communication / writers tips

Writers Tip #74: Exposition Tips From Chuck

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

These tips are from Chuck Wendig, a thirty-something agented-novelist, screenwriter, short story writer, freelance penmonkey, game designer with a sense of humor. His writing is a tad rough–not the way I talk–but deep down inside the me that has been smoothed and shined by the world, there must be a bit of ‘Chuck’ in me because these tips speak to my writer side.

Whatever the reason, he has some great ideas about writing. Here are 25 of them from Chuck’s outstanding blog post, 25 Ways to Make Exposition Your B****:

  1. Like most easily-digestible protein-nuggets of writing advice, Show-Don’t-Tell is one that ends up confusing. After all, what we do is called storytelling, and then in the next breath we’re chided for telling and not showing. And yet, the advice remains true just the same. Exposition is often the biggest customer in terms of telling-above-showing, and it reeks of amateur hour karaoke. Here’s an example: consider the difference of you telling me “John is an assassin,” and you showing me the act of John stalking and killing a dude on the job. The former is dull: a narrative name-tag, a Facebook profile. The latter is engaging: action and example. This is the key to exposition always, always, always: stop telling, start showing.
  2. Leave yourself no room for exposition. Start the story as late into the plot as you can; extract yourself at first opportunity. You can’t eat ice cream that ain’t in the freezer. And by “ice cream” I mean “dead stripper.”

Read the rest here

For more on exposition, check Ashley Almade’s discussion here (she includes an explanation of the term as well) and Arbitrary Nonsense’s three enemies of exposition.

More writing tips:

Writer’s Tip #34: Tell What Is, Not What Isn’t

Writer’s Tip #25: It Depends On the Definition of the Word ‘It’

Writers Tip #65: Thing? Really?

Jacqui Murray is the author of dozens of books (on technology in education) as well as the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is  editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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22 thoughts on “Writers Tip #74: Exposition Tips From Chuck

  1. I love this guy. I can’t help laughing while I read. Sometimes I wince–he’s so colorful–but I always learn a lot. My problem is using a little more exposition. Dang hard getting the right balance. Thanks for re-blogging this, Jacqui.


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