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Why You Need to Get It Right

Has anyone ever told you that your story was good, but included too much info-dumping? 

Being able to balance exposition in a story will distinguish a great manuscript from a mediocre one

Read on to learn more about what exposition is, how it works, and how to use it

Plainly put, exposition is how the author conveys background information to the reader

This means the author needs to impart that information to the reader, and the way they do

Any story is going to have information the reader needs to know which happened before the events

Backstory fills us in on details about the world and the characters in it

This does a few things: first, it provides context for the story, so the reader knows what’

If we learn that one of our characters is from a kingdom which has long since been

One method of delivering exposition comes in the form of an expository paragraph

This is a paragraph or section devoted entirely to describing background information

You won’t see the forward story progress here, as this is entirely devoted to filling in

The Kingdom of Cheese Curls was rainy for most of the year, since it was positioned on

This could happen in a variety of ways (which we’ll discuss in a minute), and it

This makes the backstory feel natural and seamless, which creates not only a compelling narrative, but also

This will also occur in-scene, which means it contributes to the progression of the forward story

But in fiction, you should always aim for indirect exposition

Let’s discuss how best to incorporate exposition into a novel

We’ll cover some common mistakes writers make first, then we’ll talk about better ways to

You know those fantasy novels that open with a five-page chapter that just explains the world as

These stop your manuscript dead in its tracks to explain information to the reader

These are especially deadly at the opening of a story, which is, unfortunately, where a lot of

You also want your exposition to read effortlessly—it should slot alongside the rest of your prose

This can be a tricky skill to cultivate, but when done correctly, your reader won’t feel

But before we talk about the tools you can use to convey exposition, let’s first cover

In other words, unless the reader wouldn’t understand what’s going on without it, skip it

Even for a contemporary author, it may seem vital that the reader has a full understanding of

Dialogue is perhaps the best tool a writer has for writing exposition

This is where some authors run into info-dump territory, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be

Just make sure the scene does demand it and that it doesn’t pull the reader out

Also, consider point of view when you write exposition through narration

A first-person narrator will only be able to impart so much, while a third-person omniscient narrator will

In a good prologue (and what makes for a good prologue is a whole separate discussion), the

Basically, if your story makes perfect sense without the prologue, you don’t need it

The exposition in your prologue will justify its existence, if you’ve done it right

Much like the prologue, flashbacks tend to get abused by new writers

At worst, they pull the reader out of the story for no reason

However, when you go to write a flashback, ask yourself the same questions you’d ask if

Do I need this flashback to explain the scene? Is there a more natural way I could