Exposition is a literary term that refers to the opening of a story. It’s basically the beginning of a story, where you’re introduced to characters, their personalities and the setting.

The exposition is typically in the form of dialogue and action that lets you see what’s going on in the story.

Exposition can be considered a type of narrative because it tells about events that have happened or are about to happen.

What Is exposition

What Is exposition?

Exposition in a screenplay is the term used to describe any information that has to be given to the audience.

Expanding on this, exposition can also mean any information presented by a character or narrator.

The word exposition is often confused with description, but it’s actually not the same thing.

An example of description would be if a character had a broken leg and the writer were to say: “John walked with a limp.” This would describe how John walks.

An example of exposition would be if another character said, “John broke his leg playing football last week.” This would tell the reader what happened to John’s leg and when it happened.

Exposition is especially common in bad screenwriting and novel writing.



When writing a screenplay, it’s very important that you organize your story so that exposition flows naturally into the fabric of your story.

It’s best to keep any exposition short and sweet so that your audience doesn’t get bored.

Too much exposition can make your screenplay feel like an infomercial, or like too much ‘hand holding’ of audience members.

We see this a lot in B-movies (especially older B-movies).

A great way to figure out how much exposition you need in each scene is to ask yourself, “what information does my audience need to know in order for them to follow this scene?”

If you can’t think of anything then maybe that scene should go or you should cut back on some of the information.

Exposition usually takes place at the beginning of a book, movie or play. There are times when exposition occurs in mid-story as well, but this is done less often.

Exposition may also be called “background information” or “back story.”

In fiction writing, exposition may be used as a way to let readers become familiar with situations before they take place.


This occurs mostly in mystery and suspense stories, where there might be character development taking place right before the crime is committed.

In this case, the author won’t want to reveal too much about the crime or how it takes place until later in the story.

Exposition usually does not occur during action scenes because there’s no time for it; rather, it’s used at points where there is downtime for one reason or another.

What Is Exposition Used For?

Exposition is used for many different things in the world of fiction. 

There is the big idea exposition, which is the introduction of a critical plot point; and then there are character exposition scenes, which are used to fill in an important backstory element.

Exposition is something that every writer has to deal with at some point in their work. It’s necessary, but it can be tricky to do right. 

Writers need to insure that, when introducing exposition, they don’t take the reader out of their story. 

Here are some useful pointers when using exposition:

Don’t give it all away at once

Exposition isn’t just about recapping events from past books or critical plot points; it’s also about giving your readers a sense of the characters who populate your book. 

Exposition allows writers to set up their characters’ motivations and relationships, as well as explain why they’re acting a certain way in your story.

Exposition should be woven into your story as naturally as possible

This can be tricky because when you’re writing, you want to make sure you’re getting all the exposition right so everything makes perfect sense to your reader. You don’t want leave them scratching their heads.


What Is Exposition Of A Story

Exposition is that part of a story where you explain the background information to the audience. 

It’s like the opening scenes of any book or movie: What is the setting? Who are the characters? What is the overall problem that needs to be solved?

Exposition is necessary because when you’re writing a story, you can’t assume everyone knows all of this information.

You need to lay it out for your reader so they understand why your characters are doing what they’re doing and why things are happening the way they are.

Exposition can take many forms, but at its most basic, it’s simply telling. If you’re telling a friend about a book you read, you would probably just say something like, “Well, there were these sisters who were orphans and they lived in New York and they were poor.” 

You don’t spend a lot of time describing everything in great detail because your friend already has a good idea of what an orphan is and how people live in New York City. Instead, you just give them the basic information they need to understand what’s going on.

Exposition Examples In Writing

Exposition is a fancy term for explaining a topic. When you write an exposition, you’re explaining something. 

Unlike narration or description, exposition is always told from the third-person point of view.


Telling a story in exposition means explaining the who, what, when, where and why of something. 

Exposition is generally easier to write than narration because you’re not using dialogue or action to tell your story. Instead, you are describing the scene with words only.

