held her tightly. Father Dobrushin rose and lifted Aksinya up with him. He kissed her cheeks. The crucifix was suddenly cold. Aksinya, senseless, fell forward into his arms.
So Aksinya collapses in Father Dobrushin's arms. The tension was the build up to the beating of Natalya--the release. The next tension was the build up to Aksinya's confession. The confession was the release. Every scene should have this construction and every climax should be similar. You don't need two tension and releases, but you must have at least one.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.
ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com, www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.