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Exposition

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > The Five-stage Story Structure > Exposition

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

The exposition is the initial part of the story in which the stage is set for the main action. Early questions are answered here, including where and when the story is set. The main characters who will be involved in the story may also be introduced, with their basic life being painted.

The exposition also introduces the point of view, the position from which the story is being told (often an objective third person).

Where there are sub-plots and side stories, then an exposition may also be used to set the scene in these.

Example

Once upon a time, far, far away in a kingdom without a king, an ugly queen sat staring, disconsolately out from the high tower at the fair lands that she ruled alone. On a distant hill and unseen by the queen, a young shepherd by the name of Barnard gazed back at the castle and thought deep thoughts.

Discussion

It has been said that there is no meaning without context and the exposition creates that context, providing the initial backdrop against which the story will be painted.

Not all stories start this way, though, with some authors beginning with other devices, such as a flashback. Expositions can be a bit boring, so to start with a bang, the author may begin with an all-action sequence which will be explained later.

Where there are multiple characters, the beginning of the story may be separated into a number of different expositions. The story may well then continue in showing how this separation is different and how the people are related and often how they come together into a single grand plot.

Although the main exposition occurs at or near the end, any new scene may require some degree of explanation, and hence expositional elements may be found throughout the overall story.

See also

Propp's 31 Narratemes

 

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