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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Confession of Guilt

27 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Confession of Guilt

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.

The scene immediately moves to the next tension development.  Note how I communicate Aksinya's knowledge of what is going on (she says it).  This is a slight tension release--the reader imagines that the trial will be suddenly over and everything will be better (or worse).  This is not the case--in a show trial, the accused is merely an actor.  They are not important to the outcome or the events.  They are the sacrifice.  The archinquisitor has no intention of letting all the other "guilty" players free.  This is his show trail, and he will make everyone suffer.  Aksinya realizes this, she wishes to protect her friends.

Aksinya sat in the Bishop’s chair.  She smoothed her soiled dress, “We may now proceed.  Please continue, Archinquisitor.  I am ready to hear your accusations against me.”

The Archinquisitor hid his face for a moment.  He stood and stepped off the platform.

The inquisitor bowed toward Aksinya, “Princess Aksinya, may I approach?”

“Please do, Inquisitor.”

Inquisitor Esposito stepped beside her and whispered, “You are not wise to infuriate the Archinquisitor.  You have embarrassed him before his own court.”

Aksinya whispered back to him, “The verdict of this trail is already known.  I simply settled the first point.”

“Yes.”  He stood.

Aksinya waved, “Please proceed.”

The Archinquisitor returned to his papers, “Very well, Princess Aksinya.  We have established your rank.”  He cleared his throat, “The first accusation is therefore moot.  The court acknowledges your right as both a Russian Princess and a Russian Countess.”  He paused just a moment to take a deep breath, “The next charge is that you did commit sorcery and by this sorcery did murder your own family, steal the goods from the estate of Count Golitsyna, cheated merchants in Wien, and escaped Russian justice.”

Aksinya rested her elbow on the arm of the chair and laid her chin on the back of her hand, “I admit to sorcery.  I am guilty of that great sin.  I have confessed it and am forgiven.  I have not paid the price for all the evil I committed because of it.”  The Archinquisitor was about to speak.  Aksinya raised her hand, “I did not murder my family.  I did not steal the goods that already belonged to me.  I did not intentionally cheat the merchants in this city.  I am not certain there is Russian justice.  As a Princess, I am Russian justice.  Do you have any witnesses to any of these charges?”

“To the charge of cheating, there are witnesses, but if you acknowledge them, they are also moot.”

“I will accept that and any secular punishment.  I believe that is well beyond this court.”

“Yes, you are correct Princess.  Then let the court record read that the Princess Aksinya is guilty of theft and that shall be left to the secular courts.  There are other charges.”

“Then proceed, Archinquisitor.”

“This court wishes to establish your guilt of sorcery.”

“I admit it.  What more is there to say?”

“The proof exists, and I wish to establish it.  The other charges related to this are that you did kidnap and seduce the mind and soul of the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska and that you did seduce the mind and soul of Herr Ernst von Taaffe.”

“I admit those grave sins.  Pronounce your judgment.”

“That is not enough.  This court wishes to establish their guilt in this great sin also.”

Aksinya cried out, “They have no guilt in this at all.  It was all my doing.  Punish me, not them.”

“There is also the question of the school, Sacré Coeur, the Reverend Mother Kluge, Abbot Father Abend, and Sister Margarethe.”

Aksinya half stood, “That is enough.  They are innocent of any wrongdoing.  I am the sorceress.  They knew nothing of my evil deeds.  I will tell you, I called a demon from the pit.  They committed nothing wrong.  It was all my own actions.”

The Archinquisitor stroked his chin, “You called a demon.”  He turned to the inquisitor, “Did you know this Inquisitor Esposito?”

The Inquisitor danced from foot to foot, “She…the Princess confessed this to me.”

“This is also a sin of grave consequence.  Inquisitor, call the first witness to her sorcery.”
Aksinya plopped down in her chair.

In developing tension and release, the point is to excite your readers with anticipation, then give them what they want--answers, action, etc.  In the case of the trial, the tension is the accusation of sorcery.  The archinquisitor claims he has witnesses.  Everyone wants to see these witnesses.  This is the anticipation.  The release will be the knowledge from them and the pronouncements of what that means in terms of Aksinya and the witnesses.

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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