Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What does Exposition have to do with Plot

Exposition means giving information. Exposition means stepping away from the action of the story to do this. Exposition can be short or long. Think of books written in the past where there are paragraphs and pages of facts, sometimes more than you really care to read. This being the case, why use it at all? There are times when this must be done and times when the information can be brought in by other means. Or seemingly other means. What this means is exposition in disguise.

You can halt a scene to bring in the information or you can put the information within the scene. What kind of information tends to build to a blizzard. Research that you've done Research that has become so interesting you want to share it with the world. The characters' back stories that you need to know to bring them alive on the paper. Does the reader need to know every bit of what happened while they were growing up? Not really. The world where the story takes place and this doesn't mean just for fantasy or science fiction. There is the house, the street, the rooms where they exist. Some of this is needed but going on for pages about a bit of scenery will pull the reader out of the story. So how is this information given to the reader in short pieces that are easily digested?

First thing to remember is the plot comes first. Moving the characters from the start to a satisfactory ending is what one must concentrate on. Building the information into a scene is a good way to share with the reader. Place it as a small segment between scenes. Have one character explain to another. Use it as internal dialogue. Find a way to inject emotion into the information. This is something I used when one character had to warn his friends about ratis. These creatures akin to our rats have a substance in their saliva that causes wounds to continue bleeding. No one seems to know the cure but our character had been bitten and lived. His and his companions allowed a lot of information about these vermin to be shown without a long but of exposition.

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