Blocks Of Anything

Check your work for long, thick paragraphs of EXPOSITION. Exposition is information the reader needs to know to understand the story. Often it's information you only think the reader needs to know. The reader needs to know who's who and what's what so he can have the same experience the character does. He needs to know what the character knows that's relevant to the immediate situation. But he needs only what's necessary. For example, if a husband is accusing his wife of cheating on him, we need to know, before the scene begins, why he believes she's cheating and that he himself is having an affair with his secretary if we're going to have the full experience. But we don't need to know that the husband has three brothers and once wanted to be a race car driver.

A common misconception is that giving the reader history and biography is a way of developing character. Your character is developed by the way he acts in the present, the way he deals with his problem. Action is character. We don't know where Ahab went to school, how many siblings he had, what his parents were like, etc. We know him by the way he behaves in the present.

If you have exposition (information you feel you need to deliver to the reader), first make sure it's absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, don't deliver it in one long stretch. Break it up and sprinkle it through the scene where it would naturally come up in the chain of events, thoughts, etc., and make it do double/triple duty.

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