I’ve often suggested that it can be of great benefit to parse dialogue runs written by excellent “dialogists” and analyze the exposition that adumbrates the exchanges. I discussed longtime Newsletter subscriber Elma Schemenauer’s mastery of writing exposition within dialogue. I ask subscribers to my wild ravings to please take a moment to read Ms. Schemenauer’s opening in CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS. It’s brief but in my opinion offers a wealth of knowledge, as she effortlessly takes the reader through a scene with both clarity and purpose. When most of us start out writing seriously, we break our runs with trites such as “he looked,” or “he scratched his chin,” or “she moved around in her chair,” or “she tossed her head,” and the world-renowned “he/she turned.”
Certainly there are times when characters perform mundane actions that add to the fabric of a vignette. But these trites tend to become overworked and morph into tics in a hurry. Developing a proficiency at writing exposition integrated into dialogue, which advances the characterization, in large measure separates text that might be considered amateurish from that which is deemed professionally designed. Again, please read Elma’s brief opening–it’s that good as it relates to what I’m discussing. In a separate note to me while we were discussing another matter, Elma mentioned what I’ll refer to as a “trick of the trade” that I want to pass along. She said she inserts the exposition after she writes her dialogue. I find this works best for me as well, and for any subscriber who is considering the best places to use exposition either for necessary pauses or to impart information to advance a scene, I fully support this approach. And if you should like to read more of CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS, you may do so via Chapters Indigo online or Borealis Press. More information is also available at http://elmams.wix.com/sflwrs .