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Friday, April 5, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Intervention

5 April 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Intervention

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.

Here is the intervention... Father Dobrushin is a lawyer.  This was brought out before when Aksinya was in the Ekklesia.  Let's talk a little about the use of foreshadowing and development of tension and release.  If Father Dobrushin out of thin air decided to represent Aksinya (if he wasn't a lawyer) or we suddenly discover Dobrushin is a lawyer, this would appear like a deus ex machina to the reader.  A deus ex machina is manipulation of the novel to make an intervention or solve a problem.  In this case, I told the readers before that Dobrushin was a lawyer and that he aided the Russian immigrants in court.  This is exactly what he will do for Aksinya.  I also mentioned before that it wasn't uncommon for priests to have advanced degrees in law and medicine.  This is true in this period (and somewhat true today).  The intervention becomes a fact and not a fancy.  Whether it will work to Aksinya's benefit is yet to be seen.

Father Dobrushin’s face displayed great anger for a moment.  He turned toward the wall then back toward Aksinya.  She picked at the bandage on her arm.  Father Dobrushin asked, “What happened to your arm?”

Aksinya stared at the bandage on her forearm and hand, “It was necessary.”

“What was necessary?”

“The clothing must all be marked with crosses or the demon can remove them.  He tried to freeze me to death in the Cardinal’s house.”

“He, you mean the demon?  What does that have to do with your arm?”

“I…I cut myself to mark my dress and blankets so the demon could not take them again.”

Ekaterina asked, “You marked them with your blood?”

Aksinya’s shoulders rose, “They wouldn’t give me anything else to mark them with.”

Ekaterina grabbed the hem of Aksinya’s dress and scanned it.  She looked at the blankets, “Are these the ones you marked?”

Aksinya smiled, “Frau Becker let me keep them.  That was very kind of her.”

Father Dobrushin asked, “Have you seen the demon since you were at the Cardinal’s house?”

“No.  He has ignored me since then, and that makes me very happy.”

“I pray for you every day, Princess.  I want you to be free of this creature.  I also don’t want you to be punished for something you did not do.”

Aksinya’s stared at him wide-eyed, “What do you think I am not guilty of?”

“Whatever your sins, this trial is only about your assault on the Lady Natalya and your debt.  There is nothing else that they will try you for and the outcome and guilt is uncertain.”

“Uncertain.  I did indeed beat the Lady Natalya.  I did allow my household to fall into debt…”

“Princess,” he interrupted her, “Have they assigned a defender to you?”

“Like the Inquisitor Esposito?”

“Yes, like the inquisitor.”

“They have not.”

“I will defend you.”

Aksinya laughed, “I don’t think it will do any good, but I shall permit it.”

“I was not of a mind to give you a choice.”

Aksinya scowled at him, “If the court will allow you, I shall be happy to have you defend me.”

A knock came at the cell door.

Ekaterina touched Aksinya’s arm, “We must leave.  Would you like us to bring you anything?”

Aksinya pressed her hands together, “Yes, please bring me the Greek Bible Father Dobrushin lent me.  I only know the Gospels and Acts.  I wish to memorize Paul’s letters.”

Ekaterina stammered, “Memorize?  Certainly.  I will bring it tomorrow.”
Aksinya's injury is a tension and release reminder and also a historical pathos.  I like pathos and especially historical pathos.  In pathos, you present a situation that produces strong emotional appeal about a character.  The pathos of Aksinya valiently cutting herself to mark her clothing in blood because the Cardinal's guard wouldn't loan her needle and thread is a pathetic moment.  The memory of that moment, represented by the bandage reintroduces the original pathos.  This communicates it to the current characters and reminds the reader. 
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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