Exposition is out of style and no one likes it.

This is my personal opinion based on what I’ve seen from my readers, as well as myself. There is no bigger turnoff to reading than seeing a huge, page-long, paragraph describing a person, place, or thing. I understand that sometimes they are needed and you do need to break up dialogue and action scenes, no one will argue that. However it is necessary to find a good balance and too often we see long paragraph after long paragraph, most of which can be explained in more entertaining dialogue or in other ways. Allow me to give an example:

Description one:
“The cave was a lengthy one. On the walls were tapestries that appeared to be from the baroque era. They were purple with gold tassels and looked reminiscent of the time period. On the tapestry was a large emblem that was most likely a coat of arms from some ancient royal line that had long since been forgotten. The material was felt and shimmered as though glitter had been spread across it. These were a stark contract to the cold stone wall behind it that was otherwise ordinary.”

Description two:
Tobias shook his head, “Oh man… this hallway goes on forever. Why are these places so big? You would think they would want to make a castle easier to traverse.”
“Perhaps,” Taryn replied, “but at that point, it really wasn’t possible!”
As they walked, Taryn inspected the tapestries hanging from the wall, “Wow… look at these, they’re beautiful! The purple and gold blend very well together.
“What do you think, medieval or baroque era?”
“Definitely baroque.” Taryn replied. “Look at the tassels, and the fabric. These were made with felt during the medieval time period. Also, that coat of arms is definitely not from the medieval time period. It’s far more intricate.”

Which description held your attention? Which just seemed like it droned on? Which is more likely to turn your readers off?

In classic literature, reading through a ton of exposition was normal. Perhaps at that point, people had better attention spans or reading was different, or perhaps it was just a poor translation of oral tradition as in speech, exposition is far more accepted. I don’t know, but in this day and age, what little reading people do has to be more fast-paced and has to hold people’s’ attention far longer. Thus, a lot of exposition is not a good idea.

There is a reason why movies with either long paragraphs of back story at the beginning or narrators who don’t shut up, don’t usually do well.

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