Tuesday’s thread got me thinking about exposition. Is it ever necessary? What would happen if you cut out all the exposition  and backstory from your stories? Would your stories become more streamlined or would the audience not know wtf is going on?

Follow-up: how much do you trust the audience? How much, if at all, do you take into account their intelligence when writing?


  1. Roxane says:

    I love expository writing, knowing more about backstories, seeing a more fully drawn picture. Exposition is not always needed and I’m equally interested in writing that is stripped to its bones but I really dislike when readers are unable to appreciate the merits of exposition.

    I trust the audience a great deal but I try not to make too many assumptions about what they know or about what they think they want to know. I think its important to write stories the way I want to write them and sometimes that means delving into complex histories.

  2. Chris says:

    I don’t really have a problem with it altogether, just how it’s presented most of the time. I’m a big fan of stories and exposition doesn’t really feel like telling a story as much as getting the audience up to speed. Sometimes it’s necessary, sometimes it isn’t.

    Most of the submissions I read present exposition in a distant third person, revealing things about characters and the relationships between them. I like stories where the characters show themselves in a scene instead of having the narrator unload a bunch of facts on the audience. It’s the differnce in telling someone about a magic trick instead of showing them one.

    To borrow an expression from a teacher of mine, if your story is a car and the narrator is driving, why would you want to keep turning around and going back? Wouldn’t you just want to keep driving until you got to the end?

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