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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, more Domestic Integration

12 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, more Domestic Integration

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 setting is simple and gives time, place, and characters.  We again are building the tension in the novel from the climax.  This requires a slow buildup.  We introduce at the proper intervals, the parts of the Ecclisia as well as information about the members of the Ecclesia.  We should guess that they are important secondary characters who will have a very important role to play in the rest of the novel.

In the morning, when Ekaterina went to get Aksinya, Aksinya was already awake.  She prayed the rosary around her neck.  The moment the door opened, Aksinya jumped to her feet.  Ekaterina asked, “Are you ready?”

Aksinya nodded.

They walked together to the kitchen.  Ekaterina took a breath, “How is the burn on your chest?”

“It stings.”

“Does it pain you much?”

Aksinya nodded.

“I will check it for you today.”

“Thank you.”

“Today I will show you how to make kasha and tea.  We have milk and honey so it will be very good.  We will eat as well as the patriarch in Moscow.”

Aksinya’s lips curled up a little at that.

In the kitchen, Aksinya carefully followed Ekaterina’s instructions and stood and stirred the kasha while the tea seeped.  Ekaterina started with fresh tea leaves and prepared a very potent brew.  Throughout the day, she could then make fresh tea by diluting the concentrated tea with boiling water.  Aksinya watched what Ekaterina did.  Finally she remarked, “Lady Natalya never made tea like that for me.”

Ekaterina laughed, “She probably made you English tea.  If we had a samovar, we could have tea any time we wanted all day long.  As it is, we will have to heat water at noon and for supper.  Now put everything on the table.”

Aksinya raised her head.

“Just put it on the table,” Ekaterina smiled.

The moment Aksinya finished placing the food on the table, Father Makar and Father Dobrushin magically appeared.  They sat down in their usual seats and then Ekaterina and Aksinya.

Father Makar offered a blessing and they crossed themselves.  Ekaterina served them from the large pot on the table.  Aksinya poured the tea into the large mugs.  Father Makar took a long drink of the tea.  He ate the kasha with relish.

Aksinya sipped her tea and sniffed at the kasha.

Father Makar asked, “Anything wrong, Countess?”

Aksinya didn’t look up, “I’ve never had anything like this before.”  She took a bite of the kasha.

Father Makar finished his bowl, “Well that’s all we have until supper.  It’ll stick to your ribs.”

Aksinya slowly devoured the buckwheat groat porridge.  She washed it down with the very strong tea.  When she was finished, she took her bowl and mug to the dish tub and laid them inside.  She put water on to heat to wash the morning dishes.

Ekaterina took her arm, “Let the water heat.  We’ll do the dishes later.  It is time now for the morning prayers.” 

Aksinya followed Ekaterina into the Ecclesia.  She paused at the door for a moment, but didn’t feel any pain.  Instead, she felt her spirit leap when she passed through the doorway.  She was surprised to see so many people in the hard seats.  Most of them knelt in front of the pews with their heads bowed.  Father Makar and Father Dobrushin stood behind the rail at the back and also prayed.  Ekaterina led Aksinya to a rank of padded seats at the side.  She gave a smile, “Being the Matushka of the Ecclesia has some privileges.  She knelt on the padded kneeler in front of the seat, and Aksinya copied her.

Right at seven, Father Makar started the service.  They celebrated the morning prayers without communion.  Father Dobrushin helped him and lectured the readings.  Father Makar gave a very short homily.  At the end, they sang a hymn and Father Makar announced the blessing.  The people left and Ekaterina led Aksinya back to the kitchen.  The water was hot by then and Ekaterina made tea while Aksinya poured boiling water into the dish tub and mixed in some cooler water and lye soup to wash the dishes.  Ekaterina put more water on to boil, “On wash day, we get all the tea we want.  The water has to keep boiling all day, you see.”

Aksinya’s lips turned up at that.  She didn’t glance up, “What do Father Makar and Father Dobrushin do during the day?”

“They visit the parishioners who are sick or have needs.  They pray with people and take communion to those who can’t get out.  They go to the train station when we hear that refugees are coming in.”

“How would they find out about the Lady Natalya?”

Ekaterina sighed, “They would check with the hospitals and the doctors we know.  They would check with the police.  The authorities have been very good to us here.  They will check with the school…”

Sacré Coeur?


“Do you think they would check at my house?”

“Makar told me he went there first…”


“There was no one at home.”

Aksinya let out her breath.

Ekaterina whispered, “Have you heard from the demon?”

Aksinya shook her head.

“Thank God for that blessing,” Ekaterina crossed herself, “I don’t know what I would do if you said you had seen him in here.”

“He would not like it here.”

“That is doubly good for us.”


They spent the rest of the day doing the wash.  They had a break at noon when Father Makar and Father Dobrushin conducted the noon prayers with communion.  The Ecclesia was filled.  Aksinya and Ekaterina communed, and Aksinya was amazed that she could take the bread and wine mixture without nausea.  They drank tea in the afternoon and finished the wash.  When all the laundry was hung in the weak sunlight behind the rectory, they cleaned the Ecclesia.

Ekaterina remarked, “Usually, on wash day, I don’t have time to get to the Ecclesia, but today with your help, we were finished early.”
They didn’t finish cleaning the Ecclesia.  Around five, Ekaterina took Aksinya back into the kitchen and Aksinya peeled potatoes and cut onions.  Ekaterina put the vegetables with some thin slices of bacon in a pot and left it to cook while they went to evening prayers.  The Ecclesia was almost as full as in the morning.  Ekaterina and Aksinya sat in their seats to the side.  She sent Aksinya back once to check the food on the stove.  They all ate together after evening prayers and Aksinya went to bed.  She fell asleep with the prayers of the rosary still on her lips.

The tension is being build slowly with foreshadowing and developments from information outside the Ecclesia.  Aksinya is obsessed with Natalya.  She doesn't want to be patient, but she doesn't have much choice.  We see Aksinya assimilating into a new environment--into the environment of the Ecclesia.
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., and the individual novel websites:,,,, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.

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