Narrativity Online: Exposition by Elimination

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Narrativity Online Panel #2: Exposition by Elimination! One key to making a story readable is to let readers know what kind of story this is NOT, where and when it is NOT set, what sort of people some of the characters are NOT. How do we do this?

Please join panelists Joe Heaney (moderator), Meg Trast, Stephen T. Vessels, Chris Wozney, and last-minute stunt panelist Steven Brust, with video production by Sweth Chandramouli.

What have you got to say about exposition by elimination? What questions do you have? Chime in below in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Narrativity Online: Exposition by Elimination

  1. Joe, bonus points for an excellent job of moderating around the Zoom glitches!

    The blog post Steve B. mentions at around 47 minutes is PEACE, AGYAR, Neil, and Me.

    That’s A Different Panel: How about something about the psychology/brain science of reading? Sounds like Joe has some practical insights, and I could contribute a few tidbits.

  2. The story from the old Random House anthology “Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural” that I refer to is by Thomas Hardy. It’s entitled “The Three Strangers,” not “The Visitors.”

  3. This is what talking about writing is with writers! One thought leading to another and visiting well loved books and movies.

    On the subject of Roger Zelazny (write a character background story and burn it), I thought of Lisa Cron. She talks about a character’s basic misunderstanding of the world and recommends writing in full the scene where the character acquired their wound. That way the emotional impact can be fully realized in the story.

  4. Agree with Steve B. on how whether a supernatural explanation is in or out is a big thing. Mismanaging the reader expectation there can lead to great disappointment.

    Great talk, folks–thanks!

    1. Christopher Fowler does a great job with this in his Peculiar Crimes Unit books. Even though one of the characters is interested in the supernatural and routinely consults witches, spiritualists, and so forth, there’s never any real doubt that the criminal is solidly rooted in the real world. Partly this is because the other main character is consistently dismissive of supernatural possibilities; partly it’s because the detectives’ lives are so thoroughly enmeshed in quotidian issues like police bureaucracy. And I think partly it stems from his explanation, in the first book, that “peculiar” at the time the unit was established meant special or unique, needing special handling, rather than the modern definition of odd or strange.

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