Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Wednesday Writer's Corner - Exposition, Friend or Foe?

Since starting this blog a few months back I've read more books than I can count. There are still many more waiting on my TBR list. Most of them YA and of the fantasy persuasion. This also happens to be the genre of the novel I'm currently writing. As an avid internet stalker, I've read hundreds of pages on writing tips and there is so much conflicting advice about exposition and the part it plays in a novel that I thought I would throw it over to you guys. The readers.
        As a very lazy reader, I don't mind an exposition heavy book. Especially one where the setting is somewhat different to the real world. Sometimes, when I just want to read a book for pure entertainment, I would rather not have to sit there trying to figure out what's going on. If an author can sum up their world in a bit of quick dialogue or a paragraph of background, I am happy to accept it. But then I read  On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (review to come) as part of my Aussie Author Challenge and it got me thinking about exposition. Or lack thereof.
        You see, there is very little exposition in On The Jellicoe Road and instead of confusing me, I found it made the story more intriguing. I wanted to keep reading to uncover all the secrets of this new world. Suddenly I'm not a lazy reader anymore and it's made me question the exposition in my own writing.
         What are your thoughts? Exposition, friend or foe? Comments much appreciated. Feel free to link back to any posts you have with your own questions and I will come visit :)


  1. Hmm...I think it can work both ways. I've read books where you can imagine the world and see it so graphically, like Obernewtyn and the Lord of the Rings series. However sometimes there is so much description that you're just thinking ok, i want some dialogue here. I've had enough of the curl of the leaves on the branches. I guess it depends on the story and how well it is written. Sitting on the fence with this one!

  2. I am an idiot. Because i had to go google what exposition meant before I could comment. (Clearly you would never want ME teaching your kid english in high school ahem ahem.)

    I read to be entertained. I dont like too much description, too much intro, too much background. ( Lazy reader alert) I confess that although i love Lord of the Rings - I hated reading the books. Too much world building detail. I love fantasy books but not when the environment is so intricate that it actually has a MAP attached to it. (hello, i cant even read a regular map of my neighborhood, why would i read a book that im DEFN going to get lost in? And not in a good way?)
    Good question. Now you got me looking back over my novel and sussing out the 'exposition'...or lack thereof...

  3. Oh, which has also got me thinking - to be a 'writer' do you think that you need to actually study the craft and art of writing? (Im getting worried because i didnt know what exposition meant. Thanks Lan! lol) Can a person just read a million books, know what they love, know what works and then write accordingly? Have you ever taken a writing course? I signed up for one when i was at Uni but dropped out a few weeks in. Drove me nuts.

  4. Dreamer: I hated the LOTR books because of all the description. I seriously fell asleep halfway through book 1.

    Lani: The feedback I got from someone a while back was that there was certainly a lot of exposition in my novel. At the time I didn't have the slightest clue what exposition was! I had to look it up as well and even now I'm not 100% sure I've got it down pat. I personally don't think that to be a writer you need to study writing. Some people just have a gift. But apparently I am wrong because I seem to be in the very small minority that thinks so. This is actually the topic of my next writers corner segment.

  5. Oh and no I haven't ever taken a writing course. Which is probably pretty evident because I am using my blog to get advice!! Ha!


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