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Exposition

Unknown #1: I can't believe we've lost a bet and have to spend the night in this old haunted house!
Unknown #2: That's an oddly complete summary of our predicament.

Exposition is a literary tool that is used to give information to the audience through dialogue, description, flashback, or narrative.

In nonfiction, exposition is commonly found in essays, directions such as recipes and instructions, encyclopedias, and biographies. Exposition in nonfiction is usually achieved through description.

In fiction, exposition can be given in multiple ways. Sometimes it's as simple as a character observing a headline on a newspaper and sometimes as complex as the narrator giving an overview of the full history of the fictional world.

Exposition is a two-edged sword. While it is extremely useful for establishing setting, plot, and characterization, too much exposition at once can bog down a story and slow the pace to a crawl. An exposition that is overly long or wordy is known as an Information Dump (or Infodump for short) and is very difficult to do well.

See Information Desk for where characters learn things; may overlap with this, considerably.


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