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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Scenes - Scene Setting, Ecclesia

9 May 2013, Scenes - Scene Setting, Ecclesia

Announcement: My novels Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness are about to be published. I write this blog about 2 months prior to its 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

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 many 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.

This is the scene setting for the beginning of the next chapter.  I really don't need to do much, but I do.  Note, the setting is the Ecclesia--the reader has been here before.  Just mentioning it in this context provides the proper "place" description.  There is more and will be more as we proceed.  The "time" setting is a little more subtle.  Ekaterina lights the gas lamps before the candles.  This means it is past sunset.  The reader knows it is late--past 9:00 or 10:00 pm.  The fact she has to light the gas lamps first indicates the late hour.  The "who" is provided by Ekaterina and Father Makar.  I go to great detail to show you how he accouters himself to serve.

Inside the Ecclesia, Matushka Ekaterina lit the gas lamps and then the candles.  In the sacristy, the Archpriest, Father Makar donned his robes. He put on each piece with a prayer.  Over his white robe, the sticharion, he put his head through the epitrachelion, his stole, and carefully straightened it.  He placed laced cuffs, the epimanikia, over the sleeves of his sticharion and loosely tied them.  They represented manacles, the chains that bound him into the service of God.  He tied a cloth belt, the zone over the epitrachelion and sticharion.  On his right side he suspended his nabedrennik with a strap that he drew over his left shoulder.  A further diamond-shaped epigonation partially covered the nabedrennik and was also held in place by another strap over his left shoulder.  He intentionally left off the omophorion, but still mouthed its prayer and kissed it.  He bowed his head and placed over his neck the chain of his pectoral cross which was quite fine and his engolpion, a medallion with the icon of Christ in its center.  Over everything, he donned a beautiful silver phelonion that was covered with gold stitching and decorations.  It was large, conical, and sleeveless, with an open front so his hands were free.  At the collar, he buttoned the high varkas that matched his phelonion and at the back rose as high as the top of his head.  Father Makar completed everything with a crossless mitre on his head and a final prayer. 
Properly accoutered for his role to administer a sacrament, he lit the incense and prepared the altar.  All the while, Aksinya and Dobrushin waited in the Narthex.
Every item Father Makar put on has a specific meaning.  I won't repeat those meanings for you like I did with the original document.  If you are interested, go back and review that scene from the blog and the book.  The point is the detail that is necessary to describe Father Makar's clothing.  The reason for this is to set the scene for an Orthodox wedding.  I like to incorporate original ceremonies in my writing.  In some cases, I abbreviate them for the sake of the story.  In many cases, I don't. I have incorporated an ancient Chinese tea ceremony, an Orthodox communion, an Orthodox Baptism, etc.  The reasons for this are many, but I'll give you a few.  First, I am trying to record for prosperity some of these ceremonies.  Second, I want my readers to get the feel of the events from a historical perspective.  The third, but not last reason, is that I am trying to capture the historicity of in the novel.

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, and my individual novel websites:,,,, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.

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