Tips for Balancing Action & Exposition



 Tips for Balancing Action & Exposition || Descriptive Writing
by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Readers are looking for powerful stories and narratives; descriptive details make them successful.

Our narratives and stories are the creation of scenes, exposition, and the telling that shapes the narrative. It’s up to us to shape events with details that describe the action, the characters, and the scene’s why. Scene is the action; exposition is behind the scene. Scenes bring the reader a firsthand view of the action. Exposition describes the what and the why—a summary.

Stories constructed mostly of scenes can wear out the reader with action and dialogue. Writing made up of mostly summary description needs to contain enough tangible detail to bring the reader into the vision you are presenting but not be boring. The strength of our writing is in the balance.

I recently read two novels that were action packed and fun, good guy—bad guy stories. Both were exhausting! I had to just stop, and let the book rest before I continued. They were fantastic diversions but…

So, consider a balance between action and explanation, background and front lines as you build your piece.

How’s your word basket growing? Is it filling with scraps of paper—one word per scrap? The basket could become your go-to place for inspiring creative descriptions in a story or metaphor: paradox or poem. What words catch your attention? Grab it and add it to your basket. Consider sensory adjectives, strong verbs, and nouns.

It’s best to avoid:
•    Description dumps.
•    Tangents—Stay on point.
•    Slowing down your story or narrative—Rather, pace it and keep the piece moving.

An excellent book for descriptive writing growth:
•    Word Painting, by Rebecca McClanahan

Earlier Post links in this series—Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction:
Tips for Figurative Speech:
Write Strong:

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her writer’s website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:
Available on Amazon --- Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love

Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer



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Karen Cioffi said...

Deborah, what great information. It's all about creating balance in writing. I love the 'word basket' idea.

Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for this post about the necessity of creating balance with different writing elements. It's important no matter what we are writing. If I have the time, I like to set aside my writing and return to it in a day or two to check out elements like balance and make sure nothing important is missing (often the hardest things to see in our own writing).


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thank you, Debora Lyn. I may use your word Painting book in my new edition of The Frugal Editor. Hugs

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