My Favorites

Friday, March 1, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Tension and Transitions

1 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, 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.

A transition and low tension scene is used to lull the reader into a lower level of tension just before you let them have it.  It also works well for characters too.  The tension, at this point in the novel is very high.  The main characters don't know what is about to hit them.  Natalya knows what has been going on, but Aksinya is afraid to ask her.  The demon has been at work, but he hasn't spoken to Aksinya in a long time.  Ernst is awaiting Aksinya's word.  For the moment, we are in a stasis.  Everything is held under a glass.  All the immediate incidents have occurred, we are just waiting for the shoe to drop.  There will be some more tension building and foreshadowing, but in general, the novel has settled into a slow fall into the climax.  This fall can't be stopped and, under the surface, it is gaining speed.

Sister Margarethe crossed the street to Sacré Coeur before Aksinya was ready.  Aksinya, and of course Natalya missed chapel, but they were just in time for their German class with Sister Margarethe.

In the class, Aksinya slumped in her seat.  She yawned.  When Sister Margarethe came around to review the work and lessons she assigned, she turned a smile toward Aksinya, “Countess, your work is well done today.  Your study last night paid off.”

As usual, Sister Margarethe didn’t spend much time with Natalya. While keeping her eyes on Aksinya, she stated, “Your work, Lady Natalya, on the writing is well done.  I didn’t find a single error.  Your accent is also improving.  Keep at your studies, and encourage the Countess to continue to complete hers.” 

When Sister Margarethe was out of earshot, Natalya whispered, “Did you work last night on your German?”

Aksinya cocked her head, “Of course not, silly.  I spent all night reading my new book.  I just finished some of her earlier exercises the other day.  You know that’s what I do for every class—I slowly feed them the work so they don’t get too upset with me.  In spite of that, you know I am serious about study—I just have other things I need to study too.”

Natalya nodded at that.  She began to read the current assignment Sister Margarethe had assigned her.
I've written about this before.  Just like you can't have 100% punchlines, you can't hold your readers in 100% tension.  You must let them down a little.  This also helps increase the tension.  Since there is no release, there is really no catharsis.  The point is to idle, not the plot, but the tension a little.  In these sequences, you can't let the cat out of the bag or decrease the tension by giving any release, you just let the characters play out within the plot and make the world of the novel just as genteel as it has been.
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.

No comments:

Post a Comment