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Too Much Exposition

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Nov 28, 2012 5:00:43 AM

Are you over-explaining certain elements of your story in your novel? Nothing kills a story like heaping helpings of exposition. When you resort to telling the reader why a character is the way he or she is, or what events have led to a moment in a story, or even plainly stating essentials of your theme, you water down the literary merit of your story. More than that, you rob the reader of the opportunity of discovering these elements through organic storytelling.


Don't get me wrong; there are times when some exposition is necessary. If you are writing a book that draws on existing mythology or incorporating mythology of your own making, then a certain amount of exposition will be important as you give a "historical" perspective of the mythology. These incidences are most often seen in science fiction novels and fantasy novels. Also, if you are writing a series, a brief explanation of what's occurred in previous installments may be necessary. You would be wise to disguise these moments of exposition as efficiently as possible. Just because you need exposition doesn't give you license to engage in lazy writing. As an author, your primary objective shouldn't be to inform the readers, but for the readers to inform themselves.


When authors relay all the details of plots, characters, and themes upfront, they run the risk of burying the reader under an information dump and removing them from the story. Ask yourself two questions when you feel compelled to explain a certain element of your story: 1) is there a way to reveal the information without explaining it? And 2) is the explanation necessary at all, or is it just needless background information that you think is interesting, yet it doesn't add to the story?


When you have a choice between showing and telling, always choose showing.


-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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