Saturday, February 5, 2011

Exposition Done Right; or, I Saw What You Did There

Just got back from seeing Tron: Legacy. Yes, I know. The movie's only been out for what, two months now, and I'm finally getting around to seeing it. I don't know why the studios think the holidays are such a great time to release their big-budget blockbusters, because I'm always too busy to go see them then.

So anyway, Tron: Legacy has one of the neatest examples of exposition in it that I've seen in a long time. In the beginning of the film, our young hero, Sam Flynn, has a run-in with the law. The next scene shows him walking out of the police station to the adjacent parking lot, which is labeled "Towing Impound Lot" (or something like that). He hands a slip of paper to the gate attendant, who greets him with, "Hiya, Sam."

And with those two words, we know that this is not the first time Sam has needed to retrieve a vehicle from this particular impound lot; that in fact, his visits have been frequent enough for him to be on a first-name basis with the lot attendant, and that the attendant is not especially surprised to see him, but is in fact almost bored.

I was in awe. Not only was it a great example of exposition, but it was also "showing, not telling." An author could easily spend a paragraph or two conveying the information contained in those two words.

I think it's something all aspiring authors (and even some published ones) could stand to keep in mind.

Does anyone else have a good example of Exposition Done Right?