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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Realization

16 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Realization

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 is not a follower.  She has never followed--all her life she led.  This what the demon counted on.  He knew he would have little influence on her while she remained in the Ecclesia, so how to draw her out?  He knew she would come on her own--to check on Netalya, the house, the school, Ernst.  The following is the continuation of the scene started yesterday.  I am breaking it up into digestible pieces.  You can see the setting at this point in time, place, and characters.  We introduce some tertiary characters.

The moment Aksinya stepped into the street that served both Sacré Coeur and her house, the fog seemed to rise.  She didn’t need to see, she had the stone wall to guide her.  Her fingertips were frozen and she couldn’t feel the wall anymore, but she still knew it was there.  She continued along it toward her house.  As she moved closer, she noticed for the first time a large dray outside it.  Some furniture sat at the back of the moving carriage.  A few pieces were stacked inside it.  Most of it was out in the street.  Two men exited her house.  They carried one of her chairs.  Aksinya recognized it immediately.  It was the floral one her father had liked so much.  It was very well made and the fabric was Damascus silk.  Aksinya removed her hand from the guiding wall and hurried her steps.

Her attention was centered on the men at her house, so she didn’t notice the dark figure who moved from the entrance of Sacré Coeur when she passed and headed back the direction she had come.  A whiff of sulfur halted her for a moment then she continued.

Aksinya stopped breathless before the two men.  They paused and put down the chair.  One was tall and heavy with large features and a swollen nose as though he had been struck there many times.  The other was a thin younger man with straggleing greasy hair and protruding teeth.  They didn’t smile, but they did wait for a moment to allow Aksinya to catch her breath.

Finally, she forced out, “What are you doing in my house?”

“Your house?” the larger man spoke.  His lips rose over his teeth, but he didn’t smile, “We’re removing the goods.”

“But why?”

“The bills haven’t been paid.”

“Not paid?  But they were…They were all paid.”

The younger man leaned on the back of the chair.  The large man stuck his dirty hand into his coat and brought out an official looking paper.  He didn’t give it to Aksinya, but held it up at arms length so she could see it.

The younger man’s voice was slightly high pitched, “Helmut, why are you taking the time to show that to her?  We have work to do.  She’s just a putzfrau, a cleaning woman.”

“Halt Mal[1], Willi.  Don’t you remember our instructions?”  He made a gesture behind his back.

The younger man scratched his head, “You don’t mean.”  He glanced meaningfully at Aksinya.

“I’ll let her read the ruling.  You check the horses,” he turned around and winked.

“Oh,” Willi nodded, “I’ll check on the horses.”

Helmut’s lips rose over his teeth again.  It wasn’t a smile.

Aksinya reached for the paper.

Helmut pulled it back.  His frown deepened, “Please don’t touch it.  It is an official document.”

Aksinya moved a little closer to the paper.  Under her breath, she read the document, “There is a list of litigants and claimants.”  Her voice filled with dismay, “The list is very long.  It says, that because the alleged Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna is in arrears for…,” she gasped. 

“Is there something wrong?”

“The amount is so large.”

The man made a loud huff under his breath, “That is why the directive tells us to take everything from the house.  It still won’t be enough to pay for it all.”

Aksinya wailed, “You will take everything I own, and it still won’t be enough.”

Helmut’s nose twitched, “It won’t be enough at all.”

“What about my jewelry?”

“We haven’t seen any jewelry.  Perhaps the previous repossessors removed it.”

Aksinya’s eyes widened, “But my father’s money.”

The man’s face twitched again, “I heard it was all Russian.  It isn’t worth the paper it is printed on any more.”

“But I have nothing else.”

“I understand there were loans too.  They must all be paid.”

“What will I do?”

The man did smile at that, “You?  Who are you?”

Aksinya lowered her head.  Her voice was very low, “I am the Countess Golitsyna.”

The man’s laughter filled the street, “I find that hard to believe, but we were told to watch for a young woman who came to the house and claimed to be a countess.”

She raised her head, “They told you to watch for me?”

The man shut his mouth.  He shrugged and shoved the paper back into his coat.  After a moment, he announced a little too loudly, “When she is found, the alleged Countess will be in debtor’s prison for a long time.  It serves her right for trying to fool everyone.”

“I…I didn’t.”  The sound of heavy hooves and wooden wheels come from behind Aksinya.  She turned around.  A large carriage moved up the street behind her.  It stopped quickly and a couple of men in priestly robes stepped from it into the street.  Their eyes swept over Aksinya and the large man behind her.  They ignored her and stepped toward the entrance of the school.  The doors had not been opened yet that morning.  The taller priest struck the door with his staff.  Aksinya stood frozen in place.  She was suddenly very cold.  She had no coat and had not eaten anything since last evening.  The day was above freezing, but not much. 

The priests stood at the doors to Sacré Coeur.  The taller priest paced in front of the large doors.  The shorter tapped his staff impatiently against the ground.  There was a long moment until the door opened.  Before Aksinya could note what went on at the doorway, she heard another coach approach from the other side of the dray.  She wondered with apprehension how all this would end up.  The dray blocked the street so either of the carriages would have problems if they tried to maneuver around it.  The coaches might be too large to pass each other comfortably too.

Willi came back around the dray.  He had a large grin on his face.  He smirked, “Done and done, Helmut.  Is it really her?”

“Don’t know.  I didn’t think she would be so ugly or look like a drudge.”

[1] Shut up!

We see in this small tragedy that is about to strike, that everything from the previous chapters has come back to haunt Aksinya.  The bills were not paid by the demon--how did Aksinya expect them to be.  The demon has conspired to take everything from her.  First, her few friends and servants, second, her fiancee, third, her family's wealth, fourth, her family's goods.  She has lost everything and may soon lose her liberty.  The demon has thought of everything.  Aksinya has much more too lose--and she shall.  If you watch closely, the tension is still building and has not yet reached the climax in this scene.  Notice also how humor is incorporated in the scene.

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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