Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Adventures In Exposition

Exposition is the bane of every writer, no matter what form of storytelling you’re engaged in.  That’s because exposition – factual information your reader or viewer needs in order to comprehend a story development, yet in and of itself is devoid of emotional content – can be pretty boring.  Think of the technobabble in Star Trek.  Or any time a character in a story starts a statement with the words, “As you know, Skippy….”  Handled improperly, exposition can come off like a dry and unengaging lesson in a textbook, and cause your reader to put down your work for something more interesting.

Now, I personally don’t think all exposition is necessarily toxic.  Sometimes learning factual information can be interesting – we wouldn’t have the genre of science fiction at all if this weren’t true.  But in general when dealing with exposition, it’s best to be aware that you’re getting into treacherous territory.
So how to deal with this thorny problem?  Let’s look at a few different ways to tackle it: