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?"


I know I've been away for a while, but I've been busy, I promise I have been. I guess the old say of 'No news is good news.' applies here. As I check my Smashwords this morning I see that my free book The Talisman Crisscross is nearing a thousand downloads. That's 3 copies a day. And I'm hustling to get my second one in the series,  The Talisman: Cross Over done so that my readers can get it. Wish me luck! I still need to do the cover, or have it done for me. Hoping to have that done by the weeks end. Hum...I wonder how my book is doing over on Amazon...
This next time travel episode (yes, I said episode so hang on to your socks for future installments.) will not be free. I don't know quite what the price will be, but it will be.
Oh, okay so its too late to wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day and too early to wish you happy egg hunting, so I'll wish you a happy time shift as in happy daylight savings day. Right? Okay, not that one either so I'll have to think on it for a while. Oh, how about a happy reading of my new time-travel book (if you haven't read it yet) you will want to 'cause I'm thinking the second one in the series will be out real soon, maybe the end of April or in May. Let's see if I can come up with a good cover for it. Woo who  I'll go a hunting...
PART 2 –INFO DUMPS
Okay, you should now have a feeling about how to run through your existing novel and help blend the line expository with action. Let’s move onto the tougher expository: The huge info dumps that really should be weaved into the story.
Like I said before… these really need to be worked on at the outline stage. There are elements of your character and plot that should be offered to reader slowly throughout the novel, and this should be broken down and planned on during your structure phase. A little bit about her love of dogs here, a funny odor that surrounds her here, the fact that she woofs sometime sin her sleep there… and ¾ through the book, oh right, she’s a werewolf. That makes sense! Not… normal girl, normal girl, normal girl… Grrr, roar, I’m a warewolf! Because: blah blah blah blah.
But there are going to be times when you’re reading your ms, and you realize that you totally info-dumped and it’s a huge, throbbing paragraph of all this info that reads like an encyclopedia. So… what can you do? You break it down… and find numerous places for a little bit at a time.
Example 1
Her hair whipped her face, as she stood upon the cliff’s edge watching the ship slowly approach the harbor. She wore little, just a fringed skirt over her legs and moccasins on her feet… her culture allowed it, being  Powhatan meant staying cool in the hot summers of Virginia. Her face painted with red striped markings and her chest garnished with bone beads, she had taken a break from gathering berries for the stew her tribe would cook all day long, adding to it where they were able. Her people were peaceful, worshiping Ahoe, the creator god through tradition, but would war if forced. The Indian girl standing on the cliff that day felt the darkness of war within the ship’s shadow as it lumbered slowly towards the beach.
Let’s break it down:
1. Can you add certain info elsewhere?  Being Powatan and living in Virginia (I feel) can be offered elsewhere.
2. “Cooking all day long” – I get that it is the traditional way the Powatan’s cooked stew, but maybe this line could be scrubbed with a simple adjective. Ie: she had taken a break from gathering berries for the tribal stew.
3. Could their form of worship be offered as dialogue, in a conversation she has with a friend or family member
4. And could their peacefulness be witnessed instead of told.
Example 2
Jenny was from a broken home. Her mother left when she was 3, and her father had the neighbor babysit her soon after and never came back. She was put into foster care, but proved a difficult child and was shipped from one home to the next, finally winding up permanently in a group home at the ripe old age of 8. Which only hardened her more of course, as nasty fights and group torture were a form of entertainment and even currency at Bellville Home For Girls.  Run by a group of apathetic and borderline-seedy priests, Jenny learned quickly it was her and her alone she had to focus on, to take care of.  She started fighting to win if pounced, fighting dirty, nasty, horribly, and she quickly learned NEVER to regret it. The one time her kind instinct popped up and she held back, stopped hitting for blood, and tried to speak instead, she was almost beaten to death by another 11 year old.
1. Obviously, cut broken home.
2. We can hear that she hopped around, from the kids in the home.
3. See group home at 8 when she arrives, and witness the savageness of it.
4. See kindness, or hear about it.
So basically, if we want to be hardcore about this paragraph, it can be bought down to this:

