Jun 9 • 3M

Flying Lesson #3 ~ Pt. 3

Exposition integration

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Now, let’s get back to exposition…

You’ve had a few days with a chapter of mine that is, in my opinion, committing the sin of summary (or exposition, or telling. It’s all the same thing).

Zero Slack Allowed!!!

And I told you I’m not cutting myself any slack either because I know better than to include THAT much exposition…good use or not. And because this is an important lesson to share. ✂️ ✂️ ✂️

I used all that exposition for one reason: I was unconsciously trying to protect myself from the pain of reliving that moment.

You, as the reader, might look at the scene and say, “What? That’s nothing. What’s the big deal?”

But that’s not the point. That was a hard story for me to write. When I sat down to put words to the experience, I was weepy, cold-all-over, and scared. I hated that experience from the past and I hated being in that exam room with Dr. Rick.

Injecting all that exposition into the scene was shoving insulation around my heart. It kept me up in my head too.

When I went back in and wove all that exposition into the scenes, the result was that I had to feel and that was hard. There were five days of sadness, followed by depression, followed by those chills that come when you re-live trauma.

I do not write any of this to generate pity. That’s not the point. The point is that we writers will often use exposition to protect ourselves…though we think we are being clever or creating unique and interesting prose, and we will fight-to-the-death to defend these choices because we are—in our own minds anyway—fighting for our lives.

But we aren’t. Not really. In this mindset, we are actually creating sub-par work because of our unwillingness to reconsider our choices.

Being a teacher, or the bushwhacker on the path just a few steps ahead, I’m going to do my writerly job now.

Here’s page one revisited:

Before I had almost two thirds exposition. Now it is down to two lines. And guess what…it is better because all that telling, summarizing, and exposition-ing is now in the scene. The reader isn’t being jerked back. She is being invited forward.

Yes, it was hard. Yes, it hurt to write. But I did it through the entire chapter because that’s what it takes to be a better writer. I used the pink this time because well…I earned it, and because it fit the category of “good use.”

No, this chapter isn’t perfect but it is better. See for yourself.

Chapter Two Ex Pink Fs
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We are nearing the end of the conversation on exposition, but I’m going to spend a little more time on representative and flashback scenes (which I consider to fall under the category of exposition too).

~ Jennifer 🍎

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