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.
Here we have scene setting in the middle of a scene. This is the return of the judges. Note that the time for breaks in the courtroom allows conversation between Aksinya and Dobrushin. All action needs breaks. Natural breaks make the best time for advancing ideas through conversation. In my published novel, Centurion I used breaks in the action to allow conversations between the principles. These conversations a a great way to move the plot and theme.
The spectators began to return to the courtroom. They hurried to their seats. Right at the specified time, the judges’ doors opened, and the Lay Judges then the Professional Judges entered the courtroom and took their seats.
Judge Richter shuffled his papers for a moment and made a decision, “We shall hear particulars about the theft of the house and goods first. Call the owner of the house, Herr Tauber as the first witness.”
Herr Tauber was an elderly and balding man. He wore a tight black suit with a split white cravat. He was thin and nervous. He sat tall with his buttocks perched primly at the front of the witness chair.
Judge Richter began, “Herr Tauber, please state your full name and the reason you are a witness before the court.”
“I am Franz Heinrik Tauber. My house was contracted in a loan in the name of the Countess Golitsyna. The loan was never paid and it defaulted.”
“Was any earnest paid as surety on the house?”
“Yes, it was paid in Russian roubles which I quickly cashed because of the troubles in
“Have you ever met the defendant who is seated in this courtroom?”
“Who is the defendant?”
Judge Richter pointed at Aksinya, “The defendant is that young woman seated there.”
“That young woman? I expected a Russian Princess or at least a Countess. That’s what the newspapers have portrayed. She looks like a drudge. Is this a trick?”
Judge Richter frowned, “This is no trick Herr Tauber. The woman seated there is the Princess Aksinya.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I meant no offense.”
Aksinya’s eyes burned, “No offense taken.”
Judge Richter hurried on, “So you never actually met the Countess or Princess before.”
“Never. This is the first time I’ve ever seen her.”
“Then who negotiated the house and the loan?”
“A man who portrayed himself as her representative and courtier.”
“What was his name?”
“He called himself Anatov Aznabaev.”
Judge Richter pulled out a paper and scrutinized it, “The signature is in Russian and does indeed look like it reads Anatov Aznabaev.”
Herr Tauber added, “All the loan documents were signed by Anatov Aznabaev in the name of the Countess Golitsyna.”
“You met this man and saw him sign the documents?”
“He was a pleasant person. He brought wine and food fit for a noble court with him. I had no idea he planned to cheat me.”
Judge Richter made a sign with his finger, “Captain Gerber, you have my permission to leave the court and alert your force to apprehend this man Anatov Aznabaev. If at all possible, I wish him as a witness. In any case, I want him arrested for fraud.” Captain Gerber stepped to the bench and Judge Richter handed him an official paper with the judge’s seal on it.
Aksinya spoke, “It will do you no good.”
Captain Gerber paused. Judge Richter paused, “What will do no good, Princess?”
“Anatov Aznabaev is the name my demon, Asmodeus, uses. Because he is a demon, he will be impossible for you to find.”
Judge Richter smiled, “Let us try, Princess. That will keep all things in good order for my court.” Captain Gerber conferred with the judge for a moment. Judge Richter raised his head, “Herr Tauber, do you have any idea where Anatov Aznabaev may be found?”
“Herr Tauber shook his head, “I thought he lived at the house I sold. It is empty now.”
Captain Gerber nodded and exited the courtroom.
The questioning of Herr Tauber may be to Aksinya's advantage--then the question of the demon comes up. This proves there was such a person, but can you see Aksinya's answers in the eyes of the judges and the observers. She appears crazy. She looks like a drudge. This was the use of comedy in the scene when Herr Tauber states that Aksinya looks like a drudge. The point wasn't to intentionally denigrate Aksinya, but rather to remind the reader how she looks. She is wearing a dress that she has worn for over a month. She has not washed. She is not a beauty, but the dress and her circumstances would make anyone look terrible. This is a means of describing a character without describing the character. It is also an example of using conversation to describe a character.