“Her mother left when she was 3, and her father had the neighbor babysit her soon after and never came back”
Kinds of Expose
We just saw a bunch of expose across the board… expose blended into a scene, action instead of it, and awaking images instead of explaining. So, let’s go a little further:
We can cut expose into three practical categories at this point, for writing/editing purposes :
1. Expose that can be tweaked on the spot (sometimes). And
2.  Expose that takes planning.
3. Villain expository
Let’s look at each of them closer:
1.     Expose that can be tweaked on the spot (sometimes)
Most of these types of expository can be tweaked and reworked on the spot, through editing:
·        Actions through physicality, body language, tone, etc, that help us understand a character better… also…
·        world building through doing rather than telling - acting within the world: like, pulling the shutters if it’s too bright, or making the coffee in the futuristic coffee pot instead of explaining that it’s futuristic and works as follows, etc.
But the other type of expository to be fixed, is something that takes more planning... and really from the get go. And that’s not so tweakable expose: Interweaving info dumps throughout the story for plot necessity.  (Not so easily tweakable)

Let’s go through the easier, tweak-on-the-spot expose, a little further:
·        Expository in action. Shrugs, body language, scars: Physical things that tell the story for you.
A) Whether it's a personality trait (hard and quiet, soft and meek, well-fed and fat, thin and starving, alone and craving companionship, hurt and craving silence, tough life not needing people, etc.... )
B) Or a physical thing itself: a scar, an ability (martial arts, driving, knife throwing, mechanic, etc...)....
C) Or a character’s expression: such as a reaction. A shrug instead of saying someone doesn’t care, a wince instead of saying someone was hurt by what was said, an eye roll  instead of saying someone is annoyed, etc...
D) or lastly, an action itself, instead of an explanation of an action.  (think futuristic coffee-pot)
Frankly, this is simply writing technique, and can be worked on without significant changes to a script. Unless of course you decide your character now needs ninja-knife throwing abilities to show the childhood she had growing up in an ancient army of the dead… that’s gonna take a little more than tweaking.
Which takes us to our next type of expository writing:


2.                 Expose that takes planning,
or expository told through storytelling. This is the more difficult task. It takes structuring; intertwining info in small snippets throughout your plot. This takes crafting, outlining, knowing your story.
TIP: Slight tip here… when you’re struggling with this, and say trying to avoid having the main character talk about their past in an info-dump, consider having other characters tell the expose snippet… but do it as quickly as possible.
Example:
      What's her issue?" I asked, still nurturing my shot ego back to life.
      "Don't ask." Libby said with a shake of her petite head.
      "Too late."
      She sighed, but offered nothing.
      "What?” I pushed. I could feel my mouth twitch into an ugly grimace, but couldn’t help myself. “We all have freakin’ issues, is hers so bad?"
      Libby’s eyes snapped up to mine, hard and cold. "Depends on whether you think seeing your entire family wiped out in front of you is bad, jackass."
      I felt my mouth open, but I couldn’t get anything out.
      She turned then, without another word, and walked away.
Now we know stuff about an entirely different character, and they weren’t even in the scene to tell us!
And lastly, this is a little side venture that’s more specific than the general aspects of expository writing we just covered... But it’s a thing of mine, a strong pet peeve, so I’m gonna talk about it like it’s its own type of expository.  (It’s really not… it’s actually part of story-telling expository, the “untweakable-quickly” type of expo. The type that needs awareness from the start of you crafting your ms).
AND THAT IS:
3.                 Villain expository!
This last type of expository really bothers me, to no end… but it’s the one that’s most rampant – because it’s the hardest to hide. It’s the hardest to weave into the story without giving certain plot twists away too early. And therefore, we’re more often than not, dealing with the Villain’s reasoning for what they’ve been doing all along, for really what is going on in the story, this reasoning and explanation offered in one large info dump. And what makes it worse, is that it normally comes smack at the end of the story, at the height of conflict. So there’s all this tension, and nerve, and action… and then, hang on a moment… let me explain my thoughts to you while you’re tied up and waiting for me to kill you.
Holding the protagonist hostage while the villain explains EVERYTHING, is never realistic, it always feels like an info dump… and it tends to push your reader to say to themselves: "Just kill him already."
If you work on anything, make sure you work on this. It takes good planning, and there is no quick fix.

