Exposition is information that the author wants the reader to know before they move on in the plot. It is delivered in one chunk, in the form of a conversation, a diary or an explanation from the view of the narrator. Despite its bad reputation, there is a place for exposition. Here are some ways it can be used effectively.
Rule of progression
A good place to start when considering the use of exposition is:
The least important facts come first, the next most important ones comes after that and the critical facts, including secrets come last.
If you think about the manner in which you discover information in your day to day life, this approach makes sense. You establish an overall look of an issue, character or event and slowly unravel them as time goes on. This allows for more natural exposition without overwhelming the reader and dragging them out of their immersion.
Just the tip
Building on the previous point, you don’t know everything that is going on in the world on a day-to-day level and thus nor do your readers need to. Give them 10% of the information, leaving the rest up to their imagination. This is particularly useful if you're filtering information through another character (see below). By doing this, it makes sense that the reader is only going to have a small piece of the puzzle and will encourage them to seek more, allowing you to build interest in the conflict, the world or other characters.
Use a character’s perspective
Filtering exposition through character’s experience, allows events to not only be communicated in a believable way, it also can shed light on the character narrating the story. It prevents exposition from being jarring, allowing the reader to get closer to the character delivering the information. Adding character moments and comments that reveal what the characters think of the information itself makes it all the more interesting.
Keep the scene moving
When delivering information, keep the characters moving. By having a character explaining things over drinks, driving or walking somewhere or whilst doing chores, keeps the momentum of the sequence moving forward. Don’t forget to use interesting camera angles to keep the pace up.
How often do you use exposition in your comic? 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, Feb. 19, 2021
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