goneahead (goneahead) wrote in 1_million_words,

Original Fic Challenge and Tip: Write A Story with Aliens

Original Fic Challenge: Write a story with (or about) aliens

Original Fic Tip: Use exposition to hook your readers

First, I'm so sorry about not posting yesterday, but something came up. Today, I want to finish up talking about exposition with a great example from this article:

Introducing curious, intriguing details about characters early is one way to start building your story immediately. Margaret Atwood begins her speculative fiction novel Oryx and Crake (2003) thus:

Snowman wakes before dawn. He lies unmoving, listening to the tide coming in, wave after wave sloshing over the various barricades, wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of a heartbeat. He would so like to believe he is still asleep.

There are several reasons why this is good character-based exposition:

We’re told a pivotal character’s name, and it’s intriguing: ‘Snowman’ is not a typical human name. Because identity and memory later prove crucial themes in this post-apocalyptic tale, it makes sense Atwood introduces her character by his adopted name
We learn something about a character’s emotional life: Why would Snowman ‘so like to believe he is still asleep’? We guess there is something causing him displeasure or unhappiness
There’s information about the setting: Why are there barricades?

In one paragraph, Atwood’s exposition raises questions about names, the reasons underlying a character’s emotions, and their environment. It’s a good hook.

The article has several more great examples, so I definitely recommend reading it if you struggle with exposition.

Go forth and create!
Tags: monthly: original fic
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