Monday, September 9, 2013

Expositionally Yours

"I choose to expose myself."
"Please! There are ladies present!"

Exposition is like a vegetable on a kid's plate. If you want it eaten, you must disguise it.

While necessary to a point of being obvious, exposition's strength lies in its subtlety. It must be fed to your audience without their knowing. Unlike in this example:

There's a difference between telling and showing. A smart audience picks up on the difference, and a good writer defaults to the latter, every time:


There's drama in the latter example. There's conflict. There's action. Exposition through conflict is the best and most effective way to mask exposition.

In real life, no one ever performs a "catch-up" conversation to bring us up to speed. If it's necessary to transmit to your audience that a character graduated as valedictorian of his business school, has a family, and runs a handful of businesses, you'd never hear someone say, "Ever since he graduated as valedictorian of his business school, got married, had five kids, and successfully ran four businesses, he's been a jerk."

Best to show it. And the best way to show it? Conflict! Every time. You might show the degree on his wall. You might show him on the phone with his business partners while sitting in the front row during his kids' school play. It's an image that shows us way more than any line of dialogue ever could. Show us through visuals. Through action. Through conflict!

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