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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Witness

28 March 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Witness

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 get the first witness.  A witness scene is obviously one of tension and release.  The witness is called and the solicitor asks him questions.  In a court, it isn't very exciting.  In a novel, the author has control over the events.  In this case, Aksinya holds sway over the circumstances.  The witness makes statements and Aksinya counters.  The release in such a scene is the summary of the results of the testimony.  An author should use this to build tension and then release tension.

“This is also a sin of grave consequence.  Inquisitor, call the first witness to her sorcery.”

Aksinya plopped down in her chair.

The Inquisitor stepped to the door and brought in a middle-aged man with a heavy face and the clothing of a merchant.  Inquisitor Esposito swore him in as a witness and ended, “State your name for the court.”

“If it please you, Father.  I’m August Mueller.”

The Archinquisitor looked the man up and down, “Herr Mueller, you stated that you saw an act of sorcery caused by this woman, the Princess Aksinya.  Please describe it.”

“Yes, Father.  One evening last December, my friends and I were drinking, begging your pardon, at the Golden Adler Gasthaus on Sacré Coeur Straße.  That Lady,” He pointed at Aksinya, “said some strange words and pointed at us, and when we woke up we were on the street more than a block from the Gasthaus.”

“Where there any other people around at the time?”

“There were my mates.  You already talked to them all.  But there was also a nun and another Lady.  This one,” He pointed at Aksinya again, “was dressed in the uniform of Sacré Coeur.  The other lady was also dressed like her.”

“Anyone else?”

“There was a gentleman.”

“Do you recognize the nun in this courtroom?”

The man paused a moment, then pointed, “That nun, there.”

Sister Margarethe, will you stand.”

Sister Margarethe grabbed the seat in front of her and stood.

Herr Mueller nodded, “That’s the one.”

Archinquisitor Gallo smiled, “I’d like you to look at a couple of other people and see if you can identify them.  Inquisitor.”

Inquisitor Esposito went to the door and Ernst Taaffe followed by Natalya entered.  Natalya held her head up high, but she was slightly stooped on one side.  Tears covered her face.  Aksinya started.  She stood, “Lady Natalya.”

Lady Natalya wailed, “I’m so sorry, Mistress.  They forced me to come here.”

The Archinquisitor snarled, “Quiet.  Herr Mueller, do you recognize this man and woman?”

“Yes, Father.  That is the gentleman I mentioned, there, and the other lady.”

Aksinya cried out, “Why don’t you ask Herr Mueller what he was doing when this sorcery occurred.”

Herr Mueller colored.

The Archinquisitor snapped, “Herr Mueller is not on trial here.”

“Then ask the Lady Natalya or Sister Margarethe what was happening at the time.”

“That is neither here nor there.”

“I insist.  Inquisitor, your job is defense, then defend.  Ask them what was happening.”

“I must swear them in.”

“Then do so.”

If you have read Aksinya or if you have been reading along with these scenes, you know that Herr Mueller and his friends were tempted to rape the Lady Natalya and Sister Margarethe.  Herr Mueller and the inquisitors do not want this information to be known.  Thus they oppose Aksinya's wishes.  The anticipation in the tension for the reader is this knowledge.  The question in the mind of the reader is whether the archinquisitor will allow a witness in Aksinya's behalf.

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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