Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Hiding Exposition

Thanks to a tweet by Roz Morris, I came across this article by Janice Hardy.
You hear it all the time. Make it active. Start with the action. Make sure your characters act. But we've all written scenes where we have to convey a lot of information and there is no action to speak of. We know we can't just flop the info out there and get away with it, so what can a writer do? How do you convey all that information and still keep the scene tense?

I like the layer technique.

On the first draft, I just write what needs to be said and don't worry that it's probably a pretty boring scene. It's critical info, and what matters at this stage is getting it in there.

Once that's done I go back and look for ways to add the "action," which is often just another way of saying tension or narrative drive. Something is moving the story forward, making the reader want to know what happens next. A lot of times this is just the protag worrying they won't get what they want. Whatever it is, there's something unsettling about the scene that's making the characters tense in some way, and the reader unsure (and eager) to know what happens next.

Even in a scene that has no actual action, there are plenty of places you can layer in conflict and keep things tense.
Read this great article on Janice's blog: The Other Side of the Story Ready, Set...Where's the Action? Keeping Informative Scenes Tense


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