Monday, August 1, 2016

My Top Ten Takeaways from Jill Marr's "Exposition versus Dialogue" Presentation

One area I try to improve on in my fiction is hitting the right balance between exposition and dialogue.

So I was thrilled to listen to literary agent Jill Marr's suggestions on how to do that during her "Exposition versus Dialogue" presentation at the All Write Now! Conference.

Here are the ten takeaways I plan to focus on from list she discussed: 

* Write it down then go back over the telling part and change to show.

* Start as late as you can in the plot.

* Lock up back story and let out only when needed.

Don’t have two characters talking about what they already know.

* Don’t use quotes on an entire page.

* Fold exposition in like eggs into a batter.

* Don’t give up great heaps of information.

* Dialogue has to ring true.
Use italics for interior dialogue.

* Don't use he said/she said if it's obvious who is speaking.

How about you: Do you find any of the above suggestions helpful when writing fiction? 


  1. Oh yes, these are great tips! Thanks for sharing - I suddenly have the urge to write some fiction. Complete with dialogue, of course! :)

    1. Hi Karen,
      One thing she did stress was that fiction writers should become masters of dialogue.

  2. Just about each one rings true. I think--sometimes--we don't give the reader enough credit. We worry that if they're in a state of disequilibrium, if they're unsure, they won't go along on the ride with us. That's not true. If we hook them, and then give enough hints for them to follow, they'll keep reading to figure out the story.

    Jill Marr's session was great. Thanks for the reminders, Donna.

    1. You're welcome, Sioux. I didn't list all her tips, just the ones that resonated with me.

  3. Great checklist! Loved this one: Fold exposition in like eggs into a batter. Thanks for sharing with us, Donna.

  4. Yes, she gave us some useful guidelines. Don't use quotes on an entire page is a good one.

    And also, if you've gone three pages without dialogue, that's too long. Unless I just imagined that one!

    1. That was another good one, Val. Thanks for reminding me. It's in my notes but I didn't post all my notes on my blog, otherwise it would be a long, long list.

  5. Helpful advice that I will try to incorporate into my writing!

  6. Great advice from the're included :)

  7. Terrific advice, all. It isn't always easy to nail it, but makes for a great read when it falls together!


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