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 http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
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.
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.
The main character has intruded on the Ecclesia and members of the Ecclesia. This gives a perfect opportunity to build tension through the revelation of Aksinya and the other characters. The scene setting is for the beginning of the chapter. Note the time and place setting--then we get the characters.
At noon, Father Dobrushin returned to the Ecclesia. As soon as the midday prayers were over, he stepped into the kitchen and asked Ekaterina, “Where is she?”
Ekaterina looked up from her pots and pointed with her chin toward the small back room.
Father Dobrushin went down the short hall to the door. It was cracked open and Aksinya knelt on the floor and lay partially over the small cot. The priest cleared his throat and pushed the door open the rest of the way.
Aksinya leapt up from the floor like a child caught in a misdeed. She rubbed her eyes before she turned and faced Father Dobrushin. Her eyes were moist and red.
Father Dobrushin was silent for a moment then he stroked his beard, “May I speak with you?”
Aksinya ducked her head. She rubbed her face in the coarse fabric of her sleeves, “I don’t know what is wrong with my eyes lately. They will not stop watering.”
Father Dobrushin made a noncommittal sound. Aksinya slowly sat on the edge of the cot.
Father Dobrushin moved consciously to the far side of the room. He turned away from her, “I need to talk to you about your penance.”
“Yes,” Aksinya stared straight at him.
“Dear Countess, luxuria is your problem, therefore you must do everything in your power to fight its grip.”
Aksinya stuttered, “I understand this. That is part of my problem, but what do you suggest?”
“I only have this one dress. Ekaterina loaned it to me. My other one was ruined. I am also eating due to your benevolence. I drank too much before, but I have no money and you have not provided any alcohol to me. As to my body, my desire is no less, but I have less energy now and less temptation.”
Father Dobrushin wasn’t certain what to say. He swallowed, “About the sorcery…”
Aksinya lowered her head, “I do not intend to ever do sorcery again.”
“That is good. But to give up luxuria and sorcery all at once might be difficult.”
“I have no money and no implements to accomplish the sorcery. It is difficult for me to give up, but I am determined.”
“We will help you.” He paused a long moment, “I did want to ask you about the demon.”
“That was the name.”
“That was the name.”
“He is tall—over six or seven feet high. He is wholly black and made like a man but only muscle and bone. He was fangs and horns.”
Father Dobrushin swallowed, “And you see him often?”
“Doesn’t his appearance shock others?”
“He does not show himself to others in his actual form. Only I see him like that. To others he conceals his true form and his true words.”
Aksinya’s face fell, “I’m not certain you believe me.”
“Countess,” Father Dobrushin faltered, “This is all very difficult to believe.”
“Yes, I understand. It never was important to me before that anyone believe me.” She thought for a moment, “You believe in God, do you not?”
“Then why do you find it so hard to believe in a demon?”
“Do you believe in God, Countess?”
“I don’t believe in God.” She raised her face, “I have seen demons—I know there is a God.”
Father Dobrushin wrung his hands, “This demon, Asmodeus, are you certain he hasn’t given up on you?”
“He is waiting, still waiting. He seeks to do evil through me. I promise I will fight him with the last of my strength.”
He sighed, “I will research this demon, Asmodeus, and see what we can do against him.”
“That is very kind of you, but I think there is nothing you can do. I have sought for months to be rid of him. He still plagues me…”
“No, he detests the church and crosses. He has not tormented me here. I’m not sure he can.”
“Good. Then you should stay here for the time being. You are safe here, and here you should remain.”
Aksinya lowered her head, “Have you heard anything about the Lady Natalya.”
Father Dobrushin shook his head, “We have heard nothing, but I will know more tonight.”
When Aksinya raised her head, tears streaked her face, “What else should I do while I am under your care?”
“You must help Ekaterina in the rectory and in the Ecclesia.”
The sides of Aksinya’s lips raised, “I have been doing that.”
“You should spend time in prayer and study every day. I suggest you pray three times a day. You may join us in the daily prayers, if you wish.”
Aksinya clasped her hands together, “I would gladly do that. I did not think I was allowed. Thank you.” Aksinya hid her face at the side and stood abruptly, “I must help the Matushka with supper, now.” She preceded Father Dobrushin out of the room.
The reader has already seen the demon. The reader already knows about this, but how delicious for the reader to experience again the description and explanation of the demon. This is what I call good repetition. Many times writers will leave this out of a novel with a simple explanation: "Aksinya told Father Dobrushin about the demon." First, this is telling. Second, this dilutes the whole ability for an author to reveal something new or to recast a major idea or character. This is also a way to give more and new information. This scene uses all these methods to move the plot, theme, and to build 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 audiences...ie, multi-layered story, for various audiences...like CS Lewis did. JustTake care, and keep up the writing; I am enjoying it, and learning a lot.
ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com, www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.