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.
We finally arrive at the climax. The setting is rather simple. Time is "Monday after school." Place is "the parlor." The characters are set and the setting is described. The point is to bring us quickly to the proper point of action. The scene begins with little tension, and the tension builds slowly in the scene.
Monday after school, Aksinya and Natalya awaited in the parlor for Herr von Taaffe’s arrival. A wood and coal fire warmed the room. Natalya sewed and Aksinya read a Russian novel. Sister Margarethe sat in a servant’s chair at the side of the room near the door to the hall. Aksinya kept glancing up from her book. She hadn’t turned a single page in an hour.
When they heard hooves outside, Sister Margarethe stood. The two novice nuns must have waited just outside the door, they rushed into the parlor.
Aksinya smiled. Her face filled with joy.
Natalya glanced at Aksinya then bent more diligently over her sewing.
When the bell rang, Sister Margarethe and the novice nuns ran into the foyer. Aksinya heard the door open and Sister Margarethe greet Ernst. She heard the rustle of Ernst’s great coat as they took it from him. In a few moments, Sister Margarethe led Herr Ernst von Taaffe into the room. Aksinya rose to greet him, and she almost fell backwards into her chair. Just behind Ernst stepped Asmodeus. The demon grinned at her, but he didn’t say anything. A whiff of sulfur followed him into the room. Natalya glanced up at Ernst and the demon. She colored, but immediately lowered her eyes back to her sewing.
Ernst’s face was radiant. He stepped to Aksinya and embraced her. His lips touched hers in a light but fervent caress. Aksinya returned his kiss for a moment, then thought better of her response and pushed him slightly away. Ernst didn’t seem put off at all. Sister Margarethe took a step forward as though she was about to intervene, but then she stepped back again.
Ernst pulled Aksinya closer, “Dearest Aksinya, I know your answer before you speak it, and I’m here to take you home with me.”
Sister Margarethe gave a gasp. The novice nuns gasped.
Aksinya pushed him back again, “My answer? You know it before I even speak it? You are a bit too forward and presumptuous, sir.”
“Today, I received your letter in response to mine, and the joy of my heart knows no bounds. But your attentions the other evening spoke more strongly than any letter or any words you might say.”
Aksinya’s voice raised, “My attentions?”
Ernst stared at her with a puzzled look, “Yes, your attentions.”
Aksinya stepped back and almost tripped over her chair, “I don’t have any idea what you are talking about, Ernst von Taaffe.”
Ernst continued to stare possessively at Aksinya. His eyes swept up and down her body in a very intimate glance.
Aksinya was suddenly filled with desire. She immediately pushed any such thoughts out of her mind. She glanced at the demon, then back at Ernst. Only she seemed to realize Asmodeus was in the room with them at all. Aksinya’s voice turned suddenly hard, “Sister Margarethe, leave us. Take the novices with you. I need to speak to Ernst privately.”
Natalya began to rise.
Aksinya didn’t turn, “Lady Natalya, you may remain. I am in great need of a chaperone.”
Ernst laughed, “In need of a chaperone? I think not, but dear lady, I will accede to your will.”
Sister Margarethe and the novice nuns reluctantly departed the room. Sister Margarethe halted a moment beside the door.
Aksinya raised her head, “Please close the door to the parlor, Sister Margarethe.”
Everyone, including the reader, is set for this moment. We know Aksinya will give her answer to Ernst. We also know something more must happen. The problem is that the reader and the characters have no idea what will happen. They guess what might have happened, but they are not certain. They know that Natalya did something and the demon did something and somehow Ernst is caught up in it, but no one except Natalya and the demon knows what really went on. We wait for the revelation and now we get clues. Still, we can't be sure what they mean. What does Natalya's look mean. What does Ernst's statements about Aksinya's attentions and letter mean. Remember who was collecting the post?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.