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Too much exposition

POSTED: July 26, 2014 9:00 a.m.
Lory Kaun, Joel Samuelson/Barrow County News

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Perhaps the worst mistake I've ever made is telling people I'm a writer.

I am in no way ashamed of this fact, mind you. I love writing and sharing my thoughts with people through the medium of written communication.

No, the problem with telling people that you're a writer is that everybody suddenly wants to share their writing with you.

I don't mind it, I'm honestly flattered, but there's just no time to read everything everybody wants me to. It doesn't happen.

When I do read something, though, I notice one common trend. 

Most of the people who send me manuscripts are sending me fantasy or sci-fi works. And when they do, they spend about 20 pages talking about this grand world or universe they've built. 

There's just too much exposition. What I mean by that is that there's just too much prior explanation that really distracts from the actual story. These writers spend so long providing context for the story that, by the time we get to the story, we just don't care anymore. 

The story is clearly taking a secondary seat to this incredible world, and that's just not cool.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a fantasty writer, and there's nothing wrong with creating cool worlds with whatever strange creatures and cultures you've dreamed up. 

Shoot, people have collectively spent the gross domestic product of Chile watching J.R.R. Tolkien's created world of Middle Earth on screen.

But if the world is more important than the story, you don't have a story. You have a text book.

Instead of telling people about this culture, show them with action. 

Instead of describing the world of Animoria or whatever, make something happen in it. 

Instead of setting up the events of the story, get into the story and explain as you go. Explain organically.

I know it's not sports related, honestly, but I say all of this to make one simple statement. It's pretty easy, when you think about it.

Don't waste time or words explaining your point. Just say it.

 

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