E – Exposition

I’m also co-hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group today! If you’re here for that post, please GO HERE.

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…



Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


“I don’t understand how a mermaid can exist.” Hawk squatted on the pier to get a better look at her. “Seems to defy all scientific logic.” Hawk was a man of reason. He’d never been one for fairy tales—those were for children and women who still thought a knight on a white horse would rescue them. His experience in the rodeo with white horses was they were dirty and bit extra hard.

“I know it seems silly to a smart man like you.” She swam up beside the pier and flopped her tail on it. “But it’s actually quite simple. The musculature of my tail propels the human part of my anatomy through the water. My tail begins at the L5 vertebra, and rather than having a human pelvis, I have the vertebral spine of a fish that tapers down into a caudal fin. My human flesh turns into scales below the waist, but I also have a layer of sebaceous fat to keep me warm under the water—it doesn’t change the appearance of my gorgeous human torso though, because that would be gross.”

Hawk rubbed his beard, his thoughtful eyes narrowed in consideration. “How do you breathe underwater though? Do you have gills or human lungs?”

“Both!” she chirped. “I have gills on my neck and under my ribs, but when I’m out of water you can’t see them, because again, that would make me really unattractive and freakish.” She slithered her tail off the pier and glided across the water on her back, her breasts glowing like crystal orbs in the sunlight. “We can’t have that, can we?”


This is aimed in particular at sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal writers, or anyone who writes fiction that’s not entirely based in our world. If you’re going to create your own universe and mythology, of course it must be explained to the readers, but do so creatively and delicately. Exposition is another form of info dumping and if you do it wrong, no matter how clever your made-up world is, it’s going to be distracting. Explain things when they need to be explained, and without butting in, so it’s part of the narrative and doesn’t turn a story into a textbook. Heavy-handed detail dumps jar the reader out of the story.

You should know every detail of how your fantastical universe works, but you should start writing the story as if your reader already knows it as well. Tell a story, first and foremost. When explanation is needed, that’s when it should be inserted. This doesn’t need to be done by characters describing their anatomy to each other. Sometimes it’s okay for the author to explain something in the right place and then keep going. Build a world brick by brick, not by dropping a load of them on your reader.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

31 thoughts

    1. HA! I call that same thing “As you know, Jim…” When a character tells another charter a whole bunch of information just for the benefit of the reader. I mean, it CAN be done (the Harry Potter books are a good example) but it must be done unobtrusively.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Yes, your mermaid is darling, and if your kilted cowboy is not careful JazzFeathers will make a cameo appearance and scamper off with the young lady!

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit


  2. The trouble with exposition is whether we honestly need to know everything. Writers know more than readers, and that’s okay. If the story doesn’t need the extra info, we need to leave it out…even though curious readers might want to know more.

    But, in this case, maybe this information is really important for when the mermaid gets injured and we need to know her exact physiology, down to which vertebrae starts the mermaid transition. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, when she has to go to the mermaid hospital–which would probably be a better time to drop details about her anatomy. 😉 I know as a writer I still need to dial it back a little, I always want to tell the reader everything all at once. I guess that’s what revisions are for.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been guilty of the dreaded info dump, and will surely be again, I’m sure. Fortunately, I have some great beta readers and critique partners to help weed those things out.


    1. I think giving information is just fine, but the key is to not make it seem like a textbook. If you stop the story to teach a class, that’s not the way to do it. I know there’s books I’ve read where something completely unknown to me was introduced but the author handled it so well by the end I was looking up more stuff on it. I think you just have to wedge the information in between the lines of entertainment.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  4. I have to admit that I also found the explanation of her anatomy really interesting, it was different and amusing totally in keeping with the satyrical nature of your story. 🙂

    But I do get what you’re trying to say and I agree with you. I think it can be particularly difficult as the creator to cut out lovely bits of information that you love, but it is a practice that makes the difference between amateur and professional writing guess.


    1. I’m so amused people are finding the description to be good. 😀 Definitely though, I’m trying to point out there’s better ways to do it than in a huge technical info dump. I’m glad you guys are smitten by my mermaid! Better not tell Hawk!

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, but the explenation of her anatomy is really interesting. Why wouldn’t I want to read it? Maybe to see where the story is going, since this is the fifth chapter and everything that has happened is a mermaid has appeared?
    Don’t be silly, I love to be held and lectured about every minutiae of any little aspect of this reality and these characters.
    Story? What do you mean?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lots of people are saying this, which is flattering and makes me laugh at the same time. 😀 The point I was trying to make with it is that it’s an info dump, a pretty technical one at that. I think there’s much better ways to deliver the information. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, though! My mermaid is stealing hearts! LOL


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