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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Harm and Release

21 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Harm and Release

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.

Events have consequences.  In these scenes, we can see the direct and indirect results of the consequences of many actions.  We will see more.  In this case, Aksinya asks for something simple and isn't given it.  The result (consequence) is that Aksinya must find another way to mark her dress.  Aksinya is very smart, but she is very resourceful.  Note the scene setting at the beginning.  This is the beginning of a chapter and likely should have stronger setting.

After Secretary Schwab, Otto, and Frau Becker departed, Frau Mauer took her position again beside the door.  The moment Aksinya finished praying her rosary she felt better, she called to the Frau, “Frau Mauer, may I borrow a needle and thread?”

Frau Mauer took a quick glance at Aksinya.  Aksinya sat on the bench wrapped in the blankets, “Of course you may not have a needle and thread.  What would you want with something like that anyway?”

“I must put crosses on my dress.”

“Crosses on your dress?  You are a strange one.”

“If I don’t he’ll just take it off me again.”

Frau Mauer stared at Aksinya and nervously fumbled her sewing, “Did you lie to the secretary and Frau Becker?  Did some man molest you?”

“The demon took off my clothing to punish me.”

Frau Becker’s eyes widened, “I think Frau Becker is right, you are crazy.”

“I may be crazy, but I need to put crosses on my clothing and on these blankets.”

“You shan’t get any needles or thread from me—not unless the Secretary himself instructs me.”

Aksinya sat back and pouted.  She felt much better, but she knew that wouldn’t last long if the demon returned and took her dress and the blankets from her again.  She only knew one way to fight Asmodeus.  She thought for a while about how she might put crosses on her clothing and the wonderfully warm blankets.  After a long time, there was only one thing she thought she could use.  Under the cover of the blankets, she began to prick at her hand with a sharp point of her rosary.  After a few minutes she drew some blood and made a couple of satisfactory crosses on the hem of her dress.  At that point, she couldn’t get much more blood without going deeper into her hand than she wanted to.  She thought for a while then began to prick at the large vein at the side of her wrist. 

She cut through and gave a slight gasp.  She glanced up to see if Frau Mauer heard her.  The old woman didn’t stop sewing.  Aksinya was surprised at the amount of blood the little nick drew.  With blood, she marked the collar and sleeves of her dress.  Then quickly put crosses at the corners of the woolen blankets.  When she was finished, she held the place on her wrist she nicked, but it wouldn’t stop bleeding.  She had nothing to use as a bandage, and she was becoming a little faint.

Since she had marked everything, she thought it was safe to say something to the Frau.  Aksinya cleared her throat and tried to speak.  She couldn’t say anything at first and her sight began to dim.  Finally, she forced out, “Frau Mauer.”

The old woman didn’t turn, “I’ll not give you any thread or a needle.  You needn’t ask again.”

“Frau Mauer, I don’t need them anymore, but I might need some help.”

Frau Mauer leaned over and clucked her tongue.  She turned toward Aksinya.  Aksinya held out her arm.  A bright drip of blood ran down her hand and dropped to the stone floor.  It spattered into a growing puddle of blood on the ground.

Frau Mauer screamed and jumped up.  Aksinya’s eyes closed and she slowly lay on the bench.  The release of the pressure on her vein let the drip become a slow stream.  Frau Mauer screamed again and ran toward the kitchen. 

I like to use understatement.  I think much of life is understatement.  Many times we miss the most exciting and interesting things because we fail to see the small comedies and tragedies in them.  This is a tragedy for Aksinya and her jailers.  We should imagine what will happen in the next scene and how Aksinya's actions will look to her captors.  This is what I call reader anticipation.  The readers should be already anticipating what will happen to Aksinya.

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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