Announcement: My novels Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness are about to be published. I write this blog about 2 months prior to publication. I just heard that the proofs will be here soon--likely before the end of the week. My publisher also wants to put the entire set of novels based on Aegypt on contract--that's 5 more novels for 8 total. They also want to put my other novels on contract. The release schedule should be one novel every 2 months. I'll keep you updated.
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 scene is set. The characters (actors) are in place. Now is the time to finalize this release. Notice the use of showing to let the reader know how Judge Richter feels. I don't tell you he is touched by the greeting of Aksinya and Natalya--I simply show you he puts down his handkerchief, he instructs the other judges, and tries to put on a stern look. You know he was touched.
Sergeant Nagel led Natalya to the witness chair.
Judge Richter put down his handkerchief, “Judges, please don’t let any of the previous conversation or actions cloud your judgment. I only allowed it because it seemed an appropriate greeting between friends.” He tried to put on a stern look, “Lady Natalya, please announce your full name to the court.”
Natalya’s voice was soft but clear, “I am the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.”
“What is your relationship to the Princess Aksinya.”
Natalya put her hands together, “The Count…Princess I mean, rescued me. No one else in the world would help me, but she did.”
“I was a handmaiden to a noble family in
. They treated me like a slave. The Princess rescued me from there and
offered me the position of her lady-in-waiting.
She gave me clothing and jewelry.
She cared for me and sent me to school.
She called me her friend and confidant.” Minsk
“Can you describe the events of the evening when the Princess beat you?”
“It was the evening that the Princess was supposed to deliver her answer to Herr von Taaffe.”
“Her answer to what?”
“To his proposal of marriage. Ernst von Taaffe offered to marry her and his father the Graf von Taaffe encouraged the match. I knew her answer before she gave it.”
“Did she tell you what she would answer the young man?”
“No, Ernst von Taaffe is an honorable man, but he had two very important books that belonged to the Princess. She wanted them back. I knew that no matter what happened, her desire for the books would cloud her thinking.”
“What does this have to do with the Princess beating you?”
“This is the reason she beat me.”
“What was the reason?”
Aksinya stood. Natalya stood. Half the courtroom stood. Aksinya pointed her finger, “Lady Natalya, I forbid you to tell them why I beat you.”
Father Dobrushin pulled Aksinya back into her seat, “The press has already published the reason in the papers. She announced it during the ecclesiastical trial. There is no reason for you to stop her testimony.”
Aksinya held her head in her hands, “She shouldn’t have to say it again.”
Natalya sat back down, “The reason the Princess beat me was because I seduced the man she wished to marry. I seduced Herr von Taaffe. Because of that, the Princess rightly became enraged. I deserved to be beaten by her. I deserved every stroke. I did not wish to proffer charges against her. The ecclesiastical court presented them in my name. I wish for this court to absolve the Princess of every charge related to this. I know she asked my pardon, and I know from my priest that she has confessed. I wish to absolutely forgive her and pardon her for this sin against me, because I was the cause of it. I only wish she could forgive my sin against her.”
Judge Richter pressed his palms against the top of the desk, “Are you certain of what you say Lady Natalya?”
Natalya nodded vigorously.
Aksinya spoke almost automatically, “Lady Natalya, you must speak your response aloud.”
Natalya turned and smiled at Aksinya, “I do mean everything I have said. I did not bring any charges against her. I committed a more grave crime than she. I admit this freely.”
Judge Richter turned to Prosecutor Trauen, “Prosecutor, there are no other charges against the Princess. Do you have anything else you wish to propose or anything you wish to ask this witness?”
Prosecutor Trauen stood and tapped his glasses against his hand, “Your Honor, without any remaining charges, there is no reason to continue this trial.”
The tension in this scene is the aftermath of the meeting of Aksinya and Natalya. What kind of testimony could we expect from Natalya? I think the astute reader will see immediately, Natalya will always respond within the defined bounds of her personality. In any novel, only one character should change--the main character of the novel. Aksinya has changed and is changing. Natalya is not the main character--she will not change. Her personality is such that she loves Aksinya to the point that she would go to Hell for her. She does not see anything wrong with Aksinya. The response in the trial is exactly what we should expect from her. The release is hearing the words from her mouth and the Judge's pronouncement.