A question that often floats around in writers’ heads is, “How can I deliver exposition without boring my audience?”. The simple answer to that would be to make sure to deliver your entire exposition in the first 10 pages. You fail to deliver an engaging exposition when you don’t mention the motivations and goals of all your characters and the plot in the screenplay outline template.
If you find yourself wondering, “Why am I having trouble with this new act?”. Chances are high that you did not clarify the purpose in the exposition. So, the key to an engaging exposition is to create a proper setup for the plot. Stating clear goals in the screenplay outline template will create the connective tissue throughout the rest of the story. It is important to understand what the audience needs to know to understand the fundamental background of the plot without giving away too much. Once you understand this balance, the story will unfold on its own as it progresses.
Now, this is not to say that the script will not need expositions after the initial setup. There will be some scenes in the script that require exposition to make sense, and that is not a problem. The issue arises when there is a ton of exposition throughout the second and the third act, etc. This happens when writers fail to paint a clear setup in the beginning. If the audience knows the goal and motivation of the act, then they can immediately track and follow the story on their own.
Introducing A Plot Twist Without Making It Exposition Heavy
Elaborating this with an example, say that a major character with a lot of background is introduced in the second act. The writer’s skill comes to practice here. If they can introduce a background-heavy major character while also not filling the introduction with exposition. The art of the skill is in how the writer hands new relevant information to the reader.
The fact of the matter is that this is something that doesn’t have a definite answer. This all depends on the motivations and goals that the writer has set for the main character. In popular HBO series, when the storyline adds a new character, they provide the exposition all-the-while keeping the viewers entertained. So, you will see some attractive characters and other distracting elements on the screen. This is how new plot-relevant information is conveyed to the audience while keeping them engaged.
If a clear goal is set earlier in the script, then the writer can find a way to create a conflict. Conflict is the best way to reveal new information that is relevant to the plot. A moment of suspense during conflict is what delivers emotion which keeps the audience engaged.
Conflict is the pinnacle of entertainment value. It is the substance that provides the most entertainment value. When you ask filmmakers about how to write a movie that requires exposition, they will direct you towards the perspective of “sex sells”. Proactive scenes are added to keep the audience engaged in the story while delivering exposition.
The Bottom Line
So, if you are looking for a way to deliver exposition in the later acts, just make sure that you have conflict. This conflict can take the shape of anything such as an attractive character, or the filmmaker’s take of proactive scenes.
If you have conflict and a clear goal for your character, you can add exposition to your heart’s desire. Set clear goals, create a sustainable conflict, and spend on your exposition. Keep your conflict ideas in your screenplay outline treatment, so that you are prepared when you get to that scene.