My Favorites

Friday, March 15, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Determination

15 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Determination

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.

Aksinya's decision was to go to confront her own sin and crime.  This is the beginning of a chapter and a new scene.  Notice the setting.  We ended in Aksinya's room and we begin again in her room.  The time is very early next morning.  The characters and place are set by narration.  Most of the beginning of this scene is narration and description.  I give you domestic details, and you can see in them the preparation and thoughts of Aksinya.

Aksinya woke very early the next morning.  She stood in the darkness and folded her blanket.  She straightened her dress.  She hadn’t bathed much since she came here.  She was certain she smelled, but that couldn’t be helped.  She tried to smooth her hair.  That was impossible.  Ekaterina usually brushed it in the morning for her.  It was not long enough to braid properly, but it wasn’t short enough to not be a problem.  It just touched her shoulders.  She had no mirror and was glad of it.  She couldn’t stand to look at herself.  It was too dark anyway.  She brought out her rosary and quickly said the first decade and the last prayer.  She would complete them later.  She crossed herself then lovingly drew her hand over the leather cover of the Greek Bible.  She wanted to take it with her, but she knew she couldn’t.  It wasn’t really hers.  She had memorized most of the Gospels and Acts.  She wanted to begin to memorize Paul’s letters next. 

Aksinya turned abruptly and stepped to the door of her room.  Although nothing changed, the room seemed to darken.  She felt for the handle and pulled the door open.  Her hand stretched out to the wall at her right.  With her right hand trailing against the wood, she followed the hall to the back of the rectory.  The outside door only halted her for a moment—it was bolted but not locked.  She went out through it to the small backyard where she and Ekaterina hung the wash every Wednesday.  In the predawn night, the low clouds reflected enough light for her to see.  Aksinya’s eyes were so accustomed to the dark, it seemed almost bright to her.  The thin gate that led outside the yard had a simple wooden latch.  She opened it and in the predawn, exited into the street outside the rectory. 

Aksinya knew generally where she was within the city, but she wasn’t certain how she should go.  She recalled little of her flight here.  She only remembered the stone wall that lay on her left the entire time.  Aksinya tentatively placed her right hand on the wall at the street outside the rectory and began to walk up the street. 

The morning was cold, and her breath formed gentle swirls in the air.  Her clothing was insufficient for the day, but she didn’t have a cloak anymore.  She could only imagine with regret her warm mink cloak.   As she walked, the morning clouds seemed to descend.  They enclosed her, but she kept her hand on the right hand wall and continued along the cold cobblestone street.

Around her, she could hear and smell the city come awake.  The rich fragrance of coffee filled the air.  She smelled butter and eggs as they cooked.  Somewhere bacon sizzled and the scent of the hot grease flowed into the street.  Aksinya remembered bacon.  Her mouth watered.  Her empty stomach rumbled.

The muted conversation of waking mothers and fathers came to her.  She heard crying babies.  The creaking of harness and wheels moved in and out of the fog.  She caught the nicker of horses and their heavy hooves on the cobbles.  As of yet, none of this came within her sight.  The fog pressed down against her and kept it all hidden from her.  She could tell the world was lightening.  She could feel a little warmth seep into the cold late winter morning.

Aksinya didn’t stumble.   She didn’t falter.  She kept moving forward.  Slowly shapes began to appear in the fog.  A lampman passed her on the other side of the street.  She recognized him because he carried a long taper and a tool that he used to cut off the gas at each lamp.  The light of the morning already dimmed the blaze from the gaslamps.  It was too early for the beggars and too late for the prostitutes to be in the streets.   

Aksinya is on her way.  This is the very thing Dobrushin wanted to prevent.  It is not the thing Makar wished to happen.  Aksinya has taken control of herself and her actions.  The result can only be tragedy.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment