In a nutshell, exposition is a big ole mound of information that the author wants the reader to know before they move on in the plot. It often gets a bad rap but that is usually due to it being used incorrectly. There is definitely a place for exposition so here are some handy tips on where and when to use it.
Filter exposition through a character
A good way to engage a reader with your exposition is to filter it through another character’s experience. It helps soften any potential jarring and allows the reader to get closer to the character delivering the information. You can add small character moments and comments that reveal what the characters think of the information itself making it more interesting.
Show the tip of the iceberg
You don’t know everything that is going on in the world on a day-to-day level and nor do your readers need to know all the things. Give them just 10-20% of what you could give them and leave the rest up to their imagination. This is particularly useful if your filtering information through another character. They’re only going to have a piece of the puzzle. This allows you to build interest in the conflict, the world or other characters without getting too bogged down.
Shoot first, ask later
When your delivering the information, have the characters be doing something. When you explain something to someone, generally it is over food or drinks, or on a long walk. Doing this keeps the momentum of the sequence moving forward and allows for interesting camera angles to keep the pace up.
Rule of progression
If your struggling with exposition, try following this rule:
The least important facts come first > the next most important ones comes after that and the critical facts, including secrets come last.
How have you handled exposition in your story? Do you have a strategy for dealing with it? Let us know in the comment section below. And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!
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Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Jan. 11, 2019
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