Vas is Das?

Exposition is story information, that you need your audience to know, in order to appreciate and understand the rest of the story i.e. ‘A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away.’ I wonder why this sci fi is set in the past? And how far away is something with two ‘fars’ in the description? 

Avoid Didacticism! 

As responders to a work of fiction we don’t really like to be ‘told’ things. Ever heard of ‘show don’t tell.’ That’s what this is all about. When something is ‘didactic’ it’s like we can sense that we are being ‘taught’ something. We want scripts to teach us things, but we don’t want to feel that we are being taught. This is the subtle art of story. We also want stories to emotionally manipulate us, but we don’t want to feel emotionally manipulated. It’s tricky isn’t it? So how do we work it in? Have info come in via a radio broadcast in the background (ever seen a zombie film?) Have a poster in the background of the action tell us something. Introduce a best friend character who is a ‘confident’ for your protagonist. You have to find ways to introduce information about your story that feels natural in your world! 

Unity of Time and Place

Sometimes when a work of art jumps in time more exposition is needed, as we have to find out what’s happened in the gap. Aristotle was a fan of the ‘three unities’. Unity of action, of time, and of place. It just basically means everything happens in one go, in one place. This technique greatly reduces the need for exposition because it means once you manage to bring your audience up to speed at the beginning you might not have to worry too much about any further exposition! 

Use Less

Trust the audience. Sometimes it’s great to just watch a world unfold without being given all the pieces of the puzzle. Ever walked into a film late and been surprised by how much you enjoy not understanding everything? You can start In Medias Res, which just means in the middle of things, and not explain everything and trust your audience to enjoy the game of catch up. Isn’t this how we experience real life? When we switch on the news, who really has a clue why anything is happening the way it is? (no, of course that doesn’t apply to you, smartypants)