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 are building tension. The immediate climax event should be something the reader can figure out without much trouble--it is an inquisition trial. The reader should be interested for more than one reason in an inquisition trial--first, because of Aksinya, and second, because of curiosity. Such a trial is unusual in the modern era. One of the reasons I chose my subject was to put up this historical information. I felt that many readers would be interested in it. Aksinya is imprisoned and we see how cruel her jailer is.
Before the room darkened completely the old woman brought a small bowl to the door and shoved it through the low rectangular hole at the bottom that was made for that purpose. She pushed a second bowl more gently under the door. She rose expectantly in front of the lattice, “Don’t be slow, sorceress. Push the slopjar under the door. I’ll empty it.”
Aksinya shook her head, “I haven’t used it.”
“I will only empty it once a day. When you are finished push the bowls back under the door. I’ll see you in the morning.” Aksinya noted the old woman’s laughter as she made her way down the corridor. She heard a heavy door open and shut. A metal lock turned.
Before every trace of light drained from the room, Aksinya stumbled to the bowls. One held a congealed mass of thick cooked wheat cereal. It wasn’t seasoned at all. The other was filled with water. Aksinya took a long drink of the water. She stuck her fingers into the hardened cereal and felt the last remnants of warmth. She ate it all and washed it down with the remaining water. Then she curled up on the bench and tried to sleep.
A heavy sound woke her. She raised her head. She didn’t dare speak. Then she heard it again. It sounded like the slap of a bare foot against stone. She caught a whiff of sulfur in the air. In the darkness, a large dark figure stood outside her door.
Aksinya shivered and trembled at the same time.
Asmodeus voice thick with mocking amusement tumbled out of the darkness. Aksinya was so used to seeing his lips curl up over his fangs, she wasn’t certain if she could see them or she just imagined them in the darkness. The demon chuckled, “Dear alleged Countess what a terrible predicament you find yourself in.”
Aksinya stared at him.
“Didn’t I warn you not to confess? Didn’t I tell you to not seek out the Church.” He spat the word. “You sought to resist me. That was a new experience for me. None of my previous masters ever tried to fight against me before. But that doesn’t matter. There is no hope for you now.”
“There was never any hope for me from the beginning, was there, demon?”
“Ah, the little girl finally speaks. Yes, you are right. There never was any hope for you.”
“Why are you here now demon. Have you come to give me more instructions or did you just come to torment me.”
He laughed, “I have no more instructions to give you, alleged Countess. I’m here to steal all hope away from you.”
Aksinya pressed her lips tightly shut.
“You will never be rid of me, but now, I can torment you as I desire.”
“You lie. You may only torment the guilty, and I am confessed and forgiven.”
Aksinya heard a slight change in the tone of Asmodeus’ voice, “I warned you not to confess. I still have power over the world, and the world will do my work for me well.” He stuck out his hand and pulled it back.
The dress Aksinya wore slipped off her body. At the door, the demon held it in his fist.
“There, alleged Countess, the night is cold. Your cell is colder. This dress shall keep until the morrow.” He threw it far down the corridor where Aksinya could never retrieve it. “I can still torment you, but I don’t need to torment you. That was never my plan. I sought to bring everyone around you down to your level. Already my plans have come to a wonderful harvest. It is a harvest you shall reap for me. Could you imagine that you would see the ruin of everything you hold dear? You don’t need to imagine it, because you will soon live it. Everyone you touched will be harmed. Little girl, you don’t have any idea the havoc you have wrought in this world—soon you will know all.”
Aksinya huddled naked and shivering in the corner of the bench and the wall.
“This is usually the time you threaten me, alleged Countess. Why so quiet?”
“Because speaking will do no good. It never did any good before. The only thing that matters anymore is that I am confessed and forgiven.”
“What about your friends?”
“For them…for them.”
“Hah, don’t say you are willing to die.”
Tears trickled down the sides of Aksinya’s cheeks, “I cannot say that. I am not willing to die for them. I wish I was able, but I am not.”
“That is your problem. You were willing to release a demon to protect your family, but you would not have died for any of them. Let me tell you a secret, alleged Countess. I killed your family. I killed them all. If you wondered at your injuries when you traveled with me from your cellar to your family’s estate, they came about because you helped me bring about the deaths of your own family. I delayed just long enough between heaven and earth so the Bolsheviks would have the time to do their dirty work. You were marked with the touch of hell in the place where time has no meaning. Already you have been to hell; therefore, you should embrace your new home with even greater fervor.”
Aksinya was breathless, “You let them murder my family? You were sworn to obey me.”
“Never sworn to obey you. I swore to do evil in your name. You are such a fool, little girl. You tried to negotiate with a demon. My purpose is temptation and evil. I have no other purpose in heaven or earth.”
“So… I see.”
“Too late. Always they understand too late.” Asmodeus stretched to his full height, “Ah, evil is so liberating, but you have chosen a different path, haven’t you.”
“I have chosen.”
“With all the pain and suffering you will know. I could offer you life, liberty, freedom, sorcery.”
“It wouldn’t help my friends.”
“I could continue to lie to you and tell you it would. Would that change your mind?”
“I have chosen.”
“I must be completely clear because I don’t wish to lose all the potential of evil within you. If you determine to follow me, I will save you from all this pain and suffering.”
“But you won’t help my friends.”
“I will not help your friends or your enemies. I offer you evil and only evil.”
“You offer me relief now and eternal suffering later. Christ offers me suffering because of my own actions now and eternal life later. In either case, I can’t help my friends…or my enemies, and I don’t wish to bring any more evil into the world.”
At the word, Christ, the demon cringed. He frowned, “Very well. You will not know peace until your dying day, and I shall reap your soul in any case.”
Aksinya’s teeth chattered, “You will not have my soul. I am marked by Christ as His own.”
Asmodeus snarled, “Shut up, Countess.”
“I am His. I am Christ’s.”
Aksinya hugged her naked body more closely. The rosary pressed solidly against her chest. She pulled it out and raised it up, “In spite of all the pain and suffering I might face because of this decision, I choose Christ. You can’t do anything about that. My mind is free of you. I am Christ’s, not yours. I can swear, and I can hold onto the promise that is mine. I only wish I knew this before I knew you. Begone.”
At that moment Asmodeus was gone. All that was left was an acrid stink. Aksinya wondered if her confession had sent him away or something else.
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.