Okay, on to the fun part: EXERCISES!
These are exercises to work on how to spot and tweak expository writing. I call these “exercises in fixing info-dump “one-liners” because these exercises deal with basic, quick-fix, line items.
Change spoken explanation to physicality, (shrugs, eye rolls, wry smiles etc…) I myself am a big fan of using body language and expressions as conversation elements. It not only creates feeling, but also replaces a lot of expository speech.
Annoyance: eye roll, exhale, loud sigh, arm crossing, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, balled fists, etc.
Anger: clenched fists, ball in the jaw (love that for a guys), eyes narrowed, nostril flares, hands moving somewhere – neck, hair, etc…
It helps to think of your own gestures, or what we see in movies (cause they’re dramatic) when people are showing an emotion. The ancient Greeks used to have specific hand gestures to show emotion. They were the same for every play – and they did this to make sure those who couldn’t hear, way back in the nosebleed seats, could still follow the show. Well, we’re kinda doing that here, but in a more natural way… So what are our natural gestures to convey emotions – especially when we are speechless.
Exercise 1
Let’s say these two are friends, but the guy is about to ask her to be more than just friends.
“So I was thinking…” he began. He was obviously nervous and uncertain. His confidence gone.  
I was amused at his weirdness and worry, and waited for an answer.
If she’s feeling amused, what would she do to convey that? What would anyone do to show that? Something without speaking. I was thinking a bemused smile. Have you ever done that? A friend’s acting weird and you just look at them like they’re crazy…
Let’s tweak these sentences a bit:
“So I was thinking…” he began. He was obviously nervous and uncertain. His confidence gone.  
Could be :
“So I was thinking…” he said, looking down, his left leg jittering like he was on crack.
And:
I was amused at his weirdness and worry, and waited for an answer.
could instead be. . .
I waited, holding his gaze, and unable to control bemused smile that spread my lips.
Full Change:
“So I was thinking…” he said, looking down, his left leg jittering like he was on crack.
I waited, holding his gaze, and unable to control bemused smile that spread my lips.


Exercise 2
Scene on street between two friends. One has listened to the others petty problems for a very long time, and finally can’t any longer.
      “Janey, I can’t stand any more of your bull, I need a break.”
      “What?” Janey looked at me, really hurt by what I just said. But I didn’t care. I was sick of it, sick of her, and sick of all her crap.
      “What do you-”
      “Whatever,” I said cutting her off, not wanting to talk anymore, not wanting to explain myself. I turned and walked away, so I wouldn’t have to.
Okay, let’s start with Janey being hurt – how can we convey Janey’s hurt without saying she is hurt? How about we make her features cracking a bit.
Her face broke a little, the crease between her eyes deepening. “What?”
And now… how do we convey that the protag doesn’t care, doesn’t even want to explain? This is a harder action to work out. But again, rely on your own reactions.
Janey, I can’t stand any more of your bull, I need a break.”
Her face broke a little, the crease between her eyes deepening. “What?”
I felt so tired, sick even. I just couldn’t do this anymore.
“What do you-“
“Whatever,” I cut her off, shaking my head out of this conversation completely, then stalked away.
Just a quick note here… obviously these exercises are extreme – for exercise sake. Your whole novel doesn’t want to be a sequence of facial expressions that replace all language. But using these replacement wisely and even leaning towards them more than explanation, can create an energy within the pages of your novel. It’s action, It keeps the reader alert and imagining – working. Instead of simply being fed a story.


Exercise 3
The next example is more show me how your world works instead of telling me. It’s world based, and is just as important as character based. There are way too many sci-fi prologues out there that explain every detail of how a world works before we even get to the action. Start with action, your reader is smart, they’ll get it.
Angry, Deidre ran to her small space cruiser, the size of car, which would take her far away from here and well into space if she wanted. It was a spaceship after all. Most teens had them her on Zion. She got in, and put her thumb to the print-activated ignition scan button to turn on the small ship. At her touch it vibrated then jolted to life. She grabbed the wheel of the ship, then took the motor-boat like throttle in her hand, pulling back to the fastest position. She was an avid driver, and liked to go fast, so she wasn’t surprised at the lurch in her stomach when the ship took off into the atmosphere, heading towards space.
Okay, before we discuss, read this one in comparison.
Deidre jumped into the cruiser and slammed her thumb on the ignition button. The ship rumbled, then sparked to life, jolting her body forward before idling. She took the wheel and slammed the accelerator back at full throttle, feeling the comfy lurch in her stomach as the cruiser shot into the air towards the break in the horizon between sky and stars.
What do you like better?
I personally prefer two – I believe you should say what you need to say in as little words as possible… and actions help that.



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.