I’m reading a novel by a top science fiction writer on my Kindle and hit an immense exposition dump. What threw me a bit out of the narrative flow was that the exposition seemed out of character (the voice sounded just like the three POV characters), was heavy dense paragraphs and while interesting it seemed to echo earlier exposition dumps.

So I looked down at the bottom of the Kindle screen at the progress bar that indicates how far into a book you are.

It said 86%.

Why is there a major exposition dump so close/during to the climax? Is this typical in SF and I just haven’t noticed before? The third act should be rolling at this point. You could consider this data dump a clue in a mystery given by a character who only dumps the exposition and exits stage dead.

I probably would not have happened upon this train of thought if I read this in dead tree format. I would have looked at the pages between then and the end and went ‘hmph’ and kept going.

Have you noticed that your reading experience has changed when using an e-reader?

Exposition at 86%
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2 thoughts on “Exposition at 86%

  • September 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I think the exposition dump is – unfortunately – relatively common. Narrative just gets to a point where it’s inexplicable without a “spill your guts” event. Of course, not needing to do that is often a sign of a superior story.

  • September 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Agreed. What struck me was how out of character for the expositor (?) and how repetitive it was. And then I noticed how late it was in the book because of the progress bar.

    There are some exposition dumps that I don’t want to end because they are so well done. Or they are part of the scene setting, or are dribbled in like a fine sauce that accents the story rather than takes over.

    Of course, this could be a sign of an absent editor and the tight deadlines that success brings.

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