My Favorites

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Questions

11 April 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Questions

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.

I write historically accurate novels.  The proceedings of this Austrian trial are precisely how it was accomplished at the time--at least from the historical record.  The point is to be as historically accurate as possible.

A trial is a great means to give your readers information about a character.  In this case, Aksinya just answers the judge's questions.  We learn something about her and her view of the world.  There is also humor based on her answers. 

After they had taken their seats, Judge Richter turned to Aksinya, “Princess, would you please take the witness seat so I may ask you some questions?”

Aksinya nodded and stood.  The entire courtroom stood, and she walked to the chair before the judges’ desk and sat.  Everyone in the courtroom sat.

Judge Richter glanced at his papers, “Princess, according to Austrian law, you are not required to be sworn in.  If your statements are not truthful, this can be held against you and may add to any civil or criminal penalty you might face.”

Aksinya nodded, “I understand.  I will tell the truth.”

“When and where were you born?”

“I was born in Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg on March 15th 1900.” 

“That means you are now nineteen and above the age of majority.  Princess what is your religion and education?”

“I am Orthodox, but I don’t know my standing in the church.”

Father Dobrushin stood, “She is confessed and communicating, a member in good standing in the Russian Orthodox Church.”

Aksinya glanced down.

Judge Richter continued, “Thank you counselor.  Princess, your education?”

“I was educated by my governess and priest.  I have only a few months of formal education.”

Father Dobrushin stood again, “The Princess speaks, reads, and writes, Latin, Greek, Russian, German, and French.  She is highly educated and is considering continuing her studies at university.”

Aksinya turned a perturbed glance at the priest, but he didn’t seem to notice.

Judge Richter nodded, “Princess, do you have any occupation other than student?”


The Judge made a mark on his paper.  He asked, “Do you have any dependents?”

“I am only dependent on others.”

The court erupted in laughter.  Aksinya glanced around nervously.  Father Dobrushin gave her an encouraging grin.

Judge Richter chuckled, “Please tell the court your current income and property.”

Aksinya took a deep breath, “I have no income at all.  I once had much property and many goods.  I left my property when the Bolsheviks murdered my family.  I left all that behind and escaped to Austria.  Here, I thought I owned a house, but I found that I had been cheated.  My goods, I brought from Russia with me, but they were all taken to pay the debts on the house, and I still do not own a house.  As far as I know, the only things that I have left are those I am wearing.”  As an afterthought, she added, “And the dress is borrowed.”

The court again filled with laughter.

“Now, Princess, I must ask you, do you have any previous criminal record.”

Aksinya held her hands together, “Until the Cardinal had me tried on charges of sorcery, even though I was a very great sinner, I had never been accused of any wrong doing.  I was found guilty of sorcery and notorious sinning by the ecclesiastical court.  I don’t remember all the charges or the punishments…”

Father Dobrushin interrupted her, “I’m sorry, Your Honor, the witness caught me by surprise.  The Princess Aksinya has no criminal record and has never been accused of a crime in any court of criminal or civil law.”

Aksinya glanced back at him, “Is this true?”

“The judge does not mean an ecclesiastical court.  You have no criminal record no matter how notorious you believe your sins to be.”  He turned to the judge, “Your Honor, please strike the Princess’ response to your question, under her criteria, Martin Luther, the Pope, and all the Saints in Christendom might be considered criminals.”

Laughter again was heard from the benches and the desk.

“I agree with your comment, counselor.  Judges, strike the Princess’ statement from your notes and recollection.  Princess, you have chosen rather than a trial by your peers to a trial by Schöffengericht.  This does not mean you may not appeal your prosecution or that you may not ask later for a trial by your peers.  The decisions of this trial will, however, be considered during any further judicial proceedings or appeal.  Do you understand this?”

Aksinya nodded.

“Princess, you must answer aloud.”

“Yes, your honor.  I understand.”

The fun appeal of this conversation is Dobrushin's additions and clarifications.  Aksinya represents many people in real life.  Note that she doesn't think much of her accomplishments or training.  Dobrushin puts everything in focus for her and for us.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment