Writing

How to Write Effective Exposition: Tips and Examples

Written by the MasterClass staff

Last updated: Sep 7, 2021 • 2 min read

From the famous opening crawl of Star Wars (“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”) to the saga of the Montagues and Capulets from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, good exposition provides essential background information about the main characters and events in a story.

Exposition also provides stakes and emotional context for the beginning of the story, supporting the rising action, the falling action, and the eventual denouement. Backstory in literature can be conveyed through dialogue, characters’ thoughts or point of view, narration, flashbacks, description of the setting, or various pieces of in-universe media (such as newspaper headlines, journals, or letters).