Plot Exposition

Miss Piggy: “Why are you telling me all this?”
Lady Holiday: “It’s plot exposition. It has to go somewhere.”
(The Great Muppet Caper)

I have a tendency to tell dramatic parts of the story: And then there was this battle. The good guys were hard put, but they stuck it out and won.

And then I show all the mundane parts, like completely superfluous birthdays and meaningless events.

This gets me into trouble with plot exposition. I just finished writing a chapter where some important plot elements are included–a little back-story, some character introductions–but it’s so everyday (they’re registering for classes), and it’s right at the beginning of the story. At the end of the chapter, I know important things happened, but will the reader recognize them as important and be intrigued to read on? Is there some better way to do this? How do you write about the everyday things that are important to the plot without losing your reader’s attention? Oh, there they go! Off to eat a cheese sandwich . . .

As I write this, I’m realizing some things. If I make it important, the reader will catch it. If it’s everyday, maybe it doesn’t need to be included. What is out of the ordinary? What makes that day different? Focus on those elements. Everybody else can drop by the wayside. Sorry guys. You’re just not important to this scene.

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