Friday, April 8, 2011

E is for Exposition

"Exposition: Explanation, usually in narration, of information essential to the story."*

This narration could be a brief paragraph about something as simple as a boy's family, like this: "Mr. and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense."

In case you don't know, that's J. K. Rowling and the first book, first paragraph of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In those few words we learn a great deal about the Dursleys. They want to be perfectly normal, they don't like mysteries, and they don't believe in the strange. They also live on Privet Drive. Do you know what a privet is? Basically, a privet is a type of shrubbery most often used as hedges, also called "prim." Is it any surprise we don't like these dreadful people?

This is how to make the most of your exposition.

*LaPlante, The Making of a Story, W. W. Norton & Co., 2007. p.644


  1. Great example and awesome advice. Thank you!

    Ellie Garratt

  2. I am learning so much - it all helps me improve my writing!! Thank you!! Take care

  3. Exposition can be incredibly hard to get right. I hate coming across a poorly written info dump right in the middle of action. Boo!

  4. Excellent example. It says a lot about who the Dursleys are/were without actually spending pages explaining how they are.


  5. If ever there were a greater example than this of exposition, I have yet to find it. Well done, and extra kudos for mentioning Harry Potter, one of my favorite series ever!

  6. What do you mean, "we don't like these dreadful people"? I'll have you know I quite like the Dursleys, thank you very much.

    As characters, of course. As actual people... god, no.

  7. Hi, I've never read the Rowling books, but I may read them now, after reading the introductory paragraph. Thanks for stopping by and visiting with me! I appreciate the fact that you came from a large family, too. Sharing is the very best way to grow up, isn't it?


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