How to expose yourself

July 10th, 2008

I’m writing a chunk of plot exposition at the moment. Plot exposition is best avoided in chunks. Like big chunks of anything, it becomes indigestible. I think the ideal way to expose plot is to do it in small fragments, preferably distributed throughout the run of the novel. It is also best if the reader becomes aware of some plot point themselves, rather than having a character obtrusively blurt it out to them. We people prefer, I believe, to discover truths for ourselves rather than have others tell us.

That, of course, is the perfect situation. Life, and stories, are never perfect. Sometimes, there is so much plot exposition that needs to be done, or it simply needs to be done in a compressed span within the story (in order to move the story on), that having a character tell other characters a few home truths (or a lot of home truths) in one large dose can be unavoidable at times. If that information can’t be segued piecemeal into other chapters of the novel, then the best resort left is to ensure that a large block of expository dialogue is broken up into several chapters, with scenes of action in-between. It is very bad to sacrifice pace for exposition; keep it moving.

Of course, you have no idea what I’m referring to. Well, keep an eye out around chapter 30 and you’ll see what I mean. Of course, by then you’ll be so gripped by what is going on and what is being said that chapter structure will be the last thing on your mind – I hope!

Entry Filed under: Editing,Writing,Writing Technique

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