Most of the content of my blog is for entertainment value, but once in a while, I like to throw everyone off and post information that may be useful. I could be aspiring for too much, but I hope you find this informational AND entertaining (kind of like when you get free dessert after a scrumptious dinner).
In my writing class a few weeks ago, the instructor covered how exposition (descriptions) in a story should be handled. This piqued my interest because sometimes I catch myself giving too much information in my stories – I often have to edit out quite a bit after my first draft. I don’t like to read books that have a full page (or more) describing every detail of a room or what everyone looked like. I’ll be honest; I save myself a few minutes and flip ahead until the story gets back to the good stuff: conflict.
So, here are some tips the instructor gave us on how to handle exposition:
- Surround exposition with conflict. The description of necessary details holds the readers interest if conflict is present – the reader can’t skip pages because they will miss something important.
- Add exposition in bite-size, small doses. Give one or two important details about a character or setting. No need to describe every little detail.
- Present exposition when the reader is eager to know it. Here’s an example: instead of telling the reader at the beginning of the story that a character is afraid of water, provide that tidbit right before he’s forced to plunge into a lake.
- Implied information is more interesting than direct information. This one is hard to explain, so I’ll use the example given in class: He can breathe okay as long as no one unplugs him. (meaning: the man is in the hospital)
- Twist another’s emotions to get information. Information forced from a character is more interesting. Think of it this way: if you ask a friend what they did last night and they avoid giving you a direct answer, doesn’t it make you more curious and you ask more questions? (Maybe you don’t, but I’m nosy-I do.)
If you have any other tips or suggestions, please add a comment to share. Happy writing 🙂