Five Tips on How to Write Exposition
Exposition is the way writers convey important information to their readers to develop the context and background of the story. While many people are aware that large information dumps are boring to read, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy to find a proper way to fit this information into your novel. Here are some suggestions for writing exposition that will help you effectively convey your necessary background information.
This is possibly the most common way to convey the details you want the audience to know. Because your characters will always be interacting, it is easy to create moments for them to discuss an arising issue that now requires information from the backstory to make sense. Writers often create one character who is older and quite the storyteller, or a know-it-all who loves to talk, to make exposition come more naturally through the dialogue. Just be careful that you don’t bore your readers with stories from grandpa’s past.
Flashbacks, Dreams and Visions
When it comes to reciting an event that happened in your character’s past, it can become a tedious task that often gets condensed and its emotions stripped. To avoid this and truly have an impact on the reader, try turning back the clock and make them relive that important moment. As the character experiences this crucial event, so will the reader, and they will feel and learn everything they are supposed to. Another good way to show key events is through dreams or visions, since sometimes flashbacks can feel a bit overused.
This is a great way to develop characters as well as the history of your story, especially if you are writing in first person. Really delve into your character’s mind and show your audience what they have experienced and how they feel about it. Just remember that when you do this you are looking through their eyes, which means that reality will be warped a little. Whilst the superhero might have seen killing their enemy as necessary to save the city, the enemy’s child will view it as a terrible and heart-breaking deed.
You can actually convey a lot of the backstory just by showing the reader your chosen setting. For example, if your story is set following a war and you wish to show just how impactful this war has been on the country, then placing the character in the middle of a town destroyed by the war is a good way to start. Describing the bombed buildings or the bullet holes in old houses will grab people’s attention and help set the tone of your story, all while seeming to be simply part of the setting rather than exposition.
Create Some Mystery
If you can build up the suspense to your exposition ahead of time, then you will lessen the possibility of it becoming an information dump. Posing questions early on in the story will help to intrigue your audience, but it also has another use, which is masking your impending exposition. Readers will be anticipating the answers to why the good doctor turned into a villain, or how Timmy lost his hand, that when you finally reveal the history it will be an exciting tale instead of a long and boring backstory.
Using exposition to develop your story can be a difficult task because you always want the details to fit in seamlessly. Hopefully these tips will allow you to practice and develop your skills at conveying important backstories and create a more interesting novel!
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