There are three types of exposition that are used in writing: 

  • summary exposition, 
  • direct exposition
  • and indirect exposition.

Summary Exposition

Summary exposition is a brief explanation of the main idea of a passage. Summary exposition doesn’t give detailed descriptions or explanations but gives sufficient information to understand the general idea. 

It’s usually used at the beginning of a passage or before an important event happens.

The author uses it to set up the scene so they can focus on the more important aspects of their story later on.

Direct Exposition

Direct exposition gives specific details about specific events or characters in a story. It’s useful for providing details about something that happened earlier in the story, what someone does, etc.

Indirect Exposition

Indirect exposition is a way of telling your story in a way that lets the audience know what’s going on without coming out and saying it.

It’s a way of letting the audience infer things and figure things out on their own, which makes them feel smart and engaged with the story.

Indirect exposition can be used in many different forms and types of media, including literature, film, television, comics, video games and more.

Exposition Examples In Screenplays

Actors who deliver exposition in movies often speak directly to the audience, as if they were talking to each viewer.

Sometimes they will break the fourth wall, looking directly into the camera and speaking directly to the viewers in their homes.

Exposition is important in screenplays because it gives the audience vital information about characters and concepts that would otherwise remain unknown. 

It allows them to understand what is happening in the story and why it matters.

Exposition comes in many forms, but there are two main types: diegetic and non-diegetic.

Exposition Examples In Films

Exposition is the literary device used in movies to convey information. Exposition is a stylistic choice most often found in screenplays, but it also occurs in novels, short stories and other narrative forms.

This writing technique can be a powerful tool for creating interesting characters and situations. It can also be an annoying crutch that relies on telling rather than showing.

An Example of Exposition In Film:


Star Wars Episode 2: Attack Of The Clones

In the Star Wars franchise, exposition is often handled through dialog. An example of this is when Obi-Wan Kenobi begins explaining to Anakin Skywalker about his mother and the relationship between Jedi Knights and the Galactic Republic.

In the original trilogy, exposition was delivered with a visual style that relied on characters telling one another what they already knew. 

For example, while escaping from Tatooine in Episode 4: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker narrates to R2D2 what he thinks happened to his missing droid during the scuffle with Jawas.

However, the prequel trilogy changed this approach by introducing more visual exposition that revealed plot points without relying on characters explaining them to each other. 

For example, when Anakin has dinner with his secret wife Padme Amidala, we see a number of shots that reveal their marriage to us.

Visual Exposition Examples

Visual Exposition can be used to present a certain viewpoint to the audience.There are several important features of a visual exposition.

The first is the use of a narrator to tell the story visually. The narration should be short and should not take more than 10 seconds per screen.

The next feature is the use of still photos or images that are placed on top of each other. These images should not have any text on them.

The reason for this is that the viewer’s brain processes visual information faster than it does text information.

Therefore, using images allows the viewer to process that information faster than if there was text on it. 


The third feature captions, which are placed at the bottom of the screen. A good example of this would be a documentary about animals. 

The narrator could talk about what’s going on in one scene and then show you a photo or video clip that illustrates his point. This would allow the viewer to see what’s going on with minimal distractions.

Tips For Writing Great Exposition

The exposition of a story is the beginning of it, and the exposition of your brand should be the same. It’s the information you provide in order to give the reader a chance to get to know you.

If you were writing a novel, an exposition would be a few paragraphs that introduce your main characters.

If you were writing a poem, it would be your first stanza. The exposition is all about giving people enough information to feel comfortable with who you are and what you are offering them.

Exposition is also called “background” because it provides background for what comes later. It lets readers know what is going on, so they can get into the meat of the story or understand why your brand exists.

Exposition also gives readers some context for your brand and why they should care about it.

