Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Visible Exposition

There are times when we can't easily hide the exposition; indeed, there are times when we deliberately want to make it visible.

Here's how Torey describes the interview room at the police station:

It was a small room, not even as large as the cloakroom at school. The walls were lined with corkboard to ensure privacy. There was a switch by the door to turn on a red light outside so others in the hall would know when they should not interrupt. The room had no windows and was furnished with only a metal-legged table, three plastic chairs, and a file cabinet.

She describes only what is needed to shape the picture in the reader's head - to orientate the reader.
One form of exposition is mood setting. Not only does Torey provide the details necessary to give the reader bearings, and those little details which make a story real (metal-legged table), but she also chooses to create a sense of claustrophobia: 'It was a small room... the room had no windows.' She chooses to convey the feeling of confinement and security blended with the barren and perfunctory, functional nature of this room.
But notice how few adjectives she uses, and how important those few adjectives are - how they build to create the mood; notice how short and unfussy her description is. The description is tight and focused. She makes her point, sets the mood, and scurries back to the story.

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