• rachelallen060

The Exposition Test

There are several degrees of offenders in the expositional dialogue game. The biggest offenders are the ones narrating information that is clearly visible on screen or that can be presented inside the frame. This is usually the first indication of a first-time writer who didn’t take the time to write a second draft.


These will go something along the lines of, “Oh, my God! Look! There’s a car heading our way, and we’re about to crash into it!”


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It may sound dumb, but I’m sure you’ve seen a few of these offenders before, which only proves my point – people are still making movies in 2021 with characters who speak this way.


The second worst offenders are by far more common; they are the ones narrating information that the characters already know (but the audience doesn’t) for the sole purpose of informing the audience of a new piece of information. A famous example of this type of expositional dialogue can be found in the Disney animated film Big Hero 6 (surprisingly, because the rest of the movie is actually pretty good):


* * *


TADASHI

What would Mom and Dad say?


HIRO

I don’t know. They’re gone. They died when I was three, remember?


* * *


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This sort of exposition won’t kill your film, but it shows a serious lack of creativity and, in my opinion, is just lazy. Ask yourself this question: How would you write the very same scene? Or would you come up with another creative way of translating the same information to the audience?


* * *


TADASHI

What would Mom and Dad say?


Hiro says nothing, his eyes drop to the floor. Silence.

CUT TO: a shot of an old family photo in black and white; it meets Tadashi's gaze.


* * *


Do yourself a favor: sit down and write a scene where two siblings are having a discussion, and the death of the parent comes up. This is your chance to make an impact, make sure you make the most of it.


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