Here are some tips for writing great exposition:

Use action words and compelling details to draw people in right away. Exposition isn’t just sentences that provide facts — it also appeals to readers’ emotions and senses. Use active verbs like “created” or “opened”

Exposition isn’t a top priority, except when it’s being provided by someone who’s not in danger of getting killed—a narrator, or a character who isn’t fighting at all (the scientist who explains how the monster works, for example).

But even then, the protagonist usually has some reason not to listen to the expositor, because he doesn’t care or he doesn’t believe it. 

No one really cares what King Lear has to say about his daughters’ treachery until Goneril and Regan turn on him and cut off his head onstage. And then it’s too late and everyone is dead anyway.

Exposition in film can be delivered through dialogue, narration, or visuals. Each of these methods has its benefits and drawbacks.

Exposition Through Text

Exposition is a fancy word for background information. When done well, exposition engages the reader in a way that makes them feel like they are part of the story, not just an observer. It creates empathy with your character and often takes on the form of inner monologue.


Exposition Through Text: Dialogue

Dialogue is one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to exposition. It tells your readers all about your characters without boring them with long descriptions. 

The great thing about this tool is that it creates natural pauses in your story.

Unlike long-winded descriptions, dialogue keeps your reader engaged and helps them visualize your story unfolding. Dialogue can be used to move the plot forward and create character development.

Exposition Through Text: Narrative

Narrative is another great way of showing rather than telling your story. This technique works well for establishing exposition at the very beginning of a story because it gets straight to the point without giving away too much all at once.

Exposition Through Voice Over

A good example of exposition within a story is when a character makes an observation or asks a question that provides some background information.

Exposition can be difficult for screenwriters because it slows down the action and drags out the pacing of the story.

For example, if you are watching a movie and a character has an emotional moment and then all of a sudden someone starts explaining everything that has happened up until this point, it takes away from the emotion and excitement of the scene.

Another good example is when one character explains something to another character because they have missed something from earlier in the scene or film.

Exposition through voice over can help alleviate this problem by providing background information without slowing down the action onscreen. 

By incorporating voice-over at key points in your screenplay, you can avoid dragging out your scenes and developing your characters while still providing ample exposition.

The Negatives Of Exposition

It can be difficult to convince an audience with just words, so many people use exposition as a way to persuade others.

A person who uses exposition to persuade an audience has to know what they are talking about and they have to make it interesting enough for others to want to listen.

The person must keep the reader’s attention and not bore them with too many details. If this is done correctly, then the person should be able to change their opinion in favor of the writer’s opinion. 

This does not mean that all expositions succeed in persuading the reader; it means that if the essay persuades its reader, then it has been effective in its purpose.

The Positives Of Exposition

Exposition is the first stage in a good story. It sets up the characters and their world. If you can’t hold your reader’s attention during the exposition, then you risk losing them before your story even starts.

The trick to good exposition is making sure that while you are providing enough information to orient your reader, you don’t overdo it so much that they get bored and put your book down.

Here are some exposition tips to keep your reader hooked:

Make sure to have an event occur right before the exposition. This wakes up your reader by involving them in the action right from the start of the story.

Make sure you grab your readers attention at once and give them a reason to care about what they are reading. They should also feel like they need more information and the only way to get it is by continuing to read.

The Power Of Exposition

Exposition isn’t just the first chapter of your novel. It’s also a powerful way to introduce your product or service and convince potential customers that it will solve their problems.

In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, we’ll look at why expositions are so effective, how you can use them in your copy, and some of the pitfalls you might encounter if you don’t use them wisely.

Exposition can be brief or lengthy. You can include it in one paragraph or spread it throughout several sections of your content. 

But whatever form it takes, exposition achieves three important goals:

1. It provides a context for what you’re about to say.

2. It tells the audience what they need to know.

3. It moves people from unfamiliar territory (not knowing) to familiar territory (understanding).

Why Does Exposition Work?

Exposition works because humans are storytellers by nature. We’ve been telling stories since we were sitting around campfires a hundred thousand years ago.

And as much as we’ve changed since then, our brains still work in similar ways today.