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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Witnesses

10 April 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Witnesses

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.

Now we bring in the other people in the court--these are mostly witnesses.  You can see that we are still building the scene even though we are in the middle of it.  This is how you build such a scene.  You really can't do it properly all at once, you make gradual additions until it is completely set--then you work in details that were left out at the beginning.


The Lay Judge began to read from a list.  It started with “Is the Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov also known as Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna, present?”

Aksinya raised her hand and answered, “I am.”

Lay Judge Amsel read from his list of witnesses.  It was very long.  The Lay Judge asked if the witness was present and when they gave their answer, he continued to the next name.  The names were merchants at first, but soon arrived at Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.


The next name was Herr Ernst Franz von Taaffe.  He, like Natalya answered present, but Aksinya couldn’t see him.  Then the Lay Judge called for the Novice Sister Margarethe Traugott and the names of the two novice sisters who had been at Aksinya’s house.  They all answered affirmative.

After the Lay Judge Amsel called all the names of the witnesses and everyone answered they were present, the Lay Judge announced, “Except for the Princess Aksinya, Ladies and Gentlemen who were just called as witnesses, please follow the instructions of the officers of the court and move to the witness’s lounge until you are required to testify.”

The men and women whose names had been called vacated the benches in the courtroom.  The guards opened the large doors at the back, and some waiting spectators entered the courtroom to take the newly vacated places.

Judge Richter waited until the doors were shut again then he addressed the prosecutor and Father Dobrushin, “Gentlemen, will you produce your credentials.”  The prosecutor and priest brought papers out of their briefcases and approached the bench.  They handed them to Judge Richter, the presiding judge.  The judge glanced over the documents.  He wrote a couple of notes and handed the documents to the other judges, “Prosecutor Trauen, you are familiar to me.  Herr Father Lopuhin, I know of you by reputation.  You have worked as an attorney for the Russian refugees in Wien.  I am pleased to have you in my courtroom.

“Thank you, Your Honor.  You may address me simply as Herr Lopuhin.”

Judge Richter nodded to the two men.    

Here we introduce the prosecutor and the defender.  The prosecutor is Herr Trauen--yes, this is the father of Aksinya's friend from her school.  He doesn't have as big a role as his daughter, but this is how we fit the pieces of the puzzle together.  There is also a hint in the way Father Dobrushin asks to be addressed.  We also see an afirmation of Father Dobrushin's competency as a lawyer.

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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