So you have a written a decent script. You know you have some solid parts, because you’ve been told so by several professional readers, including competition judges. But your script has issues, and some, if not most, of those issues stem from exposition:
- You either have too much.
- You don’t have enough.
Problem 1: Too much Exposition
You simply reveal too much. You don’t give your reader enough room to interpret and come to their own conclusions. You spoon-feed. You go overboard with description, dialogue, flashbacks… They get bored. They pass on your project or they simply aren’t crazy about it.
This was the problem I was initially facing.
You want to avoid this. But sometimes you work so diligently to avoid unneeded, unwanted exposition that you end up with not enough…
Problem 2: Not Enough Exposition
After many reads by different readers, I thought I had edited my script to perfection, at least exposition-wise. But then some of the notes made me realize: I might have cut too much as these were questioned:
- Why my characters went to the lengths that they did,
- Why some characters reacted the way they did.
So you’re not really allowed to let your characters talk directly about their feelings and motivations (also known as on-the-nose dialogue), so you have to include a lot of subtext and show these through action and scenes.
But of course it’s frowned upon to go over 120, even 100 pages unless you are a well-known writer or your script is plain awesome, which you know it, is subjective:
Problem 3: Subjectivity
So how do you know?
2) You follow your gut.
Finding the right amount of exposition, as well as the right ways to expose, is one though challenge.
You can however find what works by working diligently on your work, as well as studying your favorite screenplays.
How do you feel about exposition? Do let me know in the comments.