What if I edit out too much exposition?

One dilemma that novice writers often run into when writing a new draft of their story is a fear of cutting too much exposition. It’s an unfounded fear.

You probably can’t cut enough exposition. No story should include writing that slows the forward movement of plot, amounts to lecturing the reader or forcing him to read an encyclopedia entry or violates viewpoint.

The real dilemma facing the writer is that he hasn’t fully fleshed out a scene. If the reader doesn’t have enough information to understand the story, then the author isn’t fully showing us the scene. Telling us what needs to be shown is just cutting corners.

Sometimes the issue is that the writer doesn’t have enough faith in his own writing or in his readers. The reader probably gets what you mean when exposition is replaced with indirectly showing what’s occurring. Of course, this is where a good editor or another reader of science fiction can step in; they can tell you that they don’t understand something, and if writing science fiction, that’s a good indication that you need to include some more material about your novum. Don’t do overdue it, however – a single phrase or sentence at most often is all that’s needed.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.