23rd June 2013

Expounding on Exposition

FRED: “So Bill, as you know…”

For the love of God, please don’t ever begin a scene this way. Why on Earth is Fred telling Bill what Bill already knows? Because a writer is trying to get across some information to the viewer/reader and he/she’s taking the easy way out. Here’s another one:

Fred and Bill are on a spec ops mission in the South American jungle. Fred says:

“Remind me again why we’re here?”

Fred and Bill have obviously gone to great lengths to get this location and for some inexplicable reason Fred needs to be reminded what the Hell they’re doing there. Even if it’s meant to come across as sarcasm it’s still a clunky, transparent, lazy exposition device; one that rears its ugly head far too often.

If you want your writing to stand out, look for ways to convey necessary information to the reader/viewer that feel organic and true to the situation and the characters. In Jurassic Park there was a fair amount of scientific info regarding the cloning process that needed to be expressed to the audience clearly and succinctly. This was done through a video presentation to the protagonists, and at the same time, the audience. It made sense that folks taking the tour would be curious and it was also logical that a video presentation would be created to facilitate this need. The exposition felt true to the situation, the information was delivered, and the audience was free to sit back and watch a T Rex pluck Martin Ferrero off a toilet and use his femur as a toothpick. Mission accomplished.