Exposition kills story.
In your book. And in life.
(Read to the end. It’s not too long, and
this is important…)
There are three kinds of yada-yada words with high potential to turn people off to your story — and your life:
1. Backstory. Backstory fills in the cracks of the past — it’s the words that move backward in the story.
With backstory, we describe what already happened. It’s not about the future; it’s not about the present; it’s about the former.
Characters mull over what happened, rehashing events and recounting feelings. It doesn’t have to be in excess, but often backstory floods into excess — because the character is me-focused. The author is, too — writing from a personal agenda, trying to get more info out in the text than is needed. Most often, backstory serves the writer, not the reader.
Readers want to move forward.
2. Small talk. Small talk is dialogue (inner and outer) that doesn’t go anywhere — words lacking purpose.
Small talk dialogue runs on with weak, unimportant yada-yada. The character isn’t focused, direct, and active. The writer drinking the pablum of small talk isn’t necessarily me-focused; he or she simply isn’t aware, or is inattentive, unknowing, passive, and even careless with the words (ouch).
Writers who have too much small talk in the story need two things: either they need to learn more about how to write with power (learn! grow! get what you need!) — or the writer needs have the self discipline to cut text (practice… a focus on economy). Writing small talk serves the writer, not the reader.
Readers want crisp, forward-moving text.
3. Lack of plot. Lack of plot is the absence of dynamic movement…the deficit of conflict clarity and conflict resolution — in an action plan.
With lack of plot, the reader is served words upon words upon words — all without action. Characters sit with a drink, rather than get up and move.
Writers lacking plot haven’t spent the time developing a story plan — so because the plot doesn’t exist, the writer can’t carry it out. Then there’s the issue of actually doing the plan. Once the plot is crafted, there’s only so much time permissible in the War Room. We have to step onto the battlefield. Action is critical.
Readers want a pressed-forward plot, intensifying with swift, sure movement.
Okay. Here’s the deal.
If you don’t cut backstory, eradicate the small talk, and dig into a forward-moving plot, your story dies. Readers leave.
It’s that serious.
Now. In real life. This applies.
And it’s that serious, too.
There comes a time when words fail.
Talking only goes so far.
Action is critical.
The three Story Killers are also Relationship Killers.
* Focusing on the past kills forward movement in a relationship. Going backward only goes so far. There comes a point — sooner than later — where we have to get out of me-focused recounting and craft forward-moving life story.
* Excessive small talk saps the power of forward movement in a relationship. Small talk can be (no, often is) avoidance. Small talk lacks power, dynamism, and passion for life. There comes a point where we have to get out of yada-yada conversation and dig into life with passion.
* Lack of a planned plot with specific action points — a dynamic plan for life that’s lived out — ruins a relationship. I know I’m being strong here. But it’s the ignored, the neglected, and the head-in-the-sand day-by-day plodding that takes people to the proverbial end of life, death-bed moment that says, Why didn’t I do more? Lack of a plan — and of action — is the father of regret.
So if we want our story to be a good one (whether on the page or in life), it’s time to take action.
Get out of the past. (Focus on crafting a beautiful present.)
Kill the small talk. (Use powerful words.)
Make a plan. (Take action.)