Exposition Through Dialogue; or, My Characters Talk Too Much


I explore characters, settings, and plots through dialogue. Pure exposition bores me – gives me nothing dynamic to play with – so I use conversations.

Dialogue seems like an easy way around the show-don’t-tell rule. My early stories used that trick frequently, which resulted in characters stating widely known facts or breaking character to give an explanation.

A lot comes out in revision. I’ve said this over and over because it’s true.

In an odd twist, I’m suddenly working on a short story. There’s an anthology I want to submit to with a looming deadline, so I have to bust ass on this.

I’ve had the concept for ages – one of those I immediately shelved because I didn’t have the skill to do it justice. The times I’ve picked it up, I’ve written convoluted explanations, but never had a plot to shape them.

Last week, I realized the concept fit the anthology, but knew I couldn’t repeat past attempts that went nowhere. So I stuck my character in a car and added a person who turned out to be her sister, once I got them talking.

And the pieces began to fall into place.

If I can pull it off, it will be a pretty amazing story. So long as my characters stop hijacking things by talking.


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