Why exposition is bad

Exposition, or the insertion of important story information, is often considered a huge no-no in writing. Obviously, this information is necessary, but there’s a reason it’s considered bad writing.

When we write, the idea is pull the reader into the story. You want them to BE the MC, or at least sitting on their shoulder, mentally shouting advice or feeling strong emotions when things happen to the MC. It’s what drives the reader to turn the page. It’s called narrative flow, and it’s one of the harder things to achieve consistently throughout the whole story.

Exposition, regardless of how important the information is, pulls the reader out of that mentality. That’s why it has to be worked in more subtly. A flashback, a conversation to a third party, mental commentary by the MC; all of these and more are ways to do it that don’t break the narrative flow.

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3 thoughts on “Why exposition is bad

  1. I absolutely agree, but it’s tough to get the info in otherwise, especially the mental commentary by the MC, which can sound really corny if not done well, and as you mentioned, subtly.
    I’m working on a novel now and the issue of exposition is a big one because the narrative is third person. I think first person avoids a lot of that problem because you are continuously in the MC’s head, but third person is another horse altogether. I really like this post because it has made me pull back a bit and think about my narrative in a different way. Hmmmm. Very good advice. So thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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