As a Multiple Sclerosis patient, it has become necessary for me to reinvent myself. I have ... and continue to ... refuse to lie down and die, or in this case, follow the normally prescribed drugs and treatments that do nothing to defeat my disease. I am not only surviving by pursuing alternatives, I am thriving. I do the things specialists told me I would never be able to do. I walk and hope to one day even run regularly. I retain my cognitive and creative abilities for the pleasure of my readers. Although you may never see me on my daily walk, you are welcome to read my novel(s) and in doing so, come to ask yourself, "How can the 'out of the box' protocol she has followed, help my loved one with an autoimmune disease like Multiple Sclerosis?"


PART 1 –LINE EXPOSITORY
Okay… so in the grand scheme of things, what these vague phrases really mean, is: Create solid storytelling.
Before we jump into it, couple points to remember:
1.     Write your novel with care. In some areas show-don’t-tell CAN be implemented, fixed. But for the most part, it is part of your story and how you choose to tell that story… how you choose to execute it.  A skilled author, or good story teller, will implement exposition throughout their story, so there are no info dumps that need blending later on. This is the easiest way to work on action-over-expository, to consider it to begin with, to know exactly where you want the reader to know what.
2. Skillful story-telling isn’t just starting at Chapter 1 and finishing with the end. It’s setting up your story, and revising it when you get stuck with too much information coming out too quickly, or too much.  It’s making sure that the pacing and information leaking is in balance.  AND…
3.     All of this, times 100, when writing for teens. Teens can smell a disruption in a story a mile away, and they are not sympathetic or understanding about it. Certain things we get away with in adult fiction just don’t fly in kids (and of course vice-versa). Crafting your story expertly is expected. Action must keep moving, and if there is introspection, it needs to be about present feelings, with only light references to the past... Not full blown explanation.
4.     Given, sometimes we have to expose. There's no option: the story calls for it, or there just is no other way to get the info to the reader. But... This last resort should only come after you have crafted your story with most of your background weaved throughout. And when you find you must do this exposé, you still need to be subtle.
Let’s look at some examples of real passages compared to the same passage rewritten expositorily.


Example 1
This is in the first chapter of the Hunger Games, rewritten expositorily, rather than with action and images, and subtlety.
I wake up in our scratchy, uncomfortable bed. It’s scratchy and uncomfortable because it’s made out of hard, cheap, canvas… because we don’t have a lot of money. In fact, we have none really. I share a bed with my sister, while my mother sleeps in the other bed in the room. But my sister isn’t in bed with me this morning. Instead, I look over and see her in my mother’s bed. She must’ve gotten up during the night, and climbed in with her instead. She probably had a nightmare, she has them a lot. Mainly about something that happens yearly here, something bad called the Reaping.
Here is the original passage:
“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”
Which do we like better? The original passage. Why?
·        It creates feeling, invokes senses, musters images… there’s a tactility to it.
·        It gives info quickly, but subtly… through action and observation.
Let’s have a closer look
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”
As yourself, what do you know immediately? She  doesn’t sleep alone.  How does Collins tell us this? She doesn’t say: Prim normally sleeps with me. Instead she describes the bed, in the present, without Prim there… which makes us conclude that Prim normally sleeps with her. Showing, not telling.
Next:
“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”
What do you know here? She sleeps with someone she cares about. How? Katniss reaches for prim… she wants to touch her, and describes her as warm.  They cuddle, yes to keep warm… but it’s said simply, with care. She wouldn’t “seek” that which she doesn’t want, but must use for warmth.
Next:
“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”
What do we learn? The mattress sounds uncomfortable. Perhaps they were poor, unable to afford a nicer bed. How? Rough, canvas cover – sounds itchy, cheap, economical at best.
And lastly…
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”
Again, what do we know? The reaping is bad. How? Katniss casually alludes to Prim’s nightmares about it … as if they happen so often, they’ve become routine. Which leads us to think that this “reaping thing” happens regularly as well.  Also… one other thing in that last line: Here, she introduces the reaping with a very casual reference, even though it’s the first one – and the event that pretty much sparks the book. She sets us up, prepping us that it’s bad – whatever it is – so she doesn’t have to go on about the reaping from point zero later on. It’ll already be in our heads because of this quick, initial reference – and we already know it’s bad.
All that, from 4 sentences. Action can offer a lot of explanation.

Example 2
Continuing with the Hunger Games—let’s getting deeper into exposition issues that you can’t avoid, but can make a little more subtle.
“I prop myself up on one elbow. There’s enough light in the bedroom to see them. My little sister, Prim, curled up on her side, cocooned in my mother’s body, their cheeks pressed together. In sleep, my mother looks younger, still worn but not so beaten-down. Prim’s face is as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named. My mother was very beautiful once, too. Or so they tell me.”
So… with the simple lines:
“In sleep, my mother looks younger, still worn but not so beaten-down … My mother was very beautiful once, too. Or so they tell me.”
we immediately understand that there is an issue going on that has exhausted and aged her mother to a place where she’s no longer pretty. This idea suggests not disfigurement, or simply wrinkles, but a new way her mother holds herself. Such a change means a change in environment for a long time. Like the great depression. With a handful of sentences we now know more about this world and family, in an organic and intimate way… than simply explaining could ever offer. But sadly… this use of action and observation to offer exposition can’t always be so seamless and smooth. Sometimes a little more explanation is needed

Light expose:
As she explains her movement to get ready, slight expose happens:
“Our part of District 12, nicknamed the Seam, is usually crawling with coal miners heading out to the morning shift at this hour.”
But, see, this expose is light, and still mixes with the element of showing not telling. If coal miners are scurrying off to work, what’s the major work in the town? Why are they scurrying? What does that mean the people must look like in the town, and where does Katniss then live…?
What images does this simple sentence bring up?
-         mining community
-         worried workers
-         scurrying sounds like rats – lower economy status
-         shifts of work, again lower economic status
-         and… Their area doesn’t have a town name, it’s called District 12. And the people who live in it have had to nickname it the Seam…   What does that suggest? Perhaps Community? A shout-back to older days the workers want to remember?
Speculative, sure – but I’m thinking it… we won’t all visualize the same exact thing, but it’ll be in the ballpark of what the author needs us to imagine.
Next…

Full expose:
Then finally, when full exposition is needed, and there’s no way to show, or to blend the show… What do ya do?
“Inside the woods they roam freely, and there are added concerns like venomous snakes, rabid animals, and no real paths to follow. But there’s also food if you know how to find it. My father knew and he taught me some before he was blown to bits in a mine explosion. There was nothing even to bury. I was eleven then. Five years later, I still wake up screaming for him to run.”
Katniss is speaking about her dad and their time together. Obviously, we can’t show that. She has to talk about it.  (Unless you want to venture into flashback, and that’s a whole different can of worms).  So, why does this paragraph work here? It’s expose! FOR ME, it’s because Katniss talks about it while doing something else that reminds her of the memory… thus creating a natural motivation to talk about it. Walking in the woods, reminds her of when she and her father used to walk the woods together.  I’s clever and well placed, giving us a natural path into needed background story, but not feeling like the author is filling us in on something the story needs us to know. The expose is planned there in order to almost hide itself, to not feel like exposition… It’s feels like we’re simply seeing a memory of Katniss’, rather than her explaining to us something that would be hard to show.
Are there any other ways you might think of for Katniss to get this expose out? My big answer: A lot of people would explain this from a nightmare or a dream… But I like how Collins does it.



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