Narrative Vs. Exposition – They’re Not The Same! – Revisited

I remember when I first started taking my writing seriously. I did a lot of research and read a lot of information on how to write a publishable novel. Somewhere along the way, I missed the part were narrative and exposition were not the same. As a matter of fact, I used the two interchangeably.

In response to one of my earlier blogs, a fellow blogger commented that she thought I was wrong in reference to a statement I had made concerning exposition and narrative. She, of course, was right, and as a result, I took a closer look at these two concepts.

Narrative

  • Narrative is your voice as the writer sharing information with your readers.
  • It tells the writer instead of shows.
  • Narrative lets you set the scene and give background information.
  • Used for transitions, it moves the reader from one scene to another.
  • It slows the pace.

Exposition

  • Exposition provides the detached, third-party perspective on a story.
  • Shows the reader what is happening, doesn’t tell them.
  • Uses description to inform and move the story forward.
  • Exposition gives the reader more information, more emotion, and helps with active scenes by quickening the pace.
  • Allows us to hear character thoughts.

In a nutshell, narrative is telling, exposition is showing. I found the following example during my research and thought it did a good job of showing what I am trying to explain.

Exposition: Brian stopped and reached into his pants pocket. He pulled out a lighter. Then, he reached into his lapel pocket for his pack of cigarettes and took one out. He placed the cigarette between his lips, cupped his hands, and lit it. After putting his lighter back in his pants pocket, he resumed walking.

Narration: Brian stopped to light a cigarette and resumed walking.

So much info on this subject. It still can be confusing, and it seems everyone has a different opinion. I would encourage you to do your own homework and think twice about using the two concepts interchangeably. They are not the same.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Narrative Vs. Exposition – They’re Not The Same! – Revisited

Narrative Voice?

2812fa51-0be7-4e8e-83b6-c6805cfdedf6I’ve been writing seriously for the last few years, although I started my novel about five years ago. At that time I thought all you needed was to pick up a pen and paper and start writing. It wasn’t until I was rejected that I learned there were rules, strategies, and expectations that needed to be met for a publishable piece of work.

I’m still learning the rules and the writer lingo. Yes writers do have their own catch phrases and words that us non-writers may have heard but had no idea what they were talking about.

Have you ever had anyone ask you about your narrative voice? I know what the POV is and am pretty comfortable with that. Goodness knows I messed mine up so many times that I had to put some serious time in to figuring out what it was and how to use it properly, but narrative voice was not one of the options.

An article I read in Writers Digest this past week best described narrative voice. It’s the stream in which your story flows, the current carrying along the key information a story needs to thrive.

Setting descriptions, observations, philosophical musings, sensory imagery and more slip through the cracks between action, dialogue, and thoughts in your novel. All of that in-between material constitutes your narrative voice.

The narrative voice and the POV work together. If the narrative is the stream, then the POV is the swimmer stroking through it sending feelings and actions to the surface.

Now you have it. If anybody asks you about your narrative voice, you have a better understanding about what they are asking. There is so much more information available on the narrative voice and how it works with the POV but I want get into that today.

-Jan R

 

Narrative Voice?