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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, more Tension and Transitions

2 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, more Tension and Transitions

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.

We are still in the transition to the climax.  I'm letting my readers absorb everything, and I'm continuing to provide the tension buildup.

That evening before dinner, Sister Margarethe helped Aksinya and Natalya prepare to travel to Grossbock for the weekend.  Aksinya was dressed in finery and Natalya not less than a degree below that.  Aksinya held the book of Heka wrapped in brown paper in her lap.  She wouldn’t let anyone else carry it.  While they waited together in the parlor for Aunt Brunhilda to arrive, Aksinya lounged and Natalya sat in the large overstuffed chairs.  Sister Margarethe stood and held their cloaks.  Sister Margarethe cleared her throat.

Aksinya sat up, “Yes, Sister Margarethe, you wish my attention?”

“Yes, Countess.  The novice sisters told me this afternoon that they saw a strange man remove your post.”

Aksinya made a frown, “Ah, that must be my courtier, Asmodeus.”

“Your courtier?”

“Yes, perhaps you have not met him.”

“Then he has been intercepting the post?”

“I expect the bills and any official communications.  There were no letters today for me?”

“No, not today, or at least I don’t think there were.  So he has been allowing your personal correspondence to go through?”

“Yes, I expect so.”

“They thought they saw him take what looked like personal letters from the box.”

Aksinya froze.

Natalya turned her head away.

Aksinya stuttered, “They were likely letters concerning my business.”

“So your courtier takes care of all your bills and business.  You should introduce me to him.”

Aksinya’s voice was suddenly very weak, “The bills…the bills, they have all been paid—have they not?”

“Oh yes, every one.  I have heard no complaints and the larder continues to be filled.”

Aksinya’s voice shook with relief, “That is good.  It is as it should be.”

“Your courtier must be very efficient and a careful steward.  Everything seems to be in perfect order.  Everything comes on time and is of the very best quality.  He must choose your goods very carefully, and he must tip very well.”

“Yes.  I’m certain he does.”

Natalya turned Aksinya a strange look that Sister Margarethe and Aksinya both did not see.

Sister Margarethe shifted the cloaks in her arms, “Have you decided what you are going to answer Herr von Taaffe on Monday?”

Natalya cocked her ears.

“I have considered Herr von Taaffe’s proposal very carefully.  I think it would be unfair to the gentleman if I told anyone before him.”

“He is a very fine young man.  You could not do much better than to accept his proposal.  I would hope that I might continue to serve you afterward.”

“Thank you, Sister Margarethe that is very kind of you.  I will take your request into consideration.  I don’t expect to leave this house or the school for a while even if my decision is to join myself with his household.”

Sister Margarethe seemed relieved, “Then you anticipate a long engagement?”

“I take everything under advisement depending on my answer to the gentleman.  I enjoy his company.  Perhaps I shall tell him I would like more time to consider his offer, and perhaps I will request a longer time to get to know him.  Then again,” Aksinya’s eyes sparkled, “perhaps I shall accept him and his offer and entertain him here.”

Natalya blushed.

Sister Margarethe put her hand over her mouth, “Surely, you would not.  The Reverend Mother would not allow such a thing.”

“You have kept my other secrets well, Sister Margarethe.  Why should you not keep another one?  What the Reverend Mother doesn’t know will not burden her or me.”

“But such a thing…and right across from Sacré Coeur.  You wouldn’t be able to keep something like that a secret for very long.

Aksinya shrugged, “I did not say what I would do, yet.  I simply suggested that as a possibility.  You would keep my secrets, wouldn’t you, Sister Margarethe?”

Sister Margarethe raised her eyes, “Yes.  Yes, you know I would.”

“Very good.  Then whatever decision I make, I shall feel comfortable that my interests are guarded by those who serve me.” Aksinya turned toward Natalya, “Isn’t that so, Nata?”

Natalya glanced down, “Y…yes, Countess.”

They heard horses’ hooves on the cobblestones outside and Aksinya stood, “My cloak, please.”

Sister Margarethe moved a little too quickly.  She fumbled a little and began to place the mink cloak over Aksinya’s shoulders.  Natalya intercepted her and took the heavy cloak from her.  She put it over Aksinya’s shoulders herself and lingered a moment too long when she tied it at Aksinya’s neck.  She put her face discretely close to the side and took a deep breath.

Sister Margarethe placed the other cloak around Natalya’s shoulders.  Then she answered the door.

The driver helped Aksinya and Natalya into the coupe, and the carriage took off with only a slight lurch.  Sister Margarethe watched the carriage until it was out of sight.

We learn more about Aksinya's thoughts about Ernst, but that isn't the point of this scene.  The importance of this scene is the mail.  Asmodeus has been intercepting the mail.  We don't know what that means, but we can guess.  The question comes up--who has been paying the bills.  Aksinya just glosses over this--it is of little worry to her.  She hasn't had to pay bills before.  The setting for the climax is still building.

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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