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.
When you write a climax for a novel you must give the reader everything they hoped and waited for. That still doesn't mean you give them everything, but you must answer their basic questions and advance the plot. This novel is odd in that it has two climaxes. This is the first. The scene has already been set, and we move to the main revelation of the novel.
Aksinya raised her head, “Please close the door to the parlor, Sister Margarethe.”
Sister Margarethe nodded and slowly pulled it shut.
Aksinya stepped over to the door and made certain it was fully closed then she turned back toward Ernst, “What do you mean, sir by your statements? I did not send you a letter, and I did not attend you the other night.”
Ernst’s face fell for a moment, but he reached into his coat and pulled out a letter. He shook it open and handed it to Aksinya, “You sent this to me.”
Aksinya reached out and carefully took the letter without touching Ernst’s fingers. She scanned the letter. Then read it again, carefully.
Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna
Sacré Coeur Straße
8 January 1919
My Dearest Ernst
I hope I proved my love to you Wednesday night. I couldn’t imagine a more suitable man to take into my arms and reveal my every desire and delight. My answer to you on Monday is yes and yes and yes. I am already yours. You have my heart and soul and body. Please don’t be late because my love for you only exceeds my desire.
I love you with my body and soul,
Aksinya was suddenly breathing hard, “I did not write this letter. After the opera, I did not spend Wednesday night with you.”
Asmodeus laughter filled the parlor.
Aksinya stared at him, “What do you have to say about this demon?”
Asmodeus’ lips rose over his fangs, “Ask your handmaiden where she was on Wednesday night.”
Aksinya’s voice rose in volume, “Natalya, what do you know about this?”
Natalya cringed. Then she raised her eyes and met Aksinya’s angry glance, “I could not give you to this man. He would take away your virtue and your sorcery. So I gave him mine.”
Aksinya rushed forward and threw the letter at her, “Did you write this?”
Natalya jerked her head to the side and shook her head.
Asmodeus laughed again, “I wrote it. I wrote it in answer to the impassioned missive from this stupid young man.” He glared at Aksinya, “It is all true.”
Aksinya pressed her hands over her ears, “It is not true. None of it is true.”
Asmodeus wrinkled his nose at her, “This evening, you were about to answer Herr von Taaffe that you would wed him. You were planning to give up your virtue to him. You would have gladly lain in his arms and moaned out your every desire. You would have pleasured him already if you had the courage. You would have loved him just as he foolishly loves you. Do you think I could allow that?”
“Don’t you want me to sin?”
“I want you to do evil. That is your purpose and my purpose, and the evil you created in your wake is truly breathtaking. Can you not appreciate it? I would help you bed him now, but you realize he has already been taken.”
“What do you mean?”
“Didn’t you hear your lady-in-waiting? Ask her again. She already told you.”
Aksinya’s hand slipped to the side of her face, “Natalya, what did you do?”
Natalya wailed, “I could not let you do this thing. So I did it for you.”
Aksinya spat at her, “You did what for me?”
“I seduced him for you and gave him myself in your place.”
Ernst stepped beside Aksinya and grasped her arm, “What does she mean? I slept with you, Aksinya. I did not sleep with her. I saw your face. I touched your body. I heard your voice.”
Asmodeus cackled, “The Countess herself made the Lady Natalya appear like her. While she was in a drunken stupor, the Countess made her favorite enchantment. She made the Lady Natalya appear exactly like her and befuddled the Sister Margarethe’s thoughts. I sent the Lady Natalya to your bed. You did not sleep with the Countess.” He crossed his arms, “You had her maid.”
Aksinya shook off Ernst’s hand. She moved away from him—toward the demon, “You did this horrible thing?”
The demon sneered, “I didn’t do it—you did.”
Ernst pleaded, “I love you, Aksinya. I don’t love anyone else.”
“But you slept with her,” Aksinya thrust her finger at Natalya.
Ernst put his hands over his face, “I thought it was you. I only wanted you…”
Aksinya pushed him away, “You defiled her, and you defiled yourself. Do you think I would have slept so easily with you?”
Asmodeus voice was droll, “She would have.”
Aksinya barked at him, “Shut up, demon.” She whirled toward Ernst, “Get out, Herr von Taaffe. I don’t wish to see you again. I am not damaged goods, and I will not accept damaged goods.”
Asmodeus laughed again.
Aksinya ignored the demon. She scowled at Ernst, “Leave my house. You stain my honor by remaining here.”
Ernst ducked his head, “But, I didn’t know. I still love you. I want to marry you.”
“Do you think I could love you now? Do you think that after you took the virtue of my servant I could ever think of marrying you? I am not so low. You may have had her, but you will never have me now.”
Asmodeus gave a yawn, “The Lady Natalya had no virtue remaining to give. Others took it from her long before Herr von Taaffe. He was just one of many.”
Natalya bowed her head a little lower.
Aksinya stared at Natalya then jerked her eyes back to Ernst. She didn’t look in his eyes, “Herr von Taaffe, you disgrace my house. I already told you to leave.” She motioned violently toward him.
Ernst ducked his head and bowed, “I am sorry. I will leave. May I contact you later?”
Aksinya screamed at him, “Do not try to speak to me again. I will not entertain your letters or abide your presence again.”
“Very well. I do still love you. I am sorry.” He dropped to one knee.
Aksinya kicked at him and missed, “Take your apology and get out. Now!” She pulled back her hand and this time connected with the side of his face.
Ernst stood wide-eyed. He took one other glance at Aksinya then backed out of the door into the foyer. They heard the outer door open and close. The fire rose and fell among the coals.
Asmodeus inspected his claws, “He got off easy. If he had taken you, he would be dead. There is still the problem of your handmaiden.”
Aksinya whirled around. She stared at Natalya as though seeing her for the very first time. Natalya was so beautiful. She was so much more beautiful than Aksinya. Aksinya wondered why she hadn’t noticed before. No wonder Ernst or any man would choose Natalya over her. Aksinya moved slowly toward her lady-in-waiting, “Natalya, you took him from me. You took away the only man who ever loved me.”
Natalya crumpled in on herself, “I did it for you, mistress.”
Aksinya’s voice rose to a scream, “For me? For me? How could you do such an evil a thing for me?”
Asmodeus smacked his lips, “Actually, it was my idea.”
Natalya cried, “I didn’t want you to lose it.”
Aksinya’s voice rose again nearly inarticulate, “Lose what?”
Asmodeus smirked, “I told her that if a man took your virtue, you would lose your power to accomplish sorcery. The Lady Natalya knows how important that is to you.”
“But that was all a lie. I could have loved him.” Aksinya’s furious features were distraught.
Natalya raised her eyes, “But not any more. Now, you can do what you love the most. You can have what you love forever. I love you, mistress. I could not see you hurt like that.”
“Hurt? Hurt?” Aksinya’s eyes were wild she sought anything around her that she could take into her hand. She ran to the side of the fireplace and removed the poker from the implements there, “I will let you know how much this has hurt me.”
Aksinya struck Natalya’s side, and she fell to the floor on her face. Natalya put her hands over her head and Aksinya struck her shoulders again and again with the poker. Aksinya’s blows were so wild half of them hit the floor. Curses and cries flowed from Aksinya’s lips, and bright blood suddenly appeared on Natalya’s dress. At each blow, a breath burst from Natalya’s lips. Dark red stains drenched Natalya’s back, but the girl didn’t make any other sound. While Aksinya raised feral and shrill screams, blood began to streak the floor. Sister Margarethe rushed through the door. She grabbed Aksinya’s arms and wrestled the poker from her. Aksinya fell back. She cursed the nun with her remaining breath. After that Aksinya’s mouth only opened and close without a sound.Sister Margarethe knelt beside Natalya and hesitantly touched her. She glanced up at Aksinya, “What have you done? What have you done, Countess?” Tears streaked Sister Margarethe’s face. She cried out again, “Sister Rita.” She screamed, “Sister Rita, Sister Tria, come help me.” The novice sisters ran to the room and halted in the opening of the parlor. They glanced at Aksinya and at Natalya’s silent body beside Sister Margarethe. Their eyes widened, and they trembled. Aksinya, still filled with rage, rushed at them, and they scattered screaming.
What could bring out Aksinya's rage? What could make her beat Natalya? What could make her do the singular thing she would never wish to do in her life. The demon orchestrated it all. He made everything come to fruition. He put together the events that would lead to the downfall of Natalya, Ernst, and Aksinya. His actions led to Aksinya's murderous rage. His temptations led to all the actions of the climax. Now, in this scene everything comes together. Much of it could have been put together by the reader. There were clues throughout. The mystery of all the actions of the previous days and the reason he brought Ernst to Aksinya suddenly becomes obvious. The result is that Aksinya does try to murder Natalya. She beats the person who loves her most in the world. She strikes the man who does love her. In an instant, she loses everything she hoped to have and all her friends...but this is not the end.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.