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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Release

17 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, 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.

In the continuation of this scene, we see the results of Aksinya and the demon's actions.  Everything that was done in the past of the novel comes to a head here.  The release for the tension for this scene comes at the end of this scene.  Notice that the tension being developed flows over from scene to scene without a complete release.

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.”

Aksinya balled her fists and swung back toward them, “What’s done?”

Willi called around the dray, “She’s over here, officers.”

Two senior police officers came around the dray on the street side.  They glanced first at the other carriage.  Aksinya followed their eyes.  She shuffled her feet to warm them a little.  She wasn’t very successful.  A familiar voice caused her to turn toward Sacré Coeur again.

At the entrance to the school, Frau Drescher stood just inside the door.  She pointed toward Aksinya.  When the priests began to walk toward Aksinya, Frau Drescher turned and yanked the heavy door shut again.

The policemen stepped up to Aksinya.  They both frowned at Helmut and Willi.  The two repossessors ducked their heads and walked back toward the house.  They both stopped before they moved out of earshot and turned to hear what the officers had to say to Aksinya.

The policemen were both well groomed and handsomely uniformed.  Aksinya wasn’t certain about their ranks, but she had the impression they were both high ranking.  The older policemen didn’t nod he simply addressed Aksinya, “Are you the alleged Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna.”

“Alleged.  I’ve heard that twice already.  I am the Countess Golitsyna.”

“If that is true, then Fraulein Golitsyna, I have a warrant for your arrest.”

“Under what charge?”

At that moment, the two priests stepped up to them.  They stood close behind Aksinya, but not too close.  Aksinya stepped back a little and rotated so she could address all of them together.  The taller priest had a thin and nervous face.  His eyes were piercing.  He wore a thick woolen cloak over his shoulders, but that didn’t hide the collar and dark robes under it.  The other priest was dressed similarly, but his face was less tense and a little rounder.

The tall priest sniffed and jerked his head up.  His German was tinged with a heavy Italian accent, “Who are you, officer?”

“I am Captain Gerber and this is Sergeant Nagel.  We are here to arrest the alleged Countess Golitsyna.  And you?”

“I am Archinquisitor Gallo and this is Inquisitor Esposito.  We are also here to arrest the alleged Countess.”  The Archinquisitor sniffed, “Is this she?”

Captain Gerber frowned, “She has made that claim.”

“Then it is simple.  We will take the Fraulein into our custody.”

Aksinya snarled, “Inquisitors?  Take me into custody?  What do you mean?”

Archinquisitor Gallo sniffed again, “It is always the same with these people.  They never imagine they have done anything wrong.”

Aksinya ducked her head, “I know I am guilty of much wrong, but I would like to know exactly what I am accused of.”

The Archinquisitor let out a slight smile, “Well that’s refreshing.  This should make things easy.  The main charge against you Fraulein Golitsyna, if that is your real name…”

“Of course it is my real name.”

“Hum, as I was saying before you rudely interrupted me.  You have been accused of sorcery.  That is the main charge.”

Aksinya’s hand rose to her cheek, “The main charge?”

“There are many others.”

“But I am Orthodox… You have no jurisdiction over me.”

“You claim to be a member of the nobility.  You have been a student in our Catholic schools.  You have made claims within the framework of the Austrian aristocracy.  Your actions have affected members of the church and its leadership.  We are allowed under the laws of this empire and the Catholic Church to accuse you and try you.  This is well established in law.  We also possess authority above that of the secular authorities.  Captain Gerber, you may have her following our trial.  For now, we will take the Fraulein into our custody.”

Captain Gerber wasn’t so easily cowed, “This is highly irregular, Father.  I need to check with my superiors.”

“You may check all you will, but I have both a secular warrant and an ecclesiastical one.  Inquisitor Esposito, the documents please.”

The Inquisitor brought out a case with papers, riffled through it, and pulled out an official looking document with church seals on it.  He pulled out another with the seals of the Austrian courts.  He handed both to the Captain.

Aksinya was trembling.  She shuffled her feet again.

The sergeant noticed.  He stepped closer to her to block her escape.

The Captain nodded, “Good, Sergeant Nagel.”  He turned toward Aksinya, “We will not allow you to escape, Fraulein.  We have been seeking you for a long time.”

Aksinya’s teeth chattered, “I’m not trying to escape.  I am very cold.  Would one of you make up your mind, please?”

 Archinquisitor Gallo sniffed, “This isn’t some kind of game—as you will shortly learn.”

Aksinya wrapped her arms around her body, “Captain Gerber, I surrender myself to you.”  She held out her hands for a moment then quickly pulled them back for warmth.

The Archinquisitor stepped toward Aksinya, “That is not acceptable.  Inquisitor Esposito take the woman into custody.”

The Inquisitor’s German was also strongly accented, “If you please, Fraulein, come with me.”

Aksinya glanced at the Captain.  He returned the papers to the Archinquisitor, “I’m sorry, Fraulein Golitsyna, right now, the church has legitimate and legal claims against you, but in the near future, I will have the opportunity to arrest you again.”

Inquisitor Esposito stepped behind Aksinya and grasped her elbows.  He turned her and marched her toward the waiting coach.  At that moment, the doors to Sacré Coeur opened.  The Reverend Mother ran out.  She was followed closely by Sister Margarethe and Frau Drescher.  The Reverend Mother cried out, “Countess, Countess, we were searching for you.”  The Reverend Mother couldn’t take Aksinya’s hand because the Inquisitor held her arms.  She bent her neck toward Aksinya.

Archinquisitor Gallo took a deep breath, “Reverend Mother, do not show any respect to this woman.  She is accused of sorcery along with much more evil.  She shall be tried for these crimes.”

Sister Margarethe put her arms around Aksinya and held her close.  She turned her head toward the Reverend Mother, “The girl is freezing.  Do you have a coat for her, Father?”

“I am an archinquisitor, Sister.  Unhand the woman, we are taking her to the Cardinal’s residence.”

Aksinya whispered, “Where is the Lady Natalya?”

Archinquisitor Gallo grabbed Sister Margarethe’s arm, “Let go of her or you will incriminate yourself, Sister.”

The Reverend Mother took a step backward toward the doors of Sacré Coeur.

Sister Margarethe held more tightly to Aksinya.  She turned her head toward the Archinquisitor, “She is just a girl—not more than a child.”

Aksinya whispered again, “Where is the Lady Natalya?”

Sister Margarethe put her lips close to Aksinya’s ear, “I will tell you later.”

Aksinya wailed, “There will be no later for us to speak—tell me.”

Archinquisitor Gallo tugged at Sister Margarethe, “She is right she will be held in isolation for everyone’s protection.”

Sister Margarethe’s voice trembled, “She is with Herr von Taaffe.”

“Is she well?”

Sister Margarethe grasped Aksinya more tightly, “She is well.”

As though Aksinya waited only for those words, she relaxed in Inquisitor Esposito’s grasp.  He almost let go.  Only Sister Margarethe’s embrace prevented her from pitching forward to the cobblestones that were nearly as cold as she was.

We discover what is happening to Natalya.  We find out that Father Makar was not telling the truth.  Many people were looking for Aksinya.  We find out immediately that the police and the Catholic Church were searching for Aksinya.  Also many others were looking for here--the reasons weren't all good for Aksinya.  One of the main tools I like to use in my novels is the unsurity of the information being transmitted by the characters.  Until we see the truth, the readers don't know what is really going on.  This is just like real life and produces a powerful level of tension